2020 Cohort

Charlotte BergheimerCharlotte Lorraine Bergheimer

Degrees: MS in Agriculture: Nutrition and Food Science, Cal Poly Pomona, 2014; BS in Food and Nutrition: Nutrition Science, Cal Poly Pomona, 2010

Professional Interests: Nutrition, Food Insecurity, Cancer Prevention, Health Policy, Health Disparities, Community Health, Implementation Science, Program Evaluation, Health Services Research

Graduate Advisor:Brad Pollock

Entry Year: 2020

Background/Interest:Charlotte has a decade of experience working to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities in underserved communities. In her recent work, she developed and managed National Cancer Institute-supported clinical trials for Children’s Oncology Group, and taught Nutrition part-time at Cal State Northridge and Cal Poly Pomona. Charlotte serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the California Food Policy Advocates, and her research focuses on program efficacy and nutrition-related behavior change in low-income communities. With a PhD in Public Health Science she hopes to support evidence-based policy and practice transformation to improve nutrition access and cancer prevention outcomes.

Bozhidar ChakalovBozhidar (Bobby) Chakalov

Degrees: B.A. in Economics from Sonoma State University, 2017; M.A. in Economics from San Francisco State University, 2019

Professional Interests: Policy Evaluation, Health Disparities, Health Inequities, Socioeconomic Determinants of Health, Vulnerable Population Health

Graduate Advisor:Michelle Ko

Entry Year: 2020

Background/Interest: Bozhidar began pursuing his interest in health care research while earning his B.A. at Sonoma State University. While earning his M.A. at San Francisco State, Bozhidar’s research included the long-term health outcomes of the New Deal program and applying text analysis to the #MeToo movement. Moreover, after graduating, Bozhidar taught Biostatistics in the MPH program at SFSU and continued doing research at the Health Equity Institute. By earning his PhD, Bozhidar aims to become a university professor and a researcher addressing health disparities though policy and evaluation. When not working, he enjoys hiking, exploring new cuisines, and being with his loved ones.

Caroline JoyceCaroline Abbott Joyce

Degrees: Bachelor of Science, International Health, Georgetown University (2015); Master of Science, Nutrition for Global Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2016)

Professional Interests:Global nutrition, maternal and child health, supplementation and fortification

Graduate Advisor: Christine Stewart

Entry Year: 2020

Background/Interest: Caroline most recently worked as a Research Assistant at Kaiser Permanente Colorado. Her past work ranges from adolescent sugar consumption to disparities in lung cancer screening to proteomics for precision medicine. In the past year, she has most enjoyed working on a medically-tailored meals research study that seeks to understand whether nutrition improves health outcomes after hospitalization. During her undergraduate and graduate degrees, her experiences in Tanzania and Chile reinforced her interest in adolescent nutrition and maternal and child health. At UC Davis, Caroline hopes to pursue additional work in these fields, and augment her experience with child supplementation programs.

Zoe Kaplan Zoe Baysdorfer Kaplan

Degrees: BA, Music, Boston University, 2012; MPH, Brown University, 2018

Professional Interests: Epidemiology of autism and developmental disabilities, cultural influences on mental illness

Graduate Advisor: Rebecca Schmidt

Entry Year: 2020

Background/Interest: Zoe Kaplan first became interested in studying mental health in a public health context while working in special education. She completed her MPH in 2018 at Brown University, where she conducted her thesis research on technology use among adolescents with autism. Since graduating, Zoe has worked as a research associate at the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley, CA. Her work focuses on the epidemiology of alcohol use disorder and the spatial analysis of DUI arrests. While at UC Davis, Zoe aims to use public health research to improve health outcomes among people with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Jiyeong KimJiyeong Kim

Degrees: Master of Public Health (MPH), Johns Hopkins University, 2014; Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharm), Chung-Ang University in South Korea, 2007

Professional Interests: mHealth, Digital Health, Technologies for Public Health, Infant and Children’s Health, Global Health Policy, Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

Graduate Advisor: Jeffrey Hoch

Entry Year: 2020

Background/Interest: As she has been having aspirations towards helping others in need not only for her community but for the world, she wants to focus on developing sound evidence for the global health policy. Especially, she is interested in 1) implementation of technologies for public health, mainly in LMICs, and 2) cost-effectiveness analysis. She hopes that her past experiences of developing a health educational application based on Artificial Intelligence to reach out to teenagers, as a clinical pharmacist, a pharmaceutical representative at Johnson & Johnson, a chief officer at an E-commerce company will be an asset for her future research.

Melissa PighinMelissa Pighin

Degrees: M.P.H. Epidemiology, University of California, Davis (2016); B.A. Environmental Studies, University of Washington (2012)

Professional Interests: Biomedical Informatics, Data Quality, Neuroepidemiology, Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke, Cancer Epidemiology

Graduate Advisor: Amparo Villablanca

Entry Year: 2020

Background/Interest: Melissa has spent three years working as a quality control (QC) analyst for healthcare systems and research institutes. Her work focuses on the standardization of patient data collection and QC processes in compliance with The Joint Commission and other regulatory agencies. She is passionate about using biomedical informatics to improve data quality and to facilitate the real-time dissemination of quality of care findings to stakeholders for clinical practice improvement. Her background emphasizes neurological disorders and diseases with additional exposure to cardiovascular disease and oncology. She is excited to return to UC Davis and to further improve clinical data quality with a Ph.D.

