Health Disparities Research Team

Sanford Research - Temana Andalcio

Temana Andalcio Aguilar, BA: Research Development Coordinator

I serve the Regulatory Knowledge Core (RKC) of the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH). We offer research ethics consultation, which includes providing services for the development of IRBs and other systems of research oversight in American Indian communities, and offering services to research investigators with the IRB submission process and other ethical components of study development. I also serve the Core with interpretation and application of federal research protections regulations and policies, and in the development of related educational tools, resources, and trainings.

Jyoti Angal, MPH, CIP: Director of Community Based Research

As a Research Assistant Scientist, I am responsible for managing the administrative and regulatory aspects of the Safe Passage study and CRCAIH. I work closely with on-site managers at various study locations to ensure adherence to study protocol, time-lines, and dissemination of information to study staff. One of my key tasks is to work with community partners to develop strategies for recruitment and retention of participants.

Melissa Buffalo, M.S.: Senior Clinical Research Specialist

I am a Senior Clinical Research Specialist with the Community Engagement and Innovation Division (CEID) for the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH). My work includes engaging with our tribal communities to promote and facilitate transdisciplinary research on American Indian health, support and increase community engagement and helping to build tribal capacity by identifying community health priorities through trainings, video blogs, working groups and resources. I also help to educate individuals who may be working with tribal communities on the historical and present context of American Indian populations.

Sanford Research - Christa Friedrich

Christa Friedrich, BS: Research Associate

As a clinical coordinator for the Sioux Falls, SD Safe Passage Study site, I have the opportunity to interact with pregnant women and children on a daily basis.  In addition to conducting visits within the clinic, I am also involved with analyzing photos for the Dysmorphology project which looks to help determine Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).  The overarching goal of improving pregnancy outcomes and in turn seeing healthier babies and healthier families provides a positive framework for collecting quality data that will hopefully lead to explaining Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), still birth, and FASD.

Sanford Research - Char Green

Char Green: Research Assistant

I am a Research Assistant and I work in the Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention at the Sanford Research Center in Sioux Falls, SD. I currently work on the Understanding the Context of Northern Plains American Indian Teen Pregnancy study. I take part in recruiting for the focus groups, co-moderating, and also transcribing the focus groups. Another project that I help with is the recruiting of the Sanford SURE program, which is a summer research internship for American Indians. Working in this department I get to do a lot of traveling and meeting possible candidates for the summer internship, which I enjoy.

Sanford Research - Jessica Durkin

Jessica Heinzmann, BA: Clinical Research Specialist

I work in the Administrative Division of the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH). The goal of CRCAIH is to bring together tribal communities and health researchers to build tribal research capacity and promote transdisciplinary research addressing health disparities faced by American Indians in the MN, ND, and SD region. My role in the Admin Division involves work with evaluation, internal and external reporting, coordinating events, communication, and technology.

Marge Jackson, BA: Research Manager

I am responsible for maintaining strong collaborations with study partners and overseeing personnel as well as the day to day operations at our clinical site in Sioux Falls, SD. This site houses multiple multidisciplinary projects both large and small. Our research goal is to improve health outcomes for children and their families.

Sanford Research - Jamie Jensen

Jamie Jensen, MS: Senior Clinical Research Specialist

I am a Senior Clinical Research Specialist with the Hanson Lab. At present, my primary focus is to conduct program evaluations for select projects focused on residential treatment for pregnant and postpartum women, substance abuse in pregnancy, maternal/child health, health promotion curriculum for children, and youth with sexual behavior problems. My main responsibilities include program evaluation, conducting qualitative and quantitative data collection and entry, needs assessment methodology, analyzing results, communication with our collaborators, literature reviews, and report preparation. Previously, I worked on the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) CHOICES Program, which focused on the prevention of alcohol-exposed pregnancies among women who are drinking alcohol at risky levels and who are at risk for, or planning, pregnancy.

Luke Mack, BA Assistant Project Manager

Luke J. Mack, M.A.: Research Manager

I work as a Research Manager within the Center for Health Outcomes and Population Research at Sanford Health. My work focuses primarily on project development and management of the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) project for the Rapid City and Sioux Falls research sites. The ECHO project builds upon our previous research emphasis on pre-, peri-, and postnatal factors related to fetal and infant health outcomes. Working collaboratively with multiple research sites nationally, the overall scope of ECHO is to advance knowledge in four key pediatric outcomes: neurodevelopment, upper and lower airway, obesity, and pre-, peri-, and postnatal outcomes.

