Skip to main content
Explore URMC

Golisano Children's Hospital Logo

Pediatrics / Jill Halterman Lab / Lab Members

Lab Members

The Preventive Care Program for Urban Children with Asthma team has the fortunate opportunity to work closely with the Rochester community while emphasizing the importance of continued learning. The following quotes are reflections on how our experiences have affected us.

Principal Investigator

Jill Halterman, M.D., M.P.H.
– Professor, Pediatrics
– Division Chief, General Pediatrics
– Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research
"In my view, our greatest privilege has been the opportunity to develop the relationships that we have with the community. In particular, the city school district and the nurses have been so supportive of our programs, and have worked diligently to improve care for children with asthma." – Jill Halterman, M.D., M.P.H.

Study Team

Maria Fagnano, M.P.H.
– Associate Director of Clinical Research
– Senior Health Project Coordinator
"I feel very fortunate to work with a wonderful research team that cares about children’s health with great enthusiasm. Our research team always seeks to better understand the families that we work with to ultimately provide better health care to these children." – Maria Fagnano, M.P.H.

Paul Tremblay, R.N. – Project Nurse
"To be in a position to contribute as a nurse within this dynamic research team is both meaningful and rewarding. Our work together leads to a better understanding of significant gaps and disparities in the asthma care of urban underserved children. Thanks to visionary leadership we are in a unique position to test community-based interventions that address children’s relievable suffering and improve quality of life for Rochester families. Many memorable experiences with bright-eyed children, concerned parents, committed school nurses and local pediatric providers have left their impressions. One former elementary school child was particularly enthusiastic. Through meetings with his mom and dad, I heard about their struggles with long-standing smoking habits. He was able to breathe noticeably better when he received his preventive asthma medicine through school and his parents wanted to take steps to eliminate smoke exposure at home. At the end of the school year we asked this child if he would pose for a picture; he could not contain his excitement and performed cart wheels for us on his front lawn. His mother smiled big too, sharing his joy and looking very proud. The upside down image of this excited boy later became part of the logo we designed for our School-Based Preventive Asthma Care Technology (SB-PACT) study. We’re able to make a difference for real people and learn what it takes to make asthma a chronic condition that children can live well and lead full lives with." – Paul Tremblay, R.N.

Susan Blaakman, Ph.D. – Project Nurse
"I have learned a great deal about what it takes to run a major research project while upholding the highest respect both for science and the care of the families who participate. It was my greatest honor to be invited to a home by a family participating in the NICU study pilot and to be introduced to a now healthy and thriving baby who was at birth ‘the smallest baby ever born at Strong Memorial Hospital.’ I’ll never forget being able to hold a miracle (dressed in pink) in my arms that day!" – Susan Blaakman, Ph.D.

Reynaldo Tajon, B.A. – Health Project Coordinator
"Watching our school-based programs evolve into what will potentially be a new model of care for childhood asthma is both challenging and rewarding. In some ways, our approach to asthma care is much like taking apart an outdated vehicle and rebuilding it with more efficient and economical parts. What is very exciting at the moment is that some schools and state health departments across the country are starting to take notice of our approach to school-based asthma care and are trying to implement similar programs! Our overall goal is for these programs to be sustained and disseminated elsewhere, and while we know we have our work cut out, we are looking forward to the challenge. With every study, we are exploring new grounds to provide high-risk children with asthma with the best possible care." – Reynaldo Tajon, B.A.

Amanda Drobnica, M.P.H. – Health Project Coordinator

Charles Gillett – Information Analyst
"During my time here with the study team, my understanding of what it takes to conduct 'good' research has expanded far beyond the scope of just having 'good' data printed on a sheet. Good research is about the development of theories and the experience of taking those ideas and materializing them. Good research is about the people who work together on that process. In research, it not only takes a good idea, but just as importantly is requires a good team of individuals to nurture those ideas and help you to develop better ones. Working here has been a great experience as I have had the chance to work with individuals who are always seeking to improve themselves and the quality of their work. The dedication to the work and to the community has definitely been a major contributor to the team's past successes and it will continue to promote future success. It’s such an honor to be a part of this team." – Charles Gillett

