Subject Matter & Technical Experts

Karen Chu, MS

Maria Claver, PhD, MSW, CPG

Alicia Gable, MPH

June Gin, PhD, MA

Anne “Belle” Griffin, MPH, BSN

Judith Katzburg, PhD, RN

Derrick Kranke, PhD, MA

Lilia Lukowsky, PhD, MPH

Laura A. Payne, PhD

Tiffany Radcliff, PhD

Susan Schmitz, MAIDP

Tamar Wyte-Lake, DPT, MPH


KarenChuKaren Chu, MS


Karen Chu is a Statistician at VEMEC. She provides public health research and statistical support for projects that assess the impact of service use, medication use, cost, and continuity of care among the Veteran population in the aftermath of national emergencies and natural disasters. Ms. Chu has worked extensively with healthcare datasets containing information on healthcare utilization and outcomes, cost, medication use and patient surveys.

Prior to joining VEMEC, Ms. Chu worked as a health economist for the medical device company – W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. At Gore, she provided strategic analysis to the product development teams and served as a key member in drafting the analytical components of clinical study protocols and has extensive experience working with various health outcome measures, quality of life instruments, health economic modeling, discrete event simulations, and decision analysis with Markov models. She is skilled in methods to evaluate binomial and multinomial outcomes, regression methods, simultaneous estimation, generalized linear models, and propensity scores. Ms. Chu has technical expertise in SAS, STATA and SQL programing languages.

Ms. Chu received her MS in Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy from the University of Southern California and her BS in Chemistry from the University of California-Riverside. She has won awards for her teaching ability and poster presentations.


MariaClaverMaria Claver, PhD, MSW, CPG


Maria Claver is an Investigator with VEMEC. Her research focuses on emergency management as it relates to older adults, older veterans, and the programs and agencies that serve this population. She has worked with VEMEC to collaborate on research related to nursing home evacuations following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a systematic literature review regarding VA emergency management research, and most recently a multi-phased examination of the role of VA HBPC programs in assessing community-dwelling veterans for disaster preparedness.

Her work in emergency management and disaster response began in 1999, when she served as an Americorps Rapid Response Corps member with the American Red Cross. In that role, she was a local and national disaster action team member, CPR/First Aid instructor, and provided a variety of preparedness workshops to audiences of all ages. She has extensive background in health promotion, program planning, implementation and evaluation. She is currently Associate Professor of Gerontology at California State University, Long Beach (since 2007), responsible for teaching an introductory undergraduate Gerontology course and a variety of Master’s level courses ranging from Social Policy to Aging and Dementia.

Dr. Claver has received the following degrees: B.A. in Psychology, Masters of Social Work and Ph.D. in the Department of Social Welfare, College of Public Affairs, from UCLA. She has received several awards for her work, including the Betty and James Birren Emerging Leader Award from the California Council on Gerontology and Geriatrics (2011) and Veterans Administration Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (2005).


AliciaGableAlicia Gable, MPH

Senior Project Director

Alicia Gable is a Senior Project Director with VEMEC. She plays a leadership role in multiple projects including an evaluation of VA hospital preparedness, a disaster preparedness and coordination toolkit for homeless service providers, and a project to promote the role of nurses as leaders in disaster preparedness and response.

Ms. Gable has over 18 years of experience in public health research, policy analysis, program evaluation, and program management. Prior to joining VEMEC, Ms. Gable was a Senior Program Officer and Study Director at the Institute of Medicine where she led consensus-based expert panels examining a broad range of public health issues, including HIV prevention and treatment, emerging zoonotic diseases, pandemic influenza, and immunization safety. She was also a research faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Senior Technical Manager at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation where she supported large-scale HIV clinical trials and HIV prevention and treatment programs in Africa and Asia. Ms. Gable also completed a residency in hospital administration with the President of the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC.

Ms. Gable received her MPH from the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and her BA in Economics and International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


June_GinJune Gin, PhD, MA



June Gin is an Investigator at VEMEC, with extensive research and practice experience in community organizing, capacity-building, neighborhood planning, non-profit organizations, and community resilience. Dr. Gin leads a research study on disaster preparedness in Los Angeles County homeless shelters and chairs a national workgroup convened to develop a disaster preparedness and coordination toolkit for homeless service providers.

Prior to joining VA, Dr. Gin served as community research and outreach manager at the Bay Area Preparedness Initiative (BayPrep), a joint initiative of the Fritz Institute, San Francisco Community Agencies Responding to Disasters (SF CARD), and community partners. At BayPrep, she piloted an outreach program to increase the disaster preparedness of safety-net providers serving vulnerable populations, including the homeless, elderly, special-needs populations, and people in poverty. She worked closely with non-profit service providers to facilitate their ability to achieve preparedness standards.

Dr. Gin received her PhD in Environmental Sociology from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, and her MA in Public Policy from Claremont Graduate University.


