Executive Board

UPPDA Executive Board for 2022-2023

President: Stephanie Mutchler, PhD

President: Stephanie Mutchler, PhD
Department of Medicine, School of Medicine

Stephanie is a third-year postdoc in the Renal-Electrolyte Division of the School of Medicine. She earned her Bachelor's from The College of William and Mary and completed her doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She currently works on understanding the role of salt and aldosterone in altering renal function. Stephanie hopes as the UPPDA president to continue helping to provide a safe, supportive environment for postdocs across the university community where they can grow professionally and personally. Outside of lab, she loves to paddleboard, garden, and run through the Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

Advocacy Committee Chair: Vaishali Aggarwal, PhD

Advocacy Committee Chair: Vaishali Aggarwal, PhD
Department of Immunology, School of Medicine

Vaishali Aggarwal is currently a second year post-doc fellow in School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh. She is currently working on understanding the microenvironmental cues which drives ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) transition in three-dimensional breast microtumor model. She looks forward to actively contribute and work towards interest of post-doctoral fellows. Vaishali will be instrumental in coming up with the policies in interest of post-doc colleagues and also streamlining appropriate representation of the policies for presentation and necessary steps working in conjunction with senior University administrators.

International Committee Chair: Arundhati Gupta, PhD
International Committee Chair: Arundhati Gupta, PhD
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, School of Medicine

Aru completed her Bachelors and Masters degrees from St. Xavier's College, India before moving to the US to pursue doctoral studies. She earned her PhD in 2019 in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, completing her doctoral dissertation focusing on the role of viral immediate early genes in gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis. Currently, she works on alphaherpesvirus epigenetics as a post-doctoral associate in the Deluca Lab in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. When not at work, Aru can be found cuddling with her cats, or traveling to national parks, lakes, and forests.

While in graduate school, Aru was a student government liaison with the University, as well as treasurer of the Graduate Student’s Association. Ever the defender and champion of underdogs, she is a staunch mental health advocate, and sometimes wonders if she should have become a civil rights activist instead of a virologist.
Diversity and Inclusion Chair: Chantele Mitchell-Miland, PhD, MPH
Diversity and Inclusion Chair: Chantele Mitchell-Miland, PhD, MPH
Department of Medicine, School of Medicine

I am an NIGMS funded postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. My work focuses on exploring how diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices contribute to diversifying the biomedical work force at the institutional level. I am also directing the development of DEI programs at two research centers at VA Pittsburgh Health System.  The majority of my research has focused on vulnerable populations, health disparities, and health equity. I have learned how the deficit of diversity and inclusion in the workforce has a significant impact on research efforts which further exacerbates inequities in healthcare.
 
I have over 20 years experience data management, database development, and data analysis - skills that are vitally important to being an Epidemiologist and independent researcher. My doctoral dissertation, titled “The Effect of Weight Reduction Interventions on Health-Related Quality of Life Among Overweight/Obese Individuals with a focus on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Reduction” introduced me to a systems level approach to evaluating patient outcomes in healthcare. I earned a certificate in health equity December 2020 which provided hands on training to work with vulnerable populations. I have worked 11 years at VAPHS where I have gained a full experience from completing patient interviews, to project management and development as well as writing and presenting research findings. Through my experiences as an underrepresented minority biomedical scientist and from learning from other underrepresented colleagues and mentors, I am aware of the challenges faced at many levels within institutions and the need to find viable solutions to improve or efforts towards workforce diversity.
Career Development Committee Chair: Tumader Khouja, PhD, MPH
Career Development Committee Chair: Tumader Khouja, PhD, MPH
Department of Medicine, School of Medicine

Dr. Tumader Khouja is a dentist, health services researcher and a third-year postdoctoral fellow in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine. Dr. Khouja received her degree in dentistry from King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She completed a master’s in Public Health with a certificate in Health System Leadership and Management from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. She then received her PhD in Health Services Research and Policy also from Pitt.

Dr. Khouja’s research focuses on areas of high importance in dental public health including prescribing in dentistry and access to oral health services using secondary data and advanced statistical methods. Her current research uses mixed methods to develop a provider-centered intervention to improve opioid and antibiotic prescribing in ED settings. Dr. Khouja’s work on opioid prescribing in dentistry has informed upcoming American Dental Association guidelines on acute dental pain management in dentistry and has collaborated on policy reports locally and internationally. As part of her postdoc training, Dr. Khouja works with NIH funded researchers and multidisciplinary teams including clinicians, health policy experts, health service researchers and biostatisticians. Her research expands beyond dentistry, exploring opioid prescribing in health-systems and antimicrobial consumption globally. Dr. Khouja is one of few dentists nationally that have an interdisciplinary background in oral health epidemiology and policy and trained in oral health services research. Dr. Khouja’s research has been supported by federal and non-federal funding, including the inaugural Challenges in Managing and Preventing Pain seed award.
 
Communications Chair: Jianan Jian, PhD
Communications Chair: Jianan Jian, PhD
Department of Urology, School of Medicine

Jianan received his B.S. in Mathematics from UCBL, France (2015), his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Pitt (2017) and INSA Lyon, France (2018), and his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Pitt (2021). He is currently a postdoctoral associate in the department of Urology at Pitt. His research aims at developing safer and more effective neuromodulation therapies to restore the control of visceral functions for spinal cord injured people. His other interests include optimization methods, control theory, game theory, and machine learning. Before joining the UPPDA, Jianan served as the event coordinator at the Graduate Student Association of the ECE department at Pitt. As the Communication Chair of UPPDA, Jianan will work on connecting the postdoctoral community and promoting our events.
Networking Chair: Santiago Panesso, MD
Networking Chair: Santiago Panesso, MD
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, School of Medicine

Santiago is an international graduate from Colombia. He graduated as a medical doctor, with a distinction in academic research. Since his graduation, Santiago has been working in multiple fields such as Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Parasitology and now on Ovarian Cancer treatment strategies at MWRI. It is very important for him, being an international postdoc to be inclusive and to advocate this idea in a way that makes researchers proud of being part of something bigger no matter where you’re from.



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