MEET OUR TEAM
MEET OUR TEAM
Jon-Patrick Allem

Jon-Patrick Allem, Ph.D., M.A

Director, Social Media Analytics (SOMA) Lab

allem@usc.edu
(323) 442-7921
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonpatrickallem/
https://somalab.usc.edu
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Jon-Patrick Allem is an Assistant Professor of Research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Dr. Allem's work focuses on developing cutting-edge methodologies to improve population health surveillance and policy. His multidisciplinary expertise in behavioral science, preventive medicine and data science has led to data-driven public health insights featured in prominent media and scholarly outlets such U.S News & World Report, CNN, and the American Journal of Public Health. Using data from online platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Google Web Search, Dr. Allem's research includes studies on the effectiveness of mass media campaigns in the U.S. and Latin America, population mental health in the U.S. and Australia, public interest in climate change in the U.S., use and appeal of hookah, e-cigarettes, and flavored cigars in the U.S., HIV education in the U.S., the marketing practices of e-scooter companies in the U.S., as well as documented cases of hazardous driving in the U.S. His current projects are focused on understanding user experience with emerging tobacco products (JUUL, KandyPens) through the use of social media data, the impact of product placement in music videos on product appeal among young adults, the impact of cartoon logos on the appeal of e-cigarettes among adolescents, and the influences of automated social media accounts (social bots) on health-related attitudes and behaviors.







Aneesh Aithal

Aneesh Aithal

Student Worker

aaithal@usc.edu
https://www.linkedin.com/in/aneeshaithal/
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Aneesh Aithal is a master's student in Computer Science in the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC. He completed his B.Tech degree in Computer Science and Engineering at the National Institute of Technology, Karnataka, in India. His research interests are primarily in natural language processing and reinforcement learning. His current work focuses on building tools and analyzing social media text and image data related to tobacco products.







Sheila  Bonyadlou

Sheila Bonyadlou

Research Assistant

sheilabo@usc.edu
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Sheila Bonyadlou is an undergraduate student in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at USC. She is currently a research assistant working on identifying the concentration of cannabis retailers in Los Angeles with the use of social media data. After graduation, Sheila plans on going to graduate school to pursue a degree in Global Medicine, with a long-term goal of becoming a radiologist.







Akshat Choube

Akshat Choube

Student Worker

choube@usc.edu
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Akshat Choube is a master's student in the Department of Computer Science at USC. He received his B.Tech. in computer science and engineering at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Palakkad. His research interests include natural language processing (NLP), machine learning and game theory. He is always excited to apply his NLP and machine learning knowledge for social good. He is currently working with Jon-Patrick Allem to understand the use and appeal of tobacco-related products using data from social media platforms.







Allison Dormanesh

Allison Dormanesh

Project Specialist

ad79448@usc.edu
https://www.linkedin.com/in/allisondormanesh/
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Allison Dormanesh is a project specialist in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She earned her B.A. in Ethnic Studies from Cal Poly SLO, with a focus on medical sciences, and an M.S. in Health and the Public Interest from Georgetown University. Her research has focused on the intersection of race and medicine, as well as health disparities affecting predominately low-income and underrepresented communities. She is currently assisting on projects that use data from social media (Instagram/Twitter) to understand 1) the marketing and promotional activities of companies and services that may influence health behaviors, 2) user perceptions of vaping products.







Patricia Escobedo

Patricia Escobedo

Research Assistant

pescobed@usc.edu
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Patricia Escobedo is a doctoral student in the Health Behavior Research Program in the Department of Preventive Medicine at USC. As a Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) Predoctoral Fellowship Award recipient, she examines the impact of geographic location of stores that sell tobacco, vaping and marijuana-related products on health-related behaviors. Her research utilizes digital maps and spatial analyses to identify patterns and make comparisons across geographic communities. She has also examined the content of tobacco brand websites, and the occurrence of vape pen product placement in music videos.







Ashley Hill

Ashley Hill

Research Assistant

hillashl@usc.edu
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Ashley Hill is an undergraduate student in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at USC. She has worked as a teaching assistant in a special education classroom through the Joint Education Project and is on USC`s Varsity Women`s Lacrosse team. Currently, she is a research assistant working on qualitative coding and analysis of social media data, specifically on tobacco-related conversations on Twitter. After graduation, Ashley plans to pursue a Master`s in Occupation Therapy.







