Research Coordinator / Biostatistician(s)

Chenyu Qiu majored in Biostatistics and achieved master’s degree from University of Southern California in 2020. In the fall of 2019, Chenyu joined Dr. Zhanghua Chen’s team exploring the association of targeted metabolites and diet with obesity and insulin resistance in young adults. At present, she is a senior research coordinator continuing to investigate the association of air pollutants with metabolomic features, and the effects of metabolomic features on altering newborn’s birth weight. 

Postdoctoral Research Associate(s)

Jiawen Liao is the post-doctoral fellow working in Dr. Zhanghua Chen research group, Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California. He obtained PhD in Environmental Health Sciences at Emory University in 2020 with training in air pollution exposure assessment and environmental epidemiology. At USC, he will work on analyzing maternal and child health effects of air pollution exposure in related epidemiological studies. He will also apply various analytical tools to integrate ‘exposome’ with omics data, in order to understand environmental factors for complex diseases. 

Clinical Project Manager

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Enrique Trigo graduated from Medical School in 1881 from the Benemérita Universidad  Autonoma de Puebla, Mexico. He has been working for USC for 28 years, first as a Research Associate, then as a Research Coordinator and for the last 14 years as a Project Manager. His main research area has been Diabetes Type 2. In addition to recruitment, he was in charge of the research clinic where he performed several glucose tests such as Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), Intravenous Glucose Tolerance Test  (IVGTT) and Glucose Clamps.

He recently joined Dr Chen’s team and he will be working on the recruitment and follow-up of participants in the environmental studies. He enjoys being with his family, listening to music and watching movies

Project Assistant

Sulema Saravia Rodriguez graduated from Humboldt State University with a bachelor’s in  Biology and a minor in Chemistry. She obtained a Medical Assistant Diploma to assist with medical research. From 2020-2021, she joined the COVID-19 Initiative team from USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. She focused on recruitment and data collection. Sulema joined Dr. Chen’s lab in September 2022. As a Project Assistant, she helps with recruitment, home visits, and data collection. She will be out in the field and have direct contact with participants. During her free time, Sulema enjoys spending time with family, hiking, and visiting national parks.


Current Student(s)

Ni Kang majored in Mathematics at UC Santa Barbara during his undergraduate studies and obtained a master’s degree in Biostatistics at Harvard University in 2020. Now he is a Ph.D. student in Biostatistics at the University of Southern California. He is interested in developing the pathway mediation method to address environmental health problems.

Natalie Blanc is a fourth-year undergraduate pre-medical student at the University of Southern California majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Environmental Studies, Psychology, and Health Sciences. She is passionate about medicine and environmental health. She joined Dr. Chen’s lab in January of 2021 and conducted a literature review on the effects of air pollution during the pre-conception period. She enjoys spending time at the beach, lake, or mountains with friends and family.

Connor Castillo is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Southern California majoring in Environmental Studies. He joined Dr. Zhanghua Chen’s lab in fall 2021 as an undergraduate research fellow in the EH MATTERS program. He has worked on literature reviews of the health impact of wildfire exposure, air pollution, and COVID-19. Connor is passionate about the intersection between environmental health and urban planning, and how these issues can be solved through public policy.

Alina Mercado is a third year, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention undergraduate student at the University of Southern California. As an EH MATTERS research fellow, she has had the opportunity to work with Dr. Chen on topics such as in-utero COVID-19 pregnancy birth outcomes & air pollution! Alina’s interdisciplinary interests lead her towards pursing a Master of Public Health degree and using policy as a means of continuing her passion of establishing environmental justice for underserved communities, ensuring all have access to a healthy and safe neighborhood. Outdoor hiking and observatory star gazing are some of Alina’s favorite hobbies.

Muhammad Rayeed Islam is an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California majoring in Economics/Mathematics. He is passionate about applying statistical skills to environmental health research. He worked with Dr. Chen in the longitudinal studies of gestation diabetes women to investigate the environmental chemical exposure effect on diabetes development.

Claire Li is currently a senior at Arcadia High School who joined Dr. Zhanghua Chen’s lab in August of 2022. She has worked to help the team with their HEPA omics proposals, MADRES Metabolism script and Dr. Chen’s media presence on Twitter. In the future, Claire is looking to pursue a path where she can combine STEM with the arts, merging logic with creativity.

Recent Alumni

Citlalin Lopez-Torres is a first year Master of Public Health Student at the Department of Preventive Medicine at USC. As a Double Trojan, she graduated with an undergraduate degree in Human Biology in 2020. Citlalin is interested in learning about the impacts of social determinants of health, especially environmental health, within low income communities of color. She is also passionate about how these issues can be alleviated through health policy work. As a SoCal native, Citlalin loves to spend time at the beach or spend time indoors watching movies. 

Susan Sargsyan is an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California majoring in human biology. She is also enrolled in a pre-med track. Suzan joined Dr. Chen’s laboratory to conduct literature reviews on air pollution, metabolomics and autism studies. 

Tingyu Yang is a Statistician working on the Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) project. She graduated with master’s degree in Biostatistics from USC and her master thesis “Associations between Perfluoroalkyl Substances Exposure and Metabolic Pathways in Youth” was mentored by Dr. Chen.  

Xin Li was a former master student in biostatistics at USC. She completed her master’s thesis with Dr. Chen’s support focusing on linking air pollution to integrative gene and metabolites networks in young adults with asthma. Currently, Xin is a research associate of Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at USC.