In the Spotlight: New Faculty
The School of Public Health and Health Sciences welcomed several new faculty members into its ranks this year. They include Susan Hankinson (Public Health), Karen Ertel (Public Health), Jing Qian (Public Health), Nicholas Reich (Public Health), Gwyneth Rost (Communication Disorders), and Judi LaBranche (Kinesiology).
Susan Hankinson joins the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the Department of Public Health as a Professor of Epidemiology. Dr. Hankinson is a cancer epidemiologist, and until joining the School in September, was a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She received her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Hankinson has been a senior investigator with the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and NHS II, two long-term ongoing cohort studies of women’s health, for over 20 years and was Principal Investigator of the NHS from 2006 to 2011. Her research primarily focuses on breast cancer etiology and prevention as well as the incorporation of biomarkers into epidemiologic research. With funding from NIH for the past 18 years, she has focused on lifestyle and endogenous predictors of both breast cancer risk and survival. She also is interested in determining underlying mechanistic pathways for known breast cancer risk factors, is working to improve breast cancer risk prediction models, and would like to learn more about predictors of patient uptake of currently approved breast cancer chemoprevention options. Her decision to join UMass Amherst was related to the strength of the faculty already in the Division, the focus of the SPHHS to continue to grow its research program, and the opportunity to live in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.
Karen A. Ertel joins the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the Department of Public Health as an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology beginning in January 2012. Dr. Ertel completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Kellogg Health Scholars Program in 2011, received her doctoral degree from Harvard School of Public Health in 2008, and also holds an M.P.H. in Maternal and Child Health from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Ertel is a social epidemiologist whose research uses lifecourse and health disparities perspectives to focus on maternal and child health. She is interested in social and psychosocial determinants of maternal mental health, how social factors contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in maternal mental health, and how these factors may translate into poor health in the next generation. Dr. Ertel's recent studies have delved into the relation between maternal perinatal depression and growth in early childhood; racial discrimination as a determinant of prenatal depression in women of color in the United States; and creating the first nationally-representative estimates of rates and risks of depression among mothers. In addition, she has studied health outcomes across the lifecourse and in particular how working conditions affect the health of women and mothers.
Jing Qian joins the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the Department of Public Health as an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics. Dr. Qian earned a bachelor's degree in statistics in 2002 from Renmin University of China, and a Ph.D. in biostatistics in 2009 from Emory University. He did postdoctoral research in the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health from 2009 to 2011 before he joined the UMass Amherst faculty.
Dr. Qian's main research interests are in the area of survival analysis, which deals with time-to-event data in general. Specifically, he studies semiparametric methods for correlated time-to-event outcomes, arising from medical cost and cost-effectiveness analysis and multistate clinical trials. By developing a quantile regression approach for censored survival data, Dr. Qian introduces flexible modeling methods to deal with non-constant covariate effects in regression. Currently, he is also active in developing statistical methods for survival data subject to complex sampling.
Dr. Qian is also interested in statistical inference with high dimensional data. His other research interests include statistical issues in clinical trials and epidemiological studies, and statistical analysis in neurologic diseases. He is seeking collaborators within the School of Public Health and Health Sciences and around the UMass Amherst and Worcester campuses.
Nicholas Reich joins the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the Department of Public Health as a Research Assistant Professor of Biostatistics. Having grown up in Leverett, just north of Amherst, Dr. Reich is returning to the Pioneer Valley. He recently completed a Ph.D. and post-doctoral training in Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University. Before beginning his graduate studies, he received a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Carleton College and for several years worked for the non-profit City CarShare based in San Francisco.
Currently, Dr. Reich's research focuses on statistical methods for analyzing and describing the dynamics of infectious disease. Over the past five years, he has collaborated with clinicians and epidemiologists on a wide array of projects, including estimating the case fatality ratio of pandemic influenza, studying the interactions between serotypes of dengue virus, and drawing inference about treatments that can prevent hospital-acquired infections with superbugs such as MRSA. With Hopkins colleagues, Dr. Reich has traveled twice to Thailand to train field epidemiologists at the Thai Ministry of Public Health in Bangkok.
Gwyneth Rost is a pediatric speech-language pathologist who joins the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa in 2011 and holds Master's degrees from the University of Louisville.
Dr. Rost's central research questions focus on word learning processes in infancy, childhood, and adolescence. She is interested in how children use a variety of skills and cognitive mechanisms to learn the meanings of words, and how this process is affected in children with developmental disabilities.
Judi LaBranche joins the faculty as a Lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology, where she will also serve as the Director of the Body Shop Fitness Center. She received her Master of Science in Health Promotion and Wellness Management from Springfield College in 1994.
Judi brings 22 years of work experience in corporate, commercial, and community settings, including with large programs with Johnson & Johnson and Reebok. Her specialty is designing and implementing exercise programs for high risk populations including those with chronic illness or disease. Her role here is to help students put into practice the theory behind the science of exercise. In the next few years, she would like to add to the types of chronic conditions she has worked with, such as more programs for individuals with autoimmune diseases.