BCHS / CHSP Research
(Faculty in alphabetical order)

Amber Brown, MPH, CHES
Ms. Brown’s research includes viewing microaggressive experiences of students of color in graduate degree programs and the impact on their mental health and degree progression.

Stephanie Broyles, PhD
Dr. Broyles research has shifted from an early interest in HIV/AIDS epidemiology to a focus on the epidemiology of physical activity and obesity, primarily in pediatric populations. Within this area, her research also seeks to understand contextual (e.g., neighborhood, school, policy) influences on these health and behavioral targets and on longitudinal changes in them, in both observational and interventional settings. Her research was featured in the 2012 HBO documentary series, “The Weight of the Nation.” Dr. Broyles’s work relies heavily on community engagement, and frequently integrates research and service. She brings this approach to her work as co-Director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Resource Core for the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center, a collaboration among all major academic, research, and health care institutions in Louisiana. Methodologically, she has expertise in investigating environmental determinants of health using spatial methods and geographically-linked variables, as well as in multilevel statistical analysis, and she enjoys collaborating on research projects that use novel analytic or study-design techniques.

Michael D. Celestin, Jr., PhD, MA, CHES, CTTS
Dr. Michael Celestin conducts population health and health services research to prevent cancer by promoting tobacco cessation at the patient, clinician, and healthcare system levels. Dr. Celestin uses novel methods and innovative study designs for effective theory-driven behavioral intervention research and the latest dissemination and implementation science to accelerate evidence-based tobacco use treatment in safety net healthcare delivery systems. His research contributes to eliminating tobacco-related cancers, chronic diseases, and health disparities for underrepresented high-prevalence tobacco users in Louisiana.

Richard Culbertson, PhD
Dr. Culbertson is currently engaged in research on the dissemination of robotic assisted surgery (RAS) and its availability to all patients who might benefit from these procedures as an option to open or laparoscopic surgery. He is on site at Intuitive Surgical Co., the largest producer of such devices globally. While at Intuitive, he is charged with developing and operationalizing a Center of Excellence for Health Policy and Patient Access. Current projects include (1)health equity and patient access research, outlining determinants of health challenging global health and systems; (2)Synthesizing, informing and enriching health policy discussions; (3) Shaping and optimizing payment/funding incentives to address adoption barriers and utilization of RAS; (4) Investigating innovative implementation practice programs to assess barriers to receipt of RAS services from the vantage of equity of access.

Denise Moore Danos, PhD
Dr. Danos is a biostatistician with a prolific research and publication record. Her focus is experimental design and data analysis in observational research, with expertise in large scale data collection and consolidation, generalized linear models and multilevel models. Dr. Danos’ research has centered around social and built environmental factors in chronic health conditions and other public health outcomes. Much of this work has focused on socioeconomic and regional disparities in cancer in Louisiana. Additionally, she has contributed to investigations of how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted trends in traumatic assaults in the greater New Orleans area and determinants of COVID-19 testing strategies in southern US states. Dr. Danos is part of the biostatistics core at the LSUHSC Cancer Center and collaborates with investigators in the school of medicine regarding study design, power and sample size calculation, statistical analyses, and dissemination of results.

Claudia Leonardi, PhD
Dr. Claudia Leonardi is a biostatistician with more than 20 years of research experience in various settings. She consulted and collaborated on numerous projects in the basic, clinical and population sciences, and I have therefore acquired extensive experience in a variety of statistical areas. She currently collaborates with the Departments of Surgery and Orthopedics within the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health by providing study design and statistical support to progress ideas into projects/grants and papers.

Henry Nuss, PhD
Dr. Henry Nuss is the Director of Testing, Measurement and Evaluation for the Southeast and Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Centers. Dr. Nuss’ research interests are in obesity prevention, metabolic syndrome and other related chronic conditions in disparate communities, as well as quality improvement for local, statewide and national public health initiatives.

Stephen Phillippi, Jr., PhD, LCSW, CCFC
Dr. Phillippi’s research focuses on identifying needs and gaps in behavioral health and justice systems, informing policy and practice changes to support research driven prevention and intervention, and employing implementation science to develop translational methods that disseminate such programming to scale in a sustainable fashion. These efforts have been published in peer-reviewed literature, textbooks, and/or converted into monographs, curricula, and technical reports to reach a multi-disciplinary group of practitioners, scholars, policy makers, and administrators in Louisiana and nationally. He leads research at two nationally recognized Centers for the School of Public Health—the Center for Evidence to Practice and the Institute for Public Health & Justice.

