Investigators & Staff

Investigators
 

Julie Herbstman, PhD, Director

Dr. Julie Herbstman, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. Trained as an epidemiologist, Dr. Herbstman’s research focuses on the impact of prenatal and early life exposures to endocrine-disrupting environmental pollutants, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), envrionemtal phenols (including BPA), perflourinated compounds and phthalates and their impact on child health and neurodevelopment. She has also been involved in research exploring the long-term environmental health impact of exposure to pollutants from the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11. She leads multiple longitudinal birth cohorts within the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. She directs the Center's work involving the integration of epigenetic biomarkers to explore the mechanistic pathway between prenatal exposures and disease risk in childhood and across the lifecourse. Dr. Herbstman has been honored as a Columbia Butler Aging Center Fellow and a Columbia Tow Research Scholar.

 

Frederica Perera, DrPH, PhD, Director of Translational Research

Dr. Frederica Perera, is a Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and serves as the Director of Translational Research at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. Dr. Perera is internationally recognized for pioneering the field of molecular epidemiology, utilizing biomarkers to understand links between environmental exposures and disease. Currently, she and her colleagues are applying advanced moecular and imaging techniques within longitudinal cohort studies of pregnant women and their children, with the goal of identifying preventable environmental risk factors for developmental disorders, asthma, obesity, and cancer in childhood. These include toxic chemicals and air pollution, with particular focus on adverse effects of prenatal and early chidhod exposures, and the multiple health impacts of fossil fuel combustion- both form toxic pollutants emtted and climate change related to CO2 emissions. Importantly, the research is highlighting the health and economic benefits of action to address these threats. She is author of over 300 peer-reviewed articles and has received numerous honors.

 

Deliang Tang, MD, DrPH, Director of Center Labatory

Dr. Deliang Tang's primary research interest is in predictive risk modeling for cancer, focusing on genetic susceptibility and environmental exposures. This interdisciplinary research consists of the development and validation of susceptibility and exposure/effect biomarkers and the development of statistical risk models. The goal of his research is early cancer detection, based on biomarker analysis. Dr. Tang also directs the Center’s Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory. 


Howard Andrews, PhD, Director of Data Management

Dr. Howard Andrews established and serves as director of the Data Coordinating Center, which in collaboration with the Biostatistics Department, provides comprehensive data management, statistical and data analytic services to the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. He is an expert in the use of web-based technologies to gather, organize, and disseminate research information.

 

 

Diana Hernandez, PhD, Director of Community Outreach and Translation Core

Dr. Diana Hernandez, is focuses her work on the social and environmental determinants of health by querying the impacts of policy and place-based interventions on the health and socioeconomic well-being of vulnerable populations. Her community-oriented research examines the intersections between the built environment (housing and neighborhoods), poverty/equity and health with a particular emphasis on energy insecurity. Much of her research is conducted in her native South Bronx neighborhood, where she also lives and invests in social impact real estate. Dr. Hernandez is currently a Principal or Co-Investigator on several projects related to structural interventions in low-income housing (i.e. energy efficiency upgrades, cleaner burning fuel source conversions, smoke-free housing compliance, new finance and capital improvement models in public housing and post-Sandy resilience among public housing residents) or otherwise related to alleviating the consequences of poverty on health (i.e. attrition study of the Nurse Family Partnership Program and qualitative evaluation of the Medical Legal Partnership model). 


Amy Margolis, PhD, Investigator

Dr. Amy Margolis is Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology with an appointment in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and an affiliation with the Cognitive Development and Neuroimaging Laboratory. The scientific question she seeks to answer concerns how learning problems are related to underlying deficiencies in the structure and function of neural systems that support learning processes.

 

Joan Casey, PhD, Investigator 

Dr. Joan Casey, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Casey studies emerging exposures that may impact maternal and child health, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria, unconventional natural gas development, and coal-fired power plants. She specializes in spatial analyses and the use of electronic health record data to study large groups of people distributed across space and time. Dr. Casey conducts her work through and environmental justice lens, considering the role of joint social and environmental exposures for health outcomes.

 
 

Rachel Miller, MD, Investigator

Dr. Rachel Miller is currently the Chief of Clinical Immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Miller joins the Icahn School of Medicine from the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, where she was Professor of Medicine (in Pediatrics) and Environmental Health Sciences and Division Chief for Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology. Additionally, Dr. Miller served as Director of Adult Allergy, Director of the Allergy and Immunology Fellowship program, and Director of the Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital Food Allergy Research and Education Clinical Network.

