Research Experts

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

View list of Research Areas and Experts

Areas of Research Expertise

wdt_ID Specialties Experts
1 Biostatistics Amy Cochran
2 Biostatistics Ron Gangnon
4 Epidemiology Brad Astor
6 Epidemiology Leonelo Bautista
7 Epidemiology Karen Cruickshanks
8 Epidemiology Maureen Durkin
11 Epidemiology Corinne Engelman
12 Health Services Research Sheri Johnson
13 Epidemiology Marty Kanarek
14 Epidemiology Kristen Malecki
Specialties Experts

View list of Specific Research Topic Areas

Brad Astor

Dr. Astor’s research covers multiple aspects of kidney disease, including chronic kidney disease (CKD), end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), and kidney transplantation. He has a special interest in biomarkers of kidney function and identifying risk factors for relevant outcomes, including CKD progression, ESKD, and cardiovascular disease (CVD).  He also studies risk factors for outcomes in kidney transplant recipients, including infection, rejection, malignancy, CVD and graft failure. Another specific interest is studying outcomes of vascular access in patients on chronic hemodialysis. He has conducted research in these areas in the general population (e.g., Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities [ARIC] Study), in clinical trials (African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension [AASK]) and observational studies of dialysis patients (Choices for Healthy Outcomes in Caring for ESRD [CHOICE]) and transplant recipients (Wisconsin Allograft Recipient Database [WisARD], APOL1 Long-term Kidney Transplantation Outcomes Network [APOLLO]).

See Dr. Astor’s full bio here

Leonelo Bautista

Dr. Bautista is physician epidemiologist whose research focus resides on the causes and prevention of cardiovascular diseases, particularly in the identification of risk factors for hypertension and barriers for hypertension control. His current etiologic work is centered on the independent and joint roles of stress hormones, sex hormones, and immune response markers on the development of cardiometabolic risk factors. Dr. Bautista leads INEFAC, a cohort study on cardiovascular diseases, with 15 years of follow-up, as well as the consortium of Latin American Studies of Obesity (LASO), which includes data on more than 30,000 participants from 11 countries in the region.

See Dr. Bautista’s full bio here

See the LASO website here

Marguerite Burns

Dr. Burns’ work is motivated by an interest in understanding the consequences of federal and state Medicaid policy on the health and welfare of low-income adults defined in terms of access to health care, health and employment outcomes, and interactions with other social welfare programs. Her current and past research focuses primarily on adults who have addiction or mental health disorders, and adults with work-limiting disabilities.

See Dr. Burns’ full bio here

Amy Cochran

Dr. Cochran’s area of research is Computational Psychiatry. She is currently funded by an NIMH K01 Career Development Award that aims to establish a digital health platform in psychiatry for delivering behavioral interventions that adapt to an individual in-the-moment.  Her research focuses on developing computational methods for making robust inferences between psychiatric illness and underlying neurobiology. Examples include computational phenotyping of bipolar disorder, modeling of human learning and decision-making, and model-based approached to gene ontology analysis. From a methodological perspective, a general theme is constructing latent variable models and using these models for statistical inference.

See Dr. Cochran’s full bio here

Maureen Durkin

Dr. Durkin’s research interests include the epidemiology, prevention, antecedents and consequences of neurodevelopmental disabilities and childhood injuries, both globally and within the United States. She has collaborated in the development of cross-cultural methods for screening for developmental disabilities and methods for surveillance of childhood injuries, and has directed international studies of the prevalence and causes of neurodevelopmental disabilities in low income countries. She has also directed a cohort study of neuropsychological outcomes of neonatal brain injuries associated with preterm birth, and is currently a principal investigator on the Wisconsin Surveillance of Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities System, the National Childrens Study Waukesha County Vanguard Center, and a study of neurodevelopmental outcomes of 2-Methylbutyryl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency detected in newborn screening.

See Dr. Durkin’s full bio here

See the Wisconsin Surveillance of Autism and other Developmental Disabilities System (WISADDS) website here

See the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network website here

Corinne Engelman

Dr. Engelman’s research focuses on the study design and data analysis of genetic, demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral, physiological and environmental factors of complex diseases, including biomarkers and preclinical traits related to Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Engelman’s group uses epidemiological, statistical, and bioinformatic approaches to analyze large-scale ‘omic data, including that from whole-genome array genotyping; whole-genome sequencing; and metabolomic, lipidomic, and proteomic mass spectrometry. Her research integrates ‘omic and questionnaire data to understand, predict, prevent, and/or treat health conditions. Dr. Engelman is especially interested in identifying interactions with modifiable factors (e.g., social, behavioral, and environmental) to inform precision medicine and health.


See Dr. Engelman’s full bio here

See the Engelman Lab website here

Ronald Gangnon

I am a Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics and the Department of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have an affiliate appointment in the Department of Statistics.

