Meet The


Thu Nguyen


Thu Nguyen, ScD, MSPH is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at University of Maryland School of Public Health. She is an epidemiologist whose research focuses on the impact of social factors on minority health and health disparities.

Dr. Nguyen uses a variety of different data sources (including Big Data) and approaches (including quantitative and qualitative research methods) to advance our understanding of social determinants of health. She is the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) and R01 to create a novel state and county-level indicator of racial attitudes and bias using Twitter data and to examine its associations with birth outcomes and racial/ethnic disparities in birth outcomes. Dr. Nguyen received her BA in Human Biology from Stanford University, her MSPH in Epidemiology from UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and her ScD in Social Epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Gilbert C. Gee


Gilbert C. Gee, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. He received his bachelor degree in neuroscience from Oberlin College, his doctorate in Health Policy and Management from the Johns Hopkins University, and post-doctoral training in sociology from Indiana University.

His research focuses on the social determinants of health inequities of racial, ethnic, and immigrant minority populations using a multi-level and life course perspective. A primary line of his research focuses on conceptualizing and measuring racial discrimination, and in understanding how discrimination may be related to illness. He has also published more broadly on the topics of stress, neighborhoods, immigration, environmental exposures, occupational health, and on Asian American populations.

Amani M. Allen


Amani M. Allen is Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences and Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health. Her broad research interest is to integrate concepts, theories and methods from epidemiology and the social and biomedical sciences to examine racial inequalities in health as they exist across populations, across place and over the life-course.

Dr. Allen considers herself to be more “exposure” than “outcomes” focused, which is consistent with her interests in examining social factors such as “race” and “socioeconomic position” as exposures that serve as the foundation for the creation and preservation of health disparities across a number of outcomes. She is interested in how these social exposures determine life experiences and opportunities differently for different social groups and how those differences become embodied and impact mental and physical health and well being. Dr. Allen’s work employs a mix of quantitative and qualitative data for understanding racial health disparities, informing the measurement of social determinants and addressing concerns related to internal validity challenges in health disparities research. Dr. Allen has published in top scientific journals including the American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Annals of Epidemiology, Psychoneuroendocrinology–where her paper examining racial discrimination, educational attainment and biological dysregulation among African American women was named Editor’s Choice (2019), and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences where her recent paper examining racial discrimination, superwoman schema, and allostatic load among African-American women was highlighted as the cover feature. Dr. Allen and her work have been featured on NPR, CBSNews, BlackPress USA, the Urban League, Essence Magazine, US News & World Report, The Guardian, SF Chronicle, The Atlantic, WebMD, CNN, and MSNBC, among others.

Quynh Nguyen


Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park, MD. Dr. Nguyen is a social epidemiologist focusing on contextual and economic factors as they relate to health.

She has extensive experience using numerous national and international population-based health surveys to examine social and economic predictors of health, and to quantify national and international patterns in health disparities. Her current research program focuses on creating and validating neighborhood indicators constructed from nontraditional Big Data sources such as social media data and Google Street View images. She received a K01 career development grant through the Big Data to Knowledge Initiative (BD2K) and a R01 from the National Library of Medicine to pursue this research program (K01ES025433; R01LM012849).

Shaniece Criss


Shaniece Criss, ScD, MPH, MPA is a Health Science faculty member at Furman University and a community-engaged qualitative researcher addressing health equity and health communication.

Dr. Criss is an elected official on Travelers Rest City Council and serves on the board of directors for Prisma Health, the largest not-for-profit health organization in South Carolina serving more than 1.2 million patients annually. Recently, she was recognized as one of eleven leaders from across the state with the “Women Vision SC” Award from ETV. With a passion to implement effective interventions and policies, she earned her doctorate from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Master of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she was awarded a Presidential Public Service Fellowship. She has a Master of Public Health from Emory University and an undergraduate degree in communication from Oglethorpe University. As a public health practitioner, Dr. Criss served as producer and host for a national television show for the Ministry of Health in Guyana during her Peace Corps service. She also held positions at ICF International, Centers for Disease Control, and CNN.

