Hiring Initiative Growing SPHHP Research Capabilities

The last issue of Health Impact highlighted the historic hiring initiative that the University at Buffalo is undertaking, part of its effort to reinforce and further elevate its mission of groundbreaking research. The faculty and staff listed below are each contributing to that mission in all five SPHHP departments.

Department of Biostatistics

Yi Xiong, PhD, assistant professor

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Xiong’s primary research interest lies in developing novel statistical approaches and tools to analyzing complex or large-scale data that arise in epidemiology, ecology, infectious disease studies and public health. She most recently was an assistant professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Xiong received a PhD in statistics and MS in statistics from Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia. 

Department of Community Health and Health Behavior

Alison M. Haney, PhD, assistant professor

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The focus of Haney’s research is measuring clinically meaningful health behaviors in daily life across diverse groups of people and environmental contexts, examining affective and behavioral consequences of alcohol use, such as alcohol-impaired driving, and how these associations can be influenced through the use of mobile technology interventions by employing a number of different techniques.

Among the honors Haney has received is the Research Society on Alcoholism Junior Investigator Award. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from Purdue University and was a postdoctoral fellow at University of Missouri.

Brandon Kuhn, MS, research support administrator

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Kuhn focuses primarily on the planning, execution and reporting of the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior's T32 NIAAA training grant in alcohol etiology and T52 HRSA training grant that involves educating the future public health workforce for students enrolled in SPHHP’s MPH degree programs and Advanced Certificate in Public Health. He has extensive experience in education and small business ownership and received his MS in exercise science.

Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Wanda Estinfort, PhD, postdoctoral associate

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Estinfort works with Assistant Professor Denise Lillvis on research related to children and youth with special health care needs using quantitative methods to analyze large data sets. She most recently served as a research assistant at Taipei Medical University's School of Public Health, Taipei, and worked as a nurse specializing in cardio-pulmonary care in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

She received her PhD in public health and MS in global health and development from Taipei Medical University's School of Public Health, Taiwan.

Marina Oktapodas Feiler, PhD, assistant professor

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Feiler’s research interests are pediatric and maternal environmental exposures and their impact on maternal and child health with a focus on the developing immune system. She previously was a research assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Temple University's College of Public Health.

Feiler received her PhD in epidemiology at the University of Rochester, where she completed a postdoctoral fellowship funded by a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences T32 training grant. She completed both her MS in epidemiology and BS in psychology at UB.

Yohane Phiri, PhD, postdoctoral associate

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Phiri works with EEH Chair Pauline Mendola on research related to maternal-child health. His areas of interest also include environmental health, air pollution and applied epidemiology.

Phiri’s most recent role was as a graduate research fellow at Taipei Medical University; he has published a number of peer-reviewed articles and conference papers. Phiri received an MS from Kocaeli University in environmental management and urbanization problems and his PhD from Taipei Medical University in public health

Vrunda Soni, MPH, project staff associate, Women's Health Initiative

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Soni focuses on budget, human resources and other related administrative duties for WHI and ancillary studies under the direction of SPHHP Dean Jean Wactawski-Wende. Vrunda comes from Toronto, Canada, where she previously worked as a business analyst with the Toronto-Dominion Bank. She received her MPH degree from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

Mallory Ziegler, MA, research assistant

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Ziegler will work on research studies with SPHHP Dean Jean Wactawski-Wende and Research Assistant Professor Hailey Banack. She recently graduated from UB with an MA in biological sciences. Her master’s thesis project was accepted to the 2023 Association for Clinical and Translational Science Conference in Washington, D.C. While attending Binghamton University, Mallory volunteered with the Vestal Volunteer Emergency Squad and interned in United Health Services' Wilson Hospital Emergency Department and UHS Medical Oncology. 

Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Hayden Hess, PhD, assistant professor

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Hess' research identifies and understands the implications of, and integrative physiological responses to, environmental stress in health and at-risk human populations. His work has merited several awards including the 2022 Gatorade Sports Science Institute Postdoctoral Award and the 2023 Adolfo M. Hernández Memorial Award for Outstanding Research by a Professional from the American College of Sports Medicine.

Hess completed an MS in kinesiology from Boise State University and a PhD in exercise and nutrition sciences from UB.

Johnathan Przybysz, MS, research support specialist

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Przybysz formerly was an undergraduate project coordinator at SUNY Buffalo State, overseeing studies, recruiting participants and more. He holds an MS in nutrition science from UB and a bachelor's degree in psychology from SUNY Buffalo State.

Department of Rehabilitation Science

Francisco Benavides Jaramillo, MD, research scientist

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Benavides works in the lab of Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Science Hang Jin Jo, PhD, focusing on motor control and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Benavides previously served as business development manager for Jali Medical, an equipment supplier for neuroscientists, clinical researchers and clinicians, and in several research scientist roles with The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.

He received his Doctor in Medicine and Surgery degree from the Universidad Central del Ecuador.

Cristian Cuadra, PhD, assistant professor

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Cuadra’s research interests include neurorehabilitation, movement disorders, neuromodulation and motor control. His long-term research goal is to advance rehabilitation strategies for lower and upper limb function by understanding how movement disorders originate from neuropathologies and musculoskeletal conditions across the lifespan.

Cuadra received his PhD in kinesiology from The Pennsylvania State University and an MS in statistics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile.

Cheryl Lucas, EdD, LNHA, OTR, clinical associate professor and assistant director, Occupational Therapy program

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Lucas is an occupational therapist and health care administrator with over 30 years of experience working with clients throughout the lifespan and nine years of experience in academia teaching full time. She most recently served as The American Occupational Therapy Association's professional development coordinator for the Academic Special Interest Section, and was the educational liaison for the Massachusetts Occupational Therapy Association.

She holds an EdD from Johnson and Wales University and an MS in occupational therapy from Boston University.