I grew up in Duluth, Minnesota. I graduated from East High School in 1988. I received a BA in Mathematics and Economics in 1992 from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and an MS in Statistics in 1994 and a PhD in Statistics with emphasis in Biostatistics in 1998 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My PhD advisor was Murray Clayton.

I was a research scientist in the Statistical Data Analysis Center(SDAC) in the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1998-2005. I joined the faculty with a joint appointment in the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics and the Department of Population Health Sciences in 2005.

I am an applied biostatistician focusing on problems in clinical and epidemiologic research. Current methodologic areas of interest include (1) multi-state models for incidence, progression and regression of ocular (and other) diseases, (2) small area estimation problems, particularly ranking, (3) spatial and spatio-temporal modeling, particularly cluster detection and high-dimensional variable selection and (4) age-period-cohort modeling.

See Dr. Gangnon’s personal website here and full bio here


Sheri Johnson

Dr. Johnson’s research focuses on child and family well-being using a variety of community engagement approaches. She works with multidisciplinary research teams, community based organizations, neighborhood residents, and public and private sector entities to develop and test solutions to address problems of local relevance and concern. Dr. Johnson is especially interested in partnering with others to identify solutions that remove unfair obstacles to health.

See Dr. Johnson’s full bio here

See the Population Health Institute website here

Marty Kanarek

Dr. Kanarek’s research interests include many aspects of environmental epidemiology. He has conducted large field studies of indoor and outdoor air pollution as part of the Harvard Six Cities Air Pollution study. His group was integral in the discovery of nitrogen oxide exposures from gas cooking stoves. Dr. Kanarek has conducted many studies of the effects of lead on children. One study revealed that parents were unintentionally poisoning their own children with lead when removing old lead paint using certain techniques in household renovation and remodeling. A large study throughout the state of Wisconsin showed that children’s lead exposure at age 3 were determinative of their 4th grade achievement test scores (seven years later) while controlling for all other variables. Dr. Kanarek has collaborated with the Wisconsin State Health Department on several PCB, dioxin and mercury contaminants in human consumption of sport caught fish projects. He has done seminal epidemiology studies on drinking water and cancer including asbestos and chlorination byproducts. Dr. Kanarek is considered a world’s leading expert on the epidemiology of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.

See Dr. Kanarek’s full bio here

Sara Lindberg

Dr. Lindberg’s research interests focus on evaluation of prevention, intervention, treatment, and health policy projects. In her role as Program Director for Evaluation Research, she leads a team of 30+ professional evaluators, with a long history of evaluating federal, state, and community-level health and human services programs. The team uses a broad range of methods – from qualitative and descriptive techniques to complex experimental and quasi-experimental trials – to evaluate programs and interventions designed to improve the health of individuals and communities. Dr. Lindberg’s professional career and publishing have centered around the application of her methodological expertise to improve understanding of real-world problems and to support policies and programs that improve opportunities for all people to achieve health and well-being.

See Dr. Lindberg’s full bio here

See the Population Health Institute Evaluation Research here

Kristen Malecki

Dr. Malecki is a visiting professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences. She is the former PI and director of the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW). Her current research developing models to examine combined chemical (air pollution, water pollution), physical and social stressors and influence on adult chronic disease, childhood development and obesity. Dr. Malecki’s transdisciplinary work includes identification of novel biomarkers of exposure and response including microbiome, epigenetics and transcriptomics.

See Dr. Malecki’s full bio here

See the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) website here

Natascha Merten

Dr. Natascha Merten is a faculty member in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology within the Department of Medicine, as well as a faculty member in the Department of Population Health Sciences. She is an Affiliate of the Center for Demography of Health and Aging and a member of the McPherson Eye Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Dr. Merten is also the Director of the EpiSense Program within the Department of Population Health Sciences and her leadership and mentoring skills have recently been awarded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Postdoctoral Association Postdoc Excellence Award in Mentoring. Dr. Merten is a member of many professional organizations including the International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment (ISTAART), German Psychological Society (DGPs), Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER), American Auditory Society (AAS) and the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). Within the GSA’s Emerging Scholar and Professional Organization, Dr. Merten has become engaged as the chair of the Dissertation Writing Group. Her research expertise has been awarded by a Rising Star Award at the Sensory Impairment and Cognitive Decline Workshop of the National Institute on Aging and the American Geriatrics Society and has been acknowledged by a recent invitation to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Expert Panel to update the Strategic Research Plan for 2022-2027.

See Dr. Merten’s full bio here

John Mullahy

John Mullahy’s research interests include the evaluation of health interventions, comparative effectiveness analysis, analysis of patterns of healthcare spending and costs, health-related behaviors, and the applications of econometric methods to health economics and health policy analysis. His most recent work has focused on health outcome measurement in contexts of multiple outcomes and time-use outcomes. This work attempts to develop novel characterizations of and estimation strategies for treatment effects where such outcomes are of concern.