Maria Glymour


Maria Glymour, ScD, MS is a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research focuses on how social factors experienced across the lifecourse, from infancy to adulthood, influence cognitive function, dementia, stroke, and other health outcomes in old age. She is especially interested in education and other exposures amenable to policy interventions. Current cohorts of elderly in the US were exposed to profound social changes during the 20th century when we revolutionized access to high school. 

One thread of her research examines how changes in schooling laws and school quality in the 20th century might have influenced the health and cognitive functioning of current cohorts of elderly. Her results suggest that extra schooling has substantial benefits for memory function in the elderly independent of any “innate” characteristics. She has also worked on the influence of “place” on health, for example to understand the excess stroke burden for individuals who grew up in the US Stroke Belt. With her colleague Dr. Adina Zeki Al-Hazzouri, she has a grant evaluating the long term effects of migrating from Mexico to the US on cognitive outcomes and dementia risk. In a project with colleagues including Dr. Rachel Whitmer, they are developing a unique multi-ethnic cohort of older adults in Northern California, with a wealth of lifecourse biological and social data to offer insight into the reasons for racial/ethnic differences in Alzheimer’s and dementia risk ( A separate theme of my research focuses on overcoming methodological problems encountered in analyses of social determinants of health, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. 

Postdoctoral Scholars, Students, and Researchers

Keunbok Lee


Keunbok Lee, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Maryland School of Public. His primary interest is the association between social networks dynamics and health inequality. Particularly, his research focuses on quantifying dynamics and multivocal meanings of social relationships and examining the associations between social inequality, social networks, and health. He received his BA in East Asian History and sociology from Yonsei University in South Korea and his Ph.D. in Sociology from the Department of Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley.  

Eli Michaels

Eli Michaels, PhD, MPH 

Eli Michaels earned her PhD in Epidemiology at UC Berkeley. She is passionate about integrating theory from across the social sciences with epidemiologic methods to measure racism at different social levels and estimate its effects on racial health inequities in the United States.

She is particularly interested in using big data to measure area-level racial prejudice and examining biopsychosocial pathways to health. Prior to starting her PhD, she completed her BA in Sociology and Feminist & Gender Studies at Colorado College and her MPH in Health & Social Behavior at UC Berkeley. When she’s not debugging R code, Eli enjoys rock climbing, running, and cooking.

Dr. Dina Huang


Dr. Dina Huang is a quantitative epidemiologist focusing on social and environmental stressors that are related to cardiovascular outcomes. She is interested in utilizing Big Data as a tool in public health research. She has extensive experience in natural language processing (NLP).

Heran Mane

Data Scientist

In 2020, I embarked on a career in data analysis when I enrolled in a data science certification program at George Washington University. I transitioned into a data analysis career after working more than 10 years in the restaurant industry. I began as a hostess and worked my way up to the board of directors, where I learned how important data is and how misleading it can be when we fail to control for biases. Currently, I am applying my data analysis training and real world experience in multiple research programs that leverage data analysis to reveal biases in public health. As an undergraduate, I studied biology and psychology at Lindsey Wilson College.

Nhung Thai

Nhung Thai is a current undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, majoring in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Physiology and Metabolism. She is interested in pursuing a double minor in Public Health and Bioengineering while studying the intersectionality between health determinants and socioeconomic disparities.

She hopes to gain more research experience and expand her skillset as a student and researcher. During her free time, she loves to serve the Limited English Efficiency community through interpretation services and volunteering. (*will add picture soon*)

April Bell


April Bell, PhD, MPH is a postdoctoral fellow at the California Preterm Birth Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Bell obtained her PhD in Epidemiology from the Indiana University School of Public Health at Bloomington.

