SPER’s Executive Committee is comprised of eight officers and includes a President, a President-Elect, an Immediate Past-President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and four Members-at-Large, a Student Representative, and an International Representative. The 2018 Elections will include voting for the following positions:
- Student Representative
2018 Members of SPER are entitled to one vote per category. Learn more about the candidates below.
Voting will conclude on April 20th.
2018 Elections are now closed.
Jean M Lawrence, ScD, MPH, MSSA
Senior Research Scientist
Division of Epidemiologic Research
Department of Research & Evaluation (R&E)
Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC)
Jean M Lawrence, ScD, MPH, MSSA. As an active member since 2003, I had the pleasure of serving The Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research (SPER) as a Member-At-Large from 2004-2008 during which time I oversaw the abstract review for the annual meeting. A pediatric and perinatal epidemiologist by training, I received my Doctor of Science (ScD) in Maternal and Child Health from Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Pubic Health (now Bloomberg School of Public Health) and completed postdoctoral training at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. During this fellowship, I focused on women’s health and preventing perinatal HIV transmission. I am currently a Senior Research Scientist (Research Scientist III) in the Division of Epidemiologic Research, Department of Research & Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Southern California. Read more
My research interests include diabetes and gestational diabetes as well as exposures related to adverse pregnancy outcomes. I am one of the five clinical center Principal Investigators (PI) for the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study, a long running study currently in its 18th year. This study includes a large surveillance component focusing on type 1, type 2 and other forms of diabetes diagnosed prior to the age of 20 years. In the past 10 years we have been conducting screening for and surveillance of early complications and co-morbidities associated with youth-onset diabetes. Additionally, the study focuses on psychosocial issues as well as quality of care issues. Lastly, we are studying how to use electronic health records (EHRs) for diabetes surveillance. I was also one of the field center PIs for the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) Follow-Up Study. I am also interested in mental health issues in pregnancy and am beginning to explore research questions in this area. Many of my research areas link back to my 10 years as a pediatric and perinatal social in tertiary care settings, my career prior to formally entering public health. I enjoy mentoring students, fellows and junior faculty and I am currently the primary supervisor for an EIS Officer assigned to KPSC’s Department of R&E.
If elected, I would like to explore how we might increase the membership of SPER, how we can tackle important issues to our membership such as funding for research, including getting the right people to review these applications on study sections, and supporting junior faculty that are entering our field. I am happy to see the survey about being a mentor or mentee circulation in SPER now and would support the implementation of the findings of this survey along with the other members of the Executive committee and the Members-at-Large. SPER is the methodological home for many of us in the field and I will facilitate the continuation of the legacy of previous Presidents and other board members by continuing to lead and support important endeavors undertaken by this organization to further the conduct of high quality pediatric and perinatal epidemiologic research.
Brian W. Whitcomb, PhD
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
As a long time active member of the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, I am honored to have been nominated for President. I have attended and/or participated in the Annual Meeting starting as a doctoral student. I served as Student Representative on the Society Executive Committee in 2005-2006, during which time I helped to organize the first SPER Methods Workshop. I subsequently served as member-at-large from 2011-2015. It was a privilege and learning experience to have served on the Executive Committee and to have been involved with the Annual Meeting in these capacities. My involvement with SPER has been greatly rewarding, and I would love the opportunity to contribute to the Society as President. Read more
I received my PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 2006 studying inflammation and adverse pregnancy outcomes, following undergraduate studies in Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. I completed postdoctoral training in reproductive epidemiology and epidemiologic methods at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development through 2008. Subsequently, I joined the faculty in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at UMass. My research interests are in biomarkers of reproductive and perinatal health, including fertility and pregnancy outcomes, as well as related methodological issues. I am also actively engaged in teaching and mentoring student research in reproductive and perinatal epidemiology.
