Who We Are

Beyond the Pill is administered by an outstanding team of physicians, experts in public health and research, and women’s health advocates.

The Beyond the Pill team includes:

Faculty

Professional Researchers

Research and Training Team


Faculty

Cynthia Harper, PhD, Professor and Principal Investigator

Cynthia C. Harper, PhD, is a Professor in Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences and a faculty of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. She received her master’s in international and public affairs from Columbia University, doctorate in demography and public policy from Princeton University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research aims to improve family planning policies and service delivery through streamlined access to care. She has worked to remove unnecessary procedures in contraceptive care, including the pelvic examination for hormonal contraception and lengthy protocols for long-acting contraceptives. Her research has supported expanded roles of nursing and pharmacy professions in contraceptive delivery, including over-the-counter access. She has conducted research in emergency contraception that helped to transform clinical practice and policy, and led to the FDA approval of over-the-counter status of levonorgestrel emergency contraception and the removal of the age restriction. Dr. Harper recently completed a national cluster randomized trial on long-acting contraceptives in 40 Planned Parenthood health centers demonstrating the effectiveness of a UCSF Bixby provider training curriculum in reducing unintended pregnancy among family planning clients. Her research team is conducting implementation science with provider training and patient education initiatives in a variety of clinic settings in addition to Planned Parenthoods, including departments of health, hospitals, and primary care. She also heads an initiative to bring contraceptive training and education to community colleges.

Dr. Harper has worked together with investigators in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, including a multi-center NIH study on physicians’ and nurses’ attitudes and clinical practices in HIV prevention and contraception. She has measured the impact of unsafe abortion on maternal morbidity and mortality in developing regions, and has evaluated the impact of policy changes on the safety of services. Dr. Harper is the 2013 recipient of Guttmacher Institute’s Darroch Award in Excellence in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research.

Areas of Interest: access to contraception, long-acting reversible contraception, provider training and clinical practices, emergency contraception, adolescent contraception, adolescent contraception, family planning policies, HIV/STI prevention among women

Suzan Goodman, MD, MPH, Director of Training

Dr. Goodman serves as Training Director for Beyond the Pill. She conducted IUD and implant intervention site trainings for the UCSF-PPFA National Trial of Contraceptive Acceptability (2009-14), and intervention studies to improve IUD and implant utilization at Planned Parenthood (2004-08). She is also Fellowship and Curriculum Director of the TEACH Program which provides training support, curriculum development, and advocacy in reproductive health for a northern California residency programs. She serves an Associate Clinical Professor at UCSF Department of Family & Community Medicine, a member of Planned Parenthood’s National Medical Committee and Physicians for Reproductive Health's Residency Education Initiative's National Advisory Committee. In addition to her clinical, research and teaching activities, she brings broad experience in international health training and public health advocacy.

Corinne H. Rocca, PhD, MPH, Director of Research

Corinne H. Rocca, PhD, MPH, is an epidemiologist in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. She received her doctorate in Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley; an MPH in Population and Family Health from Columbia University; and a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her research, Dr. Rocca combines the approaches from her training in social epidemiology with those of demographers and clinicians interested in understanding sexual behavior, contraceptive use and unintended pregnancy. Broadly, her research examines how structural factors, such as access to reproductive health care and cultural norms, affect risk of unintended pregnancy among high-risk populations in the US and South Asia. Dr. Rocca’s research has focused on expanding our understanding of pregnancy intentions, including what influences adolescents’ and women’s attitudes towards pregnancy and how intentions translate into behavior. In her work, she has used quantitative psychometric techniques, including item response theory, to improve the measurement of pregnancy intention, childbearing attitudes, as well as other latent variables important to understanding pregnancy risk.

J. Joseph Speidel, MD, MPH, Bixby Center Co-Director

J. Joseph Speidel, MD, MPH, joined UCSF’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health as a professor in 2003. Dr. Speidel is a cum laude graduate of Harvard College in chemistry and physics and a graduate of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. Between 1995 and 2003, he directed the population grants program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation—a program that in 2002 provided $35 million for more than 200 active grants for population training, services, research, and advocacy. Between 1983 and 1995, Dr. Speidel served as vice president and president of Population Action International. Previously, Dr. Speidel served as chief of the Research Division and acting director of the Office of Population at the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he directed USAID's $125 million annual program of population and family planning assistance. He is a recipient of the Arthur S. Flemming Award for outstanding young men in government, the Carl S. Schulz Award of the American Public Health Association for significant contributions to international population work, the Family Planning Visionary Award of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, and the Allan

Rosenfield Award for Lifetime Contributions to International Family Planning of the Society of Family Planning. Dr. Speidel recently served as founding co-chair and member of the board of the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health & Rights. He currently serves as chair of the board of directors of Population Connection, treasurer of the board of Provide and secretary of the board of Venture Strategies Innovations. He is the author of more than 100 articles and chapters and editor or author of 14 books and monographs on issues relating to family planning, contraception, and population.


 


Professional Researchers

Alison Comfort

Alison B. Comfort, PhD, Assistant Researcher

Alison B. Comfort, PhD, is a health economist who received her doctorate in Health Policy (Economics concentration) from Harvard University and her BA in Economics and Spanish from Amherst College. Her research has focused on evaluating interventions to improve reproductive, maternal and child health, both in the United States and in developing countries. She has worked on several randomized controlled trials, including an impact evaluation to assess the effect of providing community health workers with free pregnancy tests for distribution to improve provision of hormonal contraceptives in Madagascar and is now conducting follow-up research in Uganda to introduce home pregnancy tests to resolve uncertainty about pregnancy status. She has also evaluated the long-term effects of in-utero conditions on maternal survival later in a woman’s life using secondary data from several African countries and conducted several studies related to malaria, including an impact evaluation assessing the effect of price on demand for anti-malarial bednets. In India, she is investigating the consequences of being uninsured on access to health services and health spending and the implications for longer term poverty. In the United States, she is conducting implementation science research on provider training and patient education in clinic settings to increase contraceptive provision, including through school based health centers. She previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar.

