SPHHS Welcomes New Faculty for Fall 2018

Top (left-right): Megan Gross, Gwenael Layec, Chi Hyun Lee, and Andrew Lover.
Bottom (left-right): Airin D. Martinez, Youssef Oulhote, Luis Valdez, and John Zeber.

September 21, 2018

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences welcomes eight new full-time tenure-track faculty members into its ranks this academic year. New faculty hires for Fall 2018 include Chi Hyun Lee, Andrew Lover, and Youssef Oulhote in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology; Megan Gross in the Department of Communication Disorders; Airin D. Martinez, Luis Valdez, and John Zeber  in the Department of Health Promotion and Policy; and Gwenael Layec in the Department of Kinesiology.

Megan Gross joins the Department of Communication Disorders as an Assistant Professor after completing her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on language development in bilingual children with typical development and with communication disorders. In particular, she is interested in how bilingual children learn to control which language(s) they use when talking to different conversation partners in different contexts and how they process mixed-language input that includes elements from both of their languages. Her work examines the inter-relationships among the linguistic, cognitive, social, and environmental factors that may contribute to language control in bilingual children and how language control may be affected in children with communication disorders (e.g., Developmental Language Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome) that impact their linguistic, social, and cognitive skills. In addition to understanding how bilingual children with communication disorders use and process their two languages, Gross is interested in how continued use of both languages can be most effectively supported through bilingual intervention strategies.

Gwenael Layec joins the Department of Kinesiology as an Assistant Professor. After earning his PhD from the Université de la Mediteranée in Marseille, France in 2008, Layec served in a number of capacities at the University of Utah, most recently as an Assistant Professor of Medicine. His research goals aim to better understand the role of oxidative stress and physical inactivity in mediating peripheral abnormalities in O2 transport and muscle bioenergetics associated with aging and disease (e.g., Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Peripheral Arterial Disease, heart failure), and to explore pharmacologic, nutritional or exercise-based strategies that can mitigate the deleterious vascular and metabolic dysfunction associated with these conditions. To achieve these goals, he employs an integrative approach from the cellular level to the whole organism in humans, which encompasses ultrasound Doppler, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P/1H)and imaging, motor nerve stimulation, high resolution respirometry, electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy, and a host of molecular and cellular biology techniques. He will conduct his research within the university’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences.

Chi Hyun Lee joins the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology as an Assistant Professor. She holds a PhD in Biostatistics from the University of Minnesota, and most recently served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her research is primarily focused on statistical methodologies for survival outcomes in observational studies. Lee has developed methods for recurrent event data and length-biased or left-truncated right-censored data in various applications such as multiple infections after bone marrow transplantation, mental health services and intervention, and Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and aging research. Her methodology research involves both nonparametric estimation and semiparametric regression methods for complex survival data. For this work, she has proposed methods that properly address the induced dependent censoring and sampling bias issues. She is especially interested in developing statistical models or measures with intuitive interpretation that facilitates communication between statisticians and non-statisticians, and in combining data from different sampling designs to improve accuracy and efficiency of statistical inference.

Andrew Lover also joins the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology as an Assistant Professor. After earning his PhD from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health in the National University of Singapore in 2015, Lover took a position as research fellow/senior technical specialist on the Malaria Elimination Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco. He is an infectious disease epidemiologist with substantive focuses in malaria (especially Plasmodium vivax), other vector-borne diseases, and disease surveillance, all coupled with the design and implementation of field surveys and interventional trials. His research strives to ensure health interventions utilize best-available epidemiological evidence to maximize the impact of inherently limited health budgets. He has conducted field work in diverse global settings, including studies in Timor-Leste (East Timor), Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao PDR (Laos), and Kenya, and has also included elements of qualitative research and community health to support epidemiological outcomes. His current and on-going studies include: 1) trialing a novel vector-control intervention for malaria elimination (Vietnam); 2) trialing strategies for targeted malaria surveillance in marginalized populations (Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia); and 3) studies to understand the epidemiology of tick-borne disease (Western Massachusetts).

Airín D. Martínez joins the Health Policy and Management program in the Department of Health Policy and Promotion as an Assistant Professor. She is a medical sociologist with training from the University of California-San Francisco. Martínez completed the W.K. Kellogg Health Scholars postdoctoral fellowship in community-based participatory research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research examines the sociopolitical and institutional arrangements that produce chronic disease disparities among Latinx immigrants and their US-born children. Her current research examines how the local implementation of immigration enforcement policies creates material deprivation and psychosocial stress among Latinx mixed-status families, with at least one unauthorized immigrant. She hopes that her research can reverse policies excluding US immigrant populations and inform community-based prevention strategies.

Youssef Oulhote joins the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology as an Assistant Professor. He received his Engineering degree from the National Institute of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences in Morocco, a Master’s degree in Risk assessment from the AgroParisTech Engineering School in Paris, and a PhD from the French National School of Public Health. Oulhote worked as a research associate within the Environmental and Occupational Medicine & Epidemiology program at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health where he investigated health effects of chemicals. As an epidemiologist, his research focuses on the health effects of early life exposures to metals (e.g. mercury, lead, and manganese) and endocrine disruptors (e.g. PBDEs, PFAS, and phthalates), with an emphasis on children’s cognitive and behavioral functions. He also investigates the application of machine learning techniques within a causal inference framework. Finally, his research explores the interplay of environmental, nutritional and social factors, and how these exposures interact to impact population health.

Luis Valdez joins the Community Health Education program in the Department of Health Policy and Promotion as an Assistant Professor. He earned his PhD from the University of Arizona, where he also held a postdoctoral research position with the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center for Health Disparities Research. Valdez’s research uses a multilevel perspective and mixed methods approach to understand and address the impact of systemic processes that perpetuate racial/ethnic health disparities in historically marginalized populations. His work addresses inequities in Latinx, im/migrant, indigenous, and farmworker populations. Currently he is interested in understanding how individual level experiences interact with macro-level characteristics and social networks to influence the health-related behaviors of Latinx men. Specifically, his research examines a range of health behaviors related to substance abuse, healthy food choice, and physical activity, with an emphasis on developing and testing culturally-and gender-responsive interventions. An emerging area of his work also incorporates the improvement of health communication and community engagement strategies in research and public health practice with underserved minority communities.

John Zeber joins the Department of Health Promotion and Policy as an Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management. An alumnus of the University of Michigan, he joins the university after serving as a senior investigator at the Baylor Scott & White Healthcare: Center for Applied Health Research and Central Texas Veterans Affairs. Zeber’s work over the past 20 years has focused on large integrated health systems, including the VA and a large delivery system, both responsible for comprehensive care for a defined population. As such, he has led and supported numerous projects evaluating access to care, patient treatment decisions, the role of providers and the overall system, implementation of potentially innovative interventions, and subsequent relevant outcomes. While he frequently utilizes large administrative datasets, he has been involved in mixed methods projects, recruitment studies (including the NIM Precision Medicine study), and works towards closely engaging clinical leadership in work central to its mission. His specific areas of focus include medication adherence, individuals with serious mental illness, addressing gender or ethnic disparities in care, and a recent role in several infectious disease interventions. Zeber has served on Academy Health advisory boards, as an IRB chair, continues to be a member of an international adherence working group, and holds a current position as associate editor for Family Practice journal.