The list of OFDIR alumni is continually growing. We are privileged to have shared parts of the journeys of many incredible researchers. Some are still at OHSU, others have gone on to careers elsewhere. Get to know some of the past OFDIR Fellows below.
Natasha Fowler, Ph.D.
Clinical Research CoordinatorClinical Research CoordinatorColumbia Pain Management, P.C.
Natasha Fowler was a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Deena Walker’s lab in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience. She holds a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Michigan State University under the mentorship of Drs. Kelly Klump and Cheryl Sisk. Her graduate work examined the role of stress and ovarian hormones on binge eating behavior in women and female rats. As a post-doc, Natasha’s research focused on understanding how adolescent stress interacts with reward processes to influence natural (food) and drug reward-related behaviors in a sex-specific manner.
Jaime Abrego, Ph.D.
Scientific Lead, Cancer BiologyScientific Lead, Cancer Biology, Loxo Oncology at Lilly
Jaime Abrego was a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Mara Sherman in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology department. Jaime was born in Mexico and grew up in Conyers, Georgia. He joined the University of Nebraska Medical Center to pursue his Ph.D. in cancer research at the Eppley Institute for Cancer Research. During his pre-doctoral training, Jaime’s research focused on studying metabolic reprogramming of pancreatic cancer at the cellular level. As a graduate student, he was author on several peer-reviewed publications, he presented his research at major national conferences and developed strong mentorship in the laboratory and classroom. While in the Sherman lab, Jaime's research focused in studying the role of free fatty acids in the microenvironment of pancreatic tumors. As a postdoctoral fellow, he continued producing impactful research for the betterment of patients suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Sará King, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow in Public Health, University of California San Diego
Sará King is a mother, a UCLA-trained neuroscientist, anthropologist, education philosopher, and political scientist. She completed her B.A. degrees in Linguistics and Black Studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA before coming to OHSU. Her work integrated culturally celebratory yoga and mindfulness practices into a community intervention for Alzheimer’s disease for the African-American community of Portland (SHARP). SHARP is headed up by Dr. Raina Croff and supported by the OHSU Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Her research also focuses on healing the trauma of gentrification and its impact on brain and cognitive health. Sará is also an internationally recognized thought leader in field of mindfulness and social justice in schools, and has enjoyed public speaking and advocacy work at the intersection of these fields.
Tunde Akinyeke, Ph.D.
Instructor at Seattle Central College and Shoreline Community College
Tunde Akinyeke was a postdoctoral researcher at OHSU from 2014-2017. His project was called Effect of c-Myc protein in Hypothalamic and Amygdala Brain Regions of Mice Following Alcohol Exposure. Tunde investigated the influence of alcohol on c-Myc levels in the brain in different human and animal models. He is now pursuing opportunities in the Seattle area in STEM education and/or biomedical research. He has a passion for STEM outreach and getting more students of color into successful careers in STEM fields and his professional interests include molecular biology and education.
Shandee Dixon, Ph.D.
Associate Scientist, Workforce Development Team, OCTRI;
Assistant Director of Cancer Research Training, Knight Cancer Institute
Dr. Dixon is an Associate Scientist on the Workforce Development Team at the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI), where she serves as the EXITO PLUS Enrichment Lead and Career Mentor, RLC Coordinator, and develops Research Training Curriculum for EXITO BUILD and URISE undergraduate training programs housed at Portland State University (PSU) Center for Interdisciplinary mentoring research (CIMR). Additionally, Dr. Dixon is the Assistant Director of Cancer Research Career Enhancement (CRCE) at the Knight Cancer Institute, where she works to develop training curriculum for students, researchers, faculty and staff at all levels, and works to strengthen outreach efforts to encourage students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in cancer research. Previously as a scientist at the OHSU Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center (CEDAR) she founded the CEDAR Health Inequities Committee focused on building awareness around the impact systemic health inequities have on early detection and treatment of cancers, and was awarded an OHSU Northwest Native American Center of Excellence-TEDMED Fellowship as an Indigenous Health Scholar. She holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the University of Michigan, and prior to her role as a scientist at CEDAR, she was an OHSU Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion in Research (OFDIR) in the Microbiology and Immunology Department. As a first-generation college student herself, Dr. Dixon is leveraging her current position to advocate for support and inclusion of other aspiring scientists from marginalized and underrepresented backgrounds in STEM. In her spare time, she is pursuing a Master’s in Public Health degree with an emphasis in Health Management and Policy at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. Dr. Dixon’s goal is to change the way we think about science in an attempt to bridge public health and bench research to ensure that new technology and state-of-the-art discoveries are accessible, culturally relevant and actually reach the communities most in need. When she’s not working, Shandee enjoys singing Karaoke and playing board games with her partner, Tyler, and her tabby cat, Mrs. Muffet. She also enjoys cooking and eating the results, no matter how it turns out! email Dr. Dixon.