Given my longstanding involvement with SPER, I have an appreciation for the core values of the Society – a welcoming organization that encourages development of students and newcomers to the field and provides a collegial atmosphere to promote research. I would like to continue efforts aimed at advocating for members and, more generally, to maintain the health of the field beyond the Annual Meeting. In addition to recent initiatives regarding mentorship and addressing funding concerns, I believe that outreach to increase and broaden participation will help SPER continue to be a research forum that promotes advancement of our field. I hope to be able to contribute to the Society’s efforts to support the members and the field at large, while not losing sight of the importance of what has made SPER an organization that has been so enriching to, and well loved by, its members.
Daniel A. Enquobahrie, MD, MPH, PhD
Departments of Epidemiology and Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to join the SPER executive committee as a member-at-large. I received medical training at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and MPH and PhD degrees in Epidemiology at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA, before completing a post-doctoral training in the departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA. I have been faculty since 2009 and teach the undergraduate and graduate courses on maternal and child health epidemiology while leading related seminars. I am currently director of the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Education, Science, and Practice in the School of Public Health. I have collaborated with several local, domestic, and international investigators on research that spanned reproductive/perinatal, genetic, and, epigenetic epidemiology. My research involves three themes: risk factors and mechanisms of pregnancy complications, placental (the intrauterine environment) transcription and transcription regulation, and early life origins of cardiometabolic risk. Read more
SPER provides numerous opportunities for maternal and child health professionals. The annual SPER meeting is by far the best venue to learn of latest developments in pediatric and perinatal epidemiologic research, meet researchers working in the field, and initiate or continue collaborative work. The breadth of topic areas, the origin of researchers (both domestic and international), and the mix of different levels of expertise (students, faculty, or world-class experts) are all very appealing. As a perennial contributor of abstracts and participant at the meetings, I have immensely benefited from the platform. As a member-at-large, I will work with other Executive Committee members to continue this excellent tradition of presenting valuable opportunities to students, faculty, and researchers through expansion of the reach of SPER (by increasing membership and meeting attendance), broadening of the scope of presented materials (in areas involving genetics, epigenetics, and –omics work and findings), and promotion of multi-disciplinary (epidemiology, basic science and clinical) and translational research. I look forward to contribute to the continued success of SPER.
Kelly Ferguson, PhD, MPH
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Mine is a new face at SPER. As an environmental epidemiologist, I have spent my career investigating how chemical exposures play a role in adverse outcomes of pregnancy and child development. My goal now is to integrate this work with the rigorous epidemiologic methods employed by investigators in SPER. At the same time, I hope to contribute to the society my unique perspective and enthusiasm for understanding environmental exposures, the mechanisms by which they act, and their consequences. Read more
I received my PhD in 2014 from the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences. In 2016 I began a tenure track position in the Intramural Research Program at NIEHS, where I now lead the Perinatal and Early Life Epidemiology Group. The objective of our research is to investigate chemical exposures in pregnancy and assess relationships with adverse birth outcomes, including preterm birth as well as disorders of growth. We also have a strong focus on understanding biological mechanisms underlying these associations, including inflammation and oxidative stress. The methodologic focus in this work has been in: 1) optimizing exposure assessment approaches; 2) utilizing clinical phenotyping to better characterize outcomes; and 3) applying best statistical methods for addressing our research questions. In my new position, I am focusing on how to apply a causal framework to this research, for example, with mediation analysis.
SPER is unbelievably strong in these areas but can benefit from better cross-talk with societies that are focused on rigorously assessing the exposures and outcomes that we study. Despite my activity in the environmental and clinical societies that are intimately connected to perinatal and pediatric research, I was not aware until recently that SPER was really the perfect fit for my work. As member at large, I plan to increase awareness of SPER and opportunities for interdisciplinary engagement with clinical (e.g., Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine) as well as environmental (e.g., International Society for Environmental Epidemiology) groups. I’m excited for this opportunity to become more involved and to get to know each of you in the coming years.
