About me and my team

I joined the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida (UCF) in August of 2016. Since then my Biostatistics team has worked on independent and collaborative research projects related to public health. Such projects include smoking cessation, racial and ethnic disparities in health and healthcare, and biopharmaceutical statistics. My team participates in statistical methodological work, performs simulations and computing—including analyses of big data—and collaborates with psychologists, sociologists, epidemiologists, biologists and other sciences within UCF, as well as with outside institutions. My team has diverse backgrounds and research interests!

My personal research areas include statistical applications to biopharmaceutical sciences with a focus on multiple-testing and estimating methods in dose-response studies. I also design and analyze behavioral medicine studies, and survey sampling techniques. In particular, I work on developing statistical methods that can handle partially ordered multiple end-points and can control the overall error rate. These methods are commonly used in drug development for testing the efficacy of a single drug, and the efficacy and superiority of a combination drug. In addition, my research incorporates statistical methods for analyses of national surveys with complex designs. I have completed multiple projects for computing nationwide estimates for smoking prevalence and smoking-related behaviors and assessing the quality of national data via reliability studies. My current research is targeted on assessing racial and ethnic disparities in smoking and quitting behaviors, as well as healthcare for smoking cessation. Please find more info in my CV.

I try to stay active. I ran two half-marathons, in 2012 and 2016, and completed multiple 5K and 10K runs. I enjoy riding a bike but unfortunately, my knees are not always on the same page with me when it comes to my riding… I am always ready for a new adventure – love visiting new destinations.


Current Members


Dr. Trung Ha

Dr. Trung Ha (Postdoctoral Research Associate) joined the team in April 2017. He received his PhD in Statistics from the University of Florida in 2016 under the supervision of Dr. James Hobert. Trung’s dissertation was titled “Convergence Analysis of Birth-Death Markov Chains and Gibbs Samplers”. Prior to coming to the US, he worked as a researcher at the Hanoi Institute of Mathematics in Vietnam and as a teaching assistant at the Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Vietnam. Trung has also received a Vietnam Education Foundation Fellowship. Trung has an outstanding knowledge of statistics, as well as exceptional computing skills in SAS®, R, Visual Basic, and C++. Currently, he is working on a number of interesting projects related to survey methodology and the social sciences. In one such project, Trung is leading research to explore the longitudinal differences in rates of smoke-free homes in the US. Trung has also recently joined three sections of the American Statistical Association: Survey Research Methods Section, Social Statistics Section, and Bayesian Statistical Science Section. His hobbies include travel and photography.


Victoria Owens

Victoria Owens (Undergraduate Student/Research Tech) joined the team in October 2017. She is a T-LEARN alumna majoring in statistics. As a team member, she helps prepare literature reviews, reports, and papers, perform analyses, and write SAS codes. She loves learning in the lab, but she also enjoys teaching: she has worked as both a math tutor and martial arts instructor. In the future, she aims to earn her master’s degree and work as a statistician. Her favorite things include strategy games, alpacas, various noncompetitive outdoor activities, and tree swings.


Jeremy Sheiber

Jeremy Sheiber (Undergraduate Student) joined the team in December 2018. Jeremy is currently a UCF student completing his B.S. in Biomedical Sciences following the Molecular Microbiology track with plans to graduate in Fall 2020. He is pursuing either an M.D. or a Ph.D. with the desire to continue working in the field of international medicine. Jeremy’s interest in research stems from a passion to understand and positively contribute towards the human experience. In his free time, Jeremy enjoys practicing yoga, volunteering with a variety of health affiliated organizations, listening to and playing music, travelling, and spending time with loved ones.


Fatima Hussain

Fatima Hussain (Undergraduate Student) joined the team in January 2019. She is a UCF student planning to major in biomedical science and minor in political science. Fatima plans to graduate in 2022 and attend medical school as part of the Burnett Medical Scholars program. She joined the team to learn more about disparities in health care practices and research in behavioral medicine. She is involved in the UCF Honors Congress, Pre-Professional Medical Society, Muslim Student Association, Knights Lions Club, and International Relations Club. Fatima also enjoys volunteering, traveling, and martial arts.