See Dr. Mullahy’s full bio here

Rebecca Myerson

Dr. Myerson’s research examines the impacts of public policies and information interventions on take-up of insurance coverage, health care access, and health outcomes. Specific projects have examined the impact of trans fat bans, health insurance coverage expansions, the Affordable Care Act navigator program, and targeted outreach interventions to address barriers to coverage for underserved populations.

See Dr. Myerson’s full bio here

Thomas Oliver


See Dr. Oliver’s full bio here

Mariétou Ouayogodé

Dr. Ouayogodé is interested in investigating policy-driven questions in health, behavioral, public economics, and health services research. During her training, Dr. Ouayogodé has gained expertise in evaluating health care reforms and understanding how and to what extent people and organizations respond to incentives and regulatory changes in the healthcare environment. Dr. Ouayogodé also studies the impact of external shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic on social determinants of health, mental health and access to health care. Prior to joining the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

See Dr. Ouayogodé’s full bio here

Jonathan Patz

Professor Patz’ research focuses on the intersection between climate change, energy policy and public health. Through a “health in all policies” approach his research includes policy questions across the energy, transportation, and food sectors. Dr. Patz and his team use computer model simulations and remotely-sensed satellite data to assess how alternative energy and urban design especially affect the risk of chronic diseases. Primary disease pathways, in this case, are levels of air pollution, sedentarism (lack of “active travel” by walking or biking), and high red-meat diets. While Patz has previously addressed the multiple health risks of climate change, he has shifted his team’s focus to quantify the potential health “co-benefits” that arise from climate change policies for a low-carbon economy.
See Dr. Patz’s full bio here

Paul Peppard

Paul Peppard joined the faculty of the Department of Population Health Sciences in 2008. He holds MS degrees in Preventive Medicine and Statistics, and a PhD degree in Epidemiology from UW-Madison.

Dr. Peppard conducts NIH-funded epidemiologic research into the causes and consequences of sleep disorders and sleep behaviors. Specific areas of interest include: the impact of the obesity epidemic on sleep apnea prevalence; the behavioral (e.g., physical inactivity, weight gain) and genetic predictors of sleep disorders; outcomes of sleep disorders (e.g., cardiovascular disease, depression, metabolic dysfunction); and aging-related sleep outcomes (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, Alzheimer’s disease, physical functioning) . In addition, Paul is co-investigator on the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW), a statewide research study designed to measure a broad range of health conditions in Wisconsin.

See Dr. Peppard’s full bio here

See the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) website here

Ajay Sethi

Dr. Sethi’s research interests lie broadly in the study of infectious diseases. His studies aim to identify modifiable behavioral and structural factors associated with transmission and morbidity if infection is established. His research employs both quantitative and qualitative methods in clinic- and community-based settings, observational and quasi-experimental study designs, and is conducted in both the US and in Uganda. He works in the area of HIV/AIDS, healthcare-associated infections, and the microbiome.

See Dr. Sethi’s full bio here

Maureen Smith

Dr. Smith’s research focuses on how health systems and individuals can improve prevention and management of multiple chronic conditions in aging and chronically ill persons. Many of her projects have developed and analyzed measures of healthcare quality for outpatient and inpatient care using electronic health records and health insurance claims data. Dr. Smith directs the Health Innovation Program, a health services research program that integrates healthcare research and practice. Dr. Smith supports strong partnerships between University of Wisconsin faculty, healthcare and community organizations to conduct research that improves health and health equity. Dr. Smith is especially interested in improving health service delivery through innovative interventions and rigorous evaluation.

See Dr. Smith’s full bio here

See the Health Innovation Program (HIP) website here
See the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) website here

Amy Trentham-Dietz

As a cancer epidemiologist, Dr. Trentham-Dietz’s research is focused on breast cancer prevention, early detection and outcomes. She employs novel and traditional epidemiologic approaches in her studies complemented by methods deriving from health services research and simulation modeling. She has approached breast cancer prevention and detection by focusing on 1) modifiable lifestyle factors including obesity, physical activity, and environmental factors to better understand breast cancer etiology and reveal avenues for prevention; 2) ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast which, often detected through mammography, is a non-obligate precursor for invasive breast cancer; and 3) simulation modeling of breast cancer to examine risk-based approaches to screening to maximize benefits of screening programs while reducing harms.

See Dr. Trentham-Dietz’s full bio here

See the Wisconsin Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP) website here

Shaneda Warren Andersen

Dr. Warren Andersen’s research program uses molecular and social epidemiologic methods to identify determinants for cancer risk and survivorship. Specifically, Dr. Warren Andersen’s research program investigates how differences in the distributions of important tumor characteristics, access to healthcare, and modifiable lifestyle factors may contribute to disparities in colorectal cancer outcomes across populations.

See Dr. Warren Andersen’s full bio here