People

Project Leads & Researchers

Katy Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA, Director

Dr. Kozhimannil is Director of Research at the RHRC and an Associate Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Education

  • PhD, Health Policy, Harvard University, 2009
  • MPA., Public Policy and Administration, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, 2003
  • BA, Spanish and International Relations and Spanish (summa cum laude), University of Minnesota, 1999

Experience

Dr. Kozhimannil conducts research to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of health policy that impacts health care delivery, quality, and outcomes during critical times in the lifecourse, including pregnancy and childbirth. The goal of her scholarly work is to contribute to the evidence base for clinical and policy strategies to advance racial, gender, and geographic equity and to collaborate with stakeholders in making policy change to address social determinants and structural injustice in order to facilitate improved health and well-being.

Dr. Kozhimannil’s research, published in major journals such as Science, the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Health Affairs, American Journal of Public Health, Medical Care, and the American Journal of Managed Care, has been widely cited.  Media coverage of her research, including feature stories by the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, and the Huffington Post, has generated dialogue, interest and policy action at local, state, and national levels. In addition to conducting research, Dr. Kozhimannil teaches courses that build skills for effective engagement in the policy process, and works extensively with community organizations and state and federal policy makers on efforts to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities, starting at birth. 

Prior to starting her academic career, Dr. Kozhimannil worked on HIV/AIDS prevention and policy as well as education and youth development both domestically and abroad. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Mozambique and has worked for Ibis Reproductive Health, the World Bank, Population Services International, the American Red Cross, and the YMCA.

Research Interests

  • Health care policy
  • Quality of care
  • Maternal and child health
  • Health equity
  • Analysis of administrative/claims data
  • Longitudinal analysis

Awards

  • Alice S. Hersh New Investigator Award, AcademyHealth (2016)
  • National guest scholar at the Stanford Clinical Excellence Research Center (2015-2016)
  • Labelle Lectureship in Health Services Research, McMaster University (2015)
  • Public Health Impact Award, University of Minnesota School of Public Health (2015)
  • Health Affairs Top 15 Most-Read Articles in 2013 “Cesarean delivery rates vary 10-fold among US hospitals; reducing variation may address quality and cost issues.” (2014)
  • Minnesota Population Center’s IHIS Research Award “National Trends in Health Insurance
  • Coverage of Pregnant and Reproductive-Age Women, 2000-2009″ (2013)
  • Elected and inducted into the Pi Chapter of Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health (2013)
  • University of Minnesota Institute for Diversity, Equity and Advocacy (IDEA) Multicultural Research Award (2011)
Carrie Henning-Smith, PhD, MPH, MSW, Deputy Director

Dr. Henning-Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and has been an Investigator with the Rural Health Research Center since 2015.

Education

  • PhD, Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration, University of Minnesota, 2015
  • MS, Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration, University of Minnesota, 2015
  • MPH, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, 2006
  • MSW, Social Work Interpersonal Practice and Mental Health, University of Michigan, 2006
  • BA, International Relations, Claremont McKenna College, 2003

Experience

Dr. Henning-Smith applies her interdisciplinary training in health services research, public health, social work, gerontology, and demography to study policy-relevant issues for rural populations. She has led multiple research projects at the Rural Health Research Center, with a wide range of topics including the social determinants of health, access to and quality of care, and aging and long-term care. She was chosen as a 2017 Rural Health Fellow by the National Rural Health Association and serves as a current editorial board member for the Journal of Rural Health. 