 

Virginia Rauh, ScD, Investigator

Dr. Virginia Rauh, has been working in the field of perinatal epidemiology since 1982. Her expertise is in the area of low birth weight and preterm delivery, particularly with respect to socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority populations. She has been principal investigator on numerous major research projects, including a randomized intervention trial for low birth weight infants, a multi-site study of lifestyles in pregnancy, a study of developmental outcomes of children born to inner-city adolescent mothers, a multi-level analysis of the impact of Head Start on New York City school children, a study of the effects of air pollutants on pregnant women and their children, and a study of links between race, stressors, and preterm birth.
 

 

Matt Perzanowski EHS  Environmental Health Sciences

Matthew Perzanowski, PhD Investigator

Dr. Matthew Perzanowski’s research is focused on understanding exposures that lead to allergic sensitization and asthma. While many environmental exposures are hypothesized to have contributed to the global asthma epidemic that started in the latter half of the 20th century, a unifying theory has not been proven. Dr. Perzanowski began his research career at a preeminent allergen exposure laboratory and participated in studies conducted in communities as different as inner-city Atlanta and rural Kenya. 


 

Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, Investigator

Dr. Pam Factor-Litvak is a Professor of Epidemiology and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Epidemiology and Associate Dean for Research Resources. Dr. Pam Factor-Litvak's current research interests concern the biological relationships between environmental exposures and development. She is particularly interested in in utero and early childhood exposures to heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury), endocrine disrupting compounds (e.g. PCBs, organohalogen pesticides), and developmental and reproductive outcomes in late childhood, adolescence and adulthood. 

 

 

Andrew Rundle, DrPH, Investigator

Dr. Andrew Rundle’s research focuses on the determinants of sedentary lifestyles and obesity and the health related consequences of these conditions. Dr. Rundle Co-directs the Built Environment and Health Research Group (beh.columbia.edu), a trans-disciplinary team of researchers studying how neighborhood built and social environments influence health, particularly physical activity and obesity risk. 


 

Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou, Ph.D, Investigator

Dr. Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou is an environmental engineer and epidemiologist. She holds a Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) from the Environmental Sciences and Engineering Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Doctor of Science (ScD) in Environmental Health from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, where she also conducted her post-doctoral fellowship. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Her research focuses on applied statistical issues related to environmental epidemiology, including quantifying and correcting for exposure measurement error, exposure prediction uncertainty propagation, and assessment of high-dimensional and complex exposures in health analyses. 


Shuang Wang, PhD, Investigator

Dr. Shuang Wang, research interest is in the broad area of statistical genetics with an emphasis on genetic linkage and association studies and mapping quantitative trait loci (QTL). Within the two areas, Dr. Wang focuses on the development and application of statistical methods in detecting gene-gene interaction in genetic linkage analysis and linkage disequilibrium analysis using both family-based methods and population-based methods.

 

 

 

Robin Whyatt, DrPH, Professor Emeritus

Dr. Robin M. Whyatt, focuses her research on effects of environmental exposures during pregnancy and early childhood. This has included molecular epidemiologic research on prenatal exposures to ambient air pollution and cigarette smoking in Poland and prenatal and early-life exposures to pesticides and endocrine disruptors among African American and Dominican mothers and newborns from New York City. In her capacity as deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) and co-director of the Exposure and Biomarkers Core of the CCCEH, she is following the mothers and newborns in the CCCEH longitudinal birth cohort from pregnancy through ages 11 years to evaluate effects of non-persistent pesticides on birth outcomes and neurocognitive development and endocrine disruptors (phthalates and bisphenol A) on immune function, asthma etiology, and obesity.

