Current Scholar Profiles

Cohort 19
University of Michigan

Dr. Best received her PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012. Her dissertation documented a recent increase in social movements targeting diseases and tracked their effects on federal medical research politics. Her current research asks why lobbying for research into new medical treatments has overshadowed movements seeking research on environmental causes of disease and advocacy for expanded access to medical care. After completing the program, she will join the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan as an assistant professor.

Cohort 20
University of Michigan

Dr. Carey received her Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University in 2013.  Her research focuses on federal regulation of health insurance markets.  Her dissertation analyzed how risk adjustment in Medicare Part D affects the strategic behavior of insurers and pharmaceutical firms.  Colleen served as a Staff Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers in 2011 and 2012.  After completing the Scholars Program, she will join the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University as an assistant professor.  

Cohort 20
University of California, Berkeley/UCSF

Dr. Czaja received her Ph.D. in politics and social policy from Princeton University in July 2013. Her primary research interests are political psychology, inequality, and group politics in the United States. Her dissertation explored the relationship between empathy and egalitarian public opinion change about policies affecting marginalized or minority groups. As a Scholar, she plans to study how public opinion regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can be influenced by empathy-inducing portrayals of individuals covered by Medicaid.

Cohort 20
University of Michigan

Dr. Gaddis received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013.  His primary research interests include the sociology of education, education policy, higher education, and racial/ethnic inequality.  His dissertation examined the effects of educational credentials and prevalence of discrimination in the labor market using an experimental research design known as an audit study.  As a Scholar, he will study mental health and academic achievement among college students with a particular focus on the effects of institutional factors and policies.  After completing the program, he will join the Department of Sociology at the Pennsylvania State University as an assistant professor.

Cohort 19
Harvard University

Dr. Geruso received a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 2012. His dissertation research explored patterns of selection in health insurance markets, and in particular the interaction between adverse selection and preference heterogeneity. In other work, he has examined the effect of education on teen and adult fertility behavior, and the extent to which differences in socioeconomic status can account for disparities in life expectancy between blacks and whites in the US. After the program, he will join the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Economics.

Cohort 19
Harvard University

Dr. Gillion received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Rochester in 2009, and is currently on leave from the University of Pennsylvania, where he is an assistant professor in the Political Science Department. His research focuses on race and ethnic politics, political participation, political rhetoric, and government responsiveness.  His recently completed book project Protest's Impact on Government: Minority Activism and Shifting Public Policy (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press) demonstrates the influential power of protest to inform politicians of citizens' concerns and later shape the policies our political leaders create, a theory he refers to as an information continuum.  As a scholar, he will explore the executive attention to health care policies, focusing on presidential rhetoric on health care reform and childhood obesity, and the impact these actions have on dampening racial health disparities and improving the discussion of healthy living in the racial and ethnic minority community.

Cohort 19
University of California, Berkeley/UCSF

Dr. Kelly received his Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University in 2012.  His work is in the areas of American political development and comparative politics.  His dissertation explores the origins and development of American scientific capacity in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century.  In a comparison with Great Britain, Kelly examines the ability of scientists in the American bureaucracy to expand scientific capacity through the construction of a network of public-private connections between the federal government, institutions of higher learning, industry, and private scientific institutions.  His next project will look at the expansion of private insurance within Medicare through the growth of Medicare Advantage.

Cohort 20
University of Michigan

Dr. McGrath holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Iowa and is currently on leave from George Mason University, where he is an Assistant Professor of Government and Politics in the Department of Public and International Affairs. Dr. McGrath is generally interested in how the structure of formal governmental institutions serves to constrain and shape policy choices by key actors. In particular, he is currently interested in issues related to inter-branch bargaining between executives and legislatures, such as policy-motivated legislative oversight of bureaucracy and the politics of budget formation at the state and national levels.  

Cohort 20
University of California, Berkeley/UCSF

Dr. McKay received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013. Her primary research interests are in the fields of medical sociology and sexualities. Her dissertation was a cross-national, mixed-methods study of the global policy response to AIDS focusing on how new priorities emerge and are diffused throughout the global system. Dr. McKay’s current research examines the spillover effects of uninsurance and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on community structure and functioning in California.

