Graduate Student Ambassadors represent the diverse School of Public Health student body and strive to inspire, connect with and represent, past, present, and future SPH graduate students.
Graduate student ambassadors are available to answer questions about graduate student life, academic programs and student activities. They are happy to share their own personal experiences as graduate students at UMD-SPH. Feel free to connect with them through their email addresses below.
Adele Fu, MPH '22 (Biostatistics)
Hometown: Ellicott City, Maryland, USA
Undergraduate Education: BS Biology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (2017)
Hi everyone! My name is Adele, and I am a second-year Biostatistics MPH student here at UMD's School of Public Health. I am a Maryland native, and I love it here! The 4 seasons in this state is absolutely beautiful, and I love being close to DC and Baltimore. I obtained my BS in biology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) in 2017. While interning for a few years, I recognized the importance of biostatisticians in both the pharmaceutical and public health fields. At first, I was nervous about completing my first year of the MPH program virtually, but I found that I adapt well to learning remotely. This year, I was pleased to finally meet my fellow classmates in person. In the future, I am open to working for a public health organization, federal agency, or pharmaceutical company. Ultimately, I plan to analyze and interpret women's and minority health data. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have regarding UMD's MPH program. I look forward to interacting with you all!
LinkedIn: Adele Fu
Austin Cantrell, MHA '22 (Master of Health Administration)
Hometown: Bel Air, MD, USA
Undergraduate Education: BS Public Health Science, University of Maryland, College Park (2019)
Hi everyone! My name is Austin, and I am a second-year MHA student. I have attended UMD since 2016 and received my Bachelor’s in Public Health Science in 2019. I decided that I wanted to pursue an MHA at UMD after meeting the faculty who have since acted as career mentors and through learning about the problem-solving opportunities within health administration. Additionally, I found the campus’ proximity to DC and Baltimore to be well-suited to jobs within hospitals. My career interests include hospital operations, strategy, and quality. In my free time, I enjoy lifting weights, mountain biking, and watching movies.
LinkedIn: Austin Cantrell
Chu (Judy) Zhuang, PhD '25 (Health Services Research)
Hometown: Wuhan, China
Undergraduate Education: BS Economics, Math Minor University of Washington, Seattle (2018)
Graduate Education: MHS, Johns Hopkins University (2019)
Hi! I'm Judy! I moved to the US 9 years ago. The Health Services Research PhD program at UMD was a perfect fit for me since I’ve found faculties specialized in the research and methodology area aligned with my interest. The interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the SPH and department really drew me to it. My interest in health services research arose from reading books and my ongoing curiosity to understand the economic and health conditions in children. Working with mentors and peers has been truly rewarding and positive during my time here. I enjoy photography, musicals, yoga and cooking.
LinkedIn: Chu Judy Zhuang
Claudia Roberts, MS '22 (Couple and Family Therapy)
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Undergraduate Education: BS Human Development Family Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2020)
Hello! My name is Claudia Roberts and I am from Chicago, Illinois. I am currently a second-year master's student in the Couple and Family Therapy program. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a major in Human Development and Family Studies. My long-term goal is to make mental health services more accessible for minority populations. My research and clinical interests include working with youth transitioning into adulthood, trauma, and resiliency, and the effects of chronic stress on minority groups over the life course. I am currently an AAMFT Minority Fellow in partnership with SAMHSA, which allows for direct training in working with these populations. With my training, I hope to make a significant impact on the field as a Marriage and Family Therapist.
LinkedIn: Claudia Roberts
Courtney Cann, MPH '22 (Health Policy Analysis and Evaluation)
Hometown: Hazleton, Pennsylvania, USA
Undergraduate Education: BS Biobehavioral Health, Penn State University (2018)
I was drawn to public health for its emphasis on preventing negative health outcomes and mitigating disparities. I chose to pursue an MPH in Health Policy Analysis and Evaluation to develop my understanding of policy research and analysis and gain the foundation needed to pursue a career where I can contribute to the creation or evaluation of effective policies and programs that improve health outcomes at the population level. My research and career interests are still broad, and I believe my time at UMD has prepared me to pursue a large range of opportunities.
