Current AHEAD Scholars

Program: UW Health Disparities Research Scholars

Pictured: Dr. Allen, Dr. Evans, Dr. Greene, Dr. Hendrick, and Dr. Zuelsdorff

Chenoa Allen, PhD
Dr. Chenoa Allen received her PhD in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2016. She also has an MS in health and medical sciences from the University of California, Berkeley – University of California, San Francisco, Joint Medical Program. Allen’s research focuses on how structural forces, including state and local immigration-related policies, affect health and health care access for children in immigrant families. In her dissertation, she showed that state policies that restrict rights for undocumented immigrants also reduce access to health care for Latino, US citizen children who have immigrant parents. As an HDRS postdoctoral fellow, Allen plans to shift her focus to policies that expand rights for immigrants. In particular, she plans to examine whether extending public insurance coverage to pregnant undocumented immigrants improves their birth outcomes. Allen also studies methodological and measurement issues related to health disparities research; over the long term, she is working toward obtaining better data on under-studied immigrant and refugee groups. In her free time, Allen enjoys baking, embroidery, and studying aerial arts.

Linnea Evans, MPH, PhD
Dr. Evans received her PhD in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in August 2017. Dr. Evan’s research focuses on how health inequities develop during the transition from adolescence to adulthood, particularly at the intersection of race and gender. Her dissertation, “Racialized realignment of time: How time-use may be shaped by early life disadvantage, predict stress, and contribute to racial disparities in early onset hypertension” examined these issues from a U.S. population-level perspective, as well as qualitatively in the contextual space of Detroit, Michigan. She employs theoretical perspectives from social demography, psychology, and anthropology, along with her training in biology and public health to provide a nuanced understanding of how everyday differences in the structured lived experiences of youth and young adults may provide clues about how best to address health disparities. As a HDRS postdoctoral fellow, she aims to extend her work with Black adolescents in a longitudinal nature, investigating changes in expectations and obligations, time-use, and management of stressors as one nears the end of the high school years and transitions to the next progression.

Madelyne Greene, PhD
Dr. Greene received her PhD in Nursing Science in 2017 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Dr. Greene’s research interests include disparities in sexual and reproductive health outcomes, specifically those experienced by sexual and gender minorities, and her dissertation work focused on the relationship between pregnancy and cervical cancer screening among sexual minority women. Her dissertation “Obstetric History and Sexual Health Screening Among Sexual Minority Women” was funded in part by the HANN Innovation Fellowship. Dr. Greene is interested in the larger problem of disparities in access to high quality, inclusive health care for sexual and gender minority groups. She is particularly interested in developing and testing strategies to improve the effectiveness of health care for sexual minority women and enhance their health care experiences. Her research is grounded in sociocultural theories that explain health outcomes in structural and sociopolitical contexts. Building on epidemiological frameworks to address disparities, she will employ these theories to investigate the role of health systems and health care encounters in driving prevention and health maintenance in sexual and gender minority populations.

C. Emily Hendrick, MPH, PhD
Dr. Hendrick received her PhD in Health Behavior and Health Education from the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin in August 2017. She holds an MPH from the division of Maternal and Child Health at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health and has over a decade of experience planning, implementing, and evaluating public health programming in the US, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Broadly, her research interests include understanding and reducing maternal, child, and adolescent health (MCAH) disparities by investigating the determinants of women’s health behaviors and health across the reproductive years. Within this, she focuses on 1) the developmental period of adolescence as a time of vulnerability and opportunity in shaping women’s health behaviors and health across the life course, 2) the intergenerational transmission of health and well-being from mothers to children, and 3) the intersection of education and health. As a HDRS postdoctoral fellow, she aims to enhance her skills in mixed-methods research methodology and to work collaboratively with researchers and stakeholders who translate the information gained through population health research into MCAH public health programming and policy interventions.

Megan Zuelsdorff, PhD
Dr. Megan Zuelsdorff received her PhD in Population Health Sciences from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2016. Her dissertation research explored sociobehavioral and psychobiological mechanisms in cognitive aging, with a focus on stress buffering and environmental enrichment models. This work, and her graduate training in social epidemiology, informs Zuelsdorff’s research interest in the notable but too rarely acknowledged socioeconomic and ethnic disparities in cognitive health. As a postdoctoral fellow in the HDRS program, Zuelsdorff is examining the relationship between cumulative disadvantage and later-life cognition trajectories. Specifically, she seeks to better understand the intersecting roles that clustered early life adversity, stress responsivity, and brain health may play, as well as the methodological complexities involved in sampling and measurement.

Andrea Larson, PhD
Dr. Andrea Larson is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Larson currently works with faculty mentors Drs. Deborah Ehrenthal and Lawrence Berger on the Big Data for Little Kids: The Impact of Prenatal Interventions on Birth Outcomes and School Readiness research study (funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program Collaborative Health Sciences Program). The study is a multi-source multi-year Wisconsin birth cohort dataset designed to answer a variety of questions related to maternal and child outcomes. Dr. Larson’s primary interest is child and adolescent mental health care. Her dissertation work focused on the role of uncertainty in mental health care decision-making and the differential application of universal mental health policies to children receiving care, which reflects her broad interest in understanding how policy design and care practices may generate (or regenerate) health disparities.


