Past CCQTP Student Profiles

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard


Name:
William Calo
Post-Doctoral
Graduation: September 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
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.


doll_kemi_hpmfellow2

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard

Name: Kemi Doll
Post-Doctoral

Educational Background: MD

Prior Work Experience:
Clinical residency and fellowship training in the surgical and medical management of gynecologic oncology patients

Professional Interests:
Patterns of referral for high-risk gyn oncology populations; The role of surgery on quality of life in cancer patients.

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
The CCQTP program offered exactly what I was looking for to develop my research interests and skills in the area of the cancer care quality. The program’s strong emphasis on mentorship and well-designed curriculum is the ideal fertile ground for executing the research that will hopefully be the base for a productive research career.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
The experience has surpassed my expectations – challenging, supportive, and fun.

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
The vast resources available at UNC and beyond and the skills to navigate and utilize them to maximum benefit, especially and including writing and receiving grants.

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?
It’s a perfect blend of independence and support.

Describe a typical term.
This is unique for each participant – for me, a term includes being a full time student in the UNC MSCR degree program and day-to-day management of my major research projects.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
The financial and intellectual support.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
Collegial, collaborative, and fun.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
Coffee and meditation.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
It’s a great program if you are driven to make a difference in cancer care through research and I would encourage you to apply!

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?
I plan to have blended clinical and research career in an academic gynecologic oncology practice.


hester_laura_ccqtp15_lowres

Laura Hester

Name: Laura Hester
Pre-Doctoral

Educational Background:
AB, Biology and Geography, Dartmouth College 2005-2009
ScM, Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, 2009-2011
PhD University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013-Present


Prior Work Experience:
5/2006-9/2006 and 3/2007-5/2007:
Histologist, Cancer Prevention Laboratory at Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO
6/2008-9/2008: Evaluation Intern, Global Health Council, White River Junction, VT
9/2007-6/2009: Administrative Intern, C. Everett Koop Institute, Hanover, NH
10/2009-8/2011: GIS Analyst, Department of Health Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
8/2011-8/2013: Oak Ridge Institutes for Science and Education (ORISE)/CDC Evaluation Fellow, Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
8/2013-8/2014: Graduate Research Assistant, GlaxoSmithKline, Durham, NC
5/2014-5/2015: Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Professional Interests:
Quality care of comorbidities during cancer treatment/survivorship, access and adherence to cancer maintenance treatment, hematological cancers, improving internal validity of observational cancer treatment studies among older adults.

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
The CCQTP provides valuable training and mentoring for my dissertation and links me with clinicians and cancer research networks through seminars, tumor boards, and conferences.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
UNC has provided me with beneficial mentorships, motivating research opportunities, and high-quality coursework.

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
Through the CCQTP, I have learned that quality of cancer care is about more than the suitability of cancer treatment or cancer-specific outcomes; cancer care quality is about improving the overall care of a patient starting before cancer diagnosis and continuing through treatment and survivorship.

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?
The CCQTP format lets me conduct my dissertation research independently while giving me the resources and mentorship I need to make sure I’m on the right track.

Describe a typical term.
As a pre-doctoral fellow, my typical term includes 1-2 courses per week suggested by the CCQTP and 3-4 seminars or tumor boards per week. While not in classes or seminars, I work on my dissertation. My term may also include travel to an out-of-state conference.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
The CCQTP’s diverse seminars and courses provide me with an opportunity to learn about improving cancer care quality through the lens of researchers in medicine, health policy, health behavior, and statistics. My research has benefited from exposure to perspectives outside of my field.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
One of the CCQTP faculty supports my dissertation work and provides valuable ideas for improving my dissertation aims and methods. I also attend seminars led or attended by other CCQTP faculty where I learn their thoughts on cancer care quality research.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
Completing a dissertation is just like a job. I am trying to follow basic rules of time management, which include doing the most important tasks first, saying “no” to non-essential projects, sleeping at least 7 hours per night, and starting on projects early. At the beginning of the week, I also make sure to set aside hours for exercise, friends, and personal time.

What is the greatest value added from the CCQTP?
The ability to collaborate and learn from researchers in cancer care outside of my field.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
The program benefits from the perspectives of students with diverse public health and clinical perspectives. I would encourage all pre-doctoral students interested in cancer care quality to apply to the CCQTP.

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?
I would like to use my CCQTP experience in a role as a cancer health services researcher for a governmental organization or as a cancer pharmacoepidemiologist in industry.


jacobs_sara_hpmfellow2

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard

 

Name: Sara Jacobs
Pre-Doctoral

Educational Background:
Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University

Prior Work Experience:
Healthcare policy consulting for Avalere Health, located in Washington, DC.

 


Professional Interests:

Continuing my cancer research, at a yet to be determined location.

