Our Team

Mary Jo Pugh, PhD, RN

Title:  Director, TORCH Lab

Mary Jo Pugh Ph.D., RN is a Research Career Scientist at the Salt Lake City Veterans Health Care System, and a Professor in the Division of Epidemiology in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. Dr. Pugh is a retired Air Force Nurse who received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from the Catholic University of America and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Health Services Research at the Center for Health Quality, Outcomes and Economic Research in Bedford, MA. Her VA Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) career development award focused on the quality of care for Veterans with epilepsy. Her recent work includes DoD funded longitudinal studies examining the impact of traumatic brain injury on patterns of comorbidity and post-traumatic epilepsy in Post-9/11 Veterans.

During her military service, Dr. Pugh sustained a moderate TBI when she was hit by a car while cycling. Her personal experience with TBI led to her interest in examining long-term outcomes after TBI, which led to her involvement as an Investigator in the Epidemiology Study of the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC) where she is able to address that interest. She also receives VA funding to identify longitudinal phenotypes of comorbidity in Gulf War Veterans and NIH funding for examination of trajectories of pain and pain treatment in Post-9/11 Veterans with TBI.

Catherine Loc-Carrillo, PhD

Catherine Loc-Carrillo, PhD

Title:  Research Assistant Professor

Catherine Loc-Carrillo, PhD., is a VA investigator at the Salt Lake City Veterans Health Care System, and a Research Assistant Professor in the Division of Epidemiology in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. She earned her BSc. (Hons) in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, her MSc. in Biotechnology from Nottingham Trent University, UK. and her PhD. from the University of Nottingham, UK.

Dr. Loc-Carrillo works on translational research to build the bridge between bench to bedside healthcare. Her research interests lie primarily within the fields of microbiology and infectious disease but are broad and reflects her faculty appointments within the Departments of Internal Medicine, Pathology, and Surgery. She enjoys collaborating with clinicians because they have first hand experience of what their patients need and she belives that as an interdisciplinary team they can find solutions to patients' problems. In her lab, she is focused in finding ways to prevention, control, and treat bone and wound infections using animal models. As a VA research scientist and a member of the TORCH team she is dedicated in collaborating on research projects that provide insight into how to improve the quality of life for Veterans who suffer from bacterial infections.

Andrea Kalvesmaki, PhD

Andrea Kalvesmaki, PhD

Title:  Research Associate, Division of Epidemiology and Associate Health Fellow at the SL VAMC

Andrea Kalvesmaki is a Research Associate with the TORCH lab in Salt Lake City in the Division of Epidemiology in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine, and an Informatics Fellow at the Salt Lake Veteran Affairs Medical Center. She holds degrees in psychology, medical anthropology, and educational leadership and policy. Her research interests are in understanding the lived experiences of persons with disabilities, or people who support persons with disabilities, family and societal roles in health outcomes, and the impact of policy to support individuals and communities. As a Research Associate for TORCH, she supports mixed-method primary data collection and analysis for a variety of projects. As an Informatics Fellow her primary role is to support research for the Elizabeth Dole Center of Excellence for Veteran and Caregiver Research. Andrea has a sibling who is a Veteran and a sibling with a severe TBI and is devoted to improving the day to day experience for Veterans and all people living with any chronic conditions.

Megan Amuan, MPH

Megan Amuan, MPH

Title:  Health Statistician

Megan Amuan is a Health Statistician and Data Analyst with 18 years of research experience at the VA. Her work encompasses many areas including the epidemiology, risk factors, outcomes and health services utilization of Post-9/11 Veterans. She has experience in sampling, collecting and compiling datasets, computing and analyzing statistical data, and applying statistical techniques such as ANOVA, Logistic Regression, Survival Analysis, GEE analysis, cluster analysis, hierarchical modeling and other statistical methods. Megan is motivated to work on research benefiting Veterans. Her father served as an Air Force pilot and was killed in the line of duty in a joint training mission with Green Berets in 1989.

Huong Nguyen, PhD

Huong Nguyen, PhD

Title:  Data Scientist

Huong Nguyen is a Data Scientist for the TORCH lab in the Division of Epidemiology in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. She holds a PhD in Economics from University of Miami. Prior to joining the team, Huong served as a Research Associate at Utah Education Policy Center where she worked on research design, statistical modeling, data analysis, and data management for educational evaluation research. At TORCH team, Huong works on Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC) project to study the long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injury, its diagnosis and treatment among Veterans. Huong is excited to be part of the team that helps improve the lives of Veterans.

