Research Team

 

 Valerie Bares


Valerie Bares, PhD

Senior Biostatistician

As a biostatistician in the COMMAND Core, I assist with several internal and external collaborations.  I provide support for Sanford Research scientists in determining an adequate sample size and appropriate design for their studies as well as data collection and data management.  I offer basic statistical results as well as new and advanced analyses to our collaborators.  My passion lies in thinking outside of the box and coming up with innovative solutions to existing problems and automating daunting processes.

 Alyson Becker, MPH 


Alyson E. Becker, MPH

Clinical Research Specialist

I am a clinical research specialist with the Kenyon Lab. Currently, I assist the evaluation services team, which collaborates with a diverse group of organizations, providing a variety of services. The types of programs these organizations offer, that I work with, include healthy marriage and relationship education for several different populations, expanding a care system in an American Indian community and a suicide prevention grant aimed at working with other organizations in the American Indian community to provide a comprehensive response. Other aspects of my role are writing reports for other grants, which include the sexually transmitted infection and teen pregnancy prevention initiative and for CRCAIH.

Melissa Buffalo

Melissa Buffalo, MS
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.

 

Char Green
Research Assistant

I currently work on 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.

 Jessica Heinzmann, BA


Jessica Heinzmann, BA

Senior 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 Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota region. My role in the admin division involves work with evaluation, internal and external reporting, coordinating events, communication and technology.

 Susan Kroger


Susan Kroger, MA

Staff Scientist

My role is to lead and expand Sanford’s Evaluation Core, which seeks to support and enhance the evaluation capacity of the Sanford Health System and its partners through the use of evidence-based, culturally appropriate practices and programs. Evaluation Core services include designing evaluation plans, creating logic models, conducting needs assessments, facilitating key informant interviews and focus groups, assessing the appropriateness of data collection methods and measures, and report writing. I have a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Northern Iowa and am currently a PhD candidate in Rural Sociology at South Dakota State University.

 Valerie Bares


Rebecca Lustfield, PhD (c)

Senior Clinical Research Specialist

As a senior clinical research specialist for Sanford Research, I conduct research that involves a broad span of community members and cultural competence in order to understand behavioral associations with high risk Native American pregnant women.  I am currently involved in a project lead by Dr. Arielle Deutsch, which engages in community based research initiative. Specifically, our current project aims to enhance understanding of the complex system that defines alcohol exposed pregnancy, and its relation to the syndemic association between alcohol use, intimate partner violence, and unplanned pregnancy. The focused population includes rural and Native American populations in South Dakota.  The overall goal is to create a community based systems dynamics model to improve personal and community-level wellbeing and health. 

 

 

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.

 Jamie Messerli, MS


Jamie Messerli, 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.

 

Jaymi Russo, MEd
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.

 
Michaela Seiber, MPH

Senior Clinical Research Specialist
 Umit Shrestha

 
Umit Shrestha, PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow

 Cheryl Stansbury, MS


Cheryl Stansbury, MS

Research Project Manager

I am a Research Project Manager for the Sanford Data Collaborative and other collaborative projects in the Griese Lab. The Sanford Data Collaborative offers researchers the opportunity to access Sanford data as part of research proposals in effort to examine and improve patient experience, outcomes, and innovation. My responsibilities within the Data Collaborative include: managing the project timeline, supporting primary investigators during the project timeline, and fielding questions.  I have worked with Sanford since 2012, with a background in team, program, and data management. This experience fueled my passion for public health, research, and working smarter for patients. Additional responsibilities include research of trending population health issues and working within collaborative partnerships.

 Tess Weber

 


Tess Weber

Clinical Research Specialist

I am a Senior Clinical Research Specialist in the Hanson Lab where I currently work with the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) CHOICES Program. OST CHOICES is a tribally-run program that focuses on the prevention of alcohol-exposed pregnancies for women who are drinking alcohol and are at risk for pregnancy. I also work in the Methodology Core (MC) for the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH), which aims to engage our tribal partners in the collection, analysis, and reporting of data.

Gesine E. Ziebarth, PhD

Gesine E. Ziebarth, PhD
Senior Clinical Research Specialist

I am a member of the evaluation services team, which helps non-profit and government entities produce evidence-based, culturally appropriate practices. My current projects include evaluating how the recently awarded NIH COBRE grant is implemented within the Center for Health Outcomes and Population Research, providing feedback to a program that supports male victims of violence within Native American communities, assessing reading, math, social skills, and STEM interventions at a local after-school program serving underprivileged youth, and assisting the Sanford Promise Lab with collecting feedback on their education programs. I also provide support organizing the annual Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH) and Population Health COBRE summit. I received my Master of Arts and PhD in human factors psychology with an emphasis on cognition from the University of South Dakota and previously worked at a science center designing and implementing informal science education geared towards audiences of varied ages and backgrounds.