SPER’s Executive Committee is comprised of eight officers and includes a President, a President-Elect, an Immediate Past-President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, four Members-at-Large, a Student Representative, and an International Representative. The 2021 Elections will include voting for the following positions:
- Student Representative
2021 Members of SPER are entitled to one vote per category. Learn more about the candidates below.
Voting will conclude on May 10, 2021.
Login is required to vote
Emily Oken MD, MPH (she/her/hers)
Alice Hamilton Professsor
Department of Population Medicine
Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
I am absolutely delighted to be considered for President of the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research. I have attended SPER annual meetings since my fellowship almost 20 (!?!) years ago, and have been involved in abstract reviews, poster judging, and the program committee. I am now looking forward to giving back more to SPER, my primary society home for the past two decades.Read more
I am both an epidemiologist and a physician, having completed dual clinical training in internal medicine and pediatrics. My research is focused on lifecourse epidemiology, especially modifiable perinatal predictors of longer-term health and disease outcomes for both women and children. I am particularly interested in nutritional and environmental exposures. I have led and collaborated on pre-birth and birth cohort studies including the Project Viva cohort in Boston, the PROBIT study in Belarus, and the PROGRESS cohort in Mexico City. The most rewarding part of this research more recently has been the opportunity to mentor numerous talented students, post-docs, and junior faculty. I also co-lead the Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health core curriculum for Harvard Medical Students.
If I were elected, I would look forward to continuing the successful initiatives of the past few years, such as welcoming more students into SPER, offering ongoing seminars throughout the year, and an enhanced focus on diversity. I would also work to encourage more participation from other clinicians, who could benefit from, and contribute to, the methodologic rigor of the society’s current members.
The past terrible year has had some lessons. Science should remain a core value of our society, and that science must be rigorous and as free of bias as possible, or at least the biases that do exist should be acknowledged. Those of us who have survived can thrive only by creating community. SPER is one of those rare communities that can hold us to a high standard while helping to sustain us, and I’d be honored to join its leadership.
Jaime Slaughter-Acey, MPH, PhD (she/her/hers)
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
University of Minnesota, School of Public Health
I am honored to be nominated as President-Elect of the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research (SPER). I have been a member of SPER since 2011. I am an active member and serve on the SPER Outreach committee. I am a perinatal epidemiologist by training, receiving my doctorate in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Epidemiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health in 2010. I completed a NIH T32 postdoctoral fellowship in perinatal epidemiology at Michigan State University (2011-2013). Currently, I am an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
I am the Principal Investigator of the Interdisciplinary Research Invested in Social Equity (I-RISE) Health Collaboratory, which aims to integrate social science literature with epidemiologic and system science methods to study of systemic racism, both structural and cultural, and its role in creating health inequities in MCH. My work, supported by the Russell Sage Foundation (PI: Slaughter-Acey) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (1R21HL150424 PI: Slaughter-Acey), investigates the social significance of skin color as a driver of prepregnancy cardiometabolic health and birth outcomes for Black women. Notably, I won the Matilda White Riley Early Investigator Paper Award by NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research for my research on skin tone bias, racial discrimination, and access to prenatal care.Read more
I serve as a core faculty for the Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health at UMN-SPH and teach Women’s Health at the graduate-level. I also co-developed and will co-teach a new required course for doctoral students enrolled in the PhD in Epidemiology Program at UMN-SPH (How to be an Antiracist Epidemiologist). I enjoy mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students, as well as postdoctoral fellows. Through the I-RISE Health Collaboratory I support ~20 students (doctoral, masters, undergraduate) through paid and non-paid research experiences and mentorship.
If elected, I would work to increase the diversity of SPER membership and facilitate a SPER environment that is welcoming and inclusive for both new and current members. My goal is to support and facilitate ideas that promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the society. I would also strive to increase the visibility of pediatric and perinatal epidemiologic research that engages in health equity or social justice. It would be an honor to serve SPER and its members as President Elect.