Cinthia Welch – Information Analyst
“Speaking from the heart, I believe research has the ability to establish innovative knowledge and power to influence policies that can make a real difference in the world, and what better place to start using that knowledge than in your own community. I think it is important to give back to your community in order to make a positive impact in the world around you, especially in Rochester, because we have such a large underserved urban population. Knowing that I have this outstanding opportunity to be out in my native community, be involved in children’s health, and reach out to families is just an incredible honor. The asthma study team has been leading phenomenal research over the years, and is constantly evolving. It is inspiring to be surrounded by team members who all strive towards research that could make a change in the way we care for childhood asthma and genuinely care about our community. I find this experience very rewarding and am extremely proud to be a part of this legendary team.” – Cinthia Welch

Derek D’Arcy – Information Analyst
“I consider myself very lucky to be able to work with such caring and driven people on the Asthma Team. The opportunity to help families in the community alongside a wonderful team is something I am extremely grateful for. Although I have only been a member of the Asthma team for a short time, I'm excited to continue to meet and help wonderful families throughout Rochester!” – Derek D’Arcy

Dana Belles – Information Analyst
"The asthma program is the perfect place for me to combine two of my passions: improving public health, and working with largely underserved members of the Rochester community. It is a joy for me to come to work every day, where I am privileged enough to work with a great, compassionate team, and meet with so many enjoyable families, teens, children, and providers around the city." – Dana Belles

Sarah DePerrior - Information Analyst
" As a new member of the Asthma Team, I am incredibly inspired by the mission and passion of this amazing group of people. Not only am I always learning new things about all of the many parts and pieces that go into conducting large-scale research in the community, I am continuously inspired by the incredible drive and enthusiasm this team has for helping to improve the health and well-being of children and families throughout the city of Rochester." – Sarah DePerrior

Erin Fleming – Information Analyst
“Watching so many unique minds work together on a project to help the Rochester community is amazing. The energy and passion of our team members is a large piece of what makes the Asthma Studies so successful.  We are able to help children better control their asthma and provide the care necessary to achieve positive outcomes.  I love the family centered aspect of working with the entire household to help a child be well. I leave work feeling satisfied with the things I've done and the children I've encountered.” –Erin Fleming

Brooke Remchuk – Information Analyst
"This team is incredibly hardworking and passionate about the work they do; it is a privilege to work and grow alongside such dedicated individuals. Being a part of the team is also a unique way to encounter the Rochester community and has provided me the opportunity to learn about the research process, asthma, and the barriers too many families have to overcome to manage their children's health. I look forward to continuing our efforts to help improve pediatric asthma!" – Brooke Remchuk

Shelby Zink – Information Analyst
"Working in the community I grew up in to make a positive impact on the lives of children with asthma has been such a valuable and eye-opening experience. I feel fortunate to be able to share my passion, grow professionally, and learn from such a talented and driven team!" –Shelby Zink

Angela Kluzniak – Research Associate
"Everyone who is a part of, The Preventive Care Program for Urban Children with Asthma is passionate about improving public health, and being there for the families and teens they work with. It is great to be a part of a team that spreads awareness and strives to reduce the disparity of care for asthma. I enjoy going to work every day because of the positive impact this research has had for families in past years and the continued affect I think it will continue to have on the community.” – Angela Kluzniak

Joana (Jojo) Coelho – Research Associate
“Observing the families, researchers, primary care practices, and school faculty of the Rochester community come together to improve the life of children with asthma is a truly awe inspiring experience. Every day, I look forward to the opportunity of working with the Asthma Team to try to improve the education around asthma management and accessibility to treatment for the current and future families of the Rochester community. For me, learning about the economic and social barriers faced by our families in seeking care for their asthma or in their day-to-day life makes the work we and others in research and public health do that much more imperative. Providing support and counsel to our families is the most important and rewarding part of this experience for me and as someone who aspires to career in pediatrics and primary care, I hope to take the lessons I have learned from my colleagues in medicine, in research, in the community, and in the families we work with to continue to develop and grow as an individual and a healthcare professional.” – Joana Coelho

