CHeSS Staff

Read about CHeSS Director David Meltzer, MD, PhD, here.  

Ellen Cohen, Executive Director

Ellen | (773) 834-7449
Ellen Cohen oversees day-to-day operations at CHeSS and serves as Executive Director of the MyCHOICE program. She is the former Dean of Students at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy, where she collaborated with faculty on interdisciplinary curriculum development, training programs, research, and applied learning opportunities for students. She also worked with external groups to create forums where researchers, practitioners, and students apply evidence-based analysis to policy problems across domains. Before joining the Harris School, Ellen held administrative positions at DePaul University, the Art Institute of Chicago, Brandeis University, and Brown University. She holds a Master’s degree from the Harris School and a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Brown University.

Thomas Best, PhD, Manager of Research and Analytics
Thomas Best is the Manager of Research and Analytics within CHeSS and also supports the Section of Hospital Medicine and the Urban Health Lab.  He provides data and analyses for projects in these areas, such as the Hospitalist Project and the Comprehensive Care Physician program, primarily using Stata.  He has over 10 years of experience building decision evaluation models of healthcare delivery systems, and managing quality improvement projects at the University of Chicago Medicine.  During this time he has gained expertise with C++, Ruby, R, system simulation programs such as Arena and NetLogo, and the ubiquitous Microsoft Excel.  He holds a PhD in Operations Management from the Booth School and a Master's of Industrial Engineering (with an emphasis on Health Systems) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

Kelsey Bogue, MA, Associate Director of Training Programs & Communications

Kelsey | (773) 702-4401
Kelsey Bogue provides administrative direction to and day-to-day management of CHeSS' portfolio of training programs and grants. She also oversees the Center's communications, including the website, e-newsletter, and social media.  She holds a Master's degree from the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration with a concentration in health administration and policy and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Valerie Burgest, MA, Pre-Award Grants and Contracts Coordinator

Valerie | (773) 834-1690
Valerie Burgest is part of the pre-award and contract development team. She has more than 20 years of experience working in community health and grants management, and she holds a master's degree in industrial and organizational psychology with a concentration in health administration.

Diane DaViera, Post-Award and Operations Manager

Diane | (773) 834-5302
Diane Daviera administers grants once they have been awarded. This includes tracking and reporting expenditures, creating budgets, and coordinating with project managers, principal investigators, and university administrators. With more than 18 years of financial and administrative experience, Diane comes to CHeSS from the University of Chicago Department of Medicine, where she served as Post-Award Administrator. She has also worked as a financial administrator for the Sections of General Internal Medicine and Cardiology. Prior to her time at University of Chicago, Diane earned a secretarial and accounting diploma from Sawyer College of Business in Hammond, Indiana.

Linda Gates, Administrative Specialist 

Linda | (773) 834-1267 
Linda Gates provides administrative support to the CHeSS staff to ensure efficient operation of the Center. She brings over 20 years of administrative and accounting experience to CHeSS. Linda joined the staff in the Spring of 2018.

Sandra Ham, MS, Statistician of Methods Core

Sandra Ham has more than 20 years of experience in research methods and data analysis. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she worked for ten years before coming to the University of Chicago, she used survey research methods, statistical analysis, and Healthy People objectives to oversee public health surveillance. Ms. Ham has earned a Master’s Degree in nutrition, a Master's Degree from the Divinity School at UChicago, and a Bachelor’s Degree in mechanical engineering. Her areas of expertise include survey research and research methods; data management; statistical programming and analysis in SAS, Stata, and R; data visualization; surveillance epidemiology; policy and health recommendations and evaluation; obesity and the psychology of eating; multidisciplinary research; agent-based modeling; and social sequence analysis. 

Angelique Johnson, Director of Grants Administration

Angelique | (773) 702-5066
Angelique Johnson brings several years of grant and contract management experience in pre-award and contract development work at the Center. Angelique received her bachelor’s degree in Biology/Pre-Med from Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college and university.

Samantha Loo, MS, Senior Associate Director, Foundational Research on Health Care Markets and Policies 

Samantha | (312) 772-4428 
Samantha Loo collaborates with academic health economists and university administrators across campus and other institutions to advance foundational research and improve health care delivery. In her capacity, she also aims to enhance diversity and inclusion efforts at CHeSS and across the University of Chicago. She has extensive project management experience across all sectors, complemented by a Master of Science with Distinction in Leadership and Public Policy from DePaul University and a Certificate in Project Management Strategy from The University of Chicago’s Graham School.

Andrea Flores, MA, Director of Methods Core 
Andrea Flores is the Director of the CHeSS Methods Core and has 15 years of experience in health services research as a programmer, analyst, data manager and project manager. Ms. Flores holds a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the Harris School at UChicago and a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Chile. She has worked with a broad range of data and can provide assistance and guidance with data collection, management and analysis. Previous to her current position, Ms. Flores had a leading role in data collection and processing for the Hospitalist Project and Comprehensive Care Physician Program led by Dr. David Meltzer. Her personal interests include program evaluation, social determinants of health and health assessment tools. 

Kopal Mathur, Program Manager, Program in Oral Health

Kopal | (773) 702-9515
Kopal Mathur is a Program Manager for the Program in Oral Health at CHeSS. She provides strategic dental insights into the development and implementation of various oral health projects. Prior to her role in CHeSS, she served as a dental practitioner providing treatment and care to patients with complex oral health conditions in various hospitals. She has led research programs for urban health projects in the United Kingdom and has also developed and implemented National Health programs with the Government of India to improve access and availability of healthcare services. Her research interests include oral health, health workforce, aging and health education. She has earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, and a Master’s degree in Healthcare Management from the University of Manchester (United Kingdom). She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dental Surgery from India.

Christopher Peña, PhD, myCHOICE Communications Manager | (773) 702-4576 
Christopher Peña is the myCHOICE Communications Manager and assists the Program Director in managing myCHOICE programming components.  Since earning his Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dr. Peña has worked extensively in science policy, outreach, and communications before successfully completing an educational postdoctoral fellowship (K12 IRACDA) in south Texas.

Violet Rucci, Post-Award Manager

Violet | (773) 702-9681
Violet Rucci manages financial and administrative aspects of grants after they have been awarded. She administers various post-award processes, including effort and financial reports, and has 15 years of experience in project management, data analysis, and financial reporting.  Violet studied Computer Information Systems at DeVry University. She has developed and managed systems for Emergency Medicine at Northwestern University and, most recently, for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).

Abby Stayart, PhD, myCHOICE Program Director

Abby | (773) 834-5554
Dr. Abby Stayart oversees all non-technical aspects of the myCHOICE program and serves as the program's point of contact. With a PhD in Genetics, she has been associated with the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division for more than a decade, first as a graduate student in the Rothman-Denes lab, followed by postdoctoral training in the lab of Laurens Mets. She also holds a Bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology from Rockhurst College and another in Gender Studies from the University of Chicago. 

Hui Zhang, PhD, Research Professional 

Hui Zhang is a research professional with a background in healthcare systems engineering. She collaborates with researchers in CHeSS and the Section of Hospital Medicine on studying healthcare problems ranging from hospital operations to health policy. Before joining CHeSS, Hui worked in management consulting industry with a focus on healthcare delivery innovation. She holds a PhD in Industrial & Systems Engineering and an MBA from Virginia Tech. Her research uses model-driven and data-driven methods including multiscale decision theory, game theory, operations research and simulation to address healthcare challenges related to payment and incentive design, medical technology investment decision-making, chronic disease management, and hospital operations management.