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
CCQTP is a perfect fit for me as it facilitates access to renowned UNC cancer faculty as well as provides generous support for my research studies. The coursework aligns with my research interests and I enjoy sharing ideas and spending time with the other CCQTP trainees.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
Deciding to complete my PhD at UNC is one of the best professional decisions that I have made!

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
Through the CCQTP coursework I have learned how to be a better researcher. I have not only learned how to conceptualize a unique and interesting research topic, but I have also learned how to put together a strong proposal.

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.
Each term has been very different. It depends on if you need to take any of the required courses. I had completed the courses before beginning CCQTP, so most of my terms have been focused on completing my dissertation as well as pursuing my other research interests.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
There is a great sense of comradery in the program, among both faculty and trainees. I also like the flexibility of the program and the ability to focus on what interests me the most.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
My interactions with faculty have been very positive. The faculty has been more than willing to help with anything that I need. My mentoring team is supportive of my dissertation research and working with them has been extremely easy. I have found that faculty are willing to work together to get the best results.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
CCQTP allows for maximum flexibility. I complete a lot of my work at home, so I am able to work the hours that fit best for me and my family. When I was taking courses I spent most days on campus, working more typical business hours, but now that I am more focused on research I work both at campus and at home.

What is the greatest value added from the CCQTP?
The support and ability to focus on cancer topics that are most interesting to me. Everyone is willing to work with you to customize and make the experience most beneficial to you.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
It has been a great experience. The support and mentorship has allowed me to flourish as a junior researcher and it is an excellent program to start your career!

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?  
I am planning to continue my current research on cancer clinical trial enrollment. I am considering either completing a post-doc or going to work at a contract research firm. I am keeping my options open. I know no matter where I go or what I do, CCQTP has positioned me well and has been a great place to start my career.


kohler_racquel_kelly_ccqtp

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard

Name: Racquel Kelly Kohler
Pre-Doctoral
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.


Mackenzi Pergolotti

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard


Name:
Mackenzi Pergolotti, PhD, OTR/L
Post-Doctoral
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.


Angela Stover

Angela Stover

Name: Angela Stover
Post-Doctoral

Educational Background:
BA in Psychology and Sociology, Westminster University, 1998
MA in Research Methodology, University of Pittsburgh, 2002
PhD in Public Health/Health Behavior, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2015

Prior Work Experience:
1998-2010: Research Program Coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

My training and interests focus on the measurement and application of patient-reported outcomes (PRO) to improve cancer care. This focus builds on my 12 years of research experience at the University of Pittsburgh in PRO scale development and a Master of Arts in Research Methodology. I was a co-investigator with Paul Pilkonis (PI) and developed 6 PROMIS (Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System) measures funded by the National Institutes of Health (U01-AR052155). These PROMIS item banks assess emotional distress and sleep disturbance and are intended for use across a variety of health conditions.

Professional Interests:
My research interests are in two areas: 1) Implementing symptom questionnaires into clinical workflow for oncology; and 2) testing symptom questionnaires as indicators of the quality of care received for chemotherapy.

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
The training I am receiving from CCQTP will be instrumental as I continue developing my research interests into career development and (R01) awards. Having access to CCQTP’s multidisciplinary network of mentors and specialized training in quality of care has increased the caliber of my research and, in turn, opportunities for publications, independent extramural funding, and a tenure-track faculty position.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
UNC is a collaborative and collegial environment and CCQTP is no exception.

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
Always ask. There are many resources available in HPM, Lineberger, and the larger campus.

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?
My goal during the CCQTP postdoctoral fellowship is to continue developing my research niche into an independent research program that I will lead as a faculty member. CCQTP provides a way for me to work with clinicians, who are key to my research aims. I also have access to the network of CCQTP mentors if specific issues arise and for collaboration. CCQTP mentors are available in at least 10 departments.

Describe a typical term.
I spend the majority of my time conducting research with the Cancer Outcomes Research Program at Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Usually I am writing papers or grants and overseeing studies. During the fall and spring semesters, I give guest lectures. I typically travel every 2-3 months for conferences and meetings.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
My research aims are multidisciplinary and CCQTP gives me strategic access to clinician mentors in different departments. CCQTP has also opened doors for me for other training opportunities. For instance, I am receiving long-distance training in implementation science and grant writing from the “Mentored Training in Implementation Research for Cancer” (MT-DIRC) at the University of Washington in St. Louis.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
I meet with my mentor twice a month and as needed. He is very open to emails, even when traveling. I meet with other CCQTP faculty as needed for grant applications and papers.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?

I manage my time around the different research projects I am involved in and prioritize from there. Physical activity is also a priority for me so I added my gym schedule as appointments on my calendar. I also make time for family and friends.

What is the greatest value added from the CCQTP?
In addition to providing protected time and pilot funds to conduct my research aims, CCQTP provides an academic context that enriches my work, and will prepare me for a faculty position and my own independent research program.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
There are so many exciting opportunities within CCQTP and they want to support you.

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?
Tenure-track assistant professor position and a K award.


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