David Evans, PhD, Professor Emeritus Image result for dr. david evans columbia

Dr. Dave Evans, is Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Evans has extensive experience conducting research to improve the health status of minority children and reduce asthma morbidity through the development of educational programs for both patients and health professionals. Since 2002, Dr. Evans has co-authored nine publications on integrated pest management interventions to reduce residential pest populations safely, and environmental education as a component of asthma management for children. His recent work focuses on health education program for students with asthma that includes use of diaries to document environmental exposures associated with emergent asthma symptoms, and shows that education about environmental factors can play a part in improving health. Overall, he has 30 years of research experience in developing effective methods for teaching patients and health care professionals about asthma and environment issues.  He was one of the developers of Open Airways for Schools, a school-based program for children with asthma aged 8-11 years that is now widely used in public elementary schools nationwide, and of the Physician Asthma Care Education program, a four-hour educational program for pediatricians now being disseminated through the NHLBI website. 

 

Staff

 

Molly Algermissen, PhD

 

Gladys Badia, MA, Senior Research Coordinator

Gladys is currently the Senior Research Coordinator for the Mothers and Newborns Study. She began working as a teenager at the age of 17 at the Center for Educational and Psychological Services (CEPS) at Teachers College, Columbia University. While working at Teachers College she was studying full time at John Jay College of Criminal Justice pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology. At age 19, she began working for the Mothers and Newborns Study at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health as a Research Technician. She assisted research workers with administration of questionnaires and escorted participants to hospital facilities for biological sample collections and other medical visits. In 2008, she was promoted to a full time Research Assistant. As a Research Assistant, she follows, establishes rapport, and retains a caseload of 175 participants of the minority population.

Alique Berberian, MIA, Coordinator, Translational ResearchImage result for alique berberian

Alique is a Project Coordinator for the Center’s Program in Translational Research, focusing on translating our understanding of environmental impacts on health to policy. She holds a Master's in Public Health with a concentration in Environmental Health Sciences from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and a Master's in International Affairs with a concentration in Energy and Environmental Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is interested in studying the relationship between health and built environment systems, as well as the adverse impacts of climate change on human health and the ways in which they can be prevented through climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. She has worked in international development around the Sustainable Development Agenda within the United Nations system and has experience in healthcare consulting. Alique holds a B.A. in Diplomacy and World Affairs and Minor in Spanish from Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA.

Natalie Buchinsky, BS, Research Worker       

Natalie has been working at the center for a little over a year, assisting primarily with the collection of data for a research study investigating the effects of prenatal exposure to BPA on infant social engagement at 4 months.  Besides this, Natalie would characterize herself as an eager learner with an interest in way too many things, but as having the ultimate goal of contributing meaningfully to the effort of building a healthier, more just, more sustainable world.                                                                                  

Lehyla Calero, MA, Research Worker

Lehyla Calero has been with the Center since 2008 and manages many aspects of the Sibling Study. She is fully bilingual in Spanish and English and has developed extensive expertise in following a longitudinal birth cohort of mothers and newborns. This has included enrolling women during pregnancy, assisting in the collection of biologic samples from the mother and children, and conducting detailed interviews prenatally and postnatally. Her excellent interpersonal skills and ability to bond easily with study families have facilitated the excellent retention of families in the cohort. Ms. Calero has a Master’s Degree from the University Foundation of Popayan and New York University.

 

Anabel Cole, MS, MPH, Officer of Research, Community Outreach and Research Translation Core (COTC)

Mrs. Cole has worked in the non-profit sector promoting the health and wellness of her community for more than a decade. She is passionate about working to reduce health disparities and believes that efforts at changing behavior and shaping policy are most effective when the community affected plays an active role in identifying their needs and public health concerns. Through her work with the Community Outreach and Translation Core she aims to increase the community’s  involvement with environmental justice issues and their knowledge about the effects of hazardous environmental exposures on child health and development.  She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing Management from Baruch College, a Master of Science degree in Nonprofit Management from the New School for Public Engagement and a Master of Public Health from Columbia University.

Diurka Diaz, MA, Mothers and Newborns Study Coordinator

Diurka is a passionate community researcher, advocate and spokes person of the Latino community. With over 25 years of experience in the health care field, Ms. Diaz combines a unique background in health care management, early childhood development and research experience. Ms. Diaz is a graduate of the City University of New York, City College and earned a Master’s degree in Human Development from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

 

Teresa Durham, BS, Technician B

Teresa currently works as a Technician at the Center. Her primary responsibilities include helping with protocol implementation for the Center’s most recent Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) grant from the NIH, as well as fundraising activities and assisting with the Center’s research collaboration in Poland. She received her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from Emory University, where she conducted neurotoxicology research at the Rollins School of Public Health. 