She obtained her MPH with a dual concentration in Epidemiology and Social & Behavioral Sciences from the Indiana University School of Medicine and her BA in Human Biology from Stanford University. Dr. Bell’s research is focused on decreasing reproductive health inequities among BIPOC youth by addressing the impacts of societal and structural biases on adverse birth outcomes, sexually transmitted infections, HIV acquisition, abortion access, and unintended pregnancy. Having worked extensively in both the US and across sub-Saharan Africa, she is interested in using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including digital storytelling, to bridge the expanse between US and African settings. She is Certified in Public Health and a Certified Clinical Research Professional. Dr. Bell is also a Governing Councilor for the Sexual and Reproductive Health Section of the American Public Health Association. Other professional affiliations include the Society of Family Planning, Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, and Society for Epidemiologic Research.

Isha Yardi

Isha Yardi is a current undergraduate student at The University of Maryland College Park studying Public Health Science in the Gemstone Honors Program. Isha is broadly interested in social epidemiology and the application of data to health policy outcomes. She is excited to be working with BD4HE to promote health equity through research!

Lynn Phan

Erica Hsu is a 2020 graduate from the University of Maryland College Park with a B.S. in Public Health Science. She is interested in using data to inform the development of community-based health interventions aimed at promoting health equity.

Erica is currently working as a Covid-19 contact tracer team lead for Prince George’s County and volunteering as a Maryland regional coordinator for Med Supply Drive, a non-profit organization that redirects PPE to health care facilities across the nation. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, baking, and playing board games.

Erica Hsu

Krishay Mukhija is a senior at The Harker School in San Jose, CA. He is interested in using machine learning to address racial disparities and improve health equity. In his free time, Krishay is training for a marathon and is running a non-profit called Suits2Empower, an organization working to break the cycle of juvenile incarceration.

Krishay Mukhija

Krishay Mukhija is a senior at The Harker School in San Jose, CA. He is interested in using machine learning to address racial disparities and improve health equity. In his free time, Krishay is training for a marathon and is running a non-profit called Suits2Empower, an organization working to break the cycle of juvenile incarceration.

Leah Nguyen

Leah Nguyen is a current 4th year student at the University of Maryland pursuing a B.S. in public health science. She is in a 5-year B.S./M.H.A. program. She is interested in health disparities and inequities, especially with mental health and women’s health.

She hopes to pursue an administrative career within these fields of public health. She is also involved in Alpha Phi Omega, a national service and leadership fraternity. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, painting, and cooking.

Marina Yue


Marina Yue, MS, is a data analyst in the School of Public Health at UMD College Park. She obtained her MA from Vanderbilt University at Data Science. She has deep-rooted passion for applying data science to solve people’s problems and make their lives better.  She has developed an expanding range of skill sets around big data and statistical analysis, natural language processing and the development of predictive models. Currently, her projects are focusing on social media data analysis and digital image processing to examine the associations with people’s health outcomes.

Ritu Belani

Ritu Belani is a rising junior at the Harker School in San Jose, CA. She is passionate about applying Natural Language Processing and machine learning to address racial disparities across healthcare and education systems. She won 2nd place and received the IBM award at the Silicon Valley Synopsys Science Fair for her independent research project which applied a computational approach to modeling code-switching in order to reduce the misdiagnosis of Hispanic bilingual students for language disorders. In her free time, Ritu does stand-up comedy and works with local leaders to implement policies benefiting older adults as the chair of the Senior Advocacy Commission.

Krishik Nataraj Gowda

Krishik Nataraj Gowda is a current graduate student at the University of Maryland pursuing M.S. in Information Systems. He has a bachelor degree in Telecommunication Engineering and has experience in software engineering. He has co-founded a pet e-commerce venture – PetStories. Krishik is passionate about using data science and software engineering to solve real world problems with a particular interest in health and racial disparities, and improving health equity.

Weijun Yu

Weijun Yu (Gaby), MS, MD is a PhD candidate in epidemiology at University of Maryland College Park and fellow member of the Royal Society of Medicine, UK. She is a data-driven epidemiologist focusing on network epidemiology and spatial epidemiology. She has published research on COVID-19, built environment and social media impact on health, and presented at national and international conferences. She has contributed to several American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine practice guidelines. In her free time, she likes composing original music, playing piano, painting, hiking, and traveling.

Team Stories