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.

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.

Christopher S. Lyttle, MA, Director of Methods Core

Chris | (773) 702-7905
Christopher Lyttle is a health services researcher with a background in social psychology. He received his Master's degree from the University of Chicago and has been a project manager and analyst for projects on a wide variety of topics, such as barriers to health care, graduate medical education, oral health, asthma, nursing home initiatives, and defining episodes of care. These projects have ranged from the very small to international in scale. His primary interest is in research methodology, with additional interest in social equity.

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.