Jennifer Yarger

Jennifer Yarger, PhD, Assistant Researcher

Jennifer Yarger, PhD, is an Assistant Researcher in Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences. She received a doctorate in public policy and sociology (social demography concentration) from the University of Michigan, and a BA in Political Science from Wellesley College. Her work focuses on improving access to sexual and reproductive health information and services and reducing disparities in unintended pregnancy, particularly among adolescents and young adults in the United States. She has published papers examining racial, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities in the use of family planning services and related attitudes. She has conducted studies evaluating California’s family planning program, Family PACT, and teenage pregnancy prevention programs. Her current work includes research on health insurance coverage and use of family planning services, as well as the impact of the Affordable Care ACT on publicly funded family planning providers. She is conducting a randomized controlled trial to investigate whether an intervention involving health insurance screening processes and staff training can increase insurance billing while protecting patient confidentiality at Title X health centers. She is also part of a team developing an initiative to bring contraceptive training and education to community colleges.


 


Research and Training Team

Maya Blum, MPH, Project Director

Maya directs and manages research, training and education activities for Beyond the Pill. Her work focuses on promoting reproductive health through innovation and rigorous research. She has extensive experience implementing high-quality studies in the US and globally, including in Nepal, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Maya received her MPH in Maternal and Child Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and served as Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa.

Marta Cabral, Research Analyst

Marta is a Research Analyst for Beyond the Pill. She interned with the Beyond the Pill team in 2015, and is back now working on contraceptive research full-time. She holds a BA in Public and International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and her senior thesis was based on the Bixby Center’s qualitative research study exploring the role of contraception and unintended pregnancy in the lives of community college students.

Lauren Coy, MPH, Training Coordinator

Lauren is the Training Coordinator for Beyond the Pill’s on-site trainings on IUDs and implants in the US and globally. Lauren joined the Bixby Center after receiving her Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She has previously worked as a Junior Research Scientist at NYU’s Center for Latino Adolescent & Family Health and has also done research at Montefiore Medical Center involving family physicians and their contraceptive counseling habits surrounding LARC and adolescent patients.

Jill Eversole, MPH, Education and Communications Coordinator

Jill is the Education and Communications Coordinator for the Beyond the Pill program. She manages digital communications and educational materials. Jill received her MPH in Maternal and Child Health from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health and her BA in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist. Jill has a background in health education, digital media, and research and previously worked for organizations such as Bedsider, Planned Parenthood, and the Public Health Institute. She is passionate about sexual and reproductive health, especially education and access to birth control.

Connie Folse, MPH, Lead Health Educator

Connie is a Certified Health Education Specialist and has provided health education and counseling in a number of settings, including Title X and STD/HIV clinics, school-based health centers, and university campuses. Since earning her Master’s in Public Health in 2005, she has been providing direct services as well as training medical providers and allied health professionals to talk with both youth and adults about sexuality and contraceptive decision-making. As the lead health education trainer for Beyond the Pill, Connie trains staff and providers on client-centered counseling approaches and supports educational and outreach efforts with our community college partners.

Lia Garman, Program Analyst

Lia is the Program Analyst for the Bixby Center Beyond the Pill program, where she works on Beyond the Pill's patient education, provider training, and contraception research projects. Lia joined the Bixby Center from Catholics for Choice, where she coordinated the organization’s international program activities. She draws on a background in global health and reproductive rights advocacy, and holds a BA in Anthropology from UNC Chapel Hill.

Aleka Gurel, Research Analyst

Aleka is a Research Analyst for Beyond the Pill. She recently completed a Master of Philosophy in History & Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, where her research focused on late 20th century reproductive medicine. She has a strong interest in how medical information is communicated to lay audiences and has written for a variety of publications, including Kinsey Confidential. She has also conducted research on the history of medical and nursing education in São Paulo as part of the Princeton-Brazil Global Fellows program. Aleka holds a BA in History of Science from Princeton University.

Caitlin Quade, MPH, Contraceptive Training Specialist

As the Contraceptive Training Specialist for Beyond the Pill, Caitlin trains health facility staff and providers on client-centered counseling approaches and provides technical support for ongoing curriculum development. Prior to joining the Bixby Center, Caitlin supported international family planning and safe abortion initiatives at PSI in Washington, DC, where she worked to develop trainings on informed choice, values exploration, and health care ethics. Caitlin holds an MPH in Global Maternal & Child Health from Tulane University and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia.

Rosalyn Schroeder, MPH, MSc, Evaluation Manager

Rosalyn is the Evaluation and Data Manager for Beyond the Pill and coordinates the program’s online training, training evaluations and community college research. She received an MSc in Demography and Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She also holds an MPH in Global Epidemiology from Emory University with concentrations in maternal and child health, global health in complex humanitarian emergencies, and human rights.

Kirsten Thompson, MPH, Project Director

Kirsten is a Project Director for the Bixby Center’s Beyond the Pill program. She received her MPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her BA in Biology from Bryn Mawr College. Kirsten helps translate research on health care providers’ contraceptive knowledge and practices into improvements in care. She also translates evidence-based medical information about contraception into engaging educational materials for young people.