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Current Trainees


Erica Ambeba, PhD received her MPH at Drexel University, and holds a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh. Her dissertation focused on the interrelationships between weight change, change in inflammatory markers, and insulin resistance in adults enrolled in a behavioral weight loss study. Her current research interests include how biological, lifestyle, and environmental factors interact to impact cardiovascular and other chronic disease outcomes, especially among underserved individuals. Recognizing the epidemiological transition that is occurring in many developing regions of the world, where chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease were once in low abundance but are quickly becoming more ubiquitous, Dr. Ambeba's goal is to address these issues in an international setting.

Katie Crist, PhD, MPH earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Cornell University, a Master of Public Health from the Yale School of Public Health and was awarded her PhD in Health Sciences from the University of Southern Denmark in 2019. She has worked with a research team at UCSD for the past decade developing and testing physical activity and sedentary behavior interventions as well as studies of the built environment. Out of this experience, she developed an interest in how public health researchers could help inform the development of communities that support health, equity and opportunities to be more physically active in our everyday lives. Her doctoral work focused on understanding the benefits, barriers and facilitators of data driven collaboration between physical activity researchers and transport planners, and demonstrating how research data and methods could be applied in the planning context. Her postdoctoral research focuses on evaluating how the built environment and transport infrastructure impact health and behavior, and the integration of behavioral interventions with infrastructure projects to increase active transportation. Her bicycle is her primary mode of transportation, so she is well aware of the challenges to non-vehicle travel. She is highly engaged with numerous advocacy and government organizations working to improve conditions for cycling and walking in San Diego.  

Maíra Tristão Parra, ScD obtained an undergraduate degree in Sport Sciences from Londrina State University, Londrina, Brazil. She moved to the UK to continue her studies in Sports & Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, where she received her Master of Science degree. Her Doctoral training was housed in the Evidence-based Health Graduate Program from the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, where she gained expertise in research methods, with an emphasis on systematic reviews for interventions. As part of her doctoral training, she spent a year in the US as a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health (IBACH/SDSU), collaborating in a physical activity promotion RCT for churchgoing Latinas. She joined the Family Medicine & Public Health Department at UC San Diego in early 2019 and in the Fall, Dr. Tristão Parra began the Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology Postdoctoral Fellowship. As part of her current training, at UC San Diego she is completing a Master’s Degree in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology.  She is also part of the UC San Diego Center of Excellence for Research and Training in Integrative Health, where she continues to investigate physical activity promotion and other types of integrative therapies, especially focused on cardiac patients.  In her spare time, Dr. Tristão Parra enjoys swimming, outdoor activities that include camping, hiking, surfing, snowboarding, and scuba diving — also spending time with her family, traveling, and trying different cuisines. 

Priscilla M. Vásquez, PhD, MPH obtained an undergraduate degree in Literatures of the World, Cultural Studies from the University of California San Diego (UCSD). She earned both a master’s degree in Public Health, Community Health Sciences and doctorate degree in Kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her work is anchored in addressing health inequities in cardiovascular health and brain health among underrepresented populations, namely Latina/o adults. She aims to use epidemiologic evidence to inform community-based interventions. Her research interests include subclinical cardiovascular disease, cognitive function, social environments, and physical activity among middle-aged and older Latina/o adults. 


Erin Delker, MPH earned a BA in Psychology (2011), an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences (2013) and worked for two years as a research assistant in substance use epidemiology before joining the SDSU/UCSD joint doctoral program in Public Health – Epidemiology in 2015. Erin began the T32 Integrated Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology Postdoctoral Fellowship in Fall 2017 during the third year of her predoctoral training.
Erin’s current research interests are in social and lifecourse epidemiology. Specifically, she is interested in studying adverse pregnancy outcomes and developmental origins of cardiovascular disease.  She is also interested in understanding the extent to which environmental exposures contribute to racial and socioeconomic disparities in cardiovascular risk.

Kimberly Savin, MS is a doctoral student in the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, with a focus in behavioral medicine. Prior to starting her doctoral program, Kimberly earned a BA in Psychology and Spanish from Vanderbilt University and worked as a research analyst at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on studies aimed to improve diabetes management behaviors in adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Kimberly has earned an MS in Clinical Psychology at SDSU and is pursuing an MPH in Epidemiology, concurrently with her PhD. Her research interests lie in behavioral (e.g., sleep, physical activity) and psychosocial factors in the prevention and management of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She is also interested in reducing health disparities among Hispanics/Latinos and individuals of lower socioeconomic status through her research and clinical work.