Natoshia Askelson currently serves as the PI for Iowa’s Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network Collaborating Center and Deputy Director of the Prevention Research Center. She is trained as a behavioral scientist with an emphasis in health communication. Her research is focused on maternal, child and family health, with an emphasis on elementary-aged children and adolescents. Askelson uses mixed methods to understand how policy and program changes influence positive and maladaptive behavior.
Juan (Grace) Bao
Juan (Grace) Bao, PhD is an assistant research scientist in the College of Public Health, Iowa Institute of Public Health Research and Policy. She is trained as a human and family science researcher with an emphasis on health disparities, risk and resilience among rural, low-income or immigrant families. She is also interested in program evaluation, big data, and how to use data to tell stories and inform stakeholders. Currently she is serving as a data core member and working together with other health policy researchers to evaluate Iowa’s Medicaid Expansion efforts.
Tessa Heeren brings a background in social work and public health to the Iowa Institute of Public Health Research and Policy’s interdisciplinary teams. Her experience in social service delivery drives her passion for informing equitable and sustainable public policy through applied research. Heeren strives to create products that are collaborative, accessible and stakeholder-centered. In her work at the REC, Heeren specializes in mixed methods research to evaluate policies and programming in the public health, mental health, dental, education, and criminal legal systems. As a Research Specialist, Heeren’s roles in projects include conceptual research planning, team management, survey development, data collection and analysis, and report production.
Kandyce Larson is a health services and policy researcher who conducts studies aimed at improving disparities in health and health care access for vulnerable populations. She has extensive experience working with national data sources to monitor trends and disparities in the health and well-being of US children and families. Publications have appeared in journals like Pediatrics, Academic Pediatrics, and Maternal and Child Health Journal and highlighted diverse trends like increasing youth mental health problems and reductions in racial/ethnic disparities in children’s access to health and dental care services. Past projects have also examined long-term associations of early social risk factors with future adult health, comorbidities of children’s physical and mental health conditions, and access to health care for children with special health care needs. She is currently working as an Assistant Research Scientist primarily involved in design, data analytics, and publications from surveys of adult Medicaid recipients for an evaluation of the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan. Kandyce completed PhD and MSW degrees in Social Welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to joining the University of Iowa in 2022, she worked in Senior Researcher and Assistant Research Scientist positions at the American Academy of Pediatrics and the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.
Brooke McInroy supports the [Research and Evaluation Core] by managing primary data collection projects, survey development, and coordinating the data collection process. Previously, McInroy was a project coordinator in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences where she managed the daily operations of the Iowa ADHD and Development Lab.
Elizabeth Momany’s research focuses on evaluating health policies and programs. Areas of expertise include outcomes development and analyses, model building to reflect health care services utilization, and the development of measures for rapid cycle evaluation in newly implemented programs. Her work focuses on vulnerable populations such as children, people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, people with chronic health conditions, and people with serious mental illness and/or severe emotional disturbance. Current studies include an evaluation of the Medicaid expansion, particularly the implementation and outcomes of an $8 copay for non-emergency use of the ED, waiver of the retroactive eligibility component of Medicaid for certain eligibility groups, and requirements to utilize health behaviors to reduce premiums. Additionally, she is working with Iowa-based Community Mental Health Centers to rapid cycle evaluate programs developed and implemented under the Certified Community Behavioral Health Center grants through SAMHSA. Past research has included modeling factors related to the use of dental services for children with chronic conditions in the Iowa Medicaid program, understanding the use of medical and dental services by children with intellectual and/or developmental disability in the Iowa Medicaid program, and evaluating the effects of a family planning waiver on birth rates in Iowa. Most recently, she has been involved in a five-state project supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop outcome measures for children and adults with special health care needs.
Alex Sukalski is a Data Scientist with the Research and Evaluation Core. He manages the large scale health data used by the team, including database design, security compliance, data processing, and query building. He has experience parsing and merging data from a variety of sources, ranging from proprietary databases to scraped web pages. Alex collaborates on research conception, model building, and analysis, including geoprocessing and spatial analysis. He strives to make data and research findings accessible and explorable through data visualizations and interactive websites. Alex also works with the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contaminants, designing and supporting water quality data systems used in both research and public outreach.