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Current Students

Robin Baker
Ms. Baker received her Masters in Sociology from Portland State University, where she focused on women who had been formerly incarcerated and their experiences reintegrating into the community, including family relations, employment and housing experiences, and opportunities to find and activate the supports necessary for successful reintegration. Since entering the Health Systems and Policy doctoral program, Ms. Baker has worked with Dr. Rissi researching the development and implementation of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Home Program in Oregon and has taught courses in health systems, leadership, and civic engagement.  Her current research interests include primary care for those with serious mental illnesses, the integration of behavioral and primary health care, and the policy and organizational factors that can impact the implementation of integrated services.
She hopes her dissertation will explore how clinics incorporate effective strategies to provide integrated care to persons living with serious mental illness and the factors that impede or facilitate the adoption and sustainability of those strategies. Ms. Baker chose the Health Systems and Policy PhD program because of the knowledgeable faculty, the rich opportunities for health care research, and its location in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Nicole Bouranis
Ms. Bouranis hails from West Babylon, NY. She received her Masters in Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics from Stony Brook University in 2014. During her stay at Stony Brook, she focused on autonomy in health care and developed a new format for research design and advanced directives. Her work caters to aging adults and individuals with cognitive impairments. Outside of academia, Ms. Bouranis worked with adults with developmental disabilities, most recently as a Medicaid Service Coordinator. She also spent several years as an Emergency Medical Technician. 
Craig Carter
Mr. Carter received his Master's in Public Administration with an emphasis in Health Administration from Portland State University in 2010.  For the past seven  years he has worked for the Veterans Health Administration.  His primary focus is surgical program management for patients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.  Craig is interested in researching the challenges rural patients face when attempting to access specialty care.  He chose the Health Systems and Policy PhD to engage with faculty and students working towards innovative changes in health care.
Courtney Crane
Ms. Crane received two Masters degrees, one in Family Studies and one in Public Health, from Eastern Illinois University. She is interested in maternal and child health with an emphasis on maternal birth experiences and breastfeeding outcomes.
Ms. Crane is following her interests in maternal and child health and is potentially considering how policy impacts and shapes experiences of breastfeeding as well as the outcomes. She chose the Health Systems and Policy doctoral program to pursue a career in research.
  Jessica Currier
Inspired by the book Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, a biography on Paul Farmer, Ms. Currier embarked on her journey in social equality, particularly in the area access to healthcare. As a PhD student, she plans to focus on the health status of migrant workers.
In 2014, she earned an MPH from Oregon State University. Jessica also has a BA in Music Performance from Lewis and Clark College. While completing her MPH, Jessica interned with the Center for Human Resource Development in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, where she coordinated leadership trainings for senior government officials and completed a research project on equity of access to health care in rural Quang Nam Province.
Prior to her return to academia, Jessica has worked in the field of philanthropy for over ten years, primarily for the Oregon Community Foundation. In addition to her graduate studies, Jessica continues as the Program Coordinator for the Central Oregon Regional Action Initiative, an OCF sponsored initiative supporting community schools.
Outside of school, Jessica is married and a proud parent two little girls, enjoys playing the piano (when the kids let her), and running. 
Chad Johnson
Mr. Johnson brings a decade of experience in health education, injury and illness prevention, and public health research. He earned his B.A. in Exercise Science and Psychology from Albion College in 2001. After working as an athletic trainer he shifted his focus towards community health and research. In 2008, Chad began working as the HIV and methamphetamine abuse studies research coordinator for the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. He later worked on interventions aimed at increasing physical activity with postpartum mothers for the Hawaii Cancer Research Center. Since 2013, Chad’s research focus has been Oregon’s health care workforce, particularly the methodology of workforce supply and demand and rural health workforce pipeline. He completed his MPH in health management and policy from Portland State University in 2013.
Sarah Knipper
Ms. Knipper has focused her career on evaluating health outcomes for children and adolescents. She has a Masters degree in Social Work from Washington University with a focus on health policy and research and a Bachelors degree in psychology from Northwestern University. Since 2012, she has been the School Health Economist/Epidemiologist for the Adolescent and School Health Program in the Oregon Public Health Division, where she oversees clinical and financial data related to School-Based Health Centers. She is interested in examining how economic incentives and payment reform can be used to improve health care quality/outcomes for adolescents, as well as investigating how the ACA and Medicaid policy have altered adolescent access to comprehensive health care. Her prior work on adolescent health risks has appeared in Pediatrics, MMWR, and the Journal of School Health.  Outside of school and work, Sarah is an avid hiker, baker and visitor to local theater and music. She is also the very proud mama to a little girl.