Eugene Manley, Ph.D.
Director, Scientific Programs at Lung Cancer Research Foundation
Eugene Manley, Jr. has a PhD in Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry from Boston University, a MS in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University. Broadly he is trained in combination drug therapies, tumor microenvironment, genomics, drug metabolism, and digital pathology. He was a postdoctoral researcher at OHSU from 2016-2020 where he worked on 2D and 3D growth models of breast cancer, intratumoral heterogeneity, drug resistance, and development of cyclic multiplex immunofluorescence antibody panels to stain features in mouse tissues that can be used to develop hypothesis about breast cancer in patient samples. After leaving OHSU he was Assistant Director, Corporate Alliances at the American Association for Cancer Research where he worked on Business Development and Fundraising with Biotech and Pharma. Currently, he is Director, Scientific Programs at the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. He primarily oversees lung cancer grant programs, liaises between clinical trial sponsors and consortium of thoracic oncology centers, and summarizes lung cancer meetings. He has been passionate about mentoring, STEM, outreach, diversity and has routinely worked to increase awareness and opportunities for minority researchers. He is also working on developing a program to fund minority lung cancer researchers. Click here to email Dr. Manley or connect with him on LinkedIn.
Ginnifer Mastarone, Ph.D.
Mixed Methods UX Researcher at Facebook
Ginnifer Mastarone is a social scientist who specializes in human-computer interaction. Her work centers around the usability and usefulness of Health Information Technologies (HIT) in operational settings. Another arm of her research is the evaluation of decision aid tools that facilitate patients as they learn about medical conditions, treatment options, and engage in shared decision-making with their providers. As an OFDIR Fellow, Ginnifer was a Health Services Research Informatics Fellow at the Portland VA Health Care System where she worked closely with Dr. Kathleen Carlson to evaluate the barriers and facilitators to Prescription Drug Monitoring Program use and with Dr. Blake Lesselroth on quality improvement initiatives. In her time at OHSU she contributed greatly to the design, implementation and evaluation of software applications to improve patient access to health services. She also worked with the National Office of Human Factors Engineering to develop a user experience (UX) Toolkit to improve informatics across the VA and has been very involved with implementing health care programs using applied social science techniques. She previously worked at AnswerLab and now is at Facebook as a Mixed Methods UX Researcher. Feel free to connect with Dr. Mastarone on LinkedIn.
Oscar Miranda-Dominguez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Department of Pediatrics
Oscar Miranda-Dominguez is a biomedical engineer with more than nine years of experience in research, industry and academy. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. After completing his postdoctoral training period through OFDIR, he remained at OHSU for several years as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, where he has developed expertise in neuroimaging and clinical research. Currently, Oscar is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Oscar's research focuses on combining the latest findings from neuroimaging, electrophysiology, and clinical psychology for early identification of the biomarkers of psychiatric and neurological disorders. To this end, he uses functional MRI to extract unique and stable personalized brain "fingerprints" and identify shared patterns of brain connectivity among groups that generalize across studies. The goal of Oscar's research is to develop methods and technologies for building model-based approaches to therapeutics. Click here to email Dr. Miranda-Dominguez.
Cristiane Miranda França, DDS, MS, PhD
Research Assistant Professor at Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry, Department of Restorative Dentistry
Cristiane Miranda Franca is a dentist-scientist with a Ph.D. in Oral Pathology from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and postdoctoral training in Tissue Engineering from the Division of Biomaterials and Biomechanics in the Department of Restorative Dentistry at the School of Dentistry, OHSU. Recently, she became a Research Assistant Professor in the same department to expand her research on the development of biomaterials with immunomodulatory properties aiming to regenerate oral, dental, and craniofacial tissues. Cristiane`s work includes various aspects of biomaterials, tissue engineering, immunology, and organs-on-a-chip to understand the immune interactions with materials and how the immune system participates in regeneration and wound healing. In addition, she is part of the team led by Dr. Luiz Bertassoni to develop and commercialize a novel hydrogel for dental pulp regeneration. She is also involved in 3D bioprinting studies to engineer vascularized tissues for regenerative applications. Outside of work, you can find Cristiane having fun with her Cuban-Brazilian family, working out, meditating, or just hanging around her crazy cat, Angel. Click here to contact Dr. Franca.
Binyam Nardos, Ph.D.
(1982 - 2022)
Binyam Nardos joined OHSU in early 2016 as a postdoc, working first with Dr. Damien Fair, and subsequently with Dr. Mary Heinricher, variety of projects until his appointment as an Instructor of Occupational Therapy at Washington University. One such project at OHSU was a collaboration on a multi-site research study that uses an impulse-control-based face perception task and functional MRI techniques to understand how face perception is influenced by race and socioemotional contexts. In another project, Binyam worked with a team investigating behavioral and brain-based (using functional MRI) underpinnings of chronic pain in Veterans that have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Based on observations that photosensitivity is associated with generalized chronic pain, particularly in the context of a traumatic brain injury, the study tested the hypothesis that heightened photosensitivity could be a window into characterizing potentially altered pain processing in patients with TBI and subsequent chronic pain.
