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PRC Team

  • Principal Investigator

    Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences); Director, Office of Public Health Practice; Affiliated Faculty, Yale Institute for Global Health; Director, YSPH Global Health Concentration; Director, Maternal and Child Health Promotion (MCHP) Program

    Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Ph.D., is Professor of Public Health, and Director of the Office of Public Health Practice, the Global Health Concentration, and the Maternal Child Health Promotion track at the Yale School of Public Health. He is the PI of the Yale-Griffin CDC Prevention Research Center (PRC). His global public health nutrition and food security research program, supported with over $70 million in extramural funds, has contributed to improvements in breastfeeding and other maternal, infant and young child nutrition outcomes, iron deficiency anemia among infants, household food security, and early childhood development. He has co-led innovative mixed-methods implementation studies assessing the impact of community health worker person centered interventions on breastfeeding, type-2 diabetes, post-partum hypertension and mental health outcomes among in vulnerable communities, including people of color in the U.S. He has published over 340 research articles, 3 books/monographs, and numerous journal supplements, book chapters, and technical reports. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine (elected in 2019) and served in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Food and Nutrition Board from 2012-18. He has been a senior advisor to maternal-child community nutrition programs as well as household food security measurement projects funded by the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, UNICEF, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the U.S. Agency for International Development, The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH),The World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Governments across world regions. He obtained his BS in Chemical Engineering from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and his MS in Food Science and his PhD in Nutrition from the University of California at Davis. His postdoctoral training at UC Davis focused on the link between nutrition and early childhood development.
  • Co-director

    Assistant Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences); Director of Research and Evaluation, Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE); Co-director, Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center

    Kathleen O’Connor Duffany, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Clinical Public Health in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at the Yale School of Public Health, Director of Research and Evaluation for CARE (the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement), and Co-Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. Dr. O’Connor Duffany’s research and practie examines the social, biological, behavioral, and structural barriers to health equity. Her work included extensive interactions with community-based organizations, agencies, and community residents to improve health outcomes. From large scale multi-national projects, to local community-based programs, she has designed and collaborated on studies and evaluations assessing and addressing social factors influencing health with an interest in long-term structural and policy change. She works collaboratively with community partners to identify ways to improve health in the community at large and communicate findings in multiple formats to reach academicians, community residents, and policy makers – conducting ‘rigorous community research for practical benefit. Dr. O'Connor Duffany’s expertise in evaluation extends over 25 years and includes the range of evaluation purposes and types. At YSPH, she teaches Community Health Program Evaluation to MPH and PhD students, engaging future researchers, evaluators, and practitioners in community-based participatory evaluation approaches focused on health equity, and mentoring students in developing evaluation plans for community organizations, health centers, and hospitals. To support ongoing workforce development trainings, she conducts annual trainings in Evidence Based Public Health for health department staff, hospital administrators, and CHWs across CT. In her role at Y-G PRC/CARE and YSPH, she along with her well-established evaluation team provides evaluation technical assistance, capacity building, and full support for evaluations, with recent studies focused on equity across a range of topics including evaluation of Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Programs in CT and CA, Breastfeeding initiative needs assessments, Supporting Wellness in Pantries (SWAP) process and outcomes study, CHW-led community clinical linkages initiative process and outcomes study, implementation science guided study of a virtual Diabetes Prevention Program supported by CHWs, rapid community assessments for vaccines, evaluation of local health communications efforts, and formative and outcome evaluation of CARE leadership programs including Community Research Fellows, New Haven Health Leaders, and Vaccine Equity Fellows programs, to name a few. She also serves on several committees and leadership teams related to food security, nutrition, and population health. Lastly, she serves as Faculty Director of the newly formed Community Impact Lab that seeks to engage students in public health practice with local community organizations ensuring these ongoing partnerships are equitable, sustained, and impactful for the organization and the community they serve.
  • Co-director

    Beth Patton Comerford, MS received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Psychology with an emphasis on social and organizational psychology. As Deputy Director, she is responsible for management and oversight of the Prevention Research Center activities.
  • Ms. Rockiy G. Ayettey is a Research Associate/ Grants Coordinator at the PRC. Her role involves coordination of both clinical research studies activities and grant-related activities.
  • Assistant Professor in Nursing, SCSU

