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Our Students

Rayhanul Islam, MDRayhanul Islam, MD

Rayhanul Islam, MD joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2022. He received Bachelor of Science in Statistics degree and consequently earned Master of Science in the same subject from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Prior to joining the Epidemiology PhD program, Rayhan worked in different public health organizations in Bangladesh as a Biostatistician and studied on Anti-Microbial Resistant (AMR), transmission dynamics of microorganisms, airborne microorganisms. Broadly, his research interest includes one health, environmental epidemiology with a focus on air pollution, and infectious disease epidemiology.


Halle CerioHalle Cerio

Halle Cerio joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2022. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Integrative Neuroscience at Binghamton University in 2020, as well as a Master of Public Health degree at Upstate Medical University in 2022. During her education at Upstate Medical University, she worked as a graduate assistant in the Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine and as a research assistant at the SUNY Upstate Institute for Global Health and Translational Science. Her research interests center around psychiatric epidemiology and include factors contributing to the co-occurrence of ASD and ADHD.

Yingzhu Chen Yingzhu Chen

Yingzhu Chen entered the Epidemiology PhD program in 2023. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Brandeis University, followed by a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from Duke University and a Master of Science in Biostatistics from New York University. Throughout her academic journey, Yingzhu has developed a strong interest in assessing the effects of chemical exposures, particularly PFAS, on human health, with a specific focus on their role in disease onset and progression.


Ruofan GongyeRuofan Gongye

Ruofan Gongye joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2023. Prior to joining the program, she got her B.A. in public administration at Anhui Medical University and MPH in maternal, child and family health at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research interests are broadly focused on women’s health and early child development, specifically in underdeveloped countries and regions.



Mark OkwirMark Okwir, M.D.

Mark Okwir, M.D., a Fulbright Scholar (2022-2024) under the US Department of State, joined the 2022 Epidemiology PhD Program. He holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree (MBChB) from Makerere University Kampala and a Master's in Internal Medicine (M.Med). His thesis work was on hepatoxicity of anti-tuberculosis therapy among HIV patients. He completed an internship at St Mary’s Hospital Lacor and trained in Applied Clinical Research and Evidence Based Medicine (ACREM). A Fellow of East Central South African (ECSA) College of Physicians, he led medicine departments at Gulu and Lira Universities. His research spans brain infections, Hepatitis B, Liver Cancers, Cardiovascular Disease in HIV, and Rheumatic Heart disease in children. His central research interest lies in the interplay between infectious and non-communicable diseases.

Jiamin YinJiamin Yin

Jiamin Yin joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2021. She received a Bachelor of Medicine in Preventive Medicine from Sun Yat-Sen University, China and a Master’s degree in Social Epidemiology from University College London, UK. Prior to joining the program, she worked as a statistical programmer. Her research primarily focuses on cognitive function, dementia, ADRD and how mental health relates to these health outcomes.


Cathy YountCathy Yount

Cathy Yount joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2020. She holds a degree in Human Biology and Society from UCLA and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of California, Irvine. Prior to coming to Rochester, Cathy was worked as an Evaluation Coordinator at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and completed the Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at the Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles. Her academic interests include environmental exposures during pregnancy and subsequent biomarkers, as well as child health and neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Karunakar SamuelKaurnakar Samuel

Karunakar Samuel joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2020. He completed his undergraduate studies at Bowling Green State University, earning his Bachelor of Science in Biology before continuing on to the University of Toledo where he earned his Master’s in Public Health with an Epidemiology specialization. His Master’s thesis looked at the impact of multiple sclerosis on oral health, a project he continued working on after graduation as a researcher in the Department of Neurology. He also conducted research studying the relationship between household dust mite exposure and IgE-mediated demyelination. Karunakar’s research interests include the epidemiology of multiple sclerosis and other neuroimmunological diseases.

Mariah KahwajiMariah Kahwaji

Mariah Kahwaji joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2020. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree in 2018 and a Master of Science in Epidemiology degree in 2019, both from Kent State University. During her educational period at Kent State University, she worked with a neuroscience research lab, Cleveland Clinic Akron General, and Summit County Public Health on projects related to child and maternal health. Broadly, Mariah’s research interests include perinatal health and longitudinal study outcomes. Specifically, she is interested in lifestyle and environmental exposures during the perinatal period that are associated with thyroid and other chronic outcomes in children.

Shivram KumarShivram Kumar

Shivram Kumar joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2021. He received a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from Gulf Medical University, UAE and a Master of Public Health with a major in Epidemiology from East Tennessee State University. He has previously worked with a neurologist at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota on Cavernous Malformation research. His research interests are in Clinical and Neuroepidemiology with a focus on traumatic brain injury


Fariha Hoque RimuFariha Hoque Rimu

Fariha Hoque Rimu joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2022. She obtained her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (M.B.B.S.) degree from Chittagong Medical College in Bangladesh. Before enrolling in this program, she gained experience in various non-governmental organizations, including one in the Rohingya camp, Cox's Bazar, currently the largest refugee camp in the world. Her research interests broadly encompass environmental predictors of neurodevelopmental disorders, the role of environmental factors on maternal and child health, and predictors of chronic diseases.


Ying WangYing Wang

Ying Wang joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2020. She received her Bachelors degree in Preventive Medicine from Nanjing Medical University, and subsequently completed her Master in Epidemiology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include infectious disease and identification of modifiable factors (e.g., physical activity and nutrition) to predict health outcomes.

Spoorthy VangalaSpoorthy Vangala

Spoorthy Vangala joined the Epidemiology Ph.D. program in 2021. She received her medical degree from Dr. NTRUHS, India, and subsequently graduated from the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, with a Masters in Public Health. She has previously worked at the California Department of Public Health as an Epidemiologist with the COVID-19 response team. Her research interests are in cardiovascular epidemiology, particularly in understanding the effects of environmental exposures on cardiometabolic risk factors. 

Maya AnandMaya Anand

Maya Anand joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2021 and is a student in the MD/PhD program. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Information Science degree from Columbia University and has previously worked as a clinical research coordinator for studies relating to supportive care for patients with advanced cancer. Her research interests relate to social determinants of health in older adults with cancer, including social support and health literacy.‚Äč


Marielle Jensen-BattagliaMarrielle Jensen-Battaglia

Marielle Jensen-Battaglia joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2019. Her educational background includes a Bachelors degree in Biology and minor in Psychology from Roberts Wesleyan College and a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. She is a licensed physical therapist, certified Geriatric Clinical Specialist and American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Credentialed Clinical Instructor with experience in outpatient, skilled nursing, homecare, and day center settings. Her research interests include healthy aging, health inequities in geriatric populations, and determinants of physical mobility through the end of life.

Amber KautzAmber Kautz

Amber Kautz joined the Epidemiology PhD program in 2019. Amber earned her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Cornell University in 2015, and subsequently completed her Master of Science in Nutrition, as well as her Dietetic Internship, at Boston University in 2017. Prior to joining the program, she worked as a Registered Dietitian for 2 years in the inpatient setting. Broadly, her research interests are centered on nutritional epidemiology, including factors that impact weight status and chronic disease outcomes.