While at OHSU, Binyam also served as the co-director of the Youth Engaged in Science (YES!) Initiative, a STEM outreach program founded in the Developmental Cognition & Neuroimaging Labs aimed at countering educational and health disparities in underrepresented minority communities. YES! exposes underrepresented minority students to scientific research and related careers in a number of ways including providing extensive multi-year research mentorship on independent research projects, career mentorship panels, as well as providing opportunities for mentees to educate younger peers and become mentors themselves.
Binyam became a part of the OFDIR leadership team soon after the fellowship was established in 2014. Serving in the capacity of historian for the program’s design and function, he joined the advisory committee in an official capacity between 2020-2022. Our efforts in building community through the fellowship program were enhanced by Binyam’s directorship of the YES! program, involvement with NW Noggin, and deep commitment to outreach and mentoring.
Jeffrey Proulx, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor at Brown University School of Public Health
Jeffrey Proulx's primary expertise is in developmental health psychology with a focus on the effects of stress on physical health as people age and whether stress is associated with health disparities in ethnic minority communities. His efforts bridge Native American and African-American traditional contemplative and healing practices and mainstream mindfulness practices and how mindfulness affects resilience and well-being across a person's developmental trajectory. Jeffrey’s work includes studying changes in physiological markers, such as cortisol or blood sugar levels, their relationship to stress and how responses to stress earlier in life may affect health later in life. He is recognized as a developmental health psychologist and his work integrates other disciplines including public health, medicine, molecular biology, and lifecourse sociology. After completing his postdoctoral research at OHSU, Jeffrey joined the faculty at Brown University School of Public Health where he teaches about Psychiatry and Human Behavior.
Anita Randolph, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor at University of Minnesota Medical School, Department of Pediatrics
Dr. Anita Randolph is a proud first-generation college graduate who has a passion for research and service. She graduated in 2011 from the University of Georgia (UGA) with a triple major in Animal Science with an emphasis in Animal Biology (BSA), Microbiology (BS), and Genetics (BS). In 2014, Anita began her dual Ph.D. graduate studies at the University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston). Her dissertation research focused on characterizing ovine central nervous damage after acute exposure to smoke inhalation with and without third-degree skin burn injury. After the completion of her dissertation in 2018, Anita came to OHSU where she is currently researching addiction in collaboration with Dr. Damien Fair (OHSU) and Dr. William Hoffman (Portland VA Medical Center- OHSU). Anita’s research aims to elucidate differences in brain function between people with and without a history of substance abuse using MRI imaging modalities. Additionally, Anita served as the co-director for the Youth Engaged in Science (YES!) outreach program and is engaged in several outreach projects throughout the greater Portland area and abroad. Currently she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Co-director of Community Engagement and Education Core of the Masonic Institute of the Developing Brain. Click here to email Dr. Randolph.
Marquitta L. Smith, Ph.D.
Senior Scientists, Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories
Marquitta L. Smith is currently a Senior Scientist at Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories. In her time at OHSU she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. She completed her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. During her time as an OFDIR fellow, her research involved understanding how impaired glymphatic function leads to the accumulation and propagation of proteins in protein accumulation disorders such as Alzheimer’s and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Marquitta also has an interest in teaching and promoting STEM amongst minority and disadvantaged individuals. Feel free to connect with Dr. Smith via LinkedIn.
Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor at Oregon Health & Science University
Dr. Vasquez Guzman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. Estela trained at the University of New Mexico, where she specialized in medical sociology, race, and ethnicity. She has developed a strong understanding of the diverse factors affecting racial/ethnic health inequities both within and outside of the health care system. Her involvement with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center for Health Policy, Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) and the State Priorities Partnership (SPP) has provided an interdisciplinary training influential to her multi-dimensional understanding of racial/ethnic health and healthcare disparities. Dr. Guzman has specific interest in social-cultural-structural-humanistic curriculum for medical students and residents as well as investigating inequities in medicine, health, and health delivery among Native American and Latinx communities. Currently, through two grants, she is analyzing the structural factors impacting cervical cancer and documenting Latina women’s unique lived experiences. She utilizes a range of qualitative methods including interviews, focus groups, and case study data. As a first generation Latina immigrant indigenous scholar, she aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice from an equity and inclusion perspective because we all win when we have a compassionate, representative, and humanistic healthcare system. Outside of work, you can find Estela running, dancing, hiking, swimming and/or doing arts and crafts. She also enjoys traveling and cooking authentic Oaxacan food with her mother and family.