Catherine Haggerty, PhD, MPH
Director, Reproductive, Perinatal & Pediatric Area of Emphasis
Graduate School of Public Health
Department of Epidemiology
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
As Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health since 2004, my research is focused on the role of infection and inflammation in adverse gynecologic, reproductive and pregnancy outcomes. I received my MPH and PhD degrees in Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh and subsequently completed a post-doctoral fellowship funded by an individual NRSA. Currently, I am Director of the Reproductive, Perinatal and Pediatric Area of Emphasis at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health. Additionally, I serve as Affiliate Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Microbiome and Medicine, the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Women’s Health Research and Innovation, and the Magee-Womens Research Institute. Committed to training the next generation of RPP epidemiologists, I serve as a Steering Committee Member of the Women’s Reproductive Health Research Career Development Program at Magee-Womens Research Institute and an Executive Committee Member of the Translational Research in Adolescent Health and Development Post-doctoral Training Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Read more
A member of SPER for over a decade, I am very enthusiastic about the opportunity to serve as a Member-at-Large. Over the years, I have enjoyed reviewing abstracts for and presenting my work at the focused and collegiate annual meetings. I have always viewed the SPER meeting as the preeminent venue for learning the latest developments in the field, discussing my research and that of my colleagues, and fostering collaborations. It would be an honor and privilege to coordinate the SPER annual meeting program as Member-at-Large.
Teresa Janevic, MPH PhD
Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science
Assistant Professor of Population Health Science & Policy
Women’s Health Research Institute
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
It is with my pleasure I express my candidacy for Member-at-Large in the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research. I am a perinatal epidemiologist with an interest in the influence of social exposures, such as neighborhood context, racial discrimination, migration, and stress, on perinatal and reproductive health outcomes, and the role of quality of health care in these relationships. SPER has been a steady source of professional insight and collaboration for me since I first became a member in 2005. In my current role of Assistant Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science and Population Health Science and Policy at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, epidemiology serves as a the bridge between etiologic research, outcomes research, and health services research. As such, I understand the importance of a professional organization such as SPER to sustain and advance the disciplinary perspective of epidemiology while encompassing the diverse range of researchers who contribute to the field of pediatric and perinatal epidemiology, including clinicians, public health practitioners, and academics. Read more
I set off on my career as an epidemiologist with a passion for investigating social inequalities in health. After completing my MPH in epidemiology and biostatistics at UC Berkeley, I landed my first job as a SAS programmer for a perinatal epidemiologist, and an “outcome” was born. I later received my doctorate in epidemiology from Columbia University, and I have continued to pursue my passion in investigating social inequalities in perinatal health, both in the US and internationally. In the process I have had the opportunity to collaborate with diverse stakeholders in the field of maternal and child health. I also have developed and taught curriculum in perinatal epidemiology to MPH students, maternal and fetal medicine specialists and reproductive endocrinologists. Therefore, while epidemiology is my disciplinary home, I also value the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration to advance research on mothers and children.
As a member-at-large of SPER, I look forward to supporting SPER’s mission to support pediatric and perinatal epidemiology. I will also strive to see SPER grow as a vibrant, forward-looking forum for research on the health of mothers and children. It is my desire to see SPER maintain its relevancy to epidemiologists across the span of their careers, while expanding its influence and scope across disciplines and borders.
Anne Marie Jukic, PhD
Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology
Yale School of Public Health
I attend SPER every year for one simple reason: I love this stuff.
And at SPER I have found a home with a group of similarly passionate people who, like me, clearly love this stuff.
Each year SPER draws experts from around the world into one room to share ideas, promote collaborations, and discuss the challenges in our field. Each year SPER revitalizes and rejuvenates me both through attending the meeting itself and through reviewing abstracts and award nominations. I would be honored to serve the SPER community as a member at large. Read more
My research focuses on environmental and nutritional influences on fertility, although I also can’t resist a good study of pregnancy outcomes or complications, or even child health and development. I enjoy learning new methods, and challenging the old ones, with the ultimate goal of improving research for the benefit of women, couples and families. My recent focus on vitamin D status and reproduction is a great example of this, employing traditional longitudinal methods, but also including a Bayesian analysis of missing data, and culminating in my developing interest in clinical trial methodology and implementation. The diversity of the faculty at Yale has shown me the opportunities provided by inter-disciplinary work and I have developed collaborations in epigenetics and metabolomics.