William Robinson, PhD
Dr. Robinson’s training is in experimental and quantitative methods in Psychology and he is an expert in many statistical techniques including multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling, and geographic information systems. Dr. Robinson’s research involves the behavioral, epidemiologic and structural factors that place people at risk for diseases such as HIV/AIDS. He is currently lead the Louisiana arm of the CDC funded National HIV Risk Behavioral Surveillance, a study of HIV risk behaviors in a sample of populations at high risk in New Orleans, and has led the NHBS study since its inception. Dr. Robinson holds a joint appointment as the Research and Evaluation Manager for the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Public Health STD/HIV/Hepatitis Program (SHHP). In this role he has completed evaluation and implementation science studies including an OAH funded statewide teen pregnancy prevention evaluation, developed methods to evaluate the impact on the Louisiana HIV/AIDS epidemic following the diaspora caused by Hurricane Katrina, assessed the impact of structural changes including alcohol outlet policies on the geographic distribution of HIV and STD cases and a PCORI study to increase resilience among LGBT individuals. He is also the Lead Evaluator for all HIV Prevention, Surveillance, and Services state programs including the recent PrIDE and THRIVE HIV prevention demonstration projects to increase uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), utilization of data-to-care strategies, and to provide behavioral health and social services to men who have sex with men as well as the current Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative.

Dean G. Smith, PhD
Dr. Smith’s research aims to provide a better understanding of the financial aspects of health care operations and public health programs. Current projects include assessment of the cost-effectiveness of nursing interventions for patients with heart failure and the economic impact of hospitals on their communities.

Benjamin Springgate, MD, MPH
Dr. Springgate conducts community-partnered participatory research on policy-relevant topics including expanding and improving care for opioid use disorder, integrating behavioral health into primary care settings, and building resilience in communities threatened by climate change and disasters. With this research, he advises policymakers at local, state, and federal levels on matters relating to the opioid overdose crisis, improving care for incarcerated and reentry populations, climate and health, behavioral health strategies for Medicaid and Medicare, pandemic responses, and public health decision-making.

Tung-Sung Tseng, DrPH, MS, CHES/MCHES
Dr. Tseng’s research focuses on understanding the disparities and elucidating the determinants of health behaviors to change unhealthy/risky behaviors among ethnic minorities and underserved populations. His expertise includes cancer, tobacco control, obesity, health disparities, genetic and behavioral interactions, community-based participatory research (CBPR), implementation sciences, community/ behavioral intervention, and evaluation methods (social media, big data, GIS, AI, and smart devices).

Ashley Wennerstrom, PhD
For the past 15 years, Dr. Wennerstrom has conducted community-engaged research with a focus on community health worker (CHW) policy, interventions, and workforce development, as well as the link between incarceration and health. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers and four book chapters. Her work has been supported by over 30 grants and contracts from CDC, HRSA, OMH, NIH, PCORI, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), and other agencies.

Donna Williams, MS, MPH, DrPH
For over 20 years, Dr. Williams’s research has focused on cancer health disparities and gaps in cancer prevention and control efforts. In 2002, she assumed leadership of the Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program, focusing on screening services for under- and uninsured low-income women in Louisiana funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That single program expanded to become the Louisiana Cancer Prevention & Control Programs (LCP), a group of research and practice programs that focus on cancers that are preventable or can be detected early and cured. LCP continues to be funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other organizations. While most of this work has been based upon prevention and early detection at the community level, it has been her philosophy to lay translational and interventional research on top of these programs whenever possible. The majority of her work focuses on removing barriers to cancer screening and early detection. While this is important in general, a further focus is on underserved and under-resourced populations including underserved minorities, under-and uninsured people, the working poor, and rural populations.

Center for Evidence to Practice
At the Center we envision a Louisiana where all individuals have access to a high quality, responsive and effective behavioral health system delivered by a well-trained workforce. We achieve this through the Center’s mission to support Louisiana and its agencies, organizations, communities, and providers in the selection and implementation of research-driven behavioral health interventions while understanding and helping to address challenges related to sustaining quality practice that promotes well-being and improves outcomes. As one aspect of the center, our research focuses on examining the behavioral health workforce, assessing gaps and needs in Louisiana’s mental health and substance use services array, and exploring impact through Medicaid claims analyses and provider surveys- using implementation science frameworks. This work is funded by LDH, OBH, Medicaid, SAMHSA, and other entities.

Institute for Public Health & Justice
The Institute is a policy, research, training, and technical assistance enterprise positioned at the intersection of behavioral health policy and practice, and the legal system. Many behavioral and other health conditions have social determinants. At the Institute, we seek to bridge the divide between prevention and treatment of behavioral health issues and the negative impacts on individuals, families, communities, and the justice systems. The agency has a diverse funding portfolio including, but not limited to, DOJ, OJJDP, SAMHSA, BJA, MacFound, the Public Welfare Foundation, RWJF, and more. Its research has included examining the age of criminal responsibility, justice reform initiatives, status offender interventions, screening and assessment, evidence-based treatments, school safety, police and public health, justice data collection and reporting, mentoring, holistic public defense models, diversion, and much more.