LinkedIn: Courtney Cann
Elizabeth Bell, PhD '23 (Kinesiology)
Hometown: Denver, Colorado, USA
Undergraduate Education: BS in Mechanical Engineering, University of Denver (2008)
Graduate Education: MA Kinesiology, University of Maryland College Park (2018)
I’m Liz and I’m a PhD student in the Neuromechanics Research Core within the Department of Kinesiology. My dissertation focuses on Modeling the Consequences of Pregnancy on Knee Joint Loading and Future Knee Health. I went back to graduate school in 2016 and also have my MA in Kinesiology from the University of Maryland. Before graduate school, I worked as a Biomechanical Engineer for Walter Reed Military Medical Center and evaluated how people with amputations walked in different prosthetic devices. At WRNMMC I met my current advisors and decided I needed to learn more about modeling and simulation. I’ve enjoyed working at UMD alongside researchers with multidisciplinary perspectives. As a non-traditional student and mother of a toddler, I’ve found my lab, the Kinesiology department and SPH to provide a supportive environment that has helped me work towards my PhD!
LinkedIn: Elizabeth Bell
Ioanna Galani, MS '22 (Couple and Family Therapy)
Hometown: Athens, Greece
Undergraduate Education: BA Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park (2019)
Hello everyone, my name is Ioanna Galani and I am a second-year Couple and Family Therapy student in the Department of Family Science. I was born and raised in Athens, Greece and moved to the United States at the age of 18. I received my BA in Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2019. After graduating, I worked as a Student Services Manager at English Now! and Student Advisor at the Washington Center for International Education where I co-created different mental health programs for international students and their families. I am currently working as a therapist-intern at the Center for Healthy Families. My clinical interests include anxiety, depression, trauma, culture, and sexuality. The School of Public Health provides me with the opportunity to learn from experts in the field of Family Science and interact with peers who bring unique perspectives. In my free time, I enjoy outdoor activities, playing volleyball, and traveling with friends.
Linkedin: Ioanna Galani
Izidora Skracic, PhD '22 (Maternal and Child Health)
Hometown: Split, Croatia
Graduate Education: MA Human Rights, Central European University (2009); MA International Humanitarian Action, Uppsala University & University of Deusto (2012)
Hi! I'm Izzie and I moved to the U.S. to pursue my PhD. My interest in sexual and reproductive health research arose from my work experience in the activist and policy spheres, followed by managing a research study about HIV-positive adolescents in South Africa. The Maternal and Child Health PhD program at UMD was a perfect fit for me since a lot of our faculty members specialize in sexual and reproductive health. I love how interdisciplinary and collaborative our department and the School of Public Health are. Since my second year, I have been a member of the evaluation team of the Delaware Contraceptive Access Now initiative, along with colleagues from the departments of Sociology and Health Policy and Management. Over time, my work on the project shaped into my dissertation, as I explore various facets of access to contraception. I also get to teach FMSC381 Health, Wealth, Race, and Place: Poverty, Affluence, and Families, which I enjoy because it aligns with my passion for issues of equality and equity. I am a big fan of yoga, Bitmojis, and the Oxford comma.
Jenna Burnett, PhD '22 (Kinesiology)
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN, USA
Undergraduate Education: BS Physics and Mathematics, Biological Sciences minor, Purdue University (2015);
Graduate Education: MS Kinesiology, Iowa State University (2017)
My name is Jenna Burnett and I’m a PhD student in Kinesiology at UMD. My dissertation focuses on individuals with lower extremity amputation who use a bone-anchored prosthesis and the long term health risks. My Masters research at Iowa State University focused on tibial stress before and after a long run. I have really enjoyed the research diversity and collaboration within SPH and my department at UMD; there is a wide variety of research, and I find the focus on public health rewarding. My hobbies include backpacking, and cooking, with my latest backpacking trip this past October in Utah!
Linkedin: Jenna Burnett
Katie Costello, MPH '22 (Physical Activity)
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Undergraduate Education: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Hello! My name is Katie Costello, and I am a second-year MPH in Physical Activity student. I am from Baltimore but have spent the past two years in Arlington, Virginia. I received my BS in Kinesiology from UMD in 2019, and I loved it so much that I decided to come back for my graduate degree after a gap year! My public health interest is the relationship between the built environment, health equity, and physical activity, and I hope to turn this into a career in project management or consulting. Outside of class, I love to read and explore D.C.!