I have been incredibly fortunate in my training – learning from faculty members at Emory University and the University of North Carolina, at the NICHD/CIHR Summer Institute in Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology, and at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. With role models like these, how could I not be inspired? As a member at large for SPER I would like to pass on that inspiration to other students and trainees by facilitating networking opportunities, organizing sessions focused on novel methods, and contributing to the online presence of SPER where discussions can continue beyond the meeting itself and further engage international partners. Moreover, as consortia and multi-site studies become ever more appealing to funding agencies, SPER will be crucial for connecting colleagues with common research interests and complimentary skills.
SPER has been a fundamental part of my development as a reproductive epidemiologist and I would welcome the opportunity to give back to this organization.
Claire E. Margerison
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Michigan State University
It would be an honor to serve as Member-at-Large for SPER. I have been a member of SPER since 2009. SPER has been instrumental in expanding my knowledge about perinatal epidemiology topics and methods through the training workshops and annual meeting, and I truly enjoy the welcoming, collegial environment of the organization. Over the past eight years, I have reviewed abstracts for the annual meeting and judged student posters, and I helped organize a roundtable discussion on Zika virus and microcephaly for the 2016 annual meeting. I am now excited for the opportunity to become more involved with the SPER executive committee. Read more
My research focuses on understanding how macro-level social and economic factors influence women’s health across the life course, with the goal of identifying modifiable factors that can reduce or eliminate disparities in outcomes such as preterm delivery and women’s cardiovascular health. After completing my MPH and PhD in epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley, I completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas, Austin and then joined the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Michigan State University as an Assistant Professor in 2013.
As Member-at-Large, I am excited to help increase the online presence of the organization via the website, email, and social media and to help plan the annual meeting. Although my graduate training is in epidemiology, I collaborate frequently with sociologists, economists, psychologists, and geographers. Thus, I would also be committed to increasing the interdisciplinary nature of SPER by encouraging scholars from other fields who conduct research on pediatric and perinatal health to attend our annual meeting. Finally, I am interested in continuing to expand training, networking, and mentoring opportunities for students and junior scholars. I am enthusiastic about continuing to improve the scope and content SPER for new and existing members, from students to senior scholars.
Carmen Messerlian, PhD
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
I would be thrilled to continue to serve the SPER Executive Committee in 2018-2019. As the Student Representative over the last year, I have worked to advance and promote the needs of students, post-doctoral fellows, and early investigators on the SPER Executive Committee. Alongside other SPER EC members, I aimed to be reflective and responsive to new opportunities and programs that support the growth and development of young investigators. As a woman, I have also advocated for fair and diverse representation. I not only believe in the relevance of SPER’s annual meeting in providing an essential venue to expand networks and build partnerships, I also consider that exposure to cutting-edge research and methods through high-quality presentations and workshops encourages trainees and faculty alike to critically appraise their own work and explore new avenues of research. As the Member-at-Large, I will continue to commit myself to supporting the Executive Committee at SPER in advancing reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric epidemiologic research, to actively encouraging growth and opportunities for members-at-large, and to promoting the spirit and mission of SPER. Read more
I am a Research Scientist at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA. I completed a PhD in Epidemiology from McGill University, an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and a BSc from McGill University. My research focuses on understanding the extent to which preconception and prenatal exposure to environmental chemicals affect a couple’s ability to achieve conception, maintain pregnancy, and deliver healthy offspring. As an environmental-reproductive-perinatal and pediatric epidemiologist, I apply cutting-edge methods to generate evidence-based knowledge on the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on fertility, pregnancy, birth, and child health outcomes. More specifically, I investigate the effects of phthalates, phenols, and other emerging chemicals and their mixtures on ovarian reserve, pregnancy loss, birth weight, placental parameters, preterm birth, and child neurodevelopment outcomes. My ultimate goal is to use this evidence to inform clinical practice and improve public health.