Tamara SolorzanoTamara Solorzano

Degrees: BS Human Biology, UC Santa Cruz, 2013; Masters of Public Health, UC Davis, 2017

Professional Interests: Global Health Disparities, Infectious Disease, Environmental Health, Climate Change, Preventative Care, Mental Health

Graduate Advisor: Deborah Bennett

Entry Year: 2020

Background/Interest: Tamara is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer that served in Ghana from 2014-2016 as a Science High School teacher. She then worked in creating an international medical school summer program for a non-profit volunteer organization that displayed the difference between Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese and American health care systems. Tamara then worked in disaster emergency management at FEMA from 2017-2020 where she worked with State, Tribal and Territory governments on their disaster housing plans in steady state and worked with disaster survivors when deployed. Tamara in her free time likes to play videogames, try out new cooking recipes, and go bowling.


2019 Cohort

Shannon Hearney portritShannon Hearney

Degrees: B.S. in Psychology from UC Davis 2016; MPH with a concentration in community assessment, program design, implementation and evaluation, Boston University 2019

Professional Interests: Trauma Informed Care, Resiliency, Reproductive Justice and Firearm violence

Graduate Advisor: Patrick Marius Koga, M.D., M.P.H.

Entry Year: 2019

Background/Interest: Shannon recently graduated from Boston University where she found an interest in research working alongside Dr. Michael Siegel on opioid research. Before this Shannon graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Psychology. During her masters she was able to work for her hometown contributing to Shasta County’s Health and Human Services Agency by collaborating on their community health assessment. Here Shannon learned the practical applications and use of public health data and worked with the community to better understand their needs. Shannon is excited to join the UC Davis Ph.D. program and continue her research to better our communities.

Caitlin Jones portraitCaitlin Jones

Degrees: M.S. Conservation Medicine, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (2016); B.S. Biology, University of California, Riverside (2013)

Professional Interests: Health Disparities and Ecological Integrity, One Health, Environmental Health, Climate Change Adaptation

Graduate Advisor: Kathryn Conlon, M.P.H., Ph.D.

Entry Year: 2019

Background/Interest: Caitlin received her M.S. Conservation Medicine at Tufts University, where she focused on an assessment of socio-economic factors and trophic cascades of Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease and devil declines. Caitlin sought to apply her background in One Health studies to public health, initially working in disease intervention at an Iowa county public health office. She then completed the California Epidemiologic Investigation Service fellowship with California Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Investigations Branch, working primarily on wildfire epidemiology. She hopes to continue her work in this area through a Ph.D., to improve adaptive capacity of vulnerable populations and ecosystems.

Pauline Martinez portraitPauline Martinez

Degrees: Bachelor of Science, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 2008; Master of Arts, Gerontology, with an emphasis on Health Wellness and Aging, San Francisco State University, 2010

Professional Interests: Gerontology, healthy aging, Alzheimer’s, & health disparities

Graduate Advisor: Rachel Whitmer, Ph.D.

Entry Year: 2019

Background/Interest: Pauline Martinez brings a decade of experience managing programs to improve quality of life for older adults and caregivers.  For the past 6 years, she managed education for the Alzheimer’s Association in Northern California. In addition, she consults with cities and counties to implement the WHO Age Friendly Cities Initiative; her work led to nomination as a pilot site in the Dementia Friendly America Initiative, announced at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. Martinez taught Gerontology part-time at San Jose State and Oregon State Universities.  She is the recipient of the 2018 Scan Foundation - Innovation in Health Care Award and the 2012 Archstone Foundation - Award for Excellence in Program Innovation.

Brittany L. Morgan

Degrees: B.S. in Community Health Education, Portland State University, 2016; M.P.H. Epidemiology, Oregon Health & Science University, 2018

Professional Interests: Observing the bi-directional relationship between antimicrobial resistance and observed health disparities

Graduate Advisor: Beatriz Martinez Lopez, Ph.D., D.V.M., M.P.V.M.

Entry Year: 2019

Background/Interest: Over the past nine years, Brittany has participated in a wide variety of research projects exploring health disparities and health promotion needs of diverse, and historically underserved communities. Recently, she completed the California Epidemiologic Investigation Service fellowship with the California Department of Public Health and worked as a research scientist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Antimicrobial Use and Stewardship Program. Brittany has a varied background, but the recurrent theme has been her deep desire to make a difference by addressing health inequities and connecting with people across cultures - work she hopes to continue at UC Davis.