Margaret Wells

Margaret Wells

Title:  VA Health Science Specialist

Margaret Wells is a VA Health Science Specialist at South Texas Veterans Health Care Systems and a Research Associate on Dr. Pugh’s team. She holds a Bachelor of Science in communication disorders and sciences. She works on projects examining post-military health outcomes, mild cognitive impairment, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). She interacts directly with survey and interview participants in this role and as an associate for IMaP (“Improved Understanding of Medical and Psychological Needs in Veterans and Service Members with TBI”) and the San Antonio VA Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center TBI Model Systems a program of research for longitudinal assessment of rehabilitation and functional outcomes of Veterans with TBI.

Sarah Leonhart

Sarah Leonhart

Title:  Research Analyst

Sarah Leonhart is a Research Analyst for the TORCH lab in Salt Lake City in the Division of Epidemiology in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a focus in human development. Sarah’s interests include policy, education, and cognitive development. She is excited to learn more about the health trajectories of veterans and how to improve their quality of life.  

Amira Trevino

Amira Trevino

Amira Trevino is a Graduate Research Assistant for the TORCH lab, located in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine, Division of Epidemiology at Salt Lake City, Utah. Amira holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Human Development, and is working on a doctorate in Counseling Psychology. Prior to joining the TORCH team, Amira coordinated and supported projects on suicide prevention for Veterans. Her research interests include addressing mental health disparities and improving services for underrepresented populations who have experienced trauma.

Eleanor Gonzales, MPH

Eleanor Gonzales, MPH

Title:  Senior Research Analyst

Eleanor Gonzales is a Senior Research Analyst for the TORCH team. Eleanor holds a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Texas A&M University and completed a Master of Public Health from the University of Virginia in 2014. Before moving to Utah, she worked on practice transformation projects at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, providing research and operational support. She is interested in further developing her qualitative research skills and applying this knowledge to improve veterans’ lives.

Amy Henion, MPH

Amy Henion, MPH

Title:  Senior Research Analyst

Amy Henion, MPH has a background in public health research and epidemiology.  She has worked for the University of Utah, the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories, the American Cancer Society and the CDC. She attended college at the University of Rochester, earning a Biology degree.  Then she earned a Masters of Public Health in epidemiology from Emory University in Atlanta. Amy is a senior research analyst in the University of Utah’s Department of Epidemiology. She works to improve Veteran health as part of the eclectic Trajectories of Resilience, Community and Health (TORCH) team.  Amy is motivated to help improve the lives of veterans by examining the long-term outcomes of military experiences.

Jamie Mayo PhD, RN

Jamie Mayo PhD, RN

Title:  Senior Research Analyst

Jamie Mayo, Ph.D., RN has a background in vascular neuroscience. She has worked with hospitals and medical schools in the US and Australia studying how the brain works in health and disease. She has spent the past eight years conducting biomedical research and providing patient care. She received her Ph.D. and BSN from Idaho State University. After finishing her Ph.D., she completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne Australia where she worked on understanding sex differences in vascular function post-traumatic brain injury at the University of Melbourne’s Brain Center. She is currently working on becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on: discovering the best early nursing interventions for patients with traumatic brain injury and in understanding the basis of sex differences in recovery from traumatic brain injury.

Eamonn Kennedy, PhD

Eamonn Kennedy, PhD

Title:  Research Associate

Eamonn Kennedy is a Research Associate for the TORCH Lab in Salt Lake City in the Division of Epidemiology in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. Eamonn completed his doctorate in physics in 2014, specializing in biomedical imaging, and undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Notre Dame, where he worked on novel protein sequencing platforms. Prior to joining the team, Eamonn served as a Senior Research Scientist at Brown University, where he applied statistical learning to computational questions in metabolomics and molecular information systems. Eamonn is honored to have the opportunity to join the TORCH team, and he is eager to apply his knowledge of biomedical imaging and statistical learning to improve veteran’s lives.

Sreekanth Kamineni, MS

Sreekanth Kamineni, MS

Title:  Database Analyst

Sreekanth Kamineni is a Database Analyst for the TORCH Lab in Salt Lake City in the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. Sreekanth started his career as a programmer analyst in 2011 in Cognizant Technology Solutions company and later in 2014 moved to the USA to pursue an MS degree in computer science. In June 2015, Sreekanth completed his MS degree in computer science and graduated from Texas A&M Commerce University. He then joined the analytics team at Valley Behavioral Health in 2016. Sreekanth made significant contributions to Valley Analytics infrastructure. His skills and experiences are in database design and development, data analysis, SQL and ETL development, and scripting programming. He is honored to have the opportunity to join the TORCH team's research efforts to improve the lives of Veterans.

