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the next generation
of HIV behavioral researchers






Alissa Davis, Ph.D. received her PhD in Epidemiology from Indiana University-Bloomington and her MA in International Relations from Syracuse University. Dr. Davis’ research focuses on the socio-cultural risk factors that contribute to the acquisition of HIV and STDs and on commonly occurring co-problems. Her research interests also include improving access to HIV and STD testing and care, particularly through the use of innovative technologies. Her international regions of focus include post-Soviet Central Asia, Russia, and China.







Anisha Gandhi, Ph.D., M.P.H. received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.P.H. in Maternal and Child Health from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Gandhi's research focuses on how structural forces and social environments shape sexual behavior, HIV/STI vulnerability, and key outcomes on the continuum of HIV care. She is particularly interested in exploring these relationships in marginalized and minority populations, both globally and domestically. Her work at the HIV Center includes investigating the roles of mobility and socioeconomic status on linkage to and engagement in HIV care.







Margo Bennett Mullinax, Ph.D., M.P.H. received her Ph.D. in Health Behavior from the School of Public Health at Indiana University and her master of public health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Dr. Mullinax’s research pushes the bounds of existing public health models by evaluating the very framing of public health research and policy agendas related to sexual and reproductive health in domestic and global contexts. Margo is interested in innovative approaches that translate public health policies and programs into meaningful change in peoples’ lives, especially with regards to HIV. Her previous research has used a feminist and critical inquiry framework to examine the interpersonal and contextual dynamics of contraceptive and condom use, including a focus on interpersonal communication about sexual health topics.



Andrea Norcini Pala, Ph.D., M.S. received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Milano-Bicocca University (Milan, Italy) and an M.S. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Parma (Parma, Italy). Dr. Norcini Pala worked as a clinical psychologist in the Infectious Diseases Institute of Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna (Italy). He conducted psychological assessment and provided psychological support to HIV positive patients. Dr. Norcini Pala’s scholarship focuses on the effect of inflammation (e.g., pro-inflammatory cytokines and kynurenine) caused by HIV-1 infection on depressive symptoms. His research interests include psychological and social factors associated with HIV/AIDS such as ART adherence and self-efficacy, illness perception, sexual stigma and HIV stigma (i.e. minority stress). Andrea’s research interests include also psychometrics, in particular the person-centered approach applied to latent variable techniques (e.g., latent profile analysis and growth models).



Angela Parcesepe, Ph.D., received her Ph.D. in Maternal and Child Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her MPH and MSW at Columbia University. Dr. Parcesepe is interested in the prevention of gender-based violence and the impact of violence on physical and mental health, with particular attention to the intersection of violence, substance use and HIV prevention and treatment. Her research works with key populations at risk of HIV, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia. Her past work investigated the impact of alcohol harm reduction on interpersonal violence and HIV sexual risk behaviors among female sex workers in Mombasa, Kenya, as well as violence and HIV sexual risk behaviors among women engaged in sex work in adolescence.



Morgan Philbin, Ph.D. M.H.S. received her Ph.D. and M.H.S. in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Dr. Philbin is interested in exploring how social policies and structural factors influence daily life for HIV-positive young people. Prior to her appointment at the HIV Center, her research focused on linkage to care and engagement in care processes among newly diagnosed HIV-positive adolescents, as well as HIV prevention among injection drug users in Mexico and China. Her current projects include exploring how African American men who have sex with men understand and experience pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and integrate it into their everyday lives.












Christine Rael, Ph.D. received her Ph.D in Health and Behavioral Science from the University of Colorado in Denver. Dr. Rael’s research focuses on how social and cultural factors influence HIV exposure, prevention, and treatment behaviors, particularly within the context of concentrated epidemics. Her work primarily focuses on groups with disparate access to health resources and/or stigmatized populations, such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and female sex workers (FSW). Prior to her appointment at the HIV Center, her research focused on identifying relationships among stigma, depression, and poor health outcomes in children of FSW, women living with HIV/AIDS (WLWHA), and Haitian women in the Dominican Republic.




Jack Ume Tocco, Ph.D., M.P.H. received a Ph.D. in Anthropology and an M.P.H. in Health Behavior & Health Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr. Tocco’s scholarship examines how sexuality, gender, morality, and socio-economic inequalities relate to public health and health disparities. He conducted extended ethnographic research in northern Nigeria on HIV/AIDS in the context of an Islamic society, focusing on religious and biomedical approaches to treatment, and the family lives and moral obligations of HIV-positive men. He participated in research with young transgender women in Detroit. Dr. Tocco is currently involved in a mixed-method HIV prevention study with male and female sex workers and their clients in Mombasa, Kenya, and plans to conduct implementation science research on retention in HIV care for men who have sex with men in urban United States and African contexts.




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