Ani Movsisyan portraitAni Movsisyan

Degrees: UC Davis: Psychology, B.S., 2015, Stanford University: Community Health and Prevention Research (CHPR), M.S., 2018

Professional Interests: Health Disparities, Refugee/Immigrant health, & Cancer Epidemiology

Graduate Advisor: Theresa Keegan, Ph.D., M.S.

Entry Year: 2019

Background/Interest: Ani Movsisyan graduated from UC Davis in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and with minors in Professional Writing and Studio Art. Shortly after, she worked at the UC Davis MIND Institute as a Research Coordinator and decided to focus her career in providing quality healthcare and research opportunities to families from underrepresented communities. She studied Community Health and Prevention Research (CHPR) at Stanford University, and interned at the Stanford Tobacco Cessation Program. She currently works with the California Cancer Reporting and Epidemiologic Surveillance (CalCARES) branch of the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement (IPHI). With her education in public health, she hopes to develop reliable health care systems in local communities in California, as well as in her home country of Armenia. In her free time, she enjoys landscape painting, reading, and spending time with her family and friends.

Jenny Wagner portraitJenny Wagner

Degrees: Master of Public Health, University of California, Davis (2016); Bachelor of Arts, Exercise Biology University of California, Davis (2014)

Professional Interests: Program Evaluation; Health Policy Evaluation; Chronic Disease Prevention; Health Inequities; Social Determinants of Health; Community Health; Collective Impact

Graduate Advisor: Diana Cassady, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.

Entry Year: 2019

Background/Interest: Jenny is currently working as an Evaluation Specialist with the UC Davis Schools of Health Evaluation Unit, where she supports evaluations for programs within the UC Davis School of Medicine and School of Nursing. Her previous work has centered on collaborative approaches to community health improvement, including efforts related to hospital-based community benefit, air pollution, digital access and literacy, food waste, Tribal health, capacity building and collective impact. Through the Ph.D. program in Public Health Sciences, Jenny is working toward her goals to become a university professor and researcher as well as an evaluation consultant for public health initiatives.


2018 Cohort

Laura Farnsworth photoLaura Farnsworth

Degrees: MPH, UC Davis (2017); B.A. International Relations, Anthropology, University of Virginia (2010)

Professional Interests: Nutrition, Chronic disease prevention, and Health disparities.

Graduate Advisor: Lorena Garcia, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.

Entry Year: 2018

Background/Interests: Laura currently works as a California Epidemiologic Investigation Service Fellow in the Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Division at the California Department of Public Health. Before starting her fellowship she earned her MPH from UC Davis where she created a database to help the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch of the California Department of Public Health build a policy primer. Prior to graduate school Laura served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala where she started a health education program aimed at improving the health of indigenous youth and their families.


Lynne LoPresto photoLynne LoPresto

Degrees: M.S. Nutrition Science, UC Berkeley (1988) Registered Dietitian Nutritionist – RDN (1989), B.S. Nutrition Science, UC Davis (1985)

Professional Interests: Health Disparities and Educational Inequality, Nutrition and Health Education and Promotion, School Wellness Policy and School Food and Lunch Policies, Food Security and Environmental Sustainability

Graduate Advisor: Rachel E. Scherr, Ph.D.

Entry Year: 2018

Background/Interests: Taking “Nutrition 10” as a Biochem major at Davis, Lynne discovered her passion for Nutrition. During graduate studies in metabolic nutrition at Berkeley, her desire for applied work lead her to become an RDN and work as a clinical/research Dietitian at UCLA witnessing first-hand the health impact of the obesity epidemic. For the last 20 years she has worked at the local and state level to improve access to health education, healthy food and physical activity and teach future teachers and health professionals at Dominican University of CA. With a PhD in Public Health Science she hopes to contribute to reducing health disparities and educational inequality through more effective and sustainable school wellness and food policies.

Cindy Valencia photoCindy Valencia

Degrees: MPH Nutrition emphasis, UC Davis (2008), B.A.S. Psychology and Chicano/Latino Studies, UC Davis

Professional Interests: Health policy, Health Disparities, Maternal and Child Health, Social Determinants of Health, Environmental Health, Rural Health

Graduate Advisor: Diana Cassady, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.

Entry Year: 2018

Background/Interest: Cindy has worked diligently developing programs, administering health services and fostering collaborative partnerships to create healthier communities. Over the past decade she worked in tobacco control and prevention, alcohol and other drugs risk reduction, chronic disease prevention, nutrition education and obesity prevention, Affordable Care Act outreach and enrollment, whole person care, child injury prevention, preventative well-child care, children with complex medical needs (California Children’s Services), maternal, child and adolescent health case management services, agricultural farm worker health and safety, and most recently pediatric emergency medicine research. Cindy aspires to obtain a Ph.D. and leverage her experience to affect public policy in underserved communities of color, like the Central Valley

Welcome to the UC Davis Graduate Group in Public Health Sciences!

Congratulations on joining a new generation of health professionals focused on improving the lives of the many through the practice of public health.

The PhD Student Handbook is your comprehensive reference guide to the administrative aspects of the PhD.

Public Health Sciences PhD Student Handbook