Anna Z. Pollack PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Department of Global and Community Health
College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University
It is a great privilege to be nominated as Member-at-Large for SPER, an organization that has been central to my development as a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist. I have been a member of SPER since 2009 and have had the good fortune to regularly attend SPER meetings, where I have learned so much and forged strong professional connections.
I have had the honor of serving as the SPER Student Representative from 2012-2013 and in that role, organized the Advanced Methods Workshop in 2013. This experience showed me the value and importance of developing an excellent and engaging program for the meeting. In addition, I regularly review abstracts for the SPER Annual Meeting and have benefitted from the insightful comments of my fellow attendees when presenting my work at SPER. I serve as section editor for epidemiology methods in Current Environmental Health Reports and am an ad hoc reviewer for 15 journals, which have prepared me for the Member-at-Large role of coordinating abstract review for the SPER Annual Meeting. Read more
My research focuses on the relationship between chemical exposures and fertility, pregnancy and women’s gynecologic health. I address disparities, which may be derived from occupational and environmental factors. I seek to apply methods to more fully understand complex environmental mixtures and their impact on women’s reproductive and perinatal health. I have been an assistant professor in the department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University since 2013 where I teach epidemiology and environmental health courses and have mentored over 20 undergraduate and masters-level students. I completed a pre and post-doctoral fellowship at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the Epidemiology branch. As Member-at-Large, I would work diligently to expand the reach of SPER in the US and abroad, ensure continued opportunities for students and trainees, and contribute meaningfully to the SPER executive committee. I would be honored for the opportunity to give back to SPER as Member-at-Large.
Melissa M Smarr, PhD
Department of Environmental Health
Rollins School of Public Health
It would be a privilege to serve SPER as Member-at-Large. Having been introduced to this professional society during the first year of my postdoctoral fellowship with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), this community has provided me a platform to present my research, expand my training, and engage in critical discussions with leaders in the field. In return, I am eager to dedicate my time and resources to the Society. Read more
Reflective of the Society’s membership, my formal training and research experiences are interdisciplinary. After earning a PhD in Environmental Health Sciences (specializing in occupational and environmental epidemiology) from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, I completed a two-year intramural postdoctoral fellowship with the Epidemiology Branch, followed by a promotion to Research Fellow in the Office of the Director, both within the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NICHD. The culmination of these experiences has supported my research focused on the impact of environmental influences during sensitive windows of human reproduction, development and child health. To date, my research has included the assessment of environmental and iatrogenic exposures in relation to ultrasound measurements of fetal growth; serum biomarkers of persistent chemicals in the context of maternal gestational health; and urinary measures of ubiquitous, short-lived environmental chemicals and their potential effects on reproductive and infant health outcomes.
The Member-at-Large elected this cycle will be responsible for the coordination and production of the SPER annual meeting program. During my time at NICHD, I performed these tasks and more while serving on the Scientific Planning Committee for the invited workshop entitled “Is human fecundity changing?” held on September 10-11, 2015. Additionally, for the Division’s 50th Anniversary I served on the Scientific Program Committee and Chaired the Fellows Committee for the scientific symposium held on May 15-16, 2017. The latter role also included the oversight of three major initiatives: 1) a student prize paper award; 2) selecting and guiding session moderators for the anniversary scientific conference; and 3) the creation and oversight of “Three Minute Thesis” style videos to highlight the research of Division fellows. Furthermore, I have organized two NICHD journal club/seminar series designed to foster interdisciplinary discussion between population health scientists and clinical audiences. I look forward to contributing the knowledge gained from these experiences to the Member-at-Large position and working with other members of the Executive Committee to continue the success of SPER.
Student Representative Candidates
Samantha Drover, MSc.
Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
I am grateful to be nominated for SPER student representative; it would be a privilege to take on this role. My interest in maternal health and child development arose during my undergraduate degree and was further fostered by studying the development of social cognition in preschool-aged children during my Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology. My pivot to Epidemiology was motivated by my desire to continue studying maternal health and child development, but from a public health perspective. Read more
I began my PhD in Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2015. I feel very fortunate to work with and be mentored by a number of motivated, accomplished, and supportive epidemiologists. With the support of Dr. Stephanie Engel, I am currently working on a series of studies investigating the association between maternal thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy and offspring ADHD and executive function. This research, which will constitute my dissertation, uses data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Birth Cohort (MoBa). In addition to my dissertation research, I am working with Dr. Tania Desrosiers to characterize patterns of lithium use during pregnancy and lithium’s potential association with birth defects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS). I presented the preliminary results of this study last year at my first SPER conference.
It is important to develop positive and productive relationships with experienced investigators, student colleagues, and peer mentors. I see SPER as an invaluable opportunity to develop connections with established pediatric and perinatal epidemiologists as well as with fellow burgeoning researchers. My experience of SPER last year was extremely motivating and inspiring. From attending talks given by leaders in our field to meeting students who work on similar topics as me during poster sessions, the SPER conference revealed new avenues for collaboration and research.
The role of the SPER student representative involves participating in the Executive Committee meetings, promoting student participation in SPER, and planning the Advanced Methods Workshop. It would be both a privilege and an honour to contribute to SPER in these ways. I believe that understanding the diverse interests of current students would help grow student participation in SPER. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I would like to systematically gather information about students’ experiences with SPER (e.g., by developing and circulating a survey, and working to disseminate the results). It would also be a pleasure to contribute to the planning of the Advanced Methods Workshop: the unique methodological challenges of pediatric and perinatal epidemiology are some of the reasons why I love this field of research.
If elected SPER student representative, I would be fully committed to supporting the research and development of fellow students and trainees. Importantly, I hope to nurture the already collaborative nature of perinatal and pediatric epidemiology; our research, and thus our contribution to public health, seems at its strongest when we work together.
Dana Goin, MA
Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
I am in the fourth year of my PhD in Epidemiology, during which I have worked under the mentorship of Jennifer Ahern. I also work as a research intern with Damini Jawaheer at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), and have recently completed a masters degree in Biostatistics under the mentorship of Nicholas Jewell. I first attended SPER at the 2017 meeting in Seattle, WA, and was impressed by the discussion and critique of such a wide range of projects related to perinatal and pediatric epidemiology. The tone of the scientific criticism was thoughtful, respectful, and constructive—qualities which are not always present at other scientific meetings. My discussions with other attendees left me feeling encouraged and motivated to continue my work with the goal of returning to SPER. I am enthusiastically running for the SPER student representative because I want to contribute to this community. Read more
My current research interests focus on poverty-related social and environmental determinants of women’s health, with an emphasis on pregnancy and perinatal outcomes. My dissertation work examines the role of community violence in the etiology of adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes, and attempts to elucidate behavioral and biological mechanisms that explain observed associations. My work at CHORI uses a pilot cohort of Danish women with rheumatoid arthritis who were recruited before pregnancy and followed up to a year post-partum. The goal of this work is to identify gene expression patterns that are associated with disease activity during pregnancy and the post-partum period. After completing my doctoral training, my goal is to unite the work I have done on poverty-related exposures and rheumatoid arthritis to assess whether they operate through a common inflammatory pathway to influence both pregnancy complications and birth outcomes.
As the student representative to SPER, I would be committed to encouraging participation in SPER and related events, promoting the scientific and networking goals of SPER, and increasing opportunities for students and other early-stage investigators.