Belle_GriffinAnne “Belle” Griffin, MPH, BSN

Clinical Investigator and Senior Program Manager


Belle Griffin is a Clinical Investigator for VEMEC. She serves as the lead Project Director for many of the center’s activities, including VEMEC’s ongoing efforts to build an evidence-base in support of nationwide standards for hospital preparedness and response and enhance nursing’s role in disaster preparedness and response. As VEMEC’s Senior Program Manager, Ms. Griffin oversees the Center’s non-doctorally prepared research staff.

Ms. Griffin brings more than 30 years of clinical expertise in the fields of neuroscience, peri-operative and public health nursing, and has provided direct patient care and staff management in various rural and urban healthcare settings, including community and academic hospitals. Prior to joining VA, she worked as a research project manager for the RAND Corporation with responsibilities such as human subject protection, budgeting, and team-based management. In addition to public health preparedness and response, her research interests include quality of care, dual diagnosis, and vulnerable elderly. Her methodological expertise includes operationalizing health indicators, developing data abstraction tools for medical record abstraction, coordinating project field work, training data abstractors and supervising data collection.

Ms. Griffin has served as a volunteer with numerous domestic and international humanitarian aid efforts including the Virginia Children’s Connection and Operation Smile. She received her MPH from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health and her BSN from the University of Northern Colorado.


 JudithKatzburg Judith R. Katzburg, PhD, RN


Judith R. Katzburg is a nurse and a health services researcher who divides her time between VEMEC and the VA GLA Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation and Policy (CSHIIP). Her skill set includes expertise in project management, program development and evaluation, survey design, and quantitative and qualitative research methods. Dr. Katzburg’s research interests include access to and quality of care, women’s healthcare, minority health, vulnerable populations, prevention, and public policy. She has served as either a project director or evaluation director on various studies. At VEMEC, she is working on a project to promote the role of nurses as leaders in disaster preparedness and response.

Dr. Katzburg has been active in the American Public Health Association, Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Section since 1996. She has co-authored four policies which were adopted by the association. As well, she has assumed an active leadership role in the organization and is currently serving as Immediate Past Chair of the MCH Section and as a member of the Steering Committee of the APHA Inter-Sectional Council. She co-founded and is currently serving as Co-Chair of the MCH Gun Violence Prevention Workgroup, promoting gun violence prevention as a public health issue.

Prior to employment at the VA, Dr. Katzburg completed a UCLA/RAND Health Services Research Training Program Post-doctoral traineeship funded by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. She received her PhD in Health Services Research and Masters in Public Health from the Department of Health Services, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles.


DerrickKrankeDerrick Kranke, PhD, MA


Derrick Kranke is an Investigator at VEMEC. Dr. Kranke’s interdisciplinary work covers the fields of public health, psychiatry, psychology, anthropology, social work, education and school mental health. Dr. Kranke leads a research study of help-seeking behaviors among youth in the aftermath of a disaster, and how those behavioral and social competencies promote educational resilience.

Dr. Kranke’s expertise is in mental health issues of youth, adolescents and young adults, with a focus on factors contributing to empowerment and stigma. He has deep training in qualitative methodology and commonly uses grounded theory, thematic analysis, narrative analysis, phenomenology and case study analysis in his work. Dr. Kranke has held academic appointments as an adjunct faculty member at Case Western Reserve University, Loyola Marymount University and California State University, Northridge, and was a Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor at University of Southern California.

Dr. Kranke received his PhD in Social Welfare from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (MSASS) at Case Western Reserve University, and his MA from Loyola Marymount University. He has extensive publications and his awards include Adjunct Professor of the Year at MSASS, an honorary presenter at the Ohio State University Doctoral Symposium, and a first place winner at the Research ShowCASE.


 LiliaLukowsky Lilia Lukowsky, PhD, MPH


Lilia Lukowsky is an Investigator at VEMEC. Her current projects include evaluating short- and long-term health outcomes for Veterans after disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, and examining preferences for receiving disaster-related communications for Veterans who receive care from the VA. An epidemiologist, Dr. Lukowsky uses modeling techniques to identify predictors of post-disaster outcomes in order to develop more effective responses during future disasters. Her interests include disaster epidemiology, and evaluating the impact of policy changes on post-disaster outcomes.

Prior to joining VEMEC, Dr. Lukowsky was the epidemiologist for the Multi-Unit Housing Study at the Tobacco Control and Prevention Program of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. She studied the impact of anti-smoking policies on the prevalence of second-hand smoking among residents living in multi-unit housing. Dr. Lukowsky holds a PhD and an MPH from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.


LauraPayneLaura A. Payne, PhD

Clinical Investigator

Laura A. Payne is a Clinical Investigator at VEMEC. Dr. Payne is responsible for various research and writing projects through VEMEC, including assisting with writing articles focused on the VA’s role in emergency preparedness and response, the role that nursing can play in emergency management, and how to develop and adopt disaster response practices. She also assists with manuscripts using empirical data from VA hospitals in relation to Hurricane Sandy.

