Public Health Doctoral Student Biographies

Priti Bandi

Priti Bandi is a doctoral candidate in Public Health at New York University. Her broad research interest is in understanding how structural social determinants at the individual and societal level relate to health and health inequalities across the lifespan. In her dissertation, she is seeking to understand the relationship between educational attainment and modifiable chronic disease risk factors, including tobacco use, alcohol misuse, and obesity, in low and middle income countries, with a focus on her home country of India. Prior to coming to NYU, she was an applied epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society. At the ACS, her research focused on modifiable cancer risk factor surveillance, with an emphasis on tobacco control and cancer screening. She has an MS in Population Health from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Amarilis Cespedes

Amarilis Cespedes is fifth year doctoral candidate in the public health program. She was born and raised in New York City. Amarilis earned her B.A. in English at Haverford College, with a concentration in Latin American & Iberian Studies. In 2006, she earned her MPH at Columbia University's Mailman School of public health with a concentration in Health Promotion. Her research interests include Latino and immigrant health, particularly in relation to sexual and reproductive health, and obesity outcomes. Currently, she's working on her dissertation proposal to examine the relationship between acculturation and asthma outcomes among Latinos.

Pricila Mullachery

Pricila is a third year doctoral candidate in the Public Health Program. She is originally from Brazil and has worked on implementation and research of the Brazilian national health policy, with emphasis in primary healthcare, child health and program evaluation. In 2012, she earned her MPH from NYU. Her research in the doctoral program focuses on income related inequalities in the use of healthcare. She is currently working on research project, involving US and Brazilian researchers, that study inequalities in healthcare utilization.

Shilpa Patel

Shilpa Patel is a third year doctoral student in Public Health in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health. Shilpa is originally from New Jersey, and earned her BS from Rutgers University with a double major in Public Health and Psychology. In 2007, she earned her MPH from Columbia University, with a concentration in Effectiveness and Outcomes Research. Shilpa is interested in research that evaluates how health services and policies affect health outcomes, particularly among vulnerable populations. Currently, she is finishing up her coursework and is working on her dissertation proposal which focuses on how variations in Medicaid affect racial and ethnic disparities in cancer outcomes.

Maggie Paul

Maggie Paul's dissertation research is on the association between local public health department spending and population health in the United States and her work is supported by a Junior Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Ms. Paul's broader research interests include evaluating policy relevant programs aimed at reducing health disparities in the US. Prior to joining NYU, she earned her MS in bioethics, policy and law from Arizona State University and worked as a data analyst at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, Office of Epidemiology in Phoenix. In addition to conducting her dissertation research, Ms. Paul works as a research coordinator in the Department of Population Health at NYU School of Medicine.
Melissa Pflugh Prescott 

Melissa Pflugh Prescott is in her third year of the Public Health Doctoral Program. She is a registered dietitian and currently works as a Research Assistant at NYU’s Institute of Education and Social Policy. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, she was the Program Manager for Healthy Schools Healthy Families, an obesity prevention program serving seven elementary schools in Harlem and Washington Heights. She has also worked as a nutrition and wellness consultant for many schools and afterschool programs. Melissa received her MS in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and her BS in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Florida.

Eva Roca

Eva Roca is a third year doctoral student in Public Health. She received her MHS in International Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2004 and a BS in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience from Vanderbilt University in 2000. She has worked as a researcher for international organizations in Washington, DC and New York studying the linkages between social and economic vulnerability and health among young people in developing countries. Eva is interested in how research can be used to improve programs and influence policy. She has experience training organizations in planning and monitoring and evaluating programs for adolescents, particularly using maps, mobile phones and photography to collect and convey information. Her dissertation proposal focuses on health and well-being among internal migrant youth in South Africa.