    Dr. Susan Burger, Assistant Professor in Nursing is a doctorally prepared registered nurse (BSN-Duke University; MSN-Nursing Education-Southern CT State University; PhD-University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) with more than 30 years nursing experience. Dr. Burger joined the WCSU faculty in the fall of 2015. Prior to coming to WCSU, she held academic positions at the University of Connecticut, New York University, Sacred Heart University, and Rutgers University. She is a Certified Nurse Educator with clinical expertise in Community-Public Health Nursing and Maternal-Child Health Nursing.Dr. Burger is an active researcher and presenter. Her program of research focuses on reducing re-hospitalization among chronically ill individuals through more effective self-management. Over the past 5 years she has been studying the impact of telehealth monitoring on health outcomes among community dwelling, low income residents in Stamford, CT. She is currently investigating the implementation of a new patient centered medical home care team model and its impact on quality, cost, and satisfaction in a multi-site community health center located in Bridgeport, CT Dr. Burger was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau in 1987 and is actively involved in the CT Association of Public Health Nurses and the Eastern Nursing Research Society. In addition, she is looking forward to serving on many department and university committees at WCSU.
  • Research Associate Internal Medicine General Medicine; Research Associate II

    Meredith Campbell Britton is a social work researcher specializing in qualitative research. Ms. Campbell Britton earned a master's degree in social work from Fordham University and bachelor's degree in psychology from Providence College. She is a licensed social worker and a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
  • Program Administrator

    Jackson Higginbottom, MPH, is a public health practitioner working at the intersection of behavior change, health communications, and community engagement. He leads the Initiative for Strategic Health Communications at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and health communications at the Community Alliance for Research & Engagement (CARE) at the Yale School of Public Health. His primary research interests include: (1) investigating the social determinants of mental and physical health among sexual, ethnic and racial minority populations; and (2) developing and evaluating evidence-based interventions to address health needs of under-resourced communities. In addition to his roles at Yale, Jackson is the President of Fundación Manos Juntas, a free medical clinic that provides care to over 3,000 patients in Oklahoma City.
  • Research Scientist in Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences)

    Dr. Amber Hromi-Fiedler is currently a Research Scientist in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Hromi-Fiedler obtained her B.A. in Psychobiology from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, in 1994. In 2002, she obtained her M.P.H. from the University of Connecticut and in 2007 she obtained her Ph.D. from the same university. Dr. Hromi-Fiedler specializes in community nutrition with emphasis in maternal and child health (MCH) both domestically and internationally. Internationally, she participated in the implementation of an MCH project with Save the Children in Uganda. In Ghana, with funding from the NIH, she developed and taught an intensive course to build the capacity of local Ghanaian health professional by enhancing their knowledge and skill of analyzing nutritional data using a public domain software available through the Centers for Disease Control. In Ghana, she also collaborated in the training of nutrition staff and the development of nutrition education materials for Liberian refugee caretakers at Buduburam Refugee Camp. The nutrition education materials focused on child nutrition as well as food safety and are currently being used and distributed to caretakers to improve nutritional outcomes among Liberian refugee children. She also conducted a postdoctoral summer fellowship in Ghana examining dietary practices, food availability, and nutritional status among Liberian refugees and Ghanaians living in and around Buduburam Refugee Camp.  She continues to work in Ghana on infant and young child feeding projects.  Domestically, she has taken the lead on the adaptation of the U.S. Food Security Scale, a national instrument to measure food insecurity, among pregnant Latina women. Dr. Hromi-Fiedler implemented one of the first longitudinal studies in Hartford, CT, examining the association between food insecurity during pregnancy and infant outcomes among Latinas. Dr. Hromi-Fiedler has also conducted feasibility research to develop a community-based intervention to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income pregnant Latinas.  Dr. Hromi-Fiedler has presented her work at national and international conferences. Dr. Hromi-Fiedler has authored or co-authored several research articles in the fields of interest.
  • Assistant Professor of Public Health; Affiliated Faculty, Yale Institute for Global Health