Research Interests

  • Social determinants of health
  • Demography
  • Aging and long-term care
  • Disability policy
  • Housing and transportation issues
  • Access to care

Recent Fellowships and Awards

  • Rural Health Fellow, National Rural Health Association (2017-2018)
  • Heath Equity Leadership & Mentoring Program Fellow, University of Minnesota (2016-2017)
  • Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship, University of Minnesota (2014-2015)
  • Hearst Fellowship in Public Health and Aging (2013-2014)
  • RAND Summer Institute Fellowship (2013)
Hannah Neprash, PhD, Project Lead

Hannah Neprash is a Project Lead at the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Education

  • PhD, Health Policy (Economics), Harvard University, 2017
  • BA., Economics, Government, Oberlin College, 2007

Experience

Dr. Neprash is an expert in physician behavior. Her research studies how physicians and other health care providers respond to financial and non-financial incentives, with a focus on time pressure, productivity, and market structure. She is experienced using novel sources of data to examine how physician decision-making drives utilization, spending, access, and quality in health care. Her applied research and policy experience includes time at the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the Health Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee, and the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission. She received her PhD in health policy (economics track) from Harvard University.

Research Interests

  • Primary care
  • Health care workforce
  • Provider markets and organization
  • Provider decision-making
  • Health care financing
  • Access to care

Awards

  • Teaching Innovation Award, 2018
  • Joan P. Curhan Citizenship Award, Harvard University, 2017
  • Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Harvard University, 2017
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2012-2015
Ira Moscovice, PhD

Dr. Moscovice is the Mayo Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota. He was the former director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center since its inception in 1992.

Education

  • PhD, Administrative Sciences, Yale University, 1976
  • MS, Operations Research, Columbia University, 1971
  • BSEE, Electrical Engineering, City College of New York, 1969

Experience

Dr. Moscovice has more than 30 years of experience conducting rural health research. He has served as the principal investigator for numerous rural health projects funded by federal and state agencies and private foundations, including the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Area Foundation.

He was a Co-Principal Investigator for the Multi-Center National Evaluation of the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program from 1999-2003 and currently serves as the Principal Investigator for the 2003-2013 Flex Program Monitoring Team.

He has served on numerous rural health and health services research and policy advisory committees for federal agencies and private foundations, including the Committee on the Future of Rural Health Care and the Access to Health Care Services Monitoring Committee of the Institute of Medicine; the Health Services Research Study Section of Agency for Health Care Research and Quality; and the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Coming Home Program.

Research Interests

  • Development of rural quality and patient safety measures
  • Implementation of quality and patient safety initiatives in rural environments
  • The operation and financing of small rural hospitals
  • Evaluation of alternative rural health care delivery systems

Awards

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, 2002
  • First recipient of the Distinguished Researcher Award from the National Rural Health Association, 1992
Amanda Corbett, MPH

Amanda Corbett is a qualitative researcher at the Rural Health Research Center. She began working at the RHRC in December 2015.

Education

  • MPH, Maternal and Child Health, University of Minnesota, 2010
  • BA, English, Luther College, 1994

Experience

Ms. Corbett has worked in various capacities of public health research at the University of Minnesota since 1997. Prior to her employment at the RHRC, Amanda was housed in Extension’s Center for Family Development, where she provided evaluation support to health and nutrition program staff across Minnesota. She also worked in Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, coordinating the American Indian Community Tobacco Projects.

Research Interests

  • Health equity
  • Health policy, systems, & environmental change
  • Social determinants of health
  • Community-engaged research
Megan Lahr, MPH

Megan is a Research Fellow at the Rural Health Research Center, hired in September of 2017.

Education

  • MPH, Public Health Administration and Policy, University of Minnesota, 2017
  • BA, Sociology, Kenyon College, 2010

Experience

Prior to coming to the Rural Health Research Center, Ms. Lahr worked at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) on a variety of projects related to access, cost, quality, and health outcomes. Ms. Lahr also spent several years working in federal policy for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. While working in the Senate in Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, MN, she held several positions focusing on operations, policy development, health reform, and healthcare outreach and casework.

Research Interests

  • Health policy and systems
  • Access to care
  • Health equity
Shailendra Prasad, MD, MPH

Shailendra Prasad is an Associate Professor at the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota and an Investigator at the Rural Health Research Center.

In addition, Dr. Prasad is the Executive Director of the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility at the University of Minnesota.