Dominique Heinke, ScD
Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
As a newcomer to SPER, I am in awe of this amazing organization and excited to be considered for Student Representative. At the 2017 annual meeting, I stood, for the first time, in a room full of passionate researchers dedicated to studying pediatric and perinatal health. From the presentations, questions and answers, and conversations in the hallways, the commitment to rigorous methodology by all was clear and inspiring. I knew then that this was an organization in which I could grow and whose mission I hoped to serve. Read more
I recently defended my dissertation for a Doctor of Science at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, where I was a T32 trainee. My dissertation investigated several ways in which competing risks may bias perinatal and birth defects epidemiology studies and additionally identified substantial heterogeneity in the causes of neonatal deaths, provided some of the first estimates for the risk of stillbirth for specific birth defects and introduced a novel bias analysis method to accounting for the influence of termination of pregnancy on these estimates, and identified when studies of risk factors for birth defects may be subject to meaningful selection bias when conducted only among live births. While working on my dissertation, I also worked as an analytic intern at the Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health where I will be continuing as a post-doctoral researcher. There I will continue to support the birth defects surveillance program, investigate risk factors for birth defects and stillbirth among fetuses with and without birth defects, and identify methodological challenges and improvements for the study of perinatal and pediatric epidemiology.
Being in the transition from doctoral student to post-doctoral researcher provides me with an understanding of the needs and perspectives of both of these groups of students that would benefit my service as Student Representative for SPER. It would be a privilege to serve in this roll where I could work to provide a supportive and welcoming environment where all student members of SPER can grow.
Stephanie Leonard, PhD, MS
Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine
I am very enthusiastic about the opportunity to serve as Student Representative for SPER. I began conducting research in perinatal and pediatric epidemiology as an undergraduate student in Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, before working for WIC and a nonprofit health organization, and earning an MS in Epidemiology from UCLA in 2014 and PhD in Epidemiology from UC Berkeley in 2017. I am currently an NICHD F32 postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, where my research focuses on severe maternal morbidities and disparities in maternal health. I am a member of the Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences and work closely with the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative. My primary interests are in maternal health, developmental origins of health and disease, and applying novel epidemiologic methods in perinatal health research. Read more
I have been an active member of SPER since the first year of my doctoral program – attending and presenting at the annual meetings, participating in the advanced methods workshop, serving as an abstract reviewer, and connecting with fellow members. SPER has fostered valuable experiences and relationships for me and I would like to help the Society engage more students and expand their training. I am experienced in organizing student mentorship programs and training symposiums, and have numerous ideas for educational topics, such as application of methods from other fields to perinatal and pediatric epidemiology, writing for grants and fellowships, and interdisciplinary collaboration. As Student Representative, I would be dedicated to identifying and meeting the needs of trainees in our field to help build a productive and thriving group of future investigators.
Catherine Wright, MPH
University of Washington
I would welcome the opportunity to serve as SPER Student Representative. I value the work of SPER and its members in advancing research in reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric health, areas to which I have long been committed.
I earned a master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002. For several years thereafter, I worked as a data analyst and project manager for the Family Planning Council in Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization which provided reproductive health care to a predominantly low-income patient population. My responsibilities included evaluating delivery of reproductive health services; making recommendations for program planning; and designing and conducting original research studies. My experiences in this role served to strengthen my conviction that high-quality reproductive health care is essential to overall health and well-being. Read more
Currently I am a doctoral student in Epidemiology at the University of Washington. My dissertation research focuses on the association between reproductive history and cardiovascular disease risk in women. As a graduate student, I have sought to enhance my skills and training in reproductive, perinatal and pediatric epidemiology, earning a Graduate Certificate in Maternal and Child Health in the course of my studies. I completed a graduate internship with the Office of Family Health Services, Virginia Department of Health, where I analyzed data from the National Survey of Children’s Health to inform the implementation of new state performance measures on optimal child development. I have conducted independent analyses of pregnancy intendedness and pregnancy outcomes and of pediatric hospitalizations among children born late preterm, which I presented at the 2014 and 2015 SPER meetings, respectively.
As SPER Student Representative, I would strive to provide enhanced training opportunities for my fellow students. I am excited for the opportunity to work with and learn from a new generation of researchers in this vital field.