Mariah Brennan | Lerner Graduate Fellow

Lerner Fellow Mariah Brennan

Mariah received her Bachelors degrees in Political Science and Anthropology at the University of Connecticut in 2016. While studying political science, Mariah interned for Congresswoman DeLauro in Washington DC. As an intern she focused on health and military policies. Following her internship, Mariah pursued her Masters in Public Administration while maintaining a research fellowship with the Connecticut Democrats. Her experience in local and national politics combined with her background in policy research has inspired her to more closely examine veteran policies through a public health lens. After completing her coursework, Mariah spent her summer working at RAND as a Summer Associate. She is passionate about using research to promote public health and inform policy.

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Austin McNeill Brown | Graduate Research Assistant

Lerner Graduate Research Affiliate Austin McNeil Brown

Austin is the former Associate Director of Research at the Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery at Kennesaw State University. His work has spanned the breadth of recovery science, from theories of addiction recovery, recovery support systems, and collegiate recovery programs. Mr. Brown holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Texas Tech University, and Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Vermont.  Austin has worked as both a clinician and a researcher since 2016.

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Kent Jason Cheng | Graduate Research Assistant

Lerner Graduate Research Assistant Kent Jason Cheng

Kent is currently a PhD Social Science student and a holder of a Master of Arts in Economics degree from the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is interested in population health, health and aging, and intergenerational relations. Prior to enrolling in Syracuse, Kent worked as a health policy researcher at the premier health sciences center in the Philippines, the University of the Philippines Manila. Some of his notable involvements in Philippine health research include the cost-effectiveness of dengue vaccination, cost-effectiveness of influenza vaccination, modeling of flu mortality, drug procurement policy, and smoking behavior. His recent works appear in peer-reviewed journals like PLOS One, Preventive Medicine, and World Medical and Health Policy and he also contributes to the Lerner Center Population Health Research Brief Series.

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Mary “Emmy” Helander | Lerner Graduate Fellow

Lerner Fellow Mary Helander

Mary “Emmy” Helander received her Bachelor’s in CIS and Math from the State University of New York at Potsdam, and Master’s and PhD degrees in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research from Syracuse University and the State University of New York at Buffalo respectively.  Mary was a Senior Researcher and Software Architect at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center.  Mary returned to graduate study at Syracuse University so that she could redirect her skills in data and network science, problem solving, and IT to study societal issues through the pursuit of a PhD in Social Sciences.  Mary is interested in:  research that explores topics in public health and its intersection with emergency medical services; social inequity in health care, education and employment and how they affect older adults; and incorporating machine learning into social science research methodology.

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Tyra A. Jean | Graduate Student Affiliate

Tyra Jean is a 2019-2020 PAIA Exceptional Scholar as a Master of Public Administration student on the Social Policy track. Her research interests include race, social determinants of black and indigenous health, hunger & food policy, environmental justice

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Claire Pendergrast | Lerner Graduate Fellow

Graduate Research Affiliate Claire Pendergrast

Claire Pendergrast is a Sociology PhD student interested in aging, social policy, and health disparities. She received her Master of Public Health from the University of Washington in 2019, where her research focused on public health policy, healthy aging, and community resilience to disasters. Claire has worked at the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services, where she focused on environmental health communications and community engagement, and as the Research Translation assistant for the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, where she supported science policy and risk communication programming and research. Claire is passionate about working in partnership with communities and policy stakeholders to support evidence-based public health.

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Yue Sun | Graduate Research Assistant

Yue Sun is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. She holds a Master of Sociology from Zhejiang University and a Bachelor of Public Administration from East China University of Science and Technology. Her research interests include health disparities, environmental justice, demography, political economy, and spatial modeling. Specifically, Yue is interested in how natural, social, and policy environments interact, and how this interaction shapes health disparities.

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Xiaoyan (Amanda) Zhang | Lerner Graduate Fellow

Lerner Fellow Xiaoyan (Amanda) Zhang

Xiaoyan (Amanda) Zhang is a doctoral student in the department of Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) at Syracuse University. She received her Master’s Degree in HDFS at SU in 2018.  Her broad research interests are on the impacts of social determinants on health disparities. She is particularly interested in how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) impact health and well-being. She aims to conduct research and evaluation that can be translated into programs or treatments to help children and their families promote their health. Her most recent research examines the effects of economic hardship and children’s adjustment using the Family Stress Model. She expanded the model by incorporating the role of neighborhood interpersonal trust.

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See our Lerner Fellow Alumni and Research Affiliates.