New Faculty Bring Fresh Perspectives

September 1, 2020

Five public health scholars are new to the Columbia Mailman School faculty, each of whom brings fresh expertise in several frontiers of public health research—sexual and reproductive health, molecular epidemiology, data science, and more. Nearly all of them hold degrees from Columbia, including several from the Mailman School.

Maya Deyssenroth, assistant professor of environmental health sciences, is a molecular epidemiologist who studies the biological pathways through which intrauterine exposures to pollutants affect postnatal health. She is interested in studying multi-pollutant exposures and complex genomic profiles to understand patterns of early life programming of health and disease. Deyssenroth holds a master’s degree in biotechnology from Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and DrPH from Columbia Mailman under Regina Santella, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She looks forward to teaching the Biology Unit of the Determinants of Health Studio to MPH students this fall, and to embarking on research collaborations. “I look forward to forging new paradigms in perinatal research in partnership with collaborators here whose work I have long admired,” she says.  

Stephanie Grilo, assistant professor of population and family health, focuses on improving health behaviors and outcomes for historically disenfranchised populations including adolescents, pregnant women, and communities of color. Her research explores multiracial identification and health outcomes among adolescents and young adults in the United States. During the COVID pandemic she has been a co-faculty lead of the CSSC (COVID-19 Student Service Corps) an interprofessional service-learning organization which has had close to 2000 students from over 12 Columbia schools working on over 30 service projects. She earned a B.A. at Columbia College and a PhD in Sociomedical Sciences, after which she continued as a post-doc in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health. “I enjoy working with adolescents and young adults and believe strongly that public health needs to move toward a resiliency approach to improving health outcomes and promoting well-being,” she says.

Kelli Stidham Hall, associate professor of population and family health, studies the social determinants of reproductive health and health disparities in the U.S. and Africa. Her clinical experience as a primary care nurse has informed her work to understand the links between reproductive, mental and behavioral health, and social wellbeing during adolescence and young adulthood. Hall earned a PhD in maternal child health (nursing) and epidemiology at Columbia Mailman and completed her post-doctoral training at Princeton University. She was recently named an Emerging Leader in Health & Medicine by the National Academy of Medicine. “As a first-generation college graduate from eastern Kentucky, I saw firsthand how the social determinants of health shaped adverse outcomes and health and gender inequities,“ she says. “I embarked on a career path to understand and address those structural influences to improve the health and social wellbeing and reduce disparities for young women like those with whom I grew up.”

Neetu John, assistant professor of population and family health, has worked for over a decade in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where she works to understand how gender and other structural inequalities impact health and development outcomes. Her work explores issues such as women’s empowerment, gender-based violence, household dynamics, care work, spousal relationship quality, child marriage, and reproductive and economic empowerment. John earned a PhD at Johns Hopkins and recently worked at the International Center for Research on Women. Currently, she is leading a six-country study of the impact of restrictive policies imposed by governments in the wake of the pandemic, as well as a diversion of funding on the access and availability of gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health services. In the spring she will co-teach a class on public health program planning. She says she is passionate about public health and “finding solutions and intervening to resolve complex problems.”

Daniel Malinsky, assistant professor of biostatistics, develops statistical methods and machine learning tools to understand the causal effects of medical treatments and policies. For example, he has developed algorithms for discovering causal relationships from observational data on economic and health variables. He also studies algorithmic fairness—understanding and counteracting the biases introduced by data science tools deployed in socially-impactful settings—and has interests in the philosophy of science and the foundations of statistics. He earned a PhD at Carnegie Mellon and a was post-doc at Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from Columbia College. He is currently partnering with faculty in Medicine and Epidemiology, and is looking forward to collaborations with disciplines including engineering and the social sciences. “The caliber of the faculty and students here continues to amaze me. The dedication of people at Mailman to improving people’s lives and advancing social justice is palpable, and that’s very important to me,” he says.

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