Current Fellows - Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care (CIVIC)
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Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care (CIVIC)

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Current Fellows

Laura Coco, PhD, AuD

Fellowship Period: 2021 - present

Fellowship Tract: Independent Investigator

Dr. Laura Coco completed her doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree at the University of Texas in 2015. Dr. Coco completed her PhD in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Arizona in 2021 with a graduate minor in Public Health. Dr. Coco received the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH/NIDCD) F32 award and the New Century Scholar's Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Foundation to complete her PhD dissertation.

Professional Interests and Goals: "My research aims to improve access to hearing healthcare for older adults with hearing loss, particularly in underserved communities. I use both qualitative and quantitative methods to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions and service delivery models to improve access to care. I am interested in evaluating patterns of health services use among rural Veterans with hearing loss, identifying gaps in service delivery, and developing solutions that enable more connected care."

Why did you apply to the Fellowship with CIVIC?

"I applied to the HSR&D fellowship with CIVIC because I wanted to work with a multidisciplinary team of investigators who are dedicated to health services research. Additionally, I was interested in the CIVIC fellowship because it offers a diverse community of mentors, collaborative research opportunities, and unique training opportunities."

What projects are you or will you be working on?

"My current projects include evaluating the association between Veterans' severity of tinnitus and their history of traumatic brain injury. I am also working on a project that investigates the impact of tinnitus and traumatic brain injury on participation in work among Veterans."


Qian Leng, MD, MPH

Fellowship Period: 2021 - present

Fellowship Tract: Independent Investigator

Dr. Qian (pronounced "chee-an") Leng is a board-certified internal medicine physician who completed her MD/MPH at Harvard University and her residency at Oregon Health and Science University. She has been a practicing hospitalist for the past 8 years. She has worked at Kaiser and LEgacy Health as a teaching attending.

Professional Interests and Goals: Qian is interested in yoga and mindfulness research. She is also passionate about prenatal health and alleviating health disparities. Qian has been a yoga and meditation teacher for 13 years. She would like to do research that addresses mental and physical wellbeing from a holistic perspective. Qian is also trained as an acupuncturist. She is not sure yet if she would like to focus on research and become a PI one day versus incorporating research into her clinical career. Mentoring medical students is also an important aspect of her work.

Why did you apply to the Fellowship with CIVIC?

Qian applied to the HSR&D Fellowship with CIVIC to be able to research how to improve the way that health care is delivered, especially in terms of using nonpharmacologic ways to improve health. She was also the advisor to the case management department at Legacy and would like to research ways to improve the delivery of hospital medicine and coordination of care for discharged patients./p>

What have you gained from the program so far?

Qian has been learning how to work with data sets and conducting qualitative research. She has been networking with various researchers at the VA and OHSU who are doing wonderful work in the areas that she is interested in and it excited to become involved in these projects.

What projects are you or will you be working on?

"I will be looking at dyad outcomes for partners of patients with lung cancer who underwent a pilot study of yoga as an intervention for improving mental wellbeing and physical limitations with Dr. Don Sullivan. I will also be researching the outcomes of home-based primary care at the VA with Dr. Sam Edwards. A third project I will be working on is investigating the relationship between prenatal mental health outcomes and the provisions of mental health support for BIPOC pregnant people with Dr. Alice Graham."


Abby Mulcahy, PhD, MPH

Fellowship Period: 2021 - present

Fellowship Tract: Independent Investigator

Dr. Abby Mulcahy is an Office of Academic Affiliations Health Services Research & Development and AcademyHealth Delivery System Science fellow at the Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care at the VA Portland Health Care System.
Dr. Mulcahy completed their PhD in Public Health at Oregon State University in 2021 with a graduate minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Dr. Mulcahy received the S. Marie Harvey Sexuality and Reproductive Health Fellowship to complete their dissertation.
During their doctoral training, Dr. Mulcahy was an instructor of record in public health courses, including Introduction to the US Healthcare System and Introduction to US Health Policy, and on the leadership team for the Human Services Resource Center. In addition, Dr. Mulcahy worked as a graduate research assistant under Dr. Megan Cahn at the Legacy Research Institute and as the executive director of the Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center.
Dr. Mulcahy holds a BA in political science from the University of Wyoming and an MPH in public health policy and management from Texas A&M University.

Professional Interests and Goals: "My research interests center around three nodes - gender, disability, and aging. I am particularly interested in where these overlap (as well as other multiple-minority groups), healthcare needs, health care use, and resilience.
My goal is to employ a positive deviance framework to identify what tools/strategies/resources make members of multiply-minoritized groups successful and to re-engineer these to improve health equity overall. The VA is the ideal place to do this work due to the volume of longitudinal data available and mentorship opportunities available with researchers already doing this work."

Why did you apply to the Fellowship with CIVIC?

"I applied to join CIVIC, in part, because joining the VA system is a homecoming of sorts. My father served in the United States Air Force. After he retired, my mother became a civil servant. I grew up on military bases, surrounded by servicemembers, Veterans, and their families. Joining CIVIC was a way for me to give back to them using my training in health services research."

What projects are you or will you be working on?

I anticipate working on projects related to suicide prevention, sexual and reproductive health, and aging, as well as charactertistics and health care use of Veterans, Veteran VA users and non-users, and non-Veterans (civilians).


Traben Pleasant PhD

Fellowship Period: 2020 - present

Fellowship Tract: Independent Investigator

Dr. Traben Pleasant completed his PhD in Applied Anthropology from Oregon State University in 2020. During his doctoral training he received a Ford Foundation Fellowship and a Fullbright U.S. Scholar Award to support his fieldwork examining barriers to post-secondary education in an Afro-Caribbean community and an indigenous--Ngabe--community living on remote islands in Bocas del Toro, Panama. His research also examined the implications of information and communications technology (ICT), particularly computers and their potential to mitigate or overcome education barriers in the region. Dr. Pleasant taught undergraduate courses and completed an internship at the Oregon Research Institute where he collaborated with software developers and social scientists to create a mobile iOS application used as a parenting intervention tool for low-income mothers.

Professional Interests and Goals: Dr. Pleasant's current research interests are in the areas of ICT, telehealth, aging/geriatric Veterans, ethnographic methods and investigating barriers to healthcare for rural Veterans. He seeks to gain a greater understanding of the negative and positive implications of information and communications technology on the human experience, often with a specific focus on vulnerable and marginalized populations. Dr. Pleasant's broad fellowship goals are to gain better quantitative methods skills and a deeper understanding of how technology-based healthcare is implemented from end to end--from designers and clinicians to the end users, our Veterans.

Why did you apply to the Fellowship with CIVIC?

"I applied to the HSR&D fellowship with CIVIC because it spoke to me as an applied anthropologist and as a former U.S. Marine who is interested in the health and wellbeing of my fellow Veterans. Moreover, I applied for the fellowship because it offers access to a large cross-functional and multidisciplinary support network, rare training opportunities and the ability to conduct research that is impactful. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to learn from and work with such intelligent, dynamic and committed professionals."

What projects are you or will you be working on?

"I currently conduct research with a multidisciplinary team working on an initiative called Collaborative Aging (in place) Research Using Technology (CART). CART uses sensors and smart devices to collect data on everyday home-based activities, and to assess and track health and well-being to better understand how these devices can potentially detect the onset of medical problems. My curent research with CART has a specific focus on a cohort of rural Veteran participants."


Liana Schweiger, MD

Fellowship Period: 2020 - present

Fellowship Tract: Independent Investigator

Dr. Liana Schweiger completed her MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2012 and completed her Internal Medicine residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2015. She stayed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as an Academic Hospitalist until 2017, when she and her husband moved to Portland for her Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship at OHSU. During her fellowship training, she also completed the Human Investigations Program at OHSU.

Professional Interests and Goals: Dr. Schweiger's research interests are in the areas of lung cancer, end-stage pulmonary disease and palliative medicine, and improving the doctor-patient relationship through patient centered care. In addition, Dr. Schweiger provides lung cancer care to patients within the VA. Her goal is to become an independent investigator within CIVIC and Pulmonary and Critical Care physician with a focus on models improving patient-physician communication, patient experiences and outcomes.

Why did you apply to the Fellowship with CIVIC?

"I applied to the HSR&D fellowship for many reasons. The fellowship provides a tailored educational experience allowing for exposure, collaboration, and mentorship from the diverse expertise of the investigators at CIVIC. I was excited to be a part of an interdisciplinary HSR&D VA research community. Additionally, I wanted to continue to care clinically for our veterans after completing my fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine."

What have you gained from the program so far?

"As a result of my participation in this HSR&D fellowship, I have been introduced to a unique multidisciplinary research collaborative through CIVIC. As part of the fellowship, I am curating a Masters in Clinical Research to best serve my personal training goals in communication and patient-centered care."

What projects are you or will you be working on?

"My current projects include evaluating patient knowledge and perceptions of quality of care, and patient decision-making throughout their lung cancer screening experience. I am also working on a project evaluating the association of lung cancer susceptibility and perceived serious with patient distress and decisional conflict."