Valory Anne S. Vailoces

Valory Anne S. Vailoces (Undergraduate Student) joined the team in January 2019. She is a Burnett Medical School Scholar in the class of 2021 pursuing a Biomedical Sciences B.S. at the University of Central Florida. She hopes to become a clinical physician and is considering dermatology, pediatrics, or oncology. Valory is using her interest in statistics to further her holistic understanding of medicine through a public health lens. Her previous research experiences include co-authoring an ophthalmology review manuscript as a Mayo Clinic intern and creating illustrations for a Florida Hospital radiology team. She serves as a committee member on the international board for Hearts for the Homeless and as the Florida District Editor for Circle K International. When Valory isn’t at the lab or school, she is competing in triathlons or playing volleyball and soccer.


Past Members


Alex Gulyayev, B.S., B.A.

Alex Gulyayev graduated from UCF in 2018 with a BS in Biomedical Sciences. He also holds a BA in Business Administration. Alex joined the team as a volunteer in January 2019 to follow his interest in biostatistics. He has a passion for math and biomedicine. He also has experience in Information Technology and holds A+ and Network + certifications. In his spare time, Alex enjoys reading classic literature and science articles. He also loves sports and is a big fan of ice hockey.




Monica Ramos

Monica Ramos (undergraduate student) worked on the team in January 2019. Monica is a UCF student obtaining a Biomedical Science degree. She plans to graduate in Fall 2019 and pursue an M.D. after graduation. Monica has recently returned from a medical trip in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam volunteering in the rehabilitation hospital, orphanage, and in the Special Needs program. She hopes to one day join the Peace Corps and provide relief to those in need. She also enjoys playing the flute, traveling abroad, and taking pictures. She would like to pursue research to make her a better practicing physician in the future.


Brooke Vantoorenburg

Brooke Vantoorenburg (Undergraduate Student) joined the team in December 2018 and left in January 2019. Brooke is a UCF student obtaining a Biomedical Sciences degree with a Psychology minor. She plans to graduate in Spring 2021 and pursue a M.D. following graduation. Brooke desires to receive a better understanding of the factors which affect public health issues in order to be better prepared for patient experiences in the medical world. Her favorite things to do include watching and playing sports, enjoying the Florida sunshine, and eating sweets.



Riley Gilette

Riley Gilette (Undergraduate Student) volunteered with the team in October 2018. She is a current undergraduate student at UCF majoring in Statistics. Currently, she is finishing up her B.S. courses and beginning to pursue paths towards graduate school for Fall 2019. Her aims are to earn a master’s and PhD in statistics or biostatistics and continue a career in the field of biostatistics research. She enjoys participating in research to further expand her knowledge and assist in the growth of information. Aside from her research and coursework, she loves reading, cats, and enjoying live music.


Dr. Yujiao Mai

Dr. Yujiao Mai (Postdoctoral Research Associate) joined the team in July 2017. She worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Notre Dame from August 2014 to June 2017. Dr. Mai received her PhD in Quantitative Psychology, MS in Developmental and Educational Psychology and BS in Computer Science and Technology from the South China Normal University. Yujiao’s research interests include addictive behaviors. Dr. Mai has exceptional expertise in software development, psychology and statistics. Her family lives in China. She likes Chinese music performed on the Chinese zither or bamboo flute. She also enjoys hiking, playing basketball, and soccer.


Dr. Monsur Chowdhury

Dr. Monsur Chowdhury (Postdoctoral Research Associate) joined the team in May 2018. He earned his PhD in Statistics from the University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada under the supervision of Dr. Saumen Mandal in 2016. Dr. Monsur’s dissertation was titled “Optimal Designs for Maximum Likelihood Estimation and Factorial Structure Design.” He has also received two M.Sc. degrees: one in mathematics with a specialization in statistics from Georg August University, Goettingen, Germany; the other in statistics from Shahjalal University of Science & Technology (SUST), Sylhet, Bangladesh. Prior to joining the team, Dr. Chowdhury worked as a lecturer and instructor at the International College of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg, Canada. He is fluent in two languages, Bangla and English. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and playing with his little daughter. His hobbies include travelling and bicycling.


Julie Arias, B.A.

Julie Arias graduated from UCF in 2008 with a B.A. in Spanish and a minor in Latin American studies. In 2017, she went back to school to pursue a career in statistics and public health. She joined the team in January 2018, and will be participating in the Crohn’s disease research initiative. Other responsibilities include performing analysis of behavioral and biomedical data, preparing literature review sections for reports and presentations, writing scientific reports and making presentations. Currently, she is taking courses at UCF and working on completing her prerequisites to apply to graduate school for the fall of 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the violin, touring the local theme parks and beaches, and spending time with her friends and family.