Cohort 19
University of Notre Dame

Dr. Miller received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012. Her research fields are public economics and health economics. Her dissertation examines the effect of the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform on emergency room use. After completing the Program, she assumed a position as Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame.

Cohort 20
Harvard University

Dr. Navon holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University. He received a degree in philosophy from the University of Edinburgh before coming to Columbia in 2006 and developing research and teaching interests in the sociology of science and medicine, historical sociology and social theory. His ongoing research uses comparative-historical methods, citation analysis and fieldwork to study the way that genetics is reshaping medical classification. It shows how the discovery of genetic mutations can lead to the delineation of new disease categories, even when they lack clinical coherence, and be mobilized by experts and advocates as both new forms of illness and privileged sites of biomedical knowledge production.

Cohort 20
University of California, Berkeley/UCSF

Dr. Niedzwiecki received his Ph.D. in economics from UC San Diego in 2013. His research is focused on public economics and health economics, with a particular interest in the effects of the U.S. income tax code on the demand for health insurance and health care. His dissertation examined the effect of public insurance expansions on the demand for hospital care and also the effect of income on health and the demand for health insurance and health care, especially among low-income populations. His current research looks at the health effects of non-health social programs, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the effect of financial incentives for meeting quality metrics on hospital behavior and patient outcomes.

Cohort 19
University of Michigan

Dr. Pedraza holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Washington, and currently is on leave from Texas A&M University, where he is an assistant professor in the Political Science Department.  The central inquiry underlying his research is how members of marginalized groups, particularly ethnic/racial minority groups and immigrants, integrate politically in the United States.  Current projects focus on trust toward government and how that relates to perceptions of health policy and health care providers.  He is also working on the development of Latino political identity and political orientations.

Cohort 19
University of California, Berkeley/UCSF

Dr. Schneider received his Ph.D. in sociology and social policy from Princeton University in 2012.  His research is in the fields of social demography, economic sociology, and inequality and focuses on the family as a key mechanism in the production of race, class, and gender inequalities.  His current and recent research includes an investigation of the role of personal wealth in marriage entry, a study of the effects of the great recession on relationship formation, quality, and dissolution, and a set of papers on how gender shapes housework time.  After completing the Program, he will assume a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at UC Berkeley.

Cohort 20
Harvard University

Dr. Staszak received a Ph.D. in political science from Brandeis University in 2010 and is currently on leave from The City College of New York—CUNY, where she is an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department.  Her research interests include public law, policy, and American political development.  Her in-progress book manuscript, The Politics of Judicial Retrenchment, examines the politics and implications of the efforts to constrain access to courts and the legal system as they have unfolded in the years since the expansions of the civil rights era.  As a Scholar, she will study litigation in the area of mental health, specifically the consequences of relying on courts and judges to fill a void in mental health policy.

Cohort 19
Harvard University

Dr. Vargas is a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University. He received a Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University. His primary research interests are in the fields of urban sociology, urban politics, health, and criminology. He is currently completing a book manuscript on how politics and urban governance undermine community-based efforts to prevent gang violence. As a scholar, he plans to study the how the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Chicago will effect health care access and health outcomes among the urban poor. After completing the program, he will assume a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Fall of 2014.

Cohort 20
Harvard University

Dr. Brooks received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Her dissertation examined the shortage of primary care physicians and the persistent nature of the problem, pointing to an institutional structure that poses obstacles to students choosing primary care specialties. Focusing on Family Medicine, her research argues that the field is afforded low prestige because its philosophy is an unwelcome challenge to the dominant biomedical perspective. In other work, she has studied the impact of duty hour regulations on the socialization of surgical residents. Current research examines the role of teamwork and culture in quality improvement and patient safety. As a Scholar, she plans to study how the medical culture and medical providers interact with new technologies, the implications for patient care, and how providers are affected by the policies surrounding these innovations.

Cohort 19
University of California, Berkeley/UCSF

Dr. Walker received a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University in 2012. His research consists primarily of themes pertaining to the fields of public and labor economics in the context of environmental and health policy. In his dissertation, he explores the social costs of environmental disamenities such as air pollution and how regulations to limit these pollutants interact with firm and worker behavior. Ongoing work explores the interactions between environmental policy, health policy, and social policy in the United States. After completing the Program, he will take a position as an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business.