Sarah Levine, BA, Research Assistant Image result for sarah levine israel

Sarah recieved her undergraduate degree in psychology and public health from Muhlenberg College. She currently works as a Research Assistant under Dr. Frederica Perera. She assists all the translational research efforts including updating IRB protocols and grants, conducting literature searches and submitting publications.  She is passionate about family and children's health disparities and will be starting her MPH at Mailman School in Fall 2020. 

Elinol Lopez, Research Assistant

Elinol holds a BA from Geneseo State University, where she majored in mathematics and minored in psychology. Fresh out of undergrad and eager to gain research experience, she joined the CCCEH in 2018. Currently, she works as a research assistant for the Mothers and Newborns study, where she coordinates visits and administers questionnaires, interviews, and anthropometric measurements among other items. 

 

Judyth Ramirez-Carvey, BS, Project Coordinator

In 1998, Judyth (Judy) joined the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health as a Research Assistant. She is one of the original members of the research team who collaborated to recruit over 700 participants for the Mothers and Newborns Study from local OB/GYN clinics in Upper Manhattan and Harlem.In 2003, Judy left the Center to further pursue her education in professional photography and later returned to the Center in 2009. Judy is currently a project coordinator for several studies at the Center including .....

 

Daniela Ramirez, B.S., Research Assistant

Daniela joined CCCEH in January 2020 as a Research Assistant for the Fair Start Study. She is responsible for the recruitment and administration of questionnaires for pregnant women during their third trimester. She is one of the first staff members from the center the mothers meet. Her goal is to make sure they feel comfortable and understand the long term benefits of participating in the study for their child. Daniela Ramirez earned her B.S. in Public Health Education and is a Certified Education Specialist (CHES). While an undergraduate student, she worked as a research assistant on two projects: one collecting and analyzing data on drug abuse in Passaic County, NJ, and the second, conducting literature searches for qualitative analysis of bariatric patients’ outcomes. Most recently, Daniela was a Health Equity Fellow for the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH), helping to organize a health equity forum for public health professionals to gain a better understanding of the social determinants of health. Her public health interests include mental health, reproductive health, and health policy. One of her goals for her career is to help increase access to and quality of resources for communities that are underserved, allowing them the chance to improve their quality of life. 

Catherine M. Tobon, Research Worker 

Catherine joined the Center in November 2008 as a Research Assistant for the Sibling-Hermanos Study. In 2015, after the birth of her daughter, Catherine left CCCEH and returned to the Center in 2019. She currently works on the Sibling-Hermanos and Fair Start Studies. Her primary responsibilities include the management of a large caseload of study participants enrolled in a longitudinal community-based research study.  She’s involved in many phases of the project, which include screening participants, interviewing study participants both in their homes and at the Center (in either English or Spanish), organizing environmental monitoring and biospecimen collections, and administering various psychological instruments to assess the growth and neurodevelopment of children over time. Prior to joining CCCEH, Catherine worked for the NYU Child Study Center in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She worked at NYU for three years, initially as a research assistant and later promoted to a health educator on a large-scale NIH funded asthma study for adolescents and their caregivers.

Kylie Wheelock, MPH, Project CoordinatorKylie Wheelock

Kylie serves as Project Coordinator for the Center, managing projects and assisting in writing grants. She holds a B.S. in environmental science and technology from the University of Maryland, College Park and an M.P.H. in environmental health sciences from Columbia University. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Wheelock held internships at the Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 office and International Well Building Institute (IWBI). At the EPA, she worked with the hazardous waste programs branch to conduct a literature review of the human health effects associated with exposure to perfluorinated compounds. At the IWBI, she worked to identify health risks associated with common building materials that contain toxic ingredients.

Raquel Sotelo, MPH, Finance and Grants Manager 

Raquel manages all the Finance and Grants for the Center. 

 

Maricela Ureño, MPH, Coordinator, Community Outreach and Translation Core, (COTC)

Trained as a community organizer by Fred Ross Sr., mentor to the late Cesar Chavez, she has dedicated her life working on social justice and public health programs.  She has a MPH from Columbia University Population and Family Health and has extensive experience working domestically and internationally on community based programs.  She is a former CCCEH, COTC Community Advisory and Stakeholder Board member and is committed to reducing disparities to ensure the health and well being of children and families.