LinkedIn: Katie Costello
Krystle McConnell, PhD '24 (Maternal and Child Health)
Hometown: Columbia, MD
Undergraduate Education: BA English Literature, Notre Dame of Maryland University (2012)
Graduate Education: MPH George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sicences (2016)
Hello! I’m a 2nd-year maternal child health PhD student, born and raised in Maryland. After receiving my MPH from GWU in 2016, I decided to pursue my PhD in maternal and child health in 2020 to fulfill my long-term goal of becoming an independent researcher. My research population of interest is pregnant and parenting women with substance use disorders and their infants—a population I’ve worked with for the last 10 years as a research manager at Johns Hopkins. I chose UMD because the MCH program is truly unique nestled within the department of Family Science. The department is highly collaborative and really values mentorship.
LinkedIn: Krystle McConnell
Lauren Kauffman, PhD '23 (Epidemiology)
Hometown: Laurel, MD, USA
Undergraduate Education: BA Biology & Studio Art, Gettysburg College (2014)
Graduate Education: MPH Biostatistics, University of Maryland School of Public Health (2020)
Hello! This is my second year as a student in the Epidemiology PhD program and my fourth year as a graduate student at UMD School of Public Health (SPH). When I was choosing where to go for my MPH, I chose UMD SPH because I liked the program: the courses, the interdisciplinary focus, and the internship connections. I chose to return for the Epidemiology PhD program for all these reasons, but also because of the people. The professors, staff, and peers are some of the most supportive and inspiring people I’ve ever met. It is truly an environment where we build each other up every day.
LinkedIn: Lauren Kauffman
Leena Daniel, PhD '24 (Behavioral and Community Health)
Hometown: Silver Spring, MD, United States
Undergraduate Education: BS Nutrition, University of Maryland (2018)
Graduate Education: MS of Public Health - Human Nutrition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (2020)
My name is Leena and I am a second-year behavioral and community health (BCH) PhD student. While in high school, I realized that diet impacted disease prevention, so I chose to major in nutritional sciences. Although I loved nutrition, I lacked the skills needed to plan interventions that would impact my community. Now in my second year, I feel better prepared to tackle health challenges as a professional. My interests in public health include food insecurity and obesity prevention. Outside of school, I enjoy painting, scrapbooking, and photography. I am looking forward to hearing from each of you!
LinkedIn: Leena Daniel
Lola Ajayi, MPH '22 (Public Health Practice and Policy)
Hometown: Silver Spring, MD
Undergraduate Education: BS Public Health Science, University of Maryland, College Park (2020)
Hello everyone! My name is Lola Ajayi and I am a second-year MPH student in the Public Health Practice & Policy program here at UMD. I am also working full-time as a Management Analyst at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) via the Pathways Program and have been at NIH for over three years. Some of my academic interests include global health, communicable diseases, cultural competency, and access to care. Additionally, I am a Graduate Assistant for the HPM Department and really enjoy helping to make our program better. Please feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions. As a Graduate Student Ambassador, I am happy to help with anything you may need.
LinkedIn: Lola Ajayi
Rebecca Foss, PhD '25 (Family Science)
Hometown: Chicago, IL, USA
Undergraduate Education: B.A. in Theatre at Northern Illinois University; BS Psychology, University of Maryland Global Campus
Graduate Education: MPS Psychology, University of Maryland
Hello Everyone! My name is Rebecca and I am a second-year Family Science student at the University of Maryland in the School of Public Health, attending part-time. I'm originally from Chicago and received a B.A. in Theatre at Northern Illinois University. I obtained a second bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of Maryland Global Campus and then came to the University of Maryland, College Park to pursue a Master's in Clinical Psychological Science. While completing my Master's, I became drawn to the idea of helping larger groups of people in a community setting and found my way to the School of Public Health. At the same time, I work full time as a communications director focusing on social media. I am passionate about creating content to engage. Focusing on mental health and innovative dissemination methods, my research aims to produce evidence-based preventive interventions and psychoeducation programs targeting mental health issues within families that will be highly engaging and show greater program completion. On a broader scale, I aim to transform public health communication using mixed-media methods based on what resonates most with specific populations. Please drop me a note if you would like to talk about any of these topics!
LinkedIn: Rebecca Foss