Current CCQTP Student Profiles

Mackenzi Pergolotti

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard


Name:
Mackenzi Pergolotti, PhD, OTR/L
Post-Doctoral
Expected Graduation: Summer 2015

Educational Background:
PhD, Occupational Science, UNC Chapel Hill, 2013
MS, Occupational Therapy, Sage Graduate School, 2002
BS, Occupational Therapy, Russell Sage College, NY, 2001

 

Prior Work Experience:
2009-2011: Occupational Therapist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Hospital and United-Rehabilitation Post Acute Care, Durham, NC
2006– 2007: Assistant Chief of Occupational Therapy, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
2005-2006: Senior Occupational Therapist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
2003-2005: Occupational Therapist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
2002-2003: Occupational Therapist, Albany Medical Center, Albany, NY

Professional Interests:
Cancer Rehabilitation, Quality of life, Functional status, Meaningful Activity Participation, Occupational Possibilities

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
I chose CCQTP because of the strong commitment to cancer quality training and strong, structured mentorship.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
UNC is a wonderful, collaborative, supportive and challenging environment, overall a great experience.

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?
CCQTP is a unique post-doctoral fellowship where you really get an opportunity to begin your research career with the support of world-renowned faculty and work on projects that are of your own interest. For example, I am able to work on research focused on the quality of cancer rehabilitation although my mentors are not rehabilitation specialists; they are able to provide the training (cancer specific) and mentorship within research that allows me to be successful in this endeavor.

Describe a typical term.
A typical term for me fluctuates between collaboration on protocols, projects, manuscripts, abstracts and coursework. About once a month we meet with guest speakers brought in through the Lineberger Center where you are given the opportunity to discuss your own research and ask questions in a small group setting.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
I really like the mentorship and support provided by the faculty in HPM and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
I meet with my primary faculty mentor about twice a month and with the larger mentor team about twice a year. The faculty is very open and invested in mentorship and is very willing to talk, meet or read as needed.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
I schedule time for exercise and work in blocks. This keeps me productive and realistic about time needed for work, exercise and family. I also try to keep in mind the ebb and flow of work and realize if one week is light to enjoy it because the next week will be heavy.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
CCQTP is an amazing opportunity!

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?
I plan on securing a faculty position and continuing to do research.


Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard


Name:
William Calo
Post-Doctoral
Expected Graduation: July 2016

Educational Background:
PhD, Management and Policy Sciences, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX, 2014
JD, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, 2010
MPH, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, 2005

 

Prior Work Experience:
2010-2014:
Research Fellow, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, Houston, TX
2008-2010: Project Manager, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Cancer Center, San Juan, PR
2005-2008: Research Assistant, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Cancer Center, San Juan, PR

Professional Interests:
Dissemination & implementation research, public health law research.

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
I chose CCQTP because it focuses on training that crosses and integrates different research disciplines, which is key for fellows with diverse backgrounds and research interests.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
UNC provides a unique environment to participate in collaborative, productive, and multidisciplinary cancer research.

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
Develop skills and expertise required for a successful career in cancer research; for example, writing for publication and managing all phases of research interventions.

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?
It is a great opportunity to develop a tailored curriculum to master fundamental concepts and methods on cancer care quality, and to gain mentored research experience under the guidance of well-renowned scientists in the field. All these experiences will help me to launch an independent career in cancer research.

Describe a typical term.
A typical term for me includes working on two research projects and writing manuscripts. I also attend weekly seminars and one course per semester.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
The opportunity to work in multidisciplinary research teams to improve cancer care quality across the cancer care continuum.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
The faculty are very supportive, we meet regularly to discuss my progress. They also encourage individual creativity and provide research opportunities to foster professional growth.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
The training program is flexible, allowing a perfect balance between my fellowship duties and my family.

What is the greatest value added from the CCQTP?
The CCQTP provides outstanding training and mentoring for my individual needs, allowing career progression. In addition, I have had the opportunity to develop and lead research activities based on my own interests.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
I would encourage everyone interested in cancer care research to apply; the opportunities for professional growth provided by the CCQTP are limitless.

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?
I plan on obtaining a faculty position or a public health scientist position at a federal agency.


check_devin_ccqtp

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard

 

Name: Devon Check
Pre-Doctoral
Expected Graduation:
2016

Educational Background:
Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia

Prior Work Experience:
Clinical decision-making and bioethics research at the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

 

Professional Interests:
Cancer care quality and outcomes; value in cancer care; health disparities

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
The CCQTP provides generous support for my dissertation research and for my professional development as a cancer health services researcher, which so far has included methodological training and traveling to present my research at academic meetings.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
Faculty and students have been incredibly supportive and collaborative.

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
It has been exciting to learn about the vast faculty expertise in cancer care quality here at UNC.