Izzuddin M. Aris, PhD (he/him/his)
Department of Population Medicine
Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
I am a lifecourse epidemiologist and currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. I earned my BSc in Biomedical Sciences with 2nd upper class honors in 2010, and PhD in Epidemiology in 2015, both from the National University of Singapore. As a doctoral student, I was awarded a university-sponsored scholarship to conduct my research examining the early-life determinants of childhood growth and body composition using data from a prospective birth cohort in Singapore. Upon graduating in 2015, I served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Singapore, where I continued my work in quantifying the relationships of pre-, peri- and postnatal risk factors with important childhood health outcomes. In 2017, I received a highly competitive university-sponsored fellowship from Singapore to support my advanced postdoctoral training at the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.
My research focuses on the paradigm of the developmental origins of health and disease, with an overall goal of quantifying the extent to which early life risk factors at critical developmental periods during the lifecourse affect important health outcomes. In addition to my research interests, I am also passionate about teaching and mentoring the next generation of epidemiologists. I have had many fabulous mentors during my career and will always feel the need to pay it forward.Read more
While I have only been a member of SPER for a few years (beginning in 2018), SPER has consistently been the meeting I look forward to the most where I can connect with former and future colleagues and catch up on advances in the field. Now, I seek the opportunity to become more actively involved by running for the position of Member-At-Large 2021-2025. I would be honored to serve as SPER Member-at-large and work with the Executive committee to continue developing innovative and engaging content for members.
Theresa Chapple-McGruder, PhD, MPH (she/her/hers)
Health Resources and Services Administration
Maternal and Child Health Bureau
Maternal and Women’s Health Branch
I am a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist motivated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s assertion, “Nothing can be more important to a state than its public’s health; the state’s paramount concern should be the health of its people.” To this end, I have spent my entire career, spanning 13 years, as an applied epidemiologist working mainly in governmental settings or for institutions with the stated objective of supporting governmental public health. My research focal areas are: 1) Addressing negative sequela of pregnancy for birthing people, fetuses, and infants; 2) Identifying skills, needs, and abilities necessary to have a highly functioning, well-trained, governmental public health workforce. The two may seem like distinctly different research areas, however my goal is to show the direct connection between our nation’s ability to experience optimal birth outcomes to the skills and competencies needed within our governmental public health workforce.Read more
I recently rejoined SPER after a 10-year hiatus. I’m participating as a speaker on an upcoming SPER webinar, and I would like to further increase my involvement in SPER by serving on the Executive Committee. I believe my unique perspective as an applied epidemiologist, conducting research that translates directly into policy and practice, could help broaden the reach of SPER to all perinatal and pediatric epidemiologist regardless of work setting. I am interested in serving in the position of Member-at-Large responsible for SPER communications. On May 25, 2021 I will be a panelist speaking to SPER members about approaches they can use to grow their social media presence. Over the last 12 months, I’ve increased my social media following by 1600%. While I cannot promise the same for SPER if elected Member-at-Large, I do promise to utilize proven techniques to increase social media followership and interactions.
Helen B. Chin, PhD (she/her/hers)
Department of Global and Community Health
George Mason University
I would be honored to serve as SPER Member-at-Large. SPER and its members have provided me with mentorship, networking, and research opportunities – all of which have nurtured my development as a reproductive epidemiologist. I have gained so much from my SPER membership; I look forward to the opportunity to give back to the Society as Member-at-Large.
Currently, I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University. My research is focused on investigating endocrine disrupting exposures that adversely affect the reproductive health of women and girls. I am especially interested in how exogenous hormonal exposures affect ovarian development and function from the minipuberty of infancy through the reproductive years.
I have been an active member of SPER since 2012 when I joined as an epidemiology PhD student at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. Every year, I look forward to attending the annual meeting, reviewing abstracts, and presenting oral and poster presentations. In 2019 I joined the SPER Program Committee and have continued to serve on that committee each year. Now, I am excited about the opportunity to serve in a greater capacity by working with the SPER Executive Committee and overseeing communications for the Society.
Kristen M Rappazzo, MPH PhD (she/her/hers)
Office of Research and Development, Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, Public Health and Environmental Systems Division
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
I am an epidemiologist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where I conduct policy-relevant research focusing on air pollution and birth outcomes. I earned my MPH from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health, and my PhD from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health. Between my degree programs, I gained valuable experience as an ASPH fellow at the EPA, working on a pilot program in support of the developing National Children’s Study; this is also when I first learned of and joined SPER. My interests in reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric health began even before my interest in epidemiology, when I worked in a neurodevelopmental toxicology lab studying the effects of metal and dioxin exposures.
