Doctoral Students and Alumni


Sarah (Sadie) Bergenis interested in histories of reproductive health policy and practice. Her dissertation project examines the history of neonatal intensive care and the problem of low birth weight in the twentieth-century United States. Sadie’s research is supported by the Department of Sociomedical Sciences’ predoctoral fellowship in Gender, Sexuality, and Health. 

Caitlin E. McMahon’s research interests include the development of the health consumer identity and its influence on the U.S. health care system, as well as the history of activism in health social movements, public health policy, and the history of public health.

Kristen Meister’s dissertation examines American rehabilitation policy and disability surveillance from World War II to 2000.  Kristen has received the James Harden Public Health Scholarship, the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Fellowship, and the Provost Diversity Fellowship. She plans to defend her dissertation and graduate in the spring of 2023.

Valentina Parisi’sdoctoral research interests include the history of domestic environmental health and policy; shifting environmental risk perceptions and characterizations during the twentieth century; and health social movements related to environmental threats, such as toxic exposures and climate change.  She is currently engaged in primary research on the conceptualization and management of epidemic- and pandemic-prone diseases as pressing social and environmental problems during the twentieth century. 

Sara Jane Samuel’s doctoral research examines the intersection of public health and national security using diplomatic and historical frameworks. Sara's work specifically examines the intellectual roots and sociopolitical consequences of American medical diplomacy in South Asia in the mid to late 20th century. She is an Elizabeth Milbank Fellow and 2020-2021 recipient of a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship.

Yoka Tomita’s dissertation explores the social history of death and dying in New York City in the 20th century. Her research interests include the history and ethics of public health, particularly the histories of end-of-life care in the United States. She has received funding for her doctoral studies and dissertation research from the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health, the Fulbright Program, and the JAA-Honjo Scholarship. She plans on defending her dissertation in Spring 2021.

Doctoral Alumni

Desiree Abu-Odeh (PhD, 2021)

Dissertation: Sexual Violence and Responses to It on American College Campuses, 1952–1980.

Currently a Global Trial Optimization Specialist for Merck & Company.

Ijeoma Eboh (PhD, 2019)

Dissertation: I Can’t Breathe: The Rise of Asthma in Black Urban America.

Currently a Postdoctoral Fellowships in Health, Humanities, and Society at the Reilly Center at Notre Dame.

Dave Johns (PhD, 2019)

Dissertation: Good Evidence, Bad Evidence: Science, Ethics, and the Politics of Making and Unmaking Public Health Policies.

Currently a Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale School of Public Health.

Matt Kelly (PhD, 2017)

Dissertation: The Sounds of Furious Living: Everyday Unorthodoxies in an Era of AIDS.

Currently enrolled at Johns Hopkins Medical School.

Kathleen Bachynski (PhD, 2016)

Dissertation: No Game for Boys to Play Debating the Safety of Youth Football, 1945-2015.

Currently an Assistant Professor of Public Health, Muhlenberg College.

Elisa M. González (PhD, 2016)

Dissertation: Food for Every Mouth: Nutrition, Agriculture, and Public Health in Puerto Rico, 1920s-1960s.

Currently an Associate at Community Science, Rockville, Maryland.

Laura Bothwell (PhD, 2014)

Dissertation: The Emergence of the Randomized Controlled Trial: Origins to 1980.

Currently an Associate Research Scientist in Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases), Yale School of Public Health.

Claire Edington (PhD, 2013)

Dissertation: Beyond the Asylum: Colonial Psychiatry in French Indochina, 1880-1940.

Currently a Professor, University of California-San Diego.

Ava Alkon (PhD, 2012) 

Dissertation: Late 20th-Century Consumer Advocacy, Pharmaceuticals, and Public Health: Public Citizen’s Health Research Group in Historical Perspective.

Currently working with the Access Campaign of Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Megan J. Wolfe (PhD, 2011)

Dissertation: The Money Value of Risk: Life Insurance and the Transformation of American Public Health, 1896-1930.

Currently the Policy Director, Beyond Plastics.

Marian Moser Jones (PhD, 2008)

Dissertation:  Confronting Calamity: The American Red Cross and the Politics of Disaster Relief, 1881–1939.

Currently an Associate Professor and Graduate Director in the Department of Family Science, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park, MD.

Nick Turse (PhD, 2008)

Dissertation: Kill Anything That Moves: United States War Crimes and Atrocities in Vietnam, 1965–1973.

Currently an Investigative Reporter and Managing Editor of The Nation Institute's TomDispatch.

Sarah Vogel (PhD, 2008)

Dissertation: The Politics of Plastics: The Economic, Political, and Scientific History of Bisphenol A.

Currently the Vice President, Health at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

James Keith Colgrove (PhD, 2004)
Dissertation: Vaccination Policy, Politics, and Law in the Twentieth Century.

Currently a Professor, Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health, Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health.

Michael Yudell (PhD, 2001)

Dissertation: Making Race: Biology and the Evolution of the Race Concept in 20th Century American Thought.

Currently the Vice Dean, College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University.

Sheryl Ann McCurdy (PhD, 2000) 

Dissertation:  Transforming Associations: Fertility, Therapy, and the Manyema Diaspora in Urban Kigoma, Tanzania, c. 1850–1993.

Currently a Professor, School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston.

Amy Lauren Fairchild (PhD, 1997) 

Dissertation: Science at the Borders: Immigrant Medical Inspection and Defense of the Nation, 1891 to 1930.

Currently a Professor of Public Health Ethics and Dean of the School of Public Health at Ohio State University.