Dr. Thanh Pham

Dr. Thanh Pham (Postdoctoral Research Associate), joined the team in Sep 2017 as a statistician in Biostatistics at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida. He earned his PhD in Educational Statistics, Evaluation and Research at the University of South Florida in December of 2017. Dr. Pham also has a M.A degree in Applied Economics from Ohio University. He has expertise in applied statistics, educational measurement, and economics. The specific areas include complex multilevel and multivariate models using SAS, Mplus, SPSS, and R. He has several publications in statistical software, educational and applied statistics journals. He also presented his work in various national and regional conferences including Joint Statistical Meeting, American Educational Research Association, National Council on Measurement in Education, and South East SAS Users Group.


Richard Pack, B.S.

Richard Pack is a recent graduate of UCF’s BS in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Psychology. Richard joined in October 2017 following his interests in investigating racial and economic disparities in healthcare and in toxic habits. Richard participated in the team’s research by helping to prepare reports and develop software codes in SAS®. Before joining the team, Richard previously worked as a resident advisor at a transitional home and later as a medical scribe. At this time he is looking forward to applying to medical school. Richard devotes much time to volunteering- both at Nemours Children’s Hospital and at his church where his wife coordinates children’s and women’s ministries. His hobbies include indulging in frequent hikes with his dog and tending to his garden.


Selena Leonardo

Selena Leonardo is an undergraduate student at UCF. She is working toward getting her BS degree in Biomedical Sciences. Selena joined the team as a volunteer student in September 2016; but because of her keen interest in smoking cessation and racial/ethnic health disparities, she became a full student worker in April 2017. Selena actively participated in the team’s research activities. She helped prepare software codes in SAS®, performed statistical analyses, and prepared reports. She has already made a poster presentation at UCF (see the News section) and plans to make several more presentations in 2017-2018. Before joining the team, Selena worked in the Emergency Department of Florida Memorial Hospital Medical Center, where she assisted nurses, helped transport patients, and attended to patients’ other needs. She has also volunteered at the Halifax Medical Center, where she worked at the information desk. Currently, Selena is a member of the American Statistical Association and UCF’s Neuroscience Alliance. Her career goal is to become a pediatric surgeon. She enjoys spending her free time with her family, fishing and snowboarding.


Ankit Bisht

Ankit Bisht is a Computer Science graduate student at UCF. He joined the Master’s program in the Fall of 2016. Ankit worked in our team in April, May and June 2017 as a part-time student worker. He helped prepare the SAS® codes, conduct literature search, and develop this webpage! Ankit sees his future as a data scientist. His hobbies include swimming and playing cricket.




Dieuzil Titus, B.S., volunteered in the lab in December 2017.

Dr. Chiung-Ya Tang (Postdoctoral Research Associate) worked in our team from January to April 2017. She has a PhD in Child Development and Family Studies, with emphasis on Family Studies and Gerontology from Purdue University-West Lafayette. She has worked as a Research Consultant/Contractor at the College of Health and Public Affairs, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.




Dr. Lisa Crockett

Dr. Lisa Crockett (Professor, Department of Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is our primary long-term collaborator. She examines youth risk behavior, including substance use, and racial/ethnic differences in youth development using large scale longitudinal studies. Dr. Crockett is the President of the Society for Research on Adolescence and serves on the editorial boards of Developmental Psychology, the Journal of Early Adolescence, and Culture, Diversity, and Ethnic Minority Psychology. More information about her research can be found at https://psychology.unl.edu/lisa-crockett.


Dr. Barbara St. Pierre Schneider

Dr. Barbara St. Pierre Schneider (Professor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas) studies biological influences on health with expertise in detecting white blood cells during muscle healing. She has led research funded by the Department of Defense and other entities, which have influenced the science of white blood cell infiltration by expanding understanding of (a) antigen profiles during initial muscle healing processes and (b) hormonal/environmental factors influencing white blood cell function during healing. She has determined and differentiated between proteins expressed by white blood cells prior to and during muscle regeneration in clinically relevant muscle injury models. She has also studied the influence of ovarian hormones on the expression of these cells and proteins within individual muscle fibers and connective tissue. Overall, her research has been integral to health care in amplifying our nascent knowledge of the muscle healing process, which will reduce issues such as prolonged healing and disability and ideally improve patients’ quality of life. More information about Dr. Schneider’s research and teaching can be found at https://www.unlv.edu/people/barbara-stpierre-schneider.