Ashley Griffin earns Ph.D. in Health Informatics

April 22, 2021

Ashley Griffin successfully defended her doctoral dissertation on March 19, 2021 and earned her Ph.D. in Health Informatics from the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP) at UNC Chapel Hill. Griffin is a CHIP National Library of Medicine (NLM) T15 fellow and worked under the guidance of Dr. Arlene Chung, Associate Director of Health/Clinical Informatics, Director of Clinical Informatics Fellowship, Informatics Director for Digital Health Innovation and Patient Engagement at UNC Health, and Medical Director of Population Health Informatics at UNC Health Alliance. Griffin’s dissertation focused on conversational agents and connected devices to support chronic disease self-management, such as physical activity, medication management, and blood pressure control. Griffin leveraged a user-centered design approach to design, develop, and evaluate the usability a conversational agent for hypertension self-management. Griffin also examined the potential and implications of tailoring these dialogues using wearables and other connected devices.

Griffin began her doctorate in health informatics after completing her Master of Science in Public Health from UNC Gillings School of Public Health. “During my time at Gillings, I became interested in informatics when UNC Health transitioned to the Epic EHR. I had the opportunity to help with clinic go-lives and work with the My UNC Chart support team. I enrolled in CHIP’s Public Health Informatics Certificate to learn more about the field. I also had the pleasure of working with Dr. Arlene Chung during this time, and I knew that I wanted to continue pursuing research with her once the CHIP doctoral program was launched.”

“Ashley has been an exceptional doctoral student throughout her tenure at CHIP, including being one of the first students to join the PhD program. I am delighted to see her numerous successes over the past several years and am looking forward to seeing her contributions to the field as a research scholar. There is no question that she will make a lasting impact on the field of consumer health informatics, and it has been an honor to serve as her dissertation chair and mentor over the years.” - Dr. Arlene Chung.

As a doctoral student, Griffin engaged in seminars, meetings and classes, and presented at conferences all over the U.S. Griffin particularly enjoyed collaborating with other students and colleagues - “My favorite part of the doctoral process was meeting so many wonderful colleagues. I am very thankful for all of their support during this journey. I really enjoyed studying together at coffee shops and going to conferences with the group.”

Griffin’s next career step is a postdoctoral research fellowship in medical informatics at Stanford University and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. She plans to continue pursuing research in consumer health informatics to develop tools and methods that can advance health information access and patient-centered care. “I believe health informatics has the potential to promote access to information and technologies that can help people better manage their health and improve outcomes. Our health care system is complex, and vast amounts of health data are generated throughout society. But, this information is not equally accessible or utilized. Getting this information to patients in a meaningful way can empower them to take an active role in their health.”


CHIP wishes the very best for Dr. Ashley Griffin and appreciates all she has contributed to the program as a trainee and as a doctoral student.


Follow Ashley’s work on Twitter @griffinashleyc.


Manish Kumar Earns Ph.D. in Health Informatics

December 18, 2020

Manish Kumar, Principal Investigator at the Carolina Population Center at UNC- Chapel Hill, successfully defended his dissertation on December 14, 2020 and earned his Ph.D. in Health Informatics from the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP) at UNC-CH. Kumar’s dissertation focused on developing national and sub-national electronic health records to improve maternal health program and service delivery.

“My dissertation research was focused on the development of national and sub-national electronic health records to enable health data exchange for improved maternal health service delivery and program at the hospital, state, and national levels in India. The study proposed a health data exchange model that can enable enables capture, use, and re-use of electronic health information to deliver clinical care and to support administrative, and program management decision-making at hospital, state, and national levels. Prof. Javed Mostafa, Director- Carolina Health Informatics Program was my advisor and other committee members included Prof.  David Gotz from the School of Information and Library Science, Prof. Christopher Shea and Prof. Jason B. Smith from the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Prof. Paul Biondich from the Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis.”

Kumar started his doctoral degree at CHIP after working more than 15 years in the global health domain and getting his Master of Public Health from UNC Gillings School of Public Health. He followed his passion for utilizing health informatics to evaluate and improve upon health outcomes in low and middle-income countries. “My participation in the Laboratory of Applied Informatics Research of CHIP and interactions with Prof. Javed Mostafa made me realize that CHIP aligned with my research interests and professional goals. I was motivated by the prospect of conducting research and enhancing my knowledge of health informatics science.”

During his tenure as a CHIP Ph.D. student, Kumar regularly engaged with students, faculty, and staff within the program – sharing his experience and research with the CHIP community. “The collegial and supportive peer network is an important pillar of the doctoral program and it made the doctoral program a joyful learning experience.”

Kumar’s next goal is to disseminate his research and apply his skills and knowledge to global health informatics research with the Carolina Population Center at UNC-CH. “My passion and motivation for health informatics is guided by the belief that appropriate application of information and communication technologies have the potential to overcome geographical, social, economic, and cultural barriers for improved health status at the individual and population levels. The doctoral program was a natural transition for me after finishing the master’s program in public health where I collaborated with Prof. Javed for my master’s paper research.”

CHIP greatly enjoyed supporting Dr. Kumar through his doctoral degree program and looks forward to the important work his is doing in the world. CHIP staff would particularly like to thank Manish for all the Indian snacks he brought to the CHIP offices – the snacks were always enjoyed, and the thought was much appreciated!


To keep up with Dr. Kumar and his research, follow him on Twitter @Manishunc

Find Dr. Kumar on LinkedIn


Emily Pfaff Earns Ph.D. in Health Informatics

October 7, 2020

Emily Pfaff, Administrative Director of Informatics & Data Management at NC TraCS, successfully passed her doctoral dissertation exam on September 22, 2020 and earned her Ph.D. in Health Informatics from the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP) at UNC Chapel Hill.


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Rachel Stemerman Earns PhD in Health Informatics

September 28, 2020

Rachel Stemerman, who joined the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP) PhD cohort in the Fall of 2017, successfully defended her doctoral dissertation on September 8, 2020.