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?
The CCQTP pre-doctoral fellowship allows me to focus almost entirely on my dissertation research, which I’m very grateful for. The required courses are interesting, and provide diverse perspectives on issues in cancer care quality, which was helpful in thinking through potential dissertation ideas.

Describe a typical term.
I completed the required courses during the first two years of my PhD program, before starting the fellowship, so I’ve been focusing on my dissertation research and working on related research projects with my CCQTP primary mentor. I’ve also been attending tumor boards at the NC Cancer Hospital.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
The support from CCQTP faculty and staff has been invaluable. It has also been great to get to know the other CCQTP trainees. I really appreciate their insight and advice.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
I meet with my primary CCQTP mentor (who is also my dissertation chair) regularly, and the other members of my dissertation committee as needed. Everyone has been very accessible and invested in the success of my dissertation research.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
The format of the pre-doctoral program is very flexible. Most of the time, I work from home on my dissertation and other research, which is a big change from the first two years of my PhD program, when I was taking courses and therefore on campus every day. Now, to provide some structure, I try to stick to normal business hours and make sure to schedule time for exercise.

What is the greatest value added from the CCQTP?
The generous financial support and strong mentorship make this pre-doctoral program unique, and both contribute in a major way to the quality of my dissertation work.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
The CCQTP is an ideal setting to begin your research career. Apply!

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?
I am planning to continue my research, though I’m still considering where. I’m trying to keep an open mind, and am potentially interested in pursuing a post-doctoral or faculty position, or a research position in a nonprofit research institute.


kohler_racquel_kelly_ccqtp

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard

Name: Racquel Kelly Kohler
Pre-Doctoral
Expected Graduation:
  May 2015

Educational Background:
BS in Molecular Biology and Microbiology at University of Central Florida
MSPH in Health Policy and Management at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Prior Work Experience:
Pharmaceutical Compliance Research Assistant
Educational Leadership Consultant

Professional Interests:
I am a health services researcher committed to improving cancer care among vulnerable populations, specifically populations in resource-limited settings. My primary research interests include global oncology and cancer outcomes with a focus on breast and cervical cancer prevention and control in Africa.

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
CCQTP was a good match for me given my research background and interest in cancer. The funding support allows you to focus on your dissertation research without an additional research assistantship. The program allows you to take interesting courses, but also stay on track to graduate in a timely fashion.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
The Carolina community feels like your extended family – I have been fortunate to spend the last six years in Health Policy and Management (working towards multiple degrees) – the students, faculty, and staff challenge you to do your best, support you through bumps in the road, and aren’t afraid to have fun!

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
The flexibility of CCQTP allowed me to design and implement a study collecting primary data in sub-Saharan Africa. I have learned a lot about protocol development, project management, and the challenges of conducting research in a foreign country. These skills have helped me become a better investigator as I move forward with my research career.

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?
There is enough structure so I do not feel like I have to complete my dissertation research alone, but enough flexibility so I can focus on what is most interesting to me. There is a tremendous amount of support from both faculty and staff.

Describe a typical term.
I completed the CCQTP courses early, so I was able to spend a year in Malawi collecting primary data for my dissertation research. Instead of face-to-face meetings with my mentors, I email them updates and have Skype calls regularly. I virtually attend weekly seminars and can watch recorded presentations from guest speakers online.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
CCQTP immediately connects you with cancer researchers from different disciplines across UNC and the Triangle. Through coursework, seminars, and conferences we get to interact with experts in different cancer topic areas and research methods. The program also provides the opportunity to gain exposure to various clinical settings through tumor boards meetings and shadowing.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
I have enrolled in numerous seminars with CCQTP faculty. They also regularly attend Cancer Outcomes breakfast meetings, which allows additional networking outside of the classroom. Multiple CCQTP faculty are on my dissertation committee and meet with me regularly to discuss my study’s progress.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
I think it is important to enjoy one day of rest each week. I try to work diligently throughout the week, so I can take time off to spend the weekend with my family and friends. As students, we tend to go! go! go! constantly working on homework assignments, preparing for the next exam, or completing a task for your research assistantship. But it is important to remember that you are more than just a student and you need to slow down and take some time for yourself. I also clear my head by practicing yoga, biking the American Tobacco Trail, and going on long walks with my dog. Plus there are plenty of great restaurants and coffee shops around the Triangle where you can nosh on some food, sip your coffee, and send a few work/school emails.

What is the greatest value added from the CCQTP?
The support and encouragement from faculty to pursue research projects you are interested in – even if they break the norm and might be challenging.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
This is a wonderful opportunity to focus on your preferred angle of cancer care research, and the faculty will help you accomplish your goals.

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?
I am interested in academic research positions in global health and cancer care. I plan to continue conducting research related to global oncology by evaluating treatment and prevention strategies in low- and middle-income countries to help provide local evidence for decision makers that will build momentum to improve cancer care quality in lesser developed regions of the world.


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