Leadership and Administrative Staff

​Program in Public Health Leadership

Lisa Benz Scott, PhD
Executive Director, Program in Public Health & Interim Director, MHA Program
Professor, Schools of Health Technology and Management, Medicine, and Dental Medicine

Olga C. Aroniadis, MD, MSc, FACG
Director, MS in Epidemiology and Clinical Research Program
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine & Director of Clinical Research, Department of Medicine, Stony Brook Medicine

Lauren Hale, PhD
Director, PhD Program & Director of Faculty Development
Professor, Department of Family, Population & Preventive Medicine 

Catherine R. Messina, PhD
Accreditation Specialist
Research Associate Professor, Department of Family, Population & Preventive Medicine  

Dylan Smith, PhD
Director, MPH Program
Professor, Department of Family, Population & Preventive Medicine 

Susan Somerville, RN, MA
Associate Director of Health Management Practice
Instructor, Department of Family, Population & Preventive Medicine  

Program in Public Health Administrative Staff

PPH Staff

Catherine Polster, MA 
Senior Staff Assistant, Assistant to the Director
Phone: 631-444-9396

Catherine joined Stony Brook Medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine in 2010 as a Data Coordinator in the Division of Epidemiology.  In 2013 she became a Project Administrator for the Program in Public Health for several multi-site research grants and, during this period, co-authored several publications. In 2018 Cathy expanded her role within the program to assume the duties of Senior Staff Assistant as well as becoming the Assistant to the Executive Director. Currently, she has moved to a role in PPH Student Affairs and is enjoying the opportunity to work with students. An English major who graduated from American International College, Catherine also received her Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration at Stony Brook University in 2020. In her free time Cathy enjoys country music, reading, kayaking, and spending time with family.

Lakshmi Ramsoondar-Ahmad, MA
Associate Director for Academic & Student Affairs
Phone: 631-444-2074

Lakshmi completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Stony Brook with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Asian & Asian American Studies, a Master of Arts in Public Policy, and a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration at Stony Brook. To further her education in higher education, she is working towards a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction, and the Science of Learning from the University at Buffalo. Lakshmi has worked in Student and Academic Affairs departments at Stony Brook for over a decade. Lakshmi joined the Program in Public Health as the Associate Director for Academic & Student Affairs in Spring 2022 and enjoys working with all our PPH students, staff, faculty, and alums.

Christine Ziman, MA
Assistant Director for Administration and Finance
Phone: 631-444-1120

Christine Ziman earned a B.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from Purchase College and three degrees from Stony Brook University (B.A. in History, M.A. in Liberal Studies and M.A. in Higher Education Administration). She spent fourteen years in the healthcare environment working as a credentialing coordinator for physician appointments and as an assistant to the directors of operations and nursing. She joined the Program in Public Health as the Assistant Director for Administration and Finance in fall 2018. She is responsible for the fiscal and human resources management for the PPH.

Melissa Thornton
Grants Coordinator
Phone: 631-216-8219

Melissa’s love of all things grants lead her to accept a position at the Program in Public in 2023 as the Grants Coordinator. In her position, she assists faculty, principal investigators, post-doctoral associates, and research scientists with pre and post awards for all grant funding. These responsibilities include budgeting, finances, hiring, and ensuring all paperwork is completed and deadlines are met. Melissa completed her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at SUNY Oneonta in 2015.  Melissa is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Stony Brook. In previous roles at Stony Brook, Melissa worked as an accounts payable specialist, as well as a business coordinator. Melissa has extensive experience working with Stony Brook Foundation, Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Health Services, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Inpatient Units. In her free time Melissa enjoys reading, kayaking at the Delaware Water Gap, and spending time with her family.

Jiayi (Joyce) Li, MBA, MA
Graduate Program Coordinator
Phone: 631-216-8221

Jiayi Li who also goes by Joyce recently graduated from Stony Brook University with Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration. She also has an MBA degree from Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island. She joined the Program in Public Health as a graduate assistant in August 2021 and started her new role as a graduate program coordinator for the Health Policy and Management Programs in July 2023. Before joining the PPH, Joyce worked as a procurement assistant at a hospital in China and a former cast member at the Walt Disney World in Florida. She looks forward to continuing her journey at the Program in Public Health and making a meaningful impact on the Stony Brook community with her team! In her spare time, Joyce enjoys exploring local and national parks, swimming, and chatting with family in China!

Christina R. San Roman
Staff Assistant
Phone: 631-444-9396

Christina completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Biobehavioral Health and a Minor in Psychology at Pennsylvania State University. To expand her education, she received an Associate’s degree in Sports Management at Suffolk County Community College. In the fall of 2022 she was an intern with Alliance Sports Marketing in Nashville, Tennessee. In her free time, Christina enjoys hanging out with friends and family, camping on the beach, and cheering on Penn State football. We are! 

Paige Corwin
Practicum Placement and Community Engagement Coordinator
Phone: 631-638-8523

Paige graduated with her Bachelor of Science from St. Joseph’s College (now known as St. Joseph's University) in 2015. She studied Therapeutic Recreation and has been a Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist since 2015. Paige worked at the Long Island State Veterans Home as a CTRS for 4 years, and in 2021 moved into the Nursing Department and served as the facilities Infection Control Administrative Assistant working alongside the Infection Prevention. One of the highest honors in her career has been working with the Veteran population, serving those who have served will always be a great honor. She has worked in healthcare for the past 12 years, with several different roles. Paige looks forward to the next steps in her career and is excited for this opportunity to join us at the Program in Public Health in fall 2023!

In her spare time, Paige enjoys spending time with family, she has a 3-year-old son who is her entire world! In the summer months, she enjoys spending time at the beach and boating in Moriches Bay. Paige and her husband adopted pets, they have 2 dogs both rescued street dogs from Puerto Rico, and 1 cat who found them when they bought their first house!