Education

  • MBBS, Medicine, Mysore Medical College, India, 1990
  • Family Medicine Residency, Henry Ford Hospital, 1997
  • Fellowship, Academic Family Medicine, Henry Ford Hospital, 1998
  • MPH, Public Health Leadership, University of Minnesota, 2006

Experience

Dr. Prasad has worked in the interface of primary care and public health for the past 20 years. He has extensive first-hand experience in underserved areas; he practiced as a primary care physician for several years in rural southern Mississippi and in rural and tribal areas in South India before coming to the University of Minnesota. He remains actively involved in projects in South India. His current work in primary care and health services research focuses on quality of care, coordination of care, methods of care delivery, and appropriate resource utilization.

Research Interests

  • Health Care Delivery in Rural and Indigenous Areas
  • Quality of Clinical Care in Rural Health
  • Health Information Dissemination
  • Global Health Systems

Awards

  • Mead Johnson Award for Excellence in Graduate Medical Education, American Academy of Family Physicians, 1997
  • Teacher of the Year, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, 2011
  • Teacher of the Year, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, 2013
Rachel Hardeman, PhD

Rachel Hardeman is a project contributor at the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Education

  • PhD, Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota, 2013
  • MPH., Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota, 2007
  • BS, Chemistry and Spanish, Xavier University of Louisiana, 2002

Experience

Dr. Hardeman’s program of research applies the tools of population health science and health services research to elucidate the complex determinants of health inequity. At the crux of her research is the notion that structural racism is a fundamental cause of health inequity. Specifically, Dr. Hardeman’s work examines the relationship between racism-related factors and inequities in health outcomes with a focus on persistent inequities experienced by Black mothers and babies. She also seeks to advance the conceptual and methodological tools for studying racism’s relationship to health inequity.

Dr. Hardeman’s research uses the frameworks of critical race theory (a theory that frames racism as engrained in the fabric and system of the American society) and reproductive justice (the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities) to inform her equity-centered work in health services research and population health. Published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health, Dr. Hardeman’s research has elicited important conversations on the topics of culturally-focused care, police brutality and structural racism as a fundamental cause of health inequities. Her overarching goal is to contribute to a body of knowledge that links structural racism to health in a tangible way, identifies opportunities for intervention, and dismantles the systems, structures, and institutions that allow inequities to persist.

Research Interests

  • Reproductive justice and reproductive health equity
  • Maternal and child health
  • Health equity
  • Structural Violence
  • Medical Education

Awards

  • NIH Health Disparities Loan Repayment Program Awardee (funded by National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD))
  • American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation John Benson Professionalism Article Prize
  • Best Research Paper Association for Medical Education (AMEE) Conference, 2016 Barcelona, Spain
  • Health Affairs Most Read Blog Post of 2015 (Having a doula would make it
    better. How Medicaid coverage for doula care could improve birth outcomes,
    reduce health care costs, and improve equity) 2015
Marizen Ramirez, PhD

Marizen Ramirez is a project contributor at the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and an Associate Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She is the Director of the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety.

Education

  • PhD, Epidemiology, University of California – Los Angeles, 2002
  • MPH, Epidemiology, University of California – Los Angeles, 1998
  • BA, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California – Los Angeles, 1995

Experience

Dr. Ramirez has a PhD in Epidemiology and has training and research experience in mixed methods as well as intervention evaluation. Dr. Ramirez has specific experience conducting epidemiologic studies and intervention studies on a variety of topics including childhood injury, school-based violence, occupational injuries, disaster preparedness, suicide, and mental health treatment in rural populations, racial/ethnic minorities, families of children with disabilities, and agricultural workers. She has developed and tested interventions, including policies, in rural settings; administered surveys; conducted qualitative research; and analyzed existing data sources in her prior and current research studies.

