Meet the Team
A. Susana Ramirez, PhD, MPH
Postdoctoral Research Fellows
Deepti Chittamuru, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Cancer Prevention and Latina Health
Dr. Chittamuru is a behavioral scientist and mixed methods researcher whose research is at the intersection of information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) and public health with an emphasis on social justice and health equity. Her current research examines how technology might be leveraged to improve health outcomes for marginalized and underserved populations both globally and locally. She will be a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of California in Merced from Fall 2018. At present she is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Program for Sexuality, Technology, and Action Research (PSTAR) in the Department of Family and Community Health, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Chittamuru earned a PhD in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, a Masters in Information Management and Systems from the School of Information, University of California Berkeley and a Bachelors in Computer Science and Systems Engineering from Andhra University. She has extensive experience in designing, deploying and evaluating technology-based interventions in a wide variety of contexts such as public health, public education and agriculture.
Maria-Elena Young, PhD, MPH
Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Dr. Young is a researcher who examines the impact of immigration policies on public health. Her studies have employed both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand how access to health care and health status are shaped by both federal policies, such as those that increase immigration enforcement, and state policies, such as those that restrict or expand rights and protections for noncitizens. She is the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Merced and project director of the Research on Immigrant Health and State Policy (RIGHTS) Study at the Center for Health Policy Research at the University of California, Los Angeles. She completed her PhD in Community Health Sciences at UCLA and holds a Masters in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from the University of California, Los Angeles and a BA in Spanish from Swarthmore College.
Steven Ramondt, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow in Information Seeking and Health (Collaboration with Buoy Health)
Dr. Ramondt earned a PhD in Health Psychology at UC Merced in 2018. His dissertation research aimed to characterize news coverage of air pollution and health and its effects on health beliefs including fatalism, protective health behaviors, and support for environmental issues. Steven is particularly interested in reducing the adverse health effects of air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley. Steven earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands. His published research has examined media exposure and fatalism and perspectives of environmental health risks.
Erendira Estrada, M.S.
Erendira ("Dida") is a doctoral student in Public Health at UC Merced. She is a 2014 graduate of UC Merced, where she majored in psychology and minored in public health. Erendira's master's research involved community based research to assess perceptions of health and safety in the community and development of a chronic disease prevention communication campaign. Her thesis was awarded the 2018 Amanda L. Kundrat Thesis of the Year award by the Health Communication divisions of the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association. Published research includes content analysis of the health information environment in SJV, evaluation of a social marketing food access intervention, and community perspectives on food access. She was named as one of the inaugural UC Global Food Initiative Fellows for her project evaluating the environmental context for a mobile food grocery food access intervention. Her research interests lie in health disparities, policies, disease prevention, and behavior change.
Kimberly Arellano-Carmona, M.P.H., C.H.E.S.
Kimberly is a doctoral student in Public Health at UC Merced. Prior to joining UC Merced, she worked as a Clinical Research Assistant at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education from California State University, Northridge. Kimberly’s research interests reflect the shifting demographics of the United States and focus on Latino health. She is particularly interested in how access to health care and health information contribute to Latino cancer health disparities.
Katie Butterfield, M.A.
Katie is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at UC Merced. Her research interests include food access; statistical methods; health; and race, class, and gender. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and a M.A. in Sociology, both from UC Merced. Current research focuses on the accessibility of community gardens among different demographic groups and the potential for community gardens and other local food programs to alleviate food insecurity and food desert conditions. She was a 2017-18 UC Global Food Initiative Fellow.
Undergraduate Student Research Assistants
Elizabeth Pena (2018)
Elizabeth graduated with a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology. She was a Spring 2018 Student Success Intern on the team, working on a project to understand where Mexican-American women learn about nutrition. She was awarded a fellowship from the UC Global Health Institute's Center of Excellence on Women's Health, Gender, & Empowerment to develop empowerment-based nutrition communication for bicultural Latinas. In addition to her work on the team, Elizabeth has assisted in conducting research on oral health amongst the Latino community and has interned at Mercy Medical Center. She is passionate about serving minorities and improving health disparities in rural communities. She plans to work in rural health clinics before pursuing a joint master’s program in Physician Assistant Studies and Public Health.