Doctor of Philosophy in Social Policy

Health Concentration

Priya Agarwal-Harding

Priya Agarwal-Harding is a PhD student with a concentration in Global Health. She completed her MA in Human Rights from University College London School of Public Policy, with her dissertation focusing on governance for social inclusion of indigenous communities in Papua, Indonesia. She received her BA from Wellesley College, where she majored in Peace and Justice studies and English Literature. Prior to coming to Heller, she worked in Cambodia as a consultant for the World Bank Health, Nutrition, and Population Program. Priya’s research interests are in the social determinants of health, social accountability in health governance, and more broadly, in promoting health equity for vulnerable and marginalized communities. 

Elad Daniels

Elad Daniels is a PhD candidate studying health policy and economics, focusing on physician prescribing behavior and mental health. He completed his second MA in Economics from Hebrew University, and his first MA in European Economic Policy from the College of Europe. He received his BA from Hebrew University, where he majored in Economics and International Relations. Prior to coming to Heller, he worked as a research associate at the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem, researching hospital payment reform and pharmaceutical managed entry agreements in public health care systems, following his work as an analyst at the Israel Ministry of Finance. His research interests include studying how managed care and pharmaceutical prices affect physician choice. 
Yaminette Diaz-Linhart

Yaminette Diaz-Linhart

Yaminette Díaz-Linhart, MSW, MPH is a doctoral candidate, an AHRQ Fellow and a Health Policy Research Scholar with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She received her MSW/MPH from Boston University and her BA from Mount Holyoke College in Anthropology and Psychology. Before coming to Heller, Ms. Díaz-Linhart practiced as a behavioral health clinician, coordinated multiple federally-funded research studies, and directed a legislative commission on postpartum depression for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She also worked as a Program Director at Boston Medical Center overseeing research and clinical programs that employ social health staff, like community health workers and patient navigators. Her research interests include studying how organizations employ and manage social health staff and how this might impact patient outcomes by understanding work design, workforce stress and wellbeing.

Paul Dismukes

Paul Dismukes is a PhD candidate who received an MPA with a concentration in healthcare management services (2015) from Roosevelt University and a BA in political science with a concentration in international relations (2002) from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests include the inner workings of public healthcare organizations and how their administrative decision-making impact service delivery, particularly in vulnerable communities. His dissertation will explore nonpecuniary barriers to service delivery in the inner city and how the culture within a public healthcare organization could either complement or contradict policy legislation such as the ACA. Current work also includes a practical application for communities of practice (CoPs) to influence broad health system change, exploration into the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative, and a collaborative study on a self-diagnosed, self-referred PTSD tool compared to a researcher-administered tool given to vulnerable populations that visit the ED.
Lindsay Garito, MPH, PhD student and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Training Fellow

Lindsay Garito

Lindsay Garito, MPH is a PhD candidate and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Training Fellow studying consumer health-related decision making and insurance benefit design. She received her Master of Public Health degree in Health Management and Policy from the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Communications & Rhetoric from the University at Albany, State University of New York.  Her research is focused on improving the value of health services by examining how consumers of health and behavioral health services use health insurance benefits (or lack thereof) to obtain care from health care providers, and when and how insurance benefit designs contribute to out-of-pocket spending.

Dhwani Hariharan

Dhwani Hariharan is a PhD candidate studying Health Policy. She earned a Master’s in Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy from MCPHS University and a Bachelor of Pharmacy from Pune University, India. She has research experience in areas of cost-effectiveness analysis, trend analysis, systematic review and meta-analysis. Most recently she worked as a Reviewer for the CEA Registry at Tufts Medical Center. Her master’s thesis evaluated uncertainty due to missing data in opinion-based policy recommendations. Through her education at Heller, she aims to use tools from health economics, data analytics and operations research to facilitate the decision-making process in the healthcare industry.

Gabrielle Katz

Gabrielle Katz is a PhD candidate studying health policy. She received a Masters of Public Policy in Health Policy (2015) from the Heller School of Social Policy & Management and her B.S. in Health, Science, Society, and Policy (2012) from Brandeis University. Her research interests include access and quality of long-term support services for older adults and adults with disabilities in the U.S. Her current work includes assessing a Medicaid MLTSS and integrated Medicare-Medicaid Plan (MMP) for person-centeredness at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, co-managing and building content for the annual Princeton Conference, and evaluating a hospice tool for Deaf older adults. Her dissertation will likely center on improving the quality of long-term support services for older adults. 
Masami Kelly

Masami Kelly

Masami Kelly is a doctoral student in the Health concentration. She has served as the senior project manager at the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. As senior project manager, she worked with an interdisciplinary team of clinician scientists to conduct health services research projects to improve surgical outcomes for older adults with serious illness. Her research interests include social determinants of health, health equity, and the innovative use of patient-generated data to inform policy and decision-making in healthcare. Kelly earned her MBA from Quantic School of Business and Technology, her MA in medical anthropology from Boston University School of Medicine, and her BA in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Ben Kragen

Ben Kragen is a PhD candidate studying health policy.  He is simultaneously working towards an MBA at the Heller School.  His BA is in anthropology from Wheaton College (2014).  Ben’s research focuses on the incorporation of unpaid informal caregivers in health care delivery using web-based telehealth applications.  