Helal Mobasher, PhD

Helal Mobasher, PhD

Title:  Data Scientist

Dr. Helal Mobasher is a Data Scientist at the University of Utah Department of Epidemiology. He received his Ph.D. in quantitative Sociology from Utah State University. His passion for data analytics, specifically healthcare analytics, led him to have a long-lasting career in Healthcare. Dr. Mobasher specialties are in managing large scale data, data modeling, data integration, data visualization, and data analysis. He has recently led a team of data analysts and developers to build an analytics department at Valley Behavioral Health. His current interests are in predictive analytics and machine learning using both data science programing languages and data visualization tools with advanced technological modules.

Lindsey Gavin

Lindsey Gavin

Title:  Graduate Research Assistant

Lindsey Gavin is a Graduate Research Assistant for the TORCH lab in Salt Lake City in the Division of Epidemiology in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is a first year PMHNP/DNP student at the University of Utah. She has worked in the Emergency Department at the University of Utah. She looks forward to applying her unique clinical perspective to the research being conducted in the TORCH lab. She is engaged in mental health in Utah legislation. 

Tyler Cooper

Tyler Cooper

Title:  Graduate Research Assistant

Tyler Cooper is a new Graduate Research Assistant for the TORCH team. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is a first year Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner DNP student at the University of Utah. She has worked in ICU, ER, hospice, and psychiatric units while being a travel nurse.

Robert George

Robert George

Title:  Research Analyst

Robert George is a Research Analyst for the TORCH lab in the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Utah's School of Medicine. Robert holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is a Marine Corps veteran. Robert's interesets include social psychology, machine learning and mental health counseling. Robert is excited to contribute to the TORCH team and to help advance research that can lead to a better understanding of the outcomes of military service and improve the lives of fellow veterans.

Kelsee M. Stromberg, MPH

Kelsee M. Stromberg, MPH

Title:  Research Analyst

Kelsee M. Stromberg is a Research Analyst for the TORCH lab in Salt Lake City in the Division of Epidemiology in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Public Health from the University of New England. Prior to joining the TORCH team, Kelsee worked in Pediatric and Oncology clinical trials, both focused on improving quality of life within clinical outcomes in longitudinal research.  Kelsee is a proud wife to her husband who serves in the United States Air Force and has seen first-hand the sacrifice that military members, veterans, and their families make in serving their country. She is dedicated to research that links data to life stories, which goes on to change outcomes and improve lives.

Mikayla Viny

Mikayla Viny

Title:  Research Analyst

Mikayla Viny is a Research Analyst for the TORCH team at the University of Utah. Mikayla holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a minor in Psychology from Westminster College of Salt Lake City. Her research interests include rural health, dementia, and chronic diseases. She is also passionate about advocating for vulnerable populations to improve health outcomes and overall quality of life in all communities. Mikayla is thankful for this opportunity to apply her experiences and interests to address health disparities and outcomes among Veterans through the TORCH lab.

Ali Roghani, PhD

Ali Roghani, PhD

Title:  Postdoctoral Researcher

Ali Roghani is a postdoctoral researcher for the TORCH Lab in Salt Lake City in the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Utah's School of Medicine. Ali completed his doctorate in Applied Demography in 2020, concentrating in longitudinal and life-course studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Before joining the team, Ali served as a researcher at the Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research, where he was involved in research projects regarding spatial segregation and racial academic achievement gaps. He feels fortunate to join the TORCH team to improve veterans' lives by examining brain injuries' long-term outcomes. 

John Doyle

John Doyle

Title:  Graduate Research Assistant

John Doyle is a Graduate Research Assistant with the TORCH team. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology, minoring in Integrative Human Biology from the University of Utah. He is currently a first year MS Occupational Health – Industrial Hygiene student at the University of Utah and was previously a clinical study coordinator in the University’s Department of Pediatrics focusing in neurology. He is also Navy Veteran and is looking forward to putting his education and past experiences to use for the benefit of fellow Veterans.

Samin Panahi

Samin Panahi

Title:  Graduate Research Assistant

Samin Panahi is a Graduate Research Assistant with the TORCH team at Western Institute for Biomedical Research. Samin holds a Master's degree in Sociology concentrating in Population Health and is a third-year Sociology doctoral student at the University of Utah. Before joining the team, Samin has served as a Research Assistant at both the Behavioral Sciences Department and the School of Medicine, University of Utah. Samin is honored to have this opportunity to join the team that helps improve the quality of life of Veterans with TBI.

HELP PROGRESS, GIVE TODAY

You can help the Division of Epidemiology continue to progress with even a small contribution. Give today!