Dr. Payne’s research at UCLA focuses on central mechanisms of pain and how psychological factors, such as depression, anxiety and emotion regulation, relate to chronic pain. She has also worked on the development of a transdiagnostic treatment protocol that would be applicable to various emotional disorders. Dr. Payne’s research is relevant to disaster response, as both physical and mental health issues and treatment are of primary concern following the aftermath of a disaster. Better understanding mechanisms underlying acute and chronic pain, as well as how to develop and disseminate psychological therapies has the potential to directly impact emergency management policies and responses.

Dr. Payne received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Boston University. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship with the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program. She has received numerous awards and grants including a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, the UCLA Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Postdoctoral Research, a UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute K Bridge Award, and more recently a career development award from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to continue her research on central pain mechanisms in older adolescent girls and young adult women.


TiffanyRadcliffTiffany Radcliff, PhD

Research Scientist


Dr. Tiffany Radcliff holds a part-time appointment as a research scientist for VEMEC. She is interested in studying economic aspects of preparedness and response activities in VA and the communities in which veterans live. Among her current VEMEC projects, she is studying the impact of Hurricane Ike on missed appointments in the impacted VA facilities and intends to extend this analysis to other disaster events that interrupt VA operations or interfere with patients’ ability to reach VA for care. She is also providing technical assistance in the development of quality metrics for OEM to use in ISO 9001 performance assessment.

In addition to her work with VEMEC,Dr.  Radcliff is a tenured Associate Professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Denver in the Department of Family Medicine/Colorado Health Outcomes program where she primarily serves as an investigator with the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System’s Denver-Seattle Center of Innovation with the Cardiovascular Outcomes Research group. She was previously Assistant Director of the Denver VA’s Research Enhancement Award program and, prior to that, Assistant professor at the University of Florida. She has extensive experience both teaching and conducting economic evaluation of programs, interventions, and events. Her recent work has included making the business case for infection control in nursing homes, estimating the incremental cost of hospital-acquired infections on patient care costs, and establishing whether federal administrative data sets can be linked with de-identified survey data for program evaluation studies. Many of her studies rely on either analysis of large administrative databases or a mixed-methods approach of primary collection of data for cost analysis and qualitative assessment of stakeholder opinions of programs combined with complex econometric analysis of existing databases to evaluate whether primary and secondary data sources are consistent.

She holds a BS in economics from Texas A&M University and a PhD in health services research, policy and administration with a supporting program in economics from the University of Minnesota.


SusanSchmitz Susan Schmitz, MAIDP

Senior Project Director

Susan Schmitz is a Senior Project Director at VEMEC. She has worked for over 10 years in the disaster preparedness and recovery field. Her primary interests are in disaster psychology and community resilience.

Before joining VEMEC, Ms. Schmitz was the Director of Programs at San Francisco Community Agencies Responding to Disaster (SF CARD) where she provided organizational disaster planning guidance and training to nonprofit organizations’ leadership and staff. Through SF Department of Public Health funding, she co-developed Psychological First Aid for Volunteer Responders and piloted the train-the-trainer program with SF Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams. She also supported community resilience through support of neighborhood and county-based collaborative groups providing preparedness events and response planning.

Ms. Schmitz has also worked as a Senior Research Associate at the University of Miami’s Center for Disaster and Extreme Event Preparedness and Biopsychosocial Oncology Core. While at the University, she taught disaster behavioral health to first responders and public health staff and conducted research on decision making tools. In addition to research, Ms. Schmitz has provided clinical support and public health education to traditionally marginalized populations and social service professionals in both the United States and Serbia.

Ms. Schmitz received her MA in International Disaster Psychology from the University of Denver and BA in Psychology from the University of Iowa.

TamarWyte-LakeTamar Wyte-Lake, DPT, MPH

Clinical Investigator


Tamar Wyte-Lake is a Clinical Investigator at VEMEC. Dr. Wyte-Lake is currently leading a multi-phase study looking how to optimize the interface between VHA Home-Based Primary Care programs and their patients around disaster preparedness.

Dr. Wyte-Lake has over seven years of experience in developing and managing a wide range of research project activities, including proposal writing, IRB applications, budgets, data collection, management and analysis, and dissemination activities. Additionally, she is skilled in both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. Prior to joining VA, Dr. Wyte-Lake was a practicing physical therapist, working in the outpatient orthopedic setting, private sector and VHA, as well as home-based care.

Dr. Wyte-Lake received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California and her MPH from the Department of Health Management and Policy at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

Subject Matter & Technical Experts Biographies Forthcoming:

Murray Côté, PhD, MBA
Martin Lee, PhD, MS
Jeff Luck, MBA, PhD
Jennie C.I. Tsao, PhD
Roger Wasserman, MBA (Volunteer)
Lonnie Zeltzer, MD