Tracey McMahon, MS : Senior Clinical Research Specialist

As a Senior Clinical Research Specialist in the Kenyon Lab and member of the Evaluation Services team, I am responsible for advising and managing evaluation requirements for research and service projects. Our team collaborates with a variety of organizations and Native American tribes on a number of local service projects and federally funded grants. These programs focus on a diverse range of topics, including teen pregnancy prevention, healthy marriage and relationship education, suicide and substance use/abuse prevention, providing culturally-based mental health services and support, providing support services to runaway and homeless youth and their families, and providing quality hands-on research experience and mentoring to underrepresented undergraduate students.

Sanford Research - Laura Medler

Laura Medler, RN: Senior Clinical Research Specialist

I am a clinical coordinator at the Rapid City PASS site.  I have worked in Maternal Child health for 14 years and I am excited to work with the research team towards the goal of improving pregnancy outcomes.  Our team follows pregnant women enrolled in the Safe Passage Study and their infants through their first year of life.  We are collecting data with the hope of finding some of the causes of FASD, SIDS, and Stillbirth.

Sanford Research - Roxi Miller

Susan Morgan, BS: Research Assistant

In working with the Safe Passage Study, my focus is primarily on the twelve month follow up visits. Our goal is to improve health outcomes for children and their families. It is an honor to be associated with this study and the individuals that make up this team. 


Morgan Nelson, MS: Methodology Analyst

As a methodology data analyst, my main responsibilities are to assist researchers in statistics and methodology, both within the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH) and throughout Sanford Research. I analyze data for various public health studies and clinical trials.

Sanford Research - Lisa Bear-Robe

Saige Pourier, BSW: Clinical Research Specialist

I am Research Associate for Sanford Research and work with the Safe Passage Study on the Pine Ridge Reservation. It is my privilege to work with pregnant women within my home area and follow them through out their pregnancy as well as the first year of baby's life. My primary responsibilities are to assist in recruitment, scheduling, medical record collection and complete fetal and 1 year embedded study visits. 

The overall goal of the study is to provide answers to the questions of what causes SIDS, Stillbirth and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Jaymi Russo, M.Ed.: Senior Clinical Research Specialist

As a Senior Clinical Research Specialist for the Griese Lab, my primary focus is working with youth and other collaborators on a variety of topics including peer victimization, male survivors of violence, health disparities and academic and social skill development. My primary responsibilities include conducting program evaluation, as well support for lab research projects including communication with our partners, literature review, data collection and analysis and report preparation. Previously, I assisted on studies determining the prevalence and characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and facial growth norms and abnormalities. I enjoy collaborating with various members of the communities we work in and focusing on the needs and strengths of our youth.


Brooke N. Schmitt, BSN, RN: Senior Clinical Research Specialist

I am a Clinical Coordinator for the Rapid City Sanford Research site. I have been a registered nurse since 2003, and bring my experience in Geriatric, Adult, and Pediatric nursing to the team. I enjoy interacting with families and helping tailor our research activities to the needs and experiences of people in Western South Dakota. I am honored to be a part of the Center for Health Outcomes & Population Research.

Sanford Research - Deb Tobacco

Deb Tobacco, MA: Research Manager

As Research Manager I am responsible for day to day operations of the Safe Passage Study in Pine Ridge, SD. The study is a large multidisciplinary project that looks at the role of alcohol and fetal or infant death. As site manager I am responsible for overseeing personnel and data collection for the study, maintaining strong collaborations with study partners and disseminating information about the study. 

Amy Willman, RN: Clinical Research Manager

As a manager at the Rapid City research site, it is my responsibility to oversee the day-to-day operations of the office. This includes supervising personnel, data collection and reporting, protocol compliance, and community relations. I am also responsible for launching any new projects including building relationships with study partners within the Rapid City community.


Jing Zhao, PhD: Senior Methodology Analyst

I am a Senior Methodology Analyst in the Puumala lab at Sanford Research. Currently I am working on measuring the global impact of Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH) with latent variable method. Through the data collection of health indicators, model fitting and visualization of results, we are able to show the spatial and temporal trend of health index for counties within CRCAIH. I also work on evaluation of outcomes for Sanford Imagenetics program. In this study, we are using survey analysis and simulation based methods to measure behavioral change and cost effectiveness due to the implementation of this program.