Christian Lopez

Christian Lopez is a Social Policy PhD student, concentrating in Health, and is an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Pre-Doctoral Trainee. Her research interests are centered on health care utilization among newly insured individuals, the effects of immigration status on household healthcare utilization trends, and organizational factors that promote efficiency at federally qualified health centers. Christian is focused on work related to Latinas/os in the U.S. and on the measurement of racial and ethnic health disparities. Her previous research experience includes the study of social determinants of health, substance use and prevention in the Latina/o community, and community resilience in public health. Christian has published work in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors Journal, the Journal for Disaster Management and Public Health Preparedness, at the RAND Corporation, and with the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at USC. She holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor’s degree in Latina/o Studies and Political Studies from Pitzer College.

Yiqun Luan

Yiqun Luan is a PhD candidate studying health policy at the Heller School. Prior to his doctoral study, he worked in an investment bank in China where his work was focused on initial public offering and over-the-counter business. Luan received his MSc degree in Economics in The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2011 and his MHS degree in Health Economics in the Johns Hopkins Public Health School in 2018. His research interests include health economics, poverty and health inequality, economic evaluation and economics of disease. Luan also holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in China.
PhD student Ekwu Ochigbo

Ekwu Ochigbo

Ekwu B. B. Ochigbo is a doctoral candidate in the Health concentration.  He holds an M. Phil. with distinction in HIV & AIDS Management from the Africa Centre for HIV & AIDS Management, Stellenbosch University. Previously, Ekwu worked as a pharmacist and HIV & AIDS resource person. Some of his past research experiences include an HIV AIDS treatment adherence study, and also a pharmaco-kinetics clinical trial of Nevirapine XR formulation in pediatrics for FDA registration for Boerhinger Ingielham International. His interests include health policy research & analysis, therapeutics, and treatment outcomes research.

H. Awo Osei-Anto

H. Awo Osei-Anto's current research interests include promoting patient centeredness in cancer care; specifically, researching patient-centered care for patients with limited English proficiency and foreign-born patients. She received an MPP with a focus on health policy and a certificate in Health Administration and Policy from the University of Chicago and a BA in economics, international studies and French from Illinois Wesleyan University. She is also interested in global applications of best practices for health care financing, patient safety and care delivery. Current work also includes a study analyzing the types of information minority elderly and their families seek in choosing nursing homes with the goal of stratifying national nursing home measures by race.
PhD student Kumba Sennaar

Kumba Sennaar

Kumba Sennaar is a PhD student with a concentration in Global Health. She earned her M.S. in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University and her B.S. with honors from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, majoring in Science, Technology & Society (STS). Most recently, Sennaar has served as the Director for an HIV/AIDS prevention and education initiative for a medical nonprofit organization, working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sennaar’s articles on applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been cited by consulting firms and by journals including the Boston University Law Review, Fordham Urban Law Journal and the Harvard Data Science Review. Sennaar’s research interests include health systems, healthcare ethics and applications of AI particularly geared toward enhancing quality of healthcare and disease prevention among vulnerable populations.
Mike Vetter

Michael Vetter

Michael (Mike) Vetter is a doctoral student in the Health concentration. Prior to joining the doctoral program, Vetter worked as a project specialist in Mass General Brigham’s Population Health Management department.
Most recently, his research experience focused on healthcare utilization outcomes and measures of strain and distress for persons living with dementia and their familial caregivers. Vetter plans to expand on this work by examining mental health utilization among Medicare beneficiaries through healthcare delivery evaluation. He completed a Master of Public Health degree at Tufts University in 2018 and a Master of Arts in sociocultural anthropology at Brandeis University in 2011.
PhD student Drew Zachary

Drew Zachary

Drew Zachary, MPP, is studying health disparities in the U.S. and policies related to behavioral and environmental health and well-being. She received an MPP from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Political Science from George Washington University. Her research interests include nutrition and diet-related illness, community health resources, and federal policy design. Recent research focuses on low-income households’ food purchasing decisions and policies to create a healthy food environment. Her work has been published in Qualitative Health Research, and presented at the Tufts Symposium on the Food Environment and the Society for Applied Anthropology conference. She is a Health Policy concentrator.
Manning Zhang

Manning Zhang

Manning Zhang is a doctoral student in the Health concentration at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Her commitment to the joint PhD program in Social Policy and Sociology, allows her research to mainly focus on the intersection of culture and health. Zhang is interested in evaluating health policies and the corresponding health outcomes across different countries. Her recent research and publications feature eating disorder treatment in China and the psychological intervention towards Chinese first-responders in the COVID-19 crisis. Zhang received a Bachelor of Laws in sociology from Fudan University, China.