2016 Systems Science Scholars  

Brian Castellani, Ph.D., M.A., Professor of Sociology, Kent State University
Internationally recognized as a leading scholar in the complexity and computational sciences – particularly in application to societal health and infrastructure – Dr. Castellani is currently professor of sociology and lead, Complexity in Health & Infrastructure Group, Kent State University; adjunct professor of psychiatry, Northeast Ohio Medical University; co-editor of the Routledge complexity in social science series; and advisory board member for the Center for Complex Systems Studies, Kalamazoo College. Over the last decade, Dr. Castellani and his international research team have pioneered several new developments in complex systems research, including the establishment of case-based modeling, mapping the nonlinear dynamics of depression, developing an entropy-based measure of complexity, modeling allostatic load as a complex system, and studying the complexities of place and health. In addition, Dr. Castellani helped host the first International Conference on Systems and Complexity in Health (Georgetown University) and is currently co-running a three-year seminar at Warwick University (UK) on Complexity and method in social science. For most, however, Dr. Castellani is known for his map of the complexity sciences, which received a 2013 Mapping Science Award – with over 175 thousand hits from around the world, it is recognized, along with his blog, as a leading educational resource on complexity. For more on Dr. Castellani, including his map, visit http://www.personal.kent.edu/~bcastel3/brian%20castellani.html

Leah Frerichs, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Frerichs completed her doctorate at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research and is currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship with the Center for Health Equity Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research is focused on the integration of engaged and participatory research approaches with systems science methods in order to address health issues in underserved communities. She has experience in community-based program planning, evaluation, and research in diverse communities including American Indian, Latino, and African American populations and also has received doctoral and postdoctoral training in systems science methods. She applies skills from both community-based research and systems science to diverse content areas. For example, she has conducted research to engage rural African American adolescent youth in building system dynamics models to understand the dynamics influencing obesity prevention. She has also published research using system dynamics modeling to evaluate obesity intervention options in the context of social transmission of unhealthy behaviors.

Philippe J. Giabbanelli, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Northern Illinois University
Dr. Giabbanelli leads the Data Analytics for Complex Health Behaviors (DACHB) lab in the department of Computer Science, at Northern Illinois University. Previously, he was a full-time researcher at the University of Cambridge. He specializes in developing and applying systems science methods to problems arising in population health. His focus is on chronic conditions and particularly obesity, for which his research is supported by the Global Obesity Prevention Center (Johns Hopkins University) and health authorities. His passion is to address practical problems together with policymakers and public health practitioners. He uses and teaches a wide range of tools, such as agent-based modeling or system dynamics.

Sheng Li, Ph.D., M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Systems Science, Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, City University of New York
Dr. Li is an Assistant Professor of Systems Science, and a founding member of The Center for Prevention by Systems and Community Design at City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPHHP). He’s trained in Complex System Study and Epidemiology from the Center for The Study of System Science (CSCS) and School of Public Health at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Dr. Li’s research has focused on system dynamic modeling for both infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases including influenza, measles, HIV, posttraumatic stress disorder, and obesity. Dr. Li has worked on systems science projects supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

Alexandra Elizabeth Nielsen, M.S., Analyst, Systems and Data Analysis, LLC
Alex Nielsen holds a master's degree in systems science and is pursuing a Ph.D. in systems science from Portland State University. Trained as a generalist problem solver, Alex uses systems science methods in a wide variety of problem areas including renewable power generation integration, substance abuse treatment public policy, community blood center benchmarking, research animal colony planning, and opioid abuse policy. She also teaches graduate courses in simulation and modeling. Alex believes that many of the challenges we face are systemic and that gaining understanding and discovering effective solutions require multidisciplinary teams of researchers, subject matter experts, and methodologists. 

2015 Systems Science Scholars

Dr. T. Eugene Day, D.Sc., Principal Health Systems Specialist and Principal Investigator, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 
Dr. Day has experience in computer simulation modeling and optimization techniques.  He was previously with the Veterans Health Administration. He has a particular interest in the application of systems analysis to improve delivery, specifically around using systems modeling techniques to understand how performance measure and quality and safety initiatives influence outcomes. He hopes to learn about the latest efforts in HSR, to  tailor/present his findings in a relatable light, and to reach beyond the engineering and operations literature to the HSR audience and medical literature.

Dr. Jim Duggan, B.E., M.Eng.Sc., Ph.D., FIEI., Vice-Dean of Research and Graduate Studies and Senior Lecturer, Ryan Institute and College of Engineering and Informatics, National University of Ireland Galway,
Dr. Duggan has research expertise in the field of system dynamics modeling and serves on the editorial board of both the System Dynamics Review (SDR) and also a new, interdisciplinary journal, Systems. He was part of an interdisciplinary team awarded an EU Horizon 2020 grant in the area of public health and security to identify innovations in public health systems and to prepare for future pandemics. He hopes to enhance his knowledge of future challenges for HSR and health policy research and strengthen collaboratives with professionals in those fields.

Dr. Kristen Hassmiller Lich, Ph.D., M.H.S.A., Research Assistant Professor, Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Hassmiller Lich, cross-trained in HSR and systems science, specializes in operations engineering and complex systems. She has significant experience in the practical applications of systems science to prevention science research and maternal and child health. In her career she has reached outside of the systems discipline to demonstrate the use of these methods and hopes to apply this experience bridging disciplines at the ARM. 

Dr. Nasim Sabounchi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, State University of New York at Binghamton
Dr. Sabounchi’s expertise in system dynamics modeling methodology has been extended to public policy making including obesity prevention as well as energy balance and cancer. She has an interest in using systems approaches to create simulators for policy analysis  at community, state, or national levels and has used modeling to study social determinant linkages between obesity and cancer as well as obesity as it relates to maternal/child health.

Dr. Irene Vidyanti, M.Eng., Ph.D., Scientist/Modeler, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, University of Southern California
As the sole modeler in the county health agency, Dr. Vidyanti uses her background in systems science to aid in policy planning and evaluation (e.g., determining the long-term impact of the Health School Menu intervention, truancy interventions, and staffing expansion needs for substance abuse clinics). She has expertise in microsimulation methods and applying systems science to solve population-level health challenges. She hopes to expand upon her engineering background and gain a greater introduction to the public health field.