Nicole Merrithew
Ms. Merrithew received her Master’s Degree in Public Health with an emphasis on Health Management and Policy from Portland State University in 2008. She is currently the Director of the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Patient-Centered Primary Care Home Program, a statewide medical home initiative. The goals of the program are to develop strategies to identify and measure Patient-Centered Primary Care Homes, promote their development, and encourage all Oregonians to receive care in this new model. Prior to her current role, Ms. Merrithew held positions as the Director of the Oregon Medicaid Advisory Committee, a program development analyst for the Oregon Public Employees’ Benefits Board, and a Research Assistant with Oregon Health and Science University. She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Boston University.
Ms. Merrithew is interested in examining the effect that specific characteristics of primary care practices have on organizational performance, including service utilization and clinical outcomes. She is also interested in exploring outcomes associated with different approaches to setting standards of care. Through this research, Ms. Merrithew aims to inform both local and national primary care reform efforts. She chose the Health Systems and Policy program for its faculty expertise and connection to Oregon’s health reform activities.  
Shauna Petchel
Ms. Petchel is excited to be returning to PSU, where she graduated in 2009 with an MPH in Health Management and Policy. Shauna brings a lifelong interest in public policy as a tool for communities to define and achieve their own vision of health. After graduating in 2006 with a BS in Nutrition from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Shauna worked for nine years with Hunger-Free Oregon, supporting state and federal advocacy initiatives to reduce food insecurity and poverty by strengthening community-based nutrition programs for children and seniors, expanding availability of affordable housing and childcare, and ensuring that policy discussions driving changes to Oregon’s safety net are client-informed. She is currently working with Meyer Memorial Trust supporting their grantmaking initiatives in Oregon. She is a graduate of NEW Leadership Oregon and is Vice President of the Board of Directors of Bradley Angle, an organization providing shelter, housing advocacy and culturally-relevant, trauma-informed care to survivors of domestic violence in Multnomah County. Shauna’s interests include social and environmental determinants of health, with particular focus on federal and state nutrition policy.  When she isn’t in the classroom, you’ll find her hiking her way through Oregon with her partner and two siberian huskies.
Kelsey Priest

Ms. Priest received her Master of Public Health in Health Management & Policy from Portland State University in June of 2014. She is a current first-year medical student at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in the MD/PhD Program. Over the last several years she has worked in clinical research, quality improvement, program development, and management in the fields of neurology, pulmonary and critical care, and public administration.  
As a public health student, she learned about the inadequacies and inequities that plague health care. This understanding was further solidified by her professional experiences in the medical intensive care unit which opened her eyes to the downstream consequences of neglecting public health, preventive medicine, and social services. During her MPH, she served as the first President of the collaborative PSU & OHSU Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Open School Chapter (2012-2013) and as its Learning Coordinator (2013-present).  At present, in her role as IHI Open School West Coast Regional Leader, she has the responsibility of connecting students from Colorado to Alaska to improve health in their local communities. Ms. Priest is looking forward to using the skills and knowledge gained from the HS&P Program to improve the interface between health delivery systems and social services, specifically for underserved populations.
Samantha Slaughter-Mason
Ms. Slaughter-Mason graduated from the University of Southern California with degrees in psychology and health communications, then received her Masters in Public Health from Oregon State University, with an emphasis in international health. Ms. Slaughter-Mason currently works at the Center for Evidence-based Policy based at Oregon Health & Science University as a Program Administrator focused on stakeholder engagement in health policy development and research processes.
Ms. Slaughter-Mason is interested in medical marijuana policy development as states (and cities?) navigate complex systems. She is most interested in an opportunity to identify best-practices, strategic collaborations, and the unique challenges of implementing state policy in direct violation of federal laws. Ms. Slaughter-Mason selected the Health Systems and Policy program for its interdisciplinary approach and faculty expertise. 
Kweku Wilson
Mr. Wilson is interested in primary care access, quality and cost, the patient-centered primary care home model, health policy and health system analyses, policy implementation and evaluation, and continuous quality improvement methods. His dissertation is titled, Health Risks in Medical Homes and their Effects on Cost Sensitive Outcomes of Care: A Focus on Patient-Centered Primary Care Homes in Oregon.
Mr. Wilson chose the Health Systems and Policy program to improve his knowledge about the theories, models and principles of health policy and health system, to hone his skills in health policy research, and to gain relevant practical experience in the development and implementation of health policy in a health system environment as well as the analysis and evaluation of the effects of such policies.