Congratulations to the Newest Hudson Fellows!

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

The Hudson Fellows in Public Health Program was established in 2015 to support outstanding students in full time doctoral study and research at the Hudson College of Public Health, through the generosity of Dr. Leslie and Cliff Hudson.  With additional generous gifts  from the Hudson’s in support of this program, the endowment now totals $ 5 million, and this  enables us to support four new additional Hudson fellows.  They join our current fellows Quyen Duong, June Dao, Kae Aithinne, and Wei-Jen Chen.   As fellows graduate, we will appoint new fellows, so that we continue to support 8 fellows as the ongoing steady state for this program.     

Please join me in congratulating our newest Hudson Fellows:

1.            Xi (Sophia) Chen

2.            Sameer Gopalani

3.            Araya Assfaw

4.            Lance Ford


Xi (Sophia) Chen received her MD degree from China Medical University in 2011 and came to Oklahoma to pursue graduate education receiving her Master of Science degree in Biostatistics in 2016 and is a fourth year PhD student in biostatistics. 

Sophia works as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Research Design and Analysis Center of the BSE Department. In that capacity, Sophia has contributed significantly to a wide range of studies, including evaluation of the national ophthalmology residency matching program, and a project aimed at improving performance of primary care screening practices which could ultimately reduce cardiovascular risk factors of the patients screened by primary care physicians throughout Oklahoma. Sophia’s work has been recognized nationally by the professional community. She was selected to give a platform presentation at the North American Primary Care Research Group’s Annual Conference and she has published several articles in peer-reviewed publications as either first author or co-author.

In 2016 she was named the Paul S. Anderson, Jr Outstanding Student in Biostatistics.  She has received the Robert W. Ketner Scholarship, the Dan C. Macer Scholarship, the James N. George Scholarship and the Elisa T. Lee Scholarship.  She serves as the Secretary of the OUHSC Running Club and is active in the Biostatistics and Epidemiology Student Association.

Sameer Gopalani began the PhD Epidemiology program in 2017; he earned his MPH degree at Kent State University in 2012. Between his master’s and doctoral studies, Sameer worked as an epidemiologist both nationally and internationally. He served as the Senior Epidemiologist in Noumea, New Caledonia, and was also a consultant for WHO and held the post of National Epidemiologist for the Federated States of Micronesia. Prior to those positions, he was also an Epidemiology Specialist and Emergency Response Planner for the Cole County Health Department in Missouri.

Since beginning the PhD program, Sameer has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Oklahoma Public Health Training Center. In that role, Sameer has experienced collaboration with several partnering agencies and has contributed significantly to widely-varied projects ranging from development of online trainings in geriatric health to generation of short reports of suicide and methamphetamine abuse data for grantees of the Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative Program.

Sameer has 40 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including the Lancet and JAMA Oncology. He has presented his work in more than ten research conferences. Most recently, his abstract dealing with long-term incidence and time trends in leading cancers among American Indians and Alaskan Natives has been accepted for presentation to the 52nd Annual Meeting for the Society for Epidemiologic Research. 

Araya Assfaw, originally from Ethiopia, received a competitive scholarship that allowed him to attend college in the United States.  Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree, he received his MPH in Global Health from Oregon State University.  Araya joined the Hudson College of Public Health as a doctoral student in 2018 and will be a second year student in the Department of Health Promotion Sciences this fall.  Araya hopes to use his public health background to influence policies that affect the health and social wellbeing of vulnerable populations, particularly with children.

Araya serves as a Graduate Research Assistant for the department, currently working on the Step-Up for Dementia Care project.  He provides administrative assistance and oversight in ensuring the project stays on track and meets expectations.  He has also worked on other research projects within the department assisting with literature review and manuscript preparation.  This has resulted in two research abstract/poster presentation that have been presented at the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness Annual Symposium, the Graduate College GREAT Symposium and the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center Research Symposium.

Lance Ford is a second year doctoral student in Biostatistics.  Lance works in the Research Design and Analysis Center where he contributes to research projects in the departments of Neurology, Rehabilitation Sciences, Geriatric Medicine and The Stephenson Cancer Center.  He has co-authored three manuscripts over the last year which have been accepted for publication.

Upon graduating with his MS in biostatistics, he was inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society and selected to receive the Paul S. Anderson, Jr. Outstanding Student in Biostatistics award.  Lance has also received the Dan C. Macer Scholarship, the Roy B. Deal Scholarship and the Oklahoma Public Health Training Center Stipend Award.  In addition to his academic accomplishments, Lance has been active in student leadership serving as Vice President of the Biostatistics and Epidemiology Student Association and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Hudson College of Public Health Student Association.

Congratulations to our new Hudson Fellows.    Our sincerest thanks and recognition also to their faculty doctoral advisors and mentors, Dr. Julie Stoner, Dr. Alicia Salvatore, Dr. Janis Campbell, and Dr. Amanda Janitz.

And our sincerest appreciation to Leslie and Cliff Hudson for establishing this wonderful program and for all that you have given and do in support of our College and the University of Oklahoma. 

Gary E. Raskob, Ph.D
Dean, Hudson College of Public Health
Regents Professor, Epidemiology and Medicine
801 NE 13th Street | Oklahoma City, OK 73104
(405) 271-2201

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