SPHHS Welcomes New Faculty for Fall 2019

UMass Amherst SPHHS New Faculty Fall 2019

Top row from left: Wouter Hoogkamer, Zhengqing Ouyang, and
Amanda Paluch. Bottom row from left: Elizabeth Salerno Valdez
and Cassandra Spracklen

September 24, 2019

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences welcomes five new full-time faculty members into its ranks this academic year. New tenure-track faculty hires for Fall 2019 include Zhengqing Ouyang and Cassandra Spracklen in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, and Wouter Hoogkamer and Amanda Paluch in the Department of Kinesiology. Elizabeth Salerno Valdez joins the Department of Health Promotion and Policy as a full-time lecturer.

Wouter Hoogkamer joins the Department of Kinesiology as an assistant professor. He received his PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium in 2014, and later served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. His lab uses a comprehensive approach to study human locomotion, integrating neurophysiology, biomechanics and energetics. His work covers the full health spectrum, from the neuromechanics of split-belt walking in individuals with neurological disease to the biomechanics and energetics of elite marathon runners. He focuses specifically on how surface and footwear properties can be used and optimized to improve gait rehabilitation and sports performance.

Zhengqing Ouyang joins the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology as an Associate Professor of Biostatistics. Ouyang’s long-term research interests are on the development and application of statistical methods for modeling high-throughput biological and biomedical data, and discovering genomic mechanisms in health and disease. His current research focuses on statistical and biological challenges emerged in 3D genome, RNA structurome, single cellome, and regulome studies. His group pursues both methodological and collaborative research opportunities throughout our investigations. Prior to accepting his position at UMass Amherst, he worked for the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, CT. He received his PhD from and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Stanford University.

Amanda Paluch joins the Department of Kinesiology as an assistant professor through a joint appointment with the university’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences. Paluch received her PhD from the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina in 2014, and served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. Paluch is a physical activity epidemiologist and kinesiologist with a focus on advancing the measurement of physical activity. Her expertise lies in applying physical activity and fitness measurement in the setting of observational epidemiologic studies or as a tool for interventions. Her research focuses on developing wearable sensor technologies targeting populations at high risk or at early stages of chronic disease. Her long-term goal is to reduce the burden of chronic diseases through technology-assisted physical activity interventions that can be disseminated through clinicians and/or population level efforts.

Elizabeth Salerno Valdez joins the Community Health Education program in the Department of Health Promotion and Policy as a postdoctoral pathways fellow and lecturer. She earned her PhD from the University of Arizona. Her research to date has relied on strong community partnerships to expand the reach, impact and sustainability of public health research programs focused on substance use prevention and treatment, reproductive health, and maternal and child health among immigrant communities.

Cassandra Spracklen joins the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology as an assistant professor of epidemiology. She earned her PhD from the University of Iowa, and subsequently served as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Genetics at the University of North Carolina. Spracklen’s research focuses on identifying genetic contributions to complex systems that lead to disease, with a primary focus on cardiovascular diseases. Her research goal is to combine epidemiologic, genetic, and bioinformatic methodologies to tease apart results from genome-wide association studies and identify which DNA variant(s) are ultimately responsible for a given cardiometabolic trait. She also has strong research interests in reproductive and perinatal epidemiology, particularly regarding fertility and adverse pregnancy outcomes, as well as life course epidemiology.