Program: UW Family Medicine Primary Care Research Fellows

Fammed collage
Pictured: Dr. Flowers Benton, Dr. Duffy, Dr. Goldstein, Dr. Grant, and Dr. Jacobsohn

Sean Duffy, MD
Dr. Duffy earned his B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and his medical degree from The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He comes to Family Medicine with a longstanding commitment to underserved medicine and global health. As an undergraduate, he shadowed doctors and medical students as part of an internship program in Puebla, Mexico, and he traveled to Guatemala to volunteer with Common Hope, a non-profit organization that partners with impoverished families to ensure that children receive the services and support necessary to succeed in school. Then, as a medical student, Sean made three more trips to Guatemala, including a year-long leave of absence to work with Common Hope as a medical volunteer. When not traveling the globe, Sean is equally passionate about underserved medicine here at home. As an undergraduate he was co-president of the Community Alliance Serving Hispanics, and he organized a spring break trip to the Arizona border to work with migrants crossing the Arizona dessert. As a medical student, Sean was an active volunteer for the student-run MEDiC clinics, which provide free healthcare to underserved populations in Madison, and he was co-coordinator for the Global Health Interest Group. In his spare time, Sean enjoys spending time with family, traveling, reading about archaeology, and tinkering with computers.

Vernon Grant, PhD
Vernon Grant holds an interdisciplinary PhD in Exercise Science and Community Health from the University of Montana—Missoula (2014). Vernon was born and raised in Browning, MT and is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation (Amp-ska-pi-pikuni). Vernon’s dissertation research employed a mixed-methods community-based participatory research approach to identify, design, and implement community identified strategies to increase physical activity in 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade elementary school children on an American Indian Reservation in Montana. Being born and raised on the reservation, Vernon knows first-hand the devastating effects that diabetes has on Indian people. Accordingly, his research interest is focused on finding strategies to increase physical activity in American Indian populations to decrease obesity and the subsequent development of diabetes. Vernon also enjoys writing and speaking to audiences about the benefits of physical activity and health consequences of leading a sedentary lifestyle. In his spare time, Vernon loves spending time with his family, running, weight training, boxing, and watching college football!

Gwen Jacobsohn, PhD, MA
Gwen Costa Jacobsohn holds a PhD in Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign specializing in health, organizational, and small group communication. Her research focuses on the effects of provider-patient communication on changes in health behaviors and health-related outcomes. Her dissertation examined the longitudinal relationship between parental perceptions of communication during well-child visits (in terms of information provision, information value, and provider-parent relationships) and weight-related outcomes in preschoolers. She hopes that this line of research will ultimately provide the foundation for tools and best practices designed to help providers more effectively talk to parents and children about weight-related topics (e.g., food intake, physical activity, screen time). Gwen has also worked closely with Dr. Elizabeth Cox (Pediatrics) on research relating to the delivery of family-centered care in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and with Dr. Betty Chewning (School of Pharmacy) on developing programs to facilitate the engagement of multiple stakeholders in patient-centered outcomes research. In the rest of her life, Gwen spends most of her time trying to keep up with two very active boys and an 85lb lap dog. She loves baseball, travelling, and all things food-related (e.g., cooking, collecting mid-century cookbooks, and watching TV cooking competitions with her family).


Program: Centennial Scholars at UW-SMPH

Pictured from top: Dr. Barroilhet, Dr. Felton, Dr. Mancera, and Dr. Siraj

Lisa Barroilhet, MD
Dr. Barroilhet is the Dolores A. Buchler, MD, Faculty Fellow in Gynecologic Oncology and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She completed her four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. After finishing her residency in 2009, she began her three-year clinical and research fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. She holds board certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Barroilhet joined the UW Carbone Cancer Center in 2012, her interests include minimally invasive surgery, healthy lifestyle modification and survivorship. Her primary research interest is drug development. She is the leader of the Disease Oriented Work Group for Gynecologic Malignancies, which reviews and prioritizes clinical research activity, and provides ongoing planning for new investigator-initiated studies.

Elizabeth Felton, MD, PhD
Dr. Felton is an assistant professor of neurology at UW School of Medicine and Public Health. She is board-certified in neurology and specializes in epilepsy. Her clinical interests include dietary therapies for adults with epilepsy, special issues affecting women with epilepsy (epilepsy during pregnancy and catamenial epilepsy), and surgical evaluation for the treatment of epilepsy.

Michael Mancera, MD
Michael Mancera, MD received his medical degree from the University of Illinois in Chicago in 2009. He completed an emergency medicine residency at Grand Rapids/Michigan State University, then went on to do a fellowship in out-of-hospital care, emergency medical services at Indiana University. As a Centennial Scholar, Dr. Mancera plans to create an educational program focused on prehospital medicine for all levels of learners. Eventually, he intends to create and EMS fellowship program. Dr. Mancera joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in 2013, and became a Centennial Scholar in July 2015.

Dawd Siraj, MD
Dr. Dawd Siraj is a professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Wisconsin. He is board certified in Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine. He also has a Master’s of Public Health and Tropical Medicine from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He has had a Certificate of Knowledge in Tropical Medicine since 2002. At the completion of his training, he joined Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, and was the director of the International Travel Clinic. His travel clinic was a GeoSentinel affiliate member of International Travel Clinics. Dr. Siraj joined UW Health in 2016 and is currently the director of the Travel Medicine Clinic. A native of Ethiopia, he has extensive experience and training in tropical diseases. He has interest in international travel, global health and medical care in resource limited countries. He regularly travels to Ethiopia with medical students and residents.