Author: Chris DeFrancesco

Meet CAO Janel Simpson

Chief Administrative Officer Janel Simpson joins UConn Health with a combination of private- and public-sector experience. For the last six years she’s been at the Department of Social Services, a $7.6 billion state agency, most recently in the role of deputy commissioner. She spent the majority of her career before that in the insurance industry, including HSB, the Hartford, and the Phoenix. Janel holds an MBA in finance and strategic initiative from Columbia University, and a BA in mathematics from Clark University. She arrived to UConn Health Aug. 30.

Janel Simpson portrait
Janel Simpson, UConn Health chief administrative officer (Photo by Tina Encarnacion)

Describe your role at UConn Health?

My role is a little different than the former chief administrative officer. I have responsibilities for administrative services, including the oversight of administrative policy development and implementation, auxiliary operations, child care and wellness centers, parking and transportation, environment of care, and life safety. Responsibilities also include development of decision support function and liaison to the “One UConn” effort.

What brought you here?

The opportunity to work in an environment with amazingly dedicated and talented individuals where the work feels meaningful. This is a great opportunity to utilize my experience in operations, strategy, finance, IT. I enjoy working in environments where no two days are alike and you learn to expect the unexpected. I can honestly say, I have experienced all that in my short tenure thus far.

What about your experience will help you in this role?

The ability to prioritize, keep the “big picture” in mind while addressing the “smaller” items that may deliver large returns in short timeframes. The ability to multitask, crisis management, being able to operate, remain calm and make critical decisions under pressure.

At DSS your clients are individuals with food insecurities, need for cash assistance, medical coverage, fuel assistance, etc. When I started, our timeliness for providing benefits for our clients ranked us in the bottom 5% in the nation, leading to the filing of three federal lawsuits against the department. This placed us under a great deal of scrutiny by those we served, the media, state and federal governments.

The department gained a reputation of not caring or not doing enough, though we had some of the most dedicated and committed individuals who really wanted to make a difference. The agency had a 27-year-old antiquated system supporting an equally antiquated paper process. We had to change our technology, process, culture, and narrative simultaneously.

It was the most challenging time. Regardless, we worked as a team to define and achieve our goals. We restructured the organization, redesigned our processes, implemented a new $350 million eligibility system, and changed our culture. Connecticut is recognized by the federal government as the gold standard for system implementation, top two and top ten nationally for timely processing of SNAP and Medicaid eligibility respectively. With these changes, Connecticut received $6 million in bonus funding from the federal government. The department successfully satisfied all terms and conditions of all three federal lawsuits in less than three years.

What do you see as the most promising and challenging aspects of being CAO at UConn Health?

The promising thing is that whatever challenge we face, we have the team in place to tackle it. You see it exemplified every day.

Like other state agencies, and frankly, many private companies, you must achieve your goals with finite resources and fewer dollars than one’s spending needs. Here at UConn Health we all have the same overarching goal, together we must and will achieve it.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I volunteer my time mentoring middle and high school girls of color.

Campus Safety Corner: Patient, Winter Parking

Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver
UConn Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver (Photo by Kristin Wallace)

Now’s a good time to reflect on why it’s important to park in our assigned areas when on campus for work or academic purposes, and to also be attentive of the winter storm parking bans.

Patient Parking

Several parking areas on campus are reserved for patients and visitors. Providing them with safe and convenient access to these parking areas and the surrounding buildings is an integral part of their experience on our campus. These areas include:

  • Emergency Department and GI Procedure Center – surface parking and the rooftop of Garage 2.
  • University Tower and Main Building – surface parking lots M1, M2 and H1.
  • Garage 1 – convenient sections of levels 1, 2 and 3 and the valet staging area. These areas are marked by white signs with green lettering.
  • Garage 3 – all spaces on levels 3 and 4 and the valet staging area unless signed otherwise.
Allan Peterson with Garage 1 in background
Allan Peterson, director, Parking, Transportation and Event Services (Photo by Kristin Wallace)

For your reference: 

Winter Storm Parking Bans

During winter storms and parking bans our Facilities Grounds personnel are out in force, supplemented by contracted snow removal crews, to mitigate the weather impacts on the roads, parking areas and sidewalks. The best way we can help is to be attentive to the UConn alerts and follow the snow ban instructions so the crews can keep our campus as safe and accessible as possible for the entire UConn Health community. Although staff and students who have arrived on campus prior to the start time of the bans are not required to move their vehicle, it is appreciated when you are able to if your work or academic responsibilities allow you the time to safely move your vehicle into one of the garages. Parking in the covered sections of the garages during the bans may seem inconvenient at times, so it can help if we try to remember that the primary reason for the bans is to keep our campus as safe and as accessible as possible. 