    Dr. Humphries has a broad background in public health research and practice. She has been a consultant in the areas of diet and physical activity behavior change, sustainability of community health programs, program monitoring and evaluation, and training in participatory monitoring and evaluation for organizations in Vietnam, Africa and in the United States. She has extended that reach through her Practice-based Community Health Research course which places student groups with agencies in the State of Connecticut to plan and evaluate programs. Sample projects include: Determining the Best Time to Implement Routine HIV Testing in Jails; Barriers to Accessing Health Care and Health Needs of Undocumented Immigrants; Evaluation of HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and care in Connecticut Correctional Facilities; and Strategies to Reduce Low Birth Weight in New Haven: An Evaluation of the Outreach Strategy of the New Haven Maternal and Child Health Department. Humphries is also a member of the Community Research Engagement steering committee at Yale.Dr. Humphries’ research addresses interactions between nutrition and infectious disease, as well as programmatic approaches to improving public health. This work has taken her to Asia and Africa where she has studied environmental factors and intestinal helminth infections and their relationship to anemia as well as effectiveness of intervention programs. She is currently collaborating on a longitudinal study to characterize parasite and host factors affecting response to deworming in Ghana.
  • Research Associate 3

    Katherine LaMonaca is the Assistant Director for Research & Evaluation at the Community Alliance for Research & Engagement (CARE) and the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. Previously, Katherine was a Research Associate with Yale Clinical and Community Research program and a Program Manager with the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute. Before coming to Yale, she was responsible for developing and implementing new global health education programs at Quinnipiac University and worked for Partners In Health in Boston. She received her M.P.H from the Yale School of Public Health in 2012.
  • Erin Mathios is a second-year MPH student in the Social and Behavioral Sciences department at the Yale School of Public Health. Prior to Yale, she was a research associate at Cornell University and supported research related to substance misuse and child wellbeing.
  • Christabelle Ong is a second-year MPH candidate concentrating in Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health and a graduate research associate for the Yale-Griffin CDC Prevention Research Center (PRC). Prior to Yale, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, honors degree in psychology from Yale-NUS College. She has worked with a number of student welfare organizations, the Singapore Ministry of Health, the Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center, and the New Haven Coordinated Food Assistance Network. Christabelle's research interests are food insecurity and the interaction of social, behavioral, and cultural determinants with health. She hopes to work in the food policy sector in the future.
  • Jasmine Rios is an M.P.H. candidate in the Social and Behavioral Sciences department at the Yale School of Public Health. Concurrently, she is pursuing her B.A. in History of Science and Medicine at Yale College, where she has previously supported research with the Yale Intergroup Relations Lab.
  • Director

    Alycia Santilli, MSW, is the Director the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at Southern Connecticut State University. Alycia received her Master in Social Work with a concentration in Community Organizing from the University of Connecticut. She worked as a community organizer for several years, organizing people to influence state policy. Recognizing the link between policy change and research, she became interested in public health research as a means for advancing public policy. Ms. Santilli began coordinating research projects at the Yale School of Public Health in 2005. She brings research skills in survey design, recruitment of hard-to-reach study participants, data collection protocol, and intervention development. She also brings skills in community-based intervention development (projects and policy-level). Ms. Santilli joined CARE shortly after its inception at Yale in 2007 and has been integral in providing administrative oversight and strategic direction for the new organization. A dedicated resident of New Haven, CARE provides a unique venue for Alycia to combine her community organizing background with her research skills to improve the health of New Haven.
  • Judy Treu is a Research Associate whose interests include nutrition and physical activity promotion, health communication, community-based research, and obesity prevention. At the PRC, she implements and evaluates nutrition and physical activity programs in schools and other community settings; develops health education materials; provides nutrition guidance to participants in our clinical research studies; and writes grant proposals, press releases, and manuscripts.Judy has previously worked at the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Massachusetts, where she gained extensive experience in developing nutrition education materials for various audiences and professional development materials and workshops for health professionals. She is a registered dietitian with a BA in health science (SUNY College at Brockport) and MS in nutrition (Pennsylvania State University).