Yannie  Hoang

Yannie Hoang

Research Assistant

gianhiho@usc.edu
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Yannie Hoang is an undergraduate student in Journalism at USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, minoring in Health Care Studies at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Her academic passions lie at the intersection of health, advocacy, and multimedia storytelling. After graduation, she hopes to serve her community in the field of medicine and healthcare policy. Previously, Yannie assisted Dr. Sita Reddy`s research on myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), as well as worked on Dr. Mai Khanh Tran`s campaign for Congress. Currently, she contributes to Annenberg Media`s new Health and Wellness Desk and works on projects addressing student mental health needs on campus as Vice President of Internal Relations at Inter-Health Council.







Marlene Huerta

Marlene Huerta, BS

Postbaccalaureate Fellow

huertam@usc.edu
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Marlene Huerta is SOMA Lab`s first Postbaccalaureate Fellow, a research assistant, and a Patient Access Representative in the Department of Family Medicine at the Keck Hospital of USC. She received her B.S. in Public Health at California State University Los Angeles (CSULA). Marlene plans on applying to MPH programs in Los Angeles to develop strategies in chronic disease prevention.







Anuja Majmundar

Anuja Majmundar

Research Assistant

amajmund@usc.edu
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Anuja Majmundar is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Health Behavior Research program. Anuja uses data science methods to explore research questions pertaining to social good, health policy, and health behaviors. Her current work leverages several years of experience in marketing research, and is focused on using social media data to address the e-cigarette epidemic at scale. Anuja completed her M.B.A. in Communication Management from Symbiosis International University, and M.A. in Communication from San Diego State University. She was recently awarded the TCORS pre-doctoral fellowship (2019-2020) and was also a recipient of USC's Provost Fellowship (2016-2017).







Vanessa Rivera

Vanessa Rivera

Postbaccalaureate Fellow

vriver32@calstatela.edu
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Vanessa Rivera is SOMA Lab`s second Postbaccalaureate Fellow and a research assistant. She studied child development at California State University Los Angeles (CSULA), and plans to pursue graduate education in a similar field. Currently, Vanessa is assisting with projects relating to public attitudes towards e-cigarette devices, including Puff Bar.







Ashkon  Vaghei

Ashkon Vaghei

Research Assistant

vaghei@usc.edu
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Ashkon Vaghei is an undergraduate student in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at USC. He is currently a research assistant focusing on tobacco-related marketing strategies (e.g. cartoons) on Instagram and its impact on youth. After graduation, Ashkon plans to pursue dental school.







Dahee Woo

Dahee Woo

Research Assistant

daheewoo@usc.edu
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Dahee Woo is an undergraduate student in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at USC. She is a research assistant working on identifying cartoon logos and tobacco-related marketing strategies on Instagram and its impact on e-cigarette appeal among youth.







Previous Research Assistants

Likhit Darmapuri

Likhit Darmapuri

Research Assistant

likhitd1992@gmail.com
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Likhit Darmapuri was a research assistant in SOMA Lab from 2017 to 2019. He is currently a Software Engineer at Google, working on infrastructure for safe handling of private and personally identifiable data. He has also worked extensively on search infrastructure, and text classification.







Sree Uppu

Sree Uppu

Research Assistant

priyankauppu2308@gmail.com
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Sree Uppu was a research assistant in SOMA Lab in 2017. She is currently a Software Engineer at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and works on building real time data streaming pipelines to study customer cache profiles and perform anomaly detection on the network data. Prior to that she was a Performance Engineer with the Traffic and Performance Management Team at Verizon Digital Media Services.







Youshan Zhang

Youshan Zhang

Research Assistant

yoz217@lehigh.edu
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Youshan Zhang was a research assistant in SOMA Lab in 2018. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at Lehigh University. His research interests lie in the area of computer vision, artificial intelligence, text, image, and shape analysis. Specifically, he is interested in developing computational methodologies for image understanding problems in the fields of medical image analysis (such as using machine learning methods to discover the underlying mechanisms of diseases) and computer vision (such as identifying the position of an object).