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Arnold School of Public Health

Core Team

Daniela Friedman, Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, is the new Co-Director of the Arnold School of Public Health’s Office for the Study of Aging.  She is a leader in gerontology and community- and partner-engaged health promotion in South Carolina, dedicated to improving health literacy and reducing health disparities among older adults across the state. Dr. Friedman’s federally funded research networks, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded South Carolina Healthy Brain Research Network and South Carolina Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network, are focused on the communication and dissemination of evidence-based health messages and programs.  Dr. Friedman also directs the university-wide Certificate of Graduate Study in Health Communication.

Lee Pearson has more than 20 years of experience in addressing public health priorities in South Carolina, including a specific focus on the unique needs of the state’s aging population. Most recently, he helped to lead a statewide taskforce on long-term care. Dr. Pearson holds a doctor of public health degree in health promotion, education and behavior, as well as a graduate certificate in gerontology.  He serves as the co-director of OSA.  In that role, he works with the entire OSA team to advance the core mission and promote expanded opportunities with collaborative partners.  In addition to his role with OSA, Dr. Pearson is the associate dean for operations and accreditation in the Arnold School of Public Health, and he serves on the board of the SC chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and is a gubernatorial appointee to the Joint Legislative Committee to Study Services, Programs and Facilities for the Aging.

Mindi Spencer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, with a joint appointment in the Institute for Southern Studies. Broadly, her research focuses on how cultural and psychosocial factors influence health in older adulthood. She also continues to conduct research on caregiving and mental health among American Indian and African American elders. Dr. Spencer is the Principal Investigator of the “Youth Empowered Against HIV!” Project and a partner in the “Equalize Health” LGBT cultural competence training program for health care providers. Dr. Spencer serves on the Lt. Governor's Alzheimer’s Resource Coordination Center and on the Minority Task Force of the Gerontological Society of America.

Maggi Miller received her MS in health promotion from the University of Delaware and a PhD in epidemiology from University of South Carolina University Arnold School of Public Health. Her primary responsibilities for the office involve research, grant writing, preparation and publication of scientific manuscripts, and evaluation of current research projects. She also manages the SC Alzheimer's Disease Registry. Her research interests include Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, social epidemiology, survey development, and qualitative data analysis.

Megan Mason began her career in the aging field in Adult Protective Services with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, and then as an Adult Services Program Specialist for the State. She has developed and revised policies, monitored legislative session to determine its impact on vulnerable adults, and educated professionals on elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Megan is a graduate of Marietta College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and West Virginia University with a Master of Social Work and a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. She is also a Licensed Master Social Worker in the State of South Carolina and is an advocate for building capacity in the areas of domestic violence, human trafficking, elder abuse, and social work.

Seul Ki Choi is currently a postdoctoral fellow for the Healthy Brain Research Network and at the OSA. She earned her Ph.D. in public health from the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include health policy process, health communication, health literacy, and Alzheimer’s disease awareness and caregiving practices.

Matthew Lohman is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and is a core faculty member of the Arnold School’s Office for the Study of Aging. His primary research areas are in psychiatric epidemiology, gerontology, geriatric mental health services, and the epidemiology of adverse health outcomes such as falls, hospitalizations, and acquired disabilities among older adults. Dr. Lohman is particularly interested in the role of long-term care services and settings, such as nursing homes and home health care nursing, in the prevention of age-related cognitive and physical decline. He currently teaches epidemiological methods and scientific writing for masters and doctoral students.

Weizhou Tang is a PhD candidate from the College of Social Work who works with Dr. Friedman's team as a Healthy Brain Research Network scholar member. She also completed the Certificate of Graduate Study in Health Communication from the Arnold School of Public Health in Fall 2016. Weizhou’s current research interests are around family caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease. She is mostly interested in using quantitative research methods to understand caregivers’ mental health across ethnic populations, and how it relates to coping skills, perceived social support, and care recipients’ behavioral problems. In addition, she would like to promote public awareness of cognitive health through effective health communication techniques.

Nicholas Resciniti is a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and an Arnold School of Public Health Graduate Scholar in Aging Research. He has a passion for the field of Aging and Alzheimer’s, with a focus on early life factors and bio-behavioral markers. Nicholas is also with a student researcher with the Office for the Study of Aging.

Chelsea Larsen is a PhD candidate in the Department of Exercise Science and an Arnold School of Public Health Graduate Scholar in Aging Research. She received her Master of Public Health in Physical Activity and Public Health from the University of South Carolina in 2013. Her research interests include the health of caregivers of individuals with dementia and effective technology utilization in behavioral lifestyle interventions.

Dana AlHasan is a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and an Arnold School of Public Health Graduate Scholar in Aging Research. She is interested in the role neighborhood characteristics play in influencing incidence of dementia and Alzheimer's disease as well as depression among dementia caregivers. As an Arnold School of Public Health Graduate Scholar, Dana is working to understand how neighborhoods can be designed to accommodate those with dementia. A neighborhood designed to accommodate the needs of those with disabilities and marginalized populations are beneficial to all people!