—UConn Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver and Parking, Transportation and Event Services Director Allan Peterson

Favorite Pulse Stories of 2019

Here’s what the metrics tell us about the most popular Pulse items from 2019:

Jan. 10 (1,284 clicks)

Look Familiar?

Building on the success of our recent “Power of Possible” television campaign, in the coming days—on a TV near you—will debut “The Power of Possible II.” While still heralding our teaching and research, the sequel begins to focus on our patient care and the advantage that is academic medicine.

Watch the preview, and look carefully—this was shot 100 percent on the Farmington campus and everyone in it works for UConn Health (except that dog!).

Over the coming weeks, it will be joined by additional new billboard, radio and other promotions as we tell our story and invite the community to join us in harnessing the power of possible.

Sept. 19 (968)

Lauren Brennan APRN

‘I’m a Nurse; I Can’t Let You Do This’   

President Katsouleas mentioned it in his message to the UConn Health community earlier this month. Now, during suicide prevention month, the nurse practitioner who intervened and likely stopped a man from jumping from an elevated area on campus, Lauren Brennan agreed to share her account of that day.


March 22 (826)

Virtual gift shop depicted in the proposed locationCan We Move the Gift Shop? 

The UConn Foundation is launching a campaign to relocate the gift shop to a prime location.

Learn how you can help, and why this is a cause worth keeping in mind when UConn Gives next week.


Feb. 7 (819)

Wearing Red Institution-Wide

Groups from throughout UConn Health, both in Farmington and other clinical offices, got their red on and gathered together for photos to celebrate National Wear Red Day to kick off American Heart Month. View larger photos.

UConn Health Goes Red

Jan. 3 (780)

New Year’s Babies: Not 1, Not 2…

It sure was a busy New Year’s Day in our maternity unit, where a record six babies were born! The first to arrive was little Matthew, born at 1:17 a.m. to Heather and Joe Coss of Burlington.

Welcome to Matthew and all the New Year’s newborns: Beatrice (5:42 a.m.), Owen (9:32 a.m.), Muhammad (10:55 a.m.), Sofie (11:41 a.m.), and Caleb (4:49 p.m.). Find more information and photos.

UPDATE: In case you missed it, the babies are back!
Five of them returned for a one-year-later photo!

2019 newborns 1 year later
Five of the six babies born at UConn Health on New Year’s Day 2019 came back for a one-year reunion. Happy Birthday to Caleb, Sophie, Mohammed, Matthew, Owen, and Beatrice! (Beatrice wasn’t able to attend.) December 27, 2019. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health)

July 25 (738)

Linda Nadeau, 70, is a proponent of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at UConn Health.


Lowering Cholesterol Without Drugs

Our Lifestyle Medicine Program continues to help people make healthy choices to naturally improve their health.

There’s no shortage of success stories among physician assistant Brad Biskup’s patients — a recent one being that of Linda Nadeau, who reduced her LDL cholesterol by more than 100 points!

May 30 (701)

Connecticut magazine cover with Dr. IbrahimConnecticut’s Best Docs

Connecticut Magazine is out with its 2019 “Best Doctors” issue. There are 48 familiar faces this year, including a cover story on Dr. Omar Ibrahim and the advanced robotic tool he uses to get a head start on diagnosing/ruling out lung cancer.

See who else made the list.


Oct. 31 (700)

costumed group portraitUConn Health Halloween  

Many of our clinical staff are in costume today. Recognize anyone?

Plus, Drs. Gary Schulman and Bina Katechia from our dental faculty share a guest column that sheds some spooky light on what’s happening in our mouth when we eat candy. Second thought, maybe don’t read this until next week!

Oct. 10 (642)

Fall Fun