Lab members Susan Tsui & Darwin Keung in the field to deploy light sensors for our NIEHS funded pilot study “The Influence of Light Pollution & Light-at-night on the Circadian Clock”

Jackie Leung is broadly interested in the ecology, immunology, and epidemiology of infectious diseases. She has a particular interest in understanding why hosts are so heterogeneous in their immune responses to infection. Her dissertation research examined ecological interactions between helminths and microbes in the vertebrate gut and the consequences these interactions have for host health and disease. Specifically, she performed re-wilding experiments in mice to investigate how the external environment shapes helminth susceptibility via changes to host immunity and the gut microbiota. She also conducted a clinical study in humans to determine how helminth removal via deworming impacts enteric infections and the wider intestinal ecosystem. As a postdoc in the Martinez lab, Jackie will characterize seasonal and circadian rhythms in the human immune system to determine whether functional changes in immune responses occur throughout the year that may impact susceptibility to disease. (jml2363@cumc.columbia.edu)

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Tigidankay (TK) Saccoh is currently a junior at Columbia College majoring in psychology and concentrating in public health. She has been working in the Martinez Lab since the Spring 2019 semester. Currently, using the R program and existing scientific literature, she is working on a paper that explores the best measles vaccination schedules for children. She hopes to resume her study of how maternal immunity is implicated in the development of the infant immune system once it is again safe to work with human participants. TK is especially interested in reproductive justice and improving health outcomes for mothers and infants in the developing world. She plans to pursue a joint JD/MPH degree after she graduates and ultimately hopes to improve reproductive health for women in Sierra Leone, where she was born. Outside of academics, she loves to cook and watch psychological thriller movies. (ts3180@cumc.columbia.edu).

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Salwa Najmi is currently a Junior at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter majoring in Arabic Language and Culture. Starting in the summer of 2020, she worked with Dr. Martinez on digitizing and analyzing data from the NYC Department of Health on the disparities of the COVID-19 public health crisis. As an aspiring physician, she hopes to combine her interests in science with her passion for patient advocacy in her research projects. She was accepted into the FlexMed program and thereby will be attending the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai following her undergraduate studies.

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Dennis Khodasevich earned his Master of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. His research interests revolve around working with complex datasets to improve understanding of environmental exposures and improve population health. Dennis works with Dr. Martinez to characterize seasonal variation in daily light exposure among residents of the New York City area, and identify associations between differential exposure to light at night and circadian biology. (dk3057@cumc.columbia.edu)

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Emma Gorin is a PhD student in Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia. Before starting at Columbia, she completed her MSPH in Global Disease Epidemiology and Control at Johns Hopkins University in 2019, where her research included investigating sanitation availability in northern India and mobility among female sex workers in Guinea-Bissau. Prior to her master’s program, she worked in health education, clinical research, and international non-profit settings. Emma is currently working with Dr. Martinez on using traffic data to model population mobility at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in NYC.


Past Members

Katherine Crocker earned her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. There, she developed crickets as a model system to research the mechanisms and consequences of inherited nongenetic effects, particularly those resulting from dietary stress and social conditions. Now a fellow in the Climate and Health Program, she is working to identify effects of food insecurity and parental stress on the descendants of the stressed individuals. Katherine’s current work combines computational epigenetics (using human-generated data) with laboratory studies on vertebrate and invertebrate species. The central goal of her work is to identify environmental risk factors that can have disproportionately negative future effects, which in turn can be used to inform public health policy and approaches. (kcc2153@cumc.columbia.edu)

Susan Tsui is a Master of Public Health candidate in Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Her interests lie in social epidemiology and health equity. Susan currently works with Dr. Martinez to study the impact of light pollution on circadian rhythms in residents of Northern Manhattan and the Bronx. She earned a B.A. in biology from Boston University where she also conducted undergraduate research on mycorrhizal fungi. Prior to working with Dr. Martinez, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps in East Harlem, New York City. (st2712@cumc.columbia.edu)

Jesús Cantu received his BA in Sociology from Princeton University and is the Martinez Lab Manager and Research Associate. He is interested in the transmission dynamics and control of infectious diseases, as well as the implementation of cutting-edge epidemiological/statistical modeling in the analysis of big data for use in population health management. His previous research has focused on measuring the impact of migration on varicella (i.e., chickenpox) transmission along the U.S.-Mexico border and analyzing the relationship between changing infant vaccination and breastfeeding rates and the incidence of flu-related hospitalizations among children in the United States. He is currently working on building a dynamic transmission model to estimate the efficacy of the varicella vaccine.

Darwin Keung is a Master of Public Health candidate in Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia. He previously studied C. elegans innate immunity and murine blood stem cell differentiation while completing his bachelor’s thesis at Haverford College. Darwin is interested in environmental health challenges that arise from modernization and urbanization. Currently he is investigating the effects of light pollution and artificial lighting on circadian rhythms.
(dk2759@cumc.columbia.edu)

Daniel Navarette is a senior at Princeton University. Over the past three years of working with Dr. Martinez, Daniel has conducted research on rubella serology and circadian biology. He is currently completing his thesis on the within host dynamics of African Sleeping Sickness and the relationship between circadian rhythms in the host and parasite dynamics. (danieljn@princeton.edu)

Aria Alexander was a member of the Martinez Lab for three years. Her primary research was focused on maternal immunity and early vaccination against measles. In 2018, she defended her thesis “Reassessing the Measles and Rubella Vaccination Schedule” and received her BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton. Aria also worked on polio vaccine efficacy and contributed to forthcoming work on OPV efficacy. Aria is now a postbaccalaureate trainee at University of Rochester.

Annalise Russo is a senior at Princeton University. Annalise assisted with research on polio vaccination while working with Dr. Martinez in 2016 and 2017.

Busola Alabi – As an undergrad summer research student, Busola worked with Dr. Martinez at the University of Michigan studying polio outbreaks. She is now a Biomedical engineering Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, working on creating ex-vivo 3D models to study colorectal cancer. Busola “hopes to be part of the next generation of scientific researchers that are helping to bridge the gap between science and engineering in order to find more effective solutions to diseases. Outside of academic work, I like taking long walks, dancing salsa and trying out new cooking recipes.”

Emilia Iglesias worked with Dr. Martinez as an undergraduate summer research student at the University of Michigan. She is now a graduate student at Wayne State University studying Biomedical Instrumentation. Emi has “an aspiration to work with underserved populations. After working on the seasonality of Alzheimer’s disease with Micaela Martinez, I was fortunate enough to experience conducting research abroad thanks to her strong recommendation.”