Maternal & Child Health

Epidemiology Doctoral Training Program

About the MCH-Epi Training Program

The purpose of the MCH Epidemiology Doctoral Training Program is to address the need for increased leadership in the epidemiological analysis of MCH data through training doctoral-level students in a comprehensive and collaborative public health program, with a specialization in MCH epidemiology. It is designed to support two doctoral students per year. For more information about how to apply, please contact Dr. Abraham Salinas at


Stacey Griner Doctoral Candidate, 2017

Stacey Griner is a doctoral candidate and research assistant in the Department of Community and Family Health. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Florida, has a graduate certificate in Women and Gender Studies from USF, and is a registered dental hygienist in the state of Florida.

In addition to being selected into the MCH Epidemiology Doctoral Training Program, she was a scholar in the 2015-2016 cohort of the MCH Leadership Training Program. Stacey has worked as a research coordinator for internally and externally funded MCH-focused projects with her major professors, Dr. Ellen Daley and Dr. Cheryl Vamos, on topics including oral health during pregnancy and unintended pregnancy prevention among young adults. Additionally, she has served as a coordinator for a peer health educator program at the USF Student Health Clinic and teaches undergraduate courses on health behavior, sexual health, and decision-making.

Broadly, Stacey’s research focuses on risky sexual behaviors and the associated reproductive health outcomes among adolescents and young adults. Her current research involves examining the influence of attitudes, social norms, and environmental factors on college women’s intention to be screened for non-viral sexually transmitted infections using innovative, self-collected sampling methods. Her research includes utilizing a lifecourse framework to explore the college setting and the surrounding social environment as a potential “risk regulator” for sexual and reproductive health. Her previous research has focused on school- and college-based approaches to sexual health, stakeholder support for sexuality education in schools, institutional-level factors impacting the use of barrier methods, and violence experienced among diverse college students.

Her future career goals include completing her dissertation to address Florida’s priority MCH topics through the application of epidemiological concepts, such as effect modification and multi-level analyses, to understanding risk clustering and the influence of the social environment. Stacey’s career goal is to become a leader in MCH epidemiology, conduct research at a university with a focus in epidemiology, maternal and child health, and sexual health, and utilize community-based approaches to address disparities.

 Chighaf Bakour PhD, 2015

Adolescence is a critical period of transition between childhood and adulthood that includes significant physical, social, and psychological changes. Health-related behaviors during adolescence, including sleep-related issues, can have lasting impact on future adult health. This is what motivated me to study adolescent and young adult sleep patterns and how they affect the risk of asthma and systemic inflammation in adulthood.

My dissertation research included three studies, the first one used data from the Florida Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and examined the association between sleep duration and asthma in Florida adolescents, and the impact of obesity on this association. The results were published in the journal “Sleep and Breathing”.

The second used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), and examined the effect of sleep duration trajectories from adolescence to young adulthood on the risk of asthma. (Manuscript in prep).

The third study also used data from Add Health, and examined the impact of sleep trajectories in young adulthood on systemic inflammation, measured by CRP. The results were published in the SLEEP journal.

After graduating with my Ph.D. in 2016, I have achieved my first goal, which is to join the faculty ranks at USF COPH as a visiting assistant professor. My future goals include continuing research on adolescent health and behavioral issues and their impact on future health outcomes. My ultimate goal is to assist in designing intervention programs that target adolescent and young adult health behaviors, which would eventually reduce the risk of many chronic diseases in adulthood.

 Anthony D. Panzera PhD, 2014

Much of the burden due to chronic illness in the United States can be attributed to the healthiness of current behaviors as much as seminal events that we experience early in life. To make long term public health chance, we must start investing in primary prevention of chronic illnesses and their risk factors. I chose to focus on MCH to help relevant programs perform better, whether it be establishing better perinatal outcomes, ensuring better health environments for kids, or tailoring and creating access to health information and education for those in need. MCH is a field ripe with opportunities to address and hopefully dismantle persistent health disaprities in the U.S. and globally.

Recently, I analyzed national cross-sectional data examining associations between family-centered care and breastfeeding duration and exclusivity. Additionally, I aid the Center for Social Marketing at USF in a qualitative project examining potential social media solutiosn to enhance disease management of asthma among teenagers in the Tampa Bay area.

Though early in my program, I know that my dissertation topic will involve aspects of MCH, most likely issues surrounding infant and maternal morbidity. Currently I am interested in how systemic inefficiencies that affect health outcomes can be identified and ameliorated.