Research Interests

  • Rural Health
  • Health Disparities for pediatric populations, persons with disabilities, and racial/ethnic minorities
  • Epidemiologic Methods

Awards

  • California Alumni Scholar, UC Berkeley
  • Public Health Traineeship and University Fellowship, UCLA School of Public Health
  • Distinguished Teaching Assistant of the Year, Department of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health
  • Delta Omega Honorary Society
  • Faculty Teaching Award, University of Iowa College of Public Health, 2012
  • Abstract of the Year, American Public Health Association Law Section, 2014
  • Research Paper Award, International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health, 2017
  • University of Minnesota Institute for Diversity, Equity and Advocacy (IDEA) Multicultural Research Award, 2018
Cori Blauer-Peterson, MPH

Cori conducts ad hoc programming and statistical analysis for studies within the RHRC. Her focus is mainly on claims based analyses.

Education

  • MPH., Public Health Administration and Policy, University of Minnesota, 2010
  • BS, Child Psychology, 2008

Experience

Ms. Blauer-Peterson has been a lead analyst in health economics and outcomes research at Optum since 2013 where her main body of work has ranged in disease area from respiratory to antipsychotic use. Concurrently, since 2011, she has been an ad hoc programmer and analyst with the Division of Health Policy and Management at University of Minnesota where her primary focus was maternal health.  

Students

Julia Interrante, MPH

Julia Interrante is a graduate research assistant with the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and a Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration Ph.D. student in the Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She began working at the RHRC in August 2018.

Education

  • MPH, Epidemiology, Emory University, 2014
  • BA, Studies in Women and Gender, Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia, 2009

Experience

Prior to coming to the RHRC, Ms. Interrante worked as an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a variety of areas including birth defect research, maternal medication use, and fertility, as well as domestic and global tuberculosis and HIV surveillance and prevention. While working at the CDC, Ms. Interrante developed data quality assessment protocols and tools, conducted data use trainings, and provided policy guidance and technical assistance to foreign Ministries of Health and domestic Departments of Health. She also worked as an HIV tester and counselor in Washington, DC and in rural South Africa.

Research Interests

  • Reproductive health policy
  • Maternal and child health
  • Social epidemiology
  • Health equity
  • Access to care
Laura Smith, BA

Laura is a research assistant on the Team-Based Primary Care in Rural Communities project at the RHRC.

Education

  • BA, Mathematics (magna cum laude), St. Olaf College, 2012

Experience

Laura is a doctoral candidate in health services research with an emphasis in health economics at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Prior to her PhD studies, Laura was a research consultant at the Lewin Group, where she worked on a bundled payment evaluation for Medicare and on Medicaid long term services and supports research.

Research interests

  • Primary care services delivery and access
  • Health care workforce
  • Medicare and Medicaid payment policy
Ashley Hernandez, MSPH

Ashley Hernandez began working as a graduate research assistant at the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center in August 2018. She is also a PhD candidate in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences focusing on occupational and environmental epidemiology.

Education

  • MSPH, Epidemiology, University of Texas School of Public Health, 2016
  • BA, English & Spanish, Texas Tech University, 2008
  • BS, Biology, Texas Tech University, 2008

Experience

As an Environmental Health Sciences doctoral candidate, Ashley’s research has focused on occupational health, heart and lung disease outcomes, exposures to air pollutants, farmworker’s children’s health, and anti-bullying research. These projects have provided her an opportunity to learn both qualitative and quantitative techniques for data analysis. Through her coursework she’s also gained experience with spatial analyses and mapping software. Prior to beginning her graduate studies, Ashley worked in an underserved area of San Antonio, TX as a middle school science teacher.

Research Interests

  • Access to care
  • Health equity
  • Long-term care
  • Occupational health
  • Environmental health
PeggySue Imihy, BA

PeggySue Imihy is a graduate assistant with the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She began working at the RHRC in September 2018. PeggySue manages digital communications for the Rural Health Research Center and including website management, project communications and documentation. 

Education

  • BA, American Studies, University of Minnesota, 2016

Experience

Prior to coming to the RHRC, Ms. Imihy worked as a graduate research assistant for the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs focusing on creating web-based learning modules. Ms. Imihy is experienced in the Adobe Suite, various web platforms and a social media expert.

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