I have developed a broad research program focused on addressing existing uncertainties to further the EPA’s mission to protect environmental public health. Much of my work has examined air pollution exposure and health effects, especially birth outcomes, in support of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). In addition, I was recruited to contribute to high-profile EPA assessments related to PM2.5, Ozone and PFAS due to my expertise in the relationship between these environmental pollutants and birth outcomes, effects on reproductive hormones, and neurodevelopmental outcomes. I have built and maintain strong collaborations with a variety of colleagues, including many members of SPER, which have enabled me to include diverse perspectives in my research and broaden my expertise. One of the most enjoyable parts of my work life is the time I spend mentoring and guiding up-and-coming epidemiologists through the EPA’s volunteer, fellowship, and student contractor programs. My enthusiasm for engaging with other perinatal and pediatric epidemiologists is my motivation for pursuing the Member-at-Large position.Read more
My engagement with the SPER community, beginning in 2006, has contributed immensely to my career growth and expertise. SPER provides a unique space in which I can learn of innovative research and interact with top-tier colleagues, experiences that continue to be a boon to my on-going learning and research abilities. As Member-at-Large, I will strive to help others engage with the society’s members and activities. Those who know me can attest, I’m welcoming, honest and always willing to lend a helping hand. My desire to serve where and when needs arise makes me well-suited for this position. Finally, as SPER’s Member-at-Large, I will work with the Executive committee to expand communications to engage all individuals in our diverse membership.
Thank you for your consideration.
Student Representative Candidates
Luther-King Fasehun, MD, MSc (he/him/his)
Epidemiology PhD Student,
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics,
I am excited by the opportunity to be considered for the position of Student Representative (2021-2022) at the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research (SPER), and I would like to humbly encourage my colleagues to cast their vote in my support, as I look forward to being a very broad-reaching and impactful representative of the community of students and post-docs within SPER. I have had the great privilege to serve as a Member of the Digital Engagement Committee (DEC) of SPER since the first year of my PhD studies in 2019, and I have helped organized the session on ‘Improving health communication: now, more than ever before,’ which brought an excellent mix of an epidemiologist, a newspaper editor, and an economist to the discussion table.
I initially trained as a medical doctor at the University of Lagos in Nigeria (graduated in 2008), then worked for a few years as a physician before proceeding to a Master’s degree in International Healthcare Management, Economics, and Policy – with a specialization in Global Health and Development (graduated in 2012). In the past decade of my career, I have had the opportunity to serve as a Country Director of a non-governmental organization (NGO) in sub-Saharan Africa, managing maternal and child health projects in Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria; served as a resident Policy Leaders Fellow (post-doc) at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy; and progressed in my current PhD training, focused on perinatal, pediatric and reproductive epidemiological research. In all, I have made crucial submissions at several national, regional and global platforms, spread across New York, Lusaka, Addis Ababa, San Francisco, Cape Town, Washington DC, Dubai, Copenhagen, Casablanca, Geneva, Kano, Houston, Abuja, Florence, Kuala Lumpur, Milan, Philadelphia and New Delhi, to audiences as varied as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the African Union, the Global Philanthropy Forum, the World Health Organization, the Nigerian Government, the World Bank Group, and Girls Not Brides: the Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.Read more
I believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has really taught us all how interconnected we all are, and with flight and travel restrictions still in place, some of our SPER members (especially students) are spread out around the world, while still studying and working in their affiliate institutions remotely. The gradual recovery from the pandemic also calls for a leadership that is more broad-based in approaches, experiences, and socio-cultural perspectives. As I plan to be an exceedingly reachable SPER Representative, I look forward to working with all interested students and post-docs, in clearly delineating what their expectations from the SPER leadership look like, and how they would like to contribute to the Society. I will also ensure the Advanced Methods Workshops are planned based on a representation of the varied interests of students and post-docs, with a relatively greater amount of time dedicated to questions being answered than previously.