Through work with the Florida Prevention Research Center (PRC), I do research assistance with Community-Based Policy Making and Marketing. Currently, the PRC is demonstrating this planning framework to address childhood obesity through policy-level solutions in Lexington, KY.

Ideally, I would like to work in academia quantifying MCH disparities and identifying methods for addressing them, as well as alleviate health provider-level barriers from optimal MCH care, utilizing epidemiologic tools and community-based methods. Further, I would like to occupy a position where I help tailor national health policy that is dynamic, evidence-based and evolutionary. In these positions, I will work to ensure every child born in the U.S., regardless of demogaphic background and contemporaneous political climate, is given a healthy start.

Erika Manion
PhD, 2016

I believe mothers and children are the cornerstone for preventative measures in terms of health. Public health interventions in the prenatal period and in childhood are essential for a healthy population. Thus, I wanted to surround myself in an environment devoted to this concept. In addition, past research experiences in the field have developed my interest. This includes working with children living with HIV, babies exposed to HIV, and child maltreatment. In all of these instances, prevention is the key to healthy babies and children.

Presently, I am working on two research projects with colleagues at the University of Florida. The first is an epidemiological study of maternal factors associated with later child maltreatment within a family. The purpose is to understand if there are maternal factors that can be screened for in a physician’s office for prevention. In addition, I am involved in the HPV Oral Prevalence Investigation (HOP-IN Study), which screens women for oral HPV. The aim of this study is to identify the prevalence of oral HPV in a low-risk, female population and describe risk factors associated with oral HPV infection.

Before moving to Tampa, I was the study coordinator for the HOP-IN Study at the University of Florida. Prior to that, I was the captain of the undergraduate research team devoted to investigating the growth and body composition of children living with HIV. Both of these leadership experiences have opened my eyes to the full research process and the tools needed in order to succeed.

My future career goals include completing my PhD at USF with a dissertation focus in MCH. From there, I will explore post-doctoral fellowship opportunities in the area of MCH and possibly search for employment opportunities with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the Florida Department of Health. My ultimate career goal is to teach and conduct research at a university with a focus in epidemiology and maternal and child health.

Nathanael Stanley
Doctoral Candidate, 2016

The 2016 MCH Epidemiology Scholar was Nathanael Stanley, a PhD student from the Department of Global Health, College of Public Health, USF. Nathanael had chosen to pursue the use of datasets containing information on assisted reproductive technologies and maternal and child health outcomes as a focus for his studies and dissertation.

The study of infertility, assisted reproductive technology, and adverse pregnancy outcomes are specialized fields of reproductive epidemiology and reproductive ethics. In the United States, the use of assisted reproductive technology continues to increase, however, the ethical and legal aspects of the technology's use have yet to catch up with the evolution of the technology itself. Birth outcome surveillance reached a near-national level with the creation of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), but there are epidemiological factors outside of human physiology that have yet to be fully understood in terms of their effects on births via assisted conception and access to the technology. Nathanael’s dissertation research seeks to understand the use of assisted reproductive technology and the lived experience of using an assisted reproductive technology in the United States by employing an epidemiological and constructivist approach. He is implementing a mixed methods approach to combine his understanding of epidemiological factors with the understanding the lived experience, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methods. As MCH Epidemiology scholar, he explored quantitative data from local fertility databases on oncofertility from Moffit Cancer Center, which introduced him to the field of oncofertility epidemiology and provided him with a closer understanding of the ethical aspects that come from ART.  He continued to analyze quantitative secondary data that comes from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) from cycles spanning the years of 2006-2015 in order to observe frequencies of use of the technologies by men and women, and to observe the uses of payment types for these highly expensive technologies. Both the individual (local) and population-based data (national level) are required to gain a true lived experience perspective. Qualitative, primary data, consist of interviews with couples and single individuals who intend to use, currently use, or have used an assisted reproductive technology, applying social constructionist and social cognitive theories as frameworks. Both quantitative and qualitative data are used in a complementary way.  

Nathanael’s future goals are to finish his current doctoral program, and continue working at the Moffitt Cancer Research Center. He hopes to pursue a postdoctoral appointment in bioethics or reproductive ethics specific to reproductive technologies. Another pursuit is to further the application of geographic information systems (GIS) with reproductive epidemiology, with the hope of discovering new insights into the spatio-demographic characteristics of human birth outcomes.