Zuleika Ortiz – Information Analyst
“The impact the preventive care program has on the Rochester community has been an enlightening experience where on a day to day basis I work with a dedicated team passionate about creating a beneficial change for the families we work with. Being a part of the asthma team has been an immensely humbling experience where day to day interactions become observable long term benefits to the community.  I look forward to the experiences to come and feel honored to be a part of this team!” – Zuleika Ortiz

Joseph Kenny – Research Associate
“I look forward to contributing to this motivated team dedicated to the reduction of asthma morbidity within at-risk pediatric populations. All the members of Dr. Halterman’s lab share a common commitment to improving the quality of life for children and their families within our community. The lab promotes collaboration and ingenuity in applying study protocols in the field, enhancing data quality while respecting the busy schedules of our study families.” – Joseph Kenny

Brennen Caveney – Research Associate
"Being a part of the Asthma Team is special because it provides the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of families in the Rochester area. Having the chance to help families overcome healthcare barriers and improve asthma symptoms in children and teens is truly rewarding. The team has a great passion for the work they do and is constantly striving to do more for our families. I am happy to come to work each day and contribute to such meaningful research within the community." – Brennen Caveney

Michelle Shankar – Medical Student Research Assistant
“I am truly grateful for the opportunity to learn from the children and families that I hope to one day serve as a physician. I am inspired by every team member's dedication to excellence in order to best serve our community, and I am excited to be part of it!” – Michelle Shankar

Darcie Farrell – Motivational Interviewer

Ariel Weisman – Research Associate
"There's nothing better than coming to work every day with such compassionate and energetic people! Working with the Asthma Team has taught me so much about how researchers can go above and beyond simply collecting data in order to leave a positive, lasting impact on their community. I'm so lucky to have been welcomed in our families' homes and gain a better understanding of the day-to-day factors that make asthma so difficult to manage. I look forward to the experiences I'll have with our families as our research continues." – Ariel Weisman

Lydia Goff – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2018
Hometown: Red Hook, NY
Major: English and Psychology
Minor: Brain and Cognitive Science
Personal Interests: writing, cooking and hiking

Devan Baijal – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Brentwood, TN
Majors: Environmental Health and Business
Minor: Biology
Personal Interests: Traveling with my family, being active, and not being active at the same time

Brianne Landwersiek– Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2018
Hometown: Baldwinsville, NY
Majors: Public Health (Health, Behavior, and Society) and Studio Arts
Minor: Spanish
Personal Interests: visual arts (painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpting, finger-painting, etc.), paying guitar/ukulele/piano/singing, working with kids

Olivia Moutevelis – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2018
Hometown: Ipswich, MA
Major: Health, Behavior and Society
Minor: Biology

Amogh Kare – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2015
Hometown: Westford, MA
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Epidemiology
Personal Interests: photography, music

Gianna Melillo – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Glenmoore, PA
Major: Public Health
Minor: Spanish and Psychology
Personal Interests: Softball, skiing, cooking

Lauren Hoffman – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2018
Hometown: Clifton Park, NY
Major: Brain and Cognitive Science
Minor: Spanish and Psychology
Personal Interests: Music and sports

Peter Evancho – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Buffalo NY
Majors: Neuroscience and Chemistry
Minor: Spanish
Personal Interests: making lists, talking about movies, hanging out with friends, debating hypotheticals

Jasmine Han – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Major: Molecular Genetics
Minor: Spanish Language and Clinical Psychology
Personal Interests: Dancing, going on campus trips, drawing and working with kids

Julia Fraser – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Andover, MA
Majors: Environmental Health and English (Language, Media and Communications concentration)
Personal Interests: Exploring new places, reading good books, taking long walks with her dog

Annie Ma – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Lexington, MA
Major: Molecular Genetics
Minor: Philosophy
Personal Interests: hiking, kayaking, and camping

Mahima Joshi – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Henderson, NY
Major: Public Health
Personal Interests: swimming and eating food from different cultures

Oleg Demus – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Ukraine
Major: Computational Biology
Personal Interests: listening to music

Joshua Rosario – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2021
Hometown: Hilton, NY
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Personal Interests: swimming, playing guitar and traveling

Leena Khoury – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Majors: Molecular Genetics and English
Personal Interests: reading, writing and watching movies