Our Team

Principal Investigators



Dr. Elizabeth Bukusi is the site-Principal Investigator for the adult study. She is a Chief Research Officer at the KEMRI, a Research Professor in the University of Washington, an honorary lecturer at Aga Khan University in Nairobi, and Volunteer faculty at the UCSF. Her research focuses on sexually transmitted infections, reproductive health, and HIV prevention, care, and treatment. She has a keen interest in research and clinical ethics, and regulatory systems. 

Dr. Lisa Butler is the Principal Investigator of the pediatric study and an investigator on the adult study. She is an Associate Research Professor at the University of Connecticut.  Her research focuses on the development of appropriate and scalable clinic- and community-based interventions, targeting HIV-affected families to improve health care utilization, caregiving behaviors, and maternal, infant and child physical, mental and nutritional health outcomes.

Dr. Craig Cohen is the co-Principal Investigator of the adult study and an investigator on the pediatric study. He is a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences. He conducts clinical and implementation research in HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, including the integration of livelihood and multisectoral interventions to improve health outcomes. In 1994, Drs. Cohen and Bukusi established the Research Care and Treatment Program.

Dr. Maricianah Onono is the site-Principal investigator for the adolescent study. She is also is a research scientist with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI). She has over 10 years of experience in clinical practice and public health research in the field of reproductive health, focusing on HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and family planning. She has used information technology and mobile phone applications as decision support tools for monitoring and evaluation.

Dr. Phelgona Otieno is the site-Principal Investigator for the pediatric study and the water insecurity study. She is a pediatrician and epidemiologist with long-standing experience in conducting HIV research, managing child health programs, and mentoring health professionals. She  serves as a principal research officer at Kenya Medical Research Institute.  Her professional interest are community interventions for health promotion and alleviation of risks to children.

Dr. Sheri Weiser is the co-Principal Investigator of the adult Shamba Maisha study and an investigator on the pediatric study.  She is an internist and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Division of HIV, ID and Global Medicine at UCSF.  Her research focuses on the impact of food insecurity and other structural factors on HIV prevention and treatment outcomes both domestically and in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Dr. Sera Young is the Shamba Maisha PI for water insecurity study. Dr. Young’s work focuses on the reduction maternal and child undernutrition in low-resource settings, especially sub-Saharan Africa. Methodologically, she draws on her training in medical anthropology, international nutrition, and HIV infection to take a biocultural approach to understanding how mothers cope to preserve their health and that of their families.


Dr Amy Conroy is an investigator for the adolescent study.  Her research seeks to understand and intervene upon health behaviors related to HIV/AIDS, alcohol consumption, mental health, and intimate partner violence. She is interested in dyadic aspects of health. Her research is grounded in theory from the field of relationship science, and employs mixed-methods and innovative dyadic analysis techniques to understand couple-level health behavior. 

Dr. Shari Dworkin is an investigator for adult study. She is Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the UCSF School of Nursing.  Her research is focused on economic empowerment (microfinance, land, and property rights) in HIV and violence prevention. She carries out research on gender-transformative health programming with men .

Dr. Edward Frongillo is an investigator for the adult and pediatric study. He is a statistician and a nutritionist, and professor at the University of South Carolina. He studies household food insecurity and hunger; policies and programs for improving nutrition and development; and advancement of consensus, commitment, and capacity for nutrition and health in resource-poor locations. He is a global and national leader in research on food insecurity and hunger. 

Dr. Penny Holding is both a researcher and applied psychologist, working on the strengthening of systems of delivery, monitoring and evaluation to generate improvements in global health and education. Dr. Holding supports the design and implementation of the Pediatric Shamba Maisha study child assessment protocol, intended to track the impact of changes in the family on the growth and development of the younger children in the community. 

Dr. Betsy Kammerer is an investigator on the Pediatric study. She is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School and Neuropsychologist at Boston Children's Hospital. Her research focuses on neuropsychological and emotional outcomes in children and families affected by HIV. Her research focusses on culturally appropriate models of assessment and child development support, including use of video and tablets based measures.

Dr. James Kahn is an investigator for adult and pediatric study. He is a Professor in the School of Medicine at UCSF and he leads two core economics courses.  He has 25 years’ experience in the empirical and modeled assessment of the cost, effects, and cost-effectiveness of global health interventions, programs, and policies. He has performed economic analyses for the WHO, the BMGF, the World Bank, the CDC, and other US and global health agencies. 

Dr. Marguerita Lightfoot is an investigator for the adolescent study. She has experience designing and implementing preventive interventions and has developed culturally competent, efficacious HIV interventions for delinquent adolescents, runaway/homeless youth, youth living with HIV, and young MSM, including developing interventions for delivery via technology (e.g., computers, websites, mobile phone, video games). 

Dr. Jason Nagata is an investigator for the adolescent study.  He is a Clinical Fellow in the Department of Pediatrics at UCSF.  He began researching nutrition and food insecurity in Kenya in 2008 through a master's dissertation in Medical Anthropology and won the UCSF Dean's Prize in Global Health for his evaluation of the Food by Prescription food supplementation program.  His research focuses on global adolescent health and nutrition.  

Dr Tor Neilands is an Investigator on the Adolescent study. He is a Professor at the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) and focuses on quantitative data analysis methods and survey scale development and advancing quantitative methodological, statistical, and data analytic support for biomedical and behavioral HIV and tobacco use prevention research studies.

Dr. Kate Powis is an Investigator on the Pediatric study. She is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and a Research Associate at Harvard School of Public Health.  Kate provides clinical care at Massachusetts General Hospital to both adults and children. Her research has focused on optimizing the health of HIV-infected women in pregnancy and the postpartum period and advancing HIV-free survival of their children. 

Dr. Harsha Thirumurthy is an investigator for the adult study.  He is an Assistant Professor of Health Economics at UNC.  His research incorporates economics and psychology to develop behavior change interventions related to prevention and treatment of chronic diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.  He has expertise in the measurement of socio-economic status in rural SSA and the development and evaluation of economic interventions to influence health behaviors.





Lillian Achiro is an Assistant Research Coordinator of the pediatric study. She has 4 years of experience in coordinating research activities focusing on prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and 7 years of experience in qualitative and quantitative data collection in research focusing on reproductive health services and integration of livelihood interventions to improve health outcomes in Western Kenya.

Rachel Burger is the Study Manager for the Adult Study.  She is the Kenya Research Director at UCSF.  She has 10 years of experience conducting public health research in East Africa.  Her research focus includes the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, the integration of HIV and sexual and reproductive health services, and the integration of livelihood interventions to improve health outcomes.

Shalean Collins is the Research Coordinator at Northwestern University for Dr. Young’s Global Household Water Insecurity Scale (GHWIS) study. Shalean is a registered dietitian with three years of experience managing and coordinating public health research related to food and water insecurity and maternal and child nutrition in East Africa. Her research focuses on maternal and child health and nutrition, food and water insecurity, and HIV.  

Monica Getahun is the Project Manager for the SEARCH Qualitative and Mobility studies and the qualitative research advisor for several other studies. Monica brings over 12 years of experience in evaluation and strategic planning with foundations, governments, consultancies and non-profits in health and education. Her areas of interest include qualitative research, culturally responsive research and evaluation, diversity equity and inclusion in research, & health/human rights. 

Rain Mocello is a data analyst and data manager for the adult study.  She has 11 years of epidemiologic experience in the field of sexually transmitted infection/HIV public health research, focusing for the past eight years in East Africa. She is also a PhD student at UC Berkeley with an interest in advanced epidemiologic methods, biostatistics, and understanding the health needs of vulnerable and mobile populations.

David LaChapelle is a project manager for Pediatric Shamba Maisha. Mr. LaChapelle splits his time between Western Kenya and Eastern Uganda to provide support to Dr. Butler’s studies focused on newborn and child health, nutrition and development. Mr. LaChapelle provides support with respect to logistics and operations, data quality monitoring, motorcycle and first aid training, as well as production of photography and films for project documentation.

Lauren Pincus has a PhD in Horticulture and Agronomy and a M.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis. She has seven years of experience working in agricultural development overseas, primarily focusing on agricultural extension and aspects of farmer education and training.  Her research focuses on how the agricultural decision making of HIV+ patients influences their food security and diet.

Bernard Rono is the data manager for the Shamba Maisha adult study.  His work focuses on improving the data quality through regular data audits and on-the-job training to Research Assistants. He has ten years of experience as a data manager for HIV and PrEP clinical trials among HIV discordant relationships at FACES.  His research field is biostatistics focusing on survival analysis in longitudinal data.  

Lila Sheira is the study manager and data analyst for the Adolescent Study.  She has nine years of experience working in community health and research settings related to HIV and STI prevention, HIV health, and sexual and reproductive health.  Her research interests are in epidemiologic  methods, intervention research, women's health, and sexual and reproductive health broadly.

Pauline Wekesa is the study coordinator of the adult study.  She coordinates research activities including recruitment, data collection, preparation of reports, supporting the intervention implementation, and human subjects approval.  She is a nurse and has five years of experience in managing and coordinating public health research related to HIV/AIDS, sexual, reproductive and maternal and child health, and food & water insecurity. 

Elly Weke is the Shamba Maisha Study Manager. He coordinates the Shamba Maisha intervention by collaborating closely with the partners.  He also oversees all research related activities.  He has six years’ experience in conducting food security and health research in Kenya. His focus is on the integration of adaptive agriculture and HIV health services to improve household economic and health outcomes of persons living with HIV/AIDS.



Research Assistants