Our students are the first to enroll in this one-of-a-kind PhD program. Read about our current students!
Fall 2018 Cohort
|Alexandra Almeida holds bachelors and master’s degrees from top universities in Brazil in applied statistics. She recently completed her PhD in biostatistics (Brazilian National School of Public Health) and will be joining us to pursue a PhD to apply her exceptional analytic skills to focus on addiction and co-occurring conditions (HIV/TB). Alexandra has been awarded a one-year Global Grant from Rotary International to support the first year of study in a PhD program and a University Graduate Fellowship from SDSU to support studies in Year 2. Since 2015 she has worked as a statistician at FIOCRUZ, the Brazilian equivalent to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. She led a team which developed mathematical models to study the seasonality of influenza in all Brazilian states. In addition, she has also worked on modeling of vector-borne diseases such as Zika. She has two scientific publications in Portuguese, has another paper under review, and has authored several book chapters. In addition, she has taught a graduate course in biostatistics. Her long-term goal is to be an applied substance use researcher and professor in her home country.|
|Sarah Chavez earned a B.A. in Psychology from University of Redlands and a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from California State University, Northridge. While completing her Master’s, Sarah received both the California Pre-doctoral and Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP) scholarship while serving as a research assistant in the P.U.E.N.T.E. lab. As a P.U.E.N.T.E. Lab member, she explored the racial/ethnic disparities in child mental health service receipt and evaluated culturally-sensitive psychotherapeutic strategies for promoting family engagement within child mental health care.During her Master’s, Sarah became interested in: substance abuse theory; addiction; youth risk and protective factors; racial/ethnic substance use differences; and evaluating prevention, interventions and treatment options. Sarah has taken her interests in substance use and integrated Univariate and Multivariate statistics to examine youth risk factors in engaging in early substance use. With her research background in substance use, she has presented in several local and regional conferences in hopes to spread youth substance use awareness. Currently, she strives to continue to use her research background to address the issues of youth substance use and evaluate possible treatment and prevention methods for addiction.|
|Nafisa Ferdous is originally from Bangladesh, where she earned her BSc in Pharmacy from North South University and completed undergraduate thesis in Pharmacology. Subsequently, she moved to the US to pursue MSc in Biomedical Sciences at The University of North Dakota. During her Masters, Nafisa worked in the field of neuropharmacology and investigated the long-term changes in the dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems in the brain from drug exposure. After completing her Masters, she wanted to understand the extent of substance use crisis in the real world and started working in hospitals and clinics involved in the assessment and treatment of clients and patients with a history of addiction and chemical dependency. Working closely with patients battling depression, bipolar disorder, and/or anxiety with co-occurring addiction to drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, opioids and psychedelics prompted Nafisa to revisit her research roots where she aims to investigate further into the unresolved aspects of substance use and misuse in the society. Her research interest lies in expanding her knowledge of neuropharmacology and integrating them into psychological and environmental sciences to address drug abuse and substance use stigma on a global scale.|
|Melanie Nicholls earned her B.A. in psychology and sociology from Augustana College and an M.S.W. from University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.While completing her Masters, she interned at Rosecrance, a dual-diagnosis treatment facility in Rockford, IL. She then moved on to be a full time addiction counselor at the facility where she worked with the women specific unit and the Florian unit, which worked with firefighters, veterans, and first responders. Melanie is a licensed social worker and is currently working on becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Her research interest lies in the relationship between substance use and adverse childhood experiences, the effectiveness of treatment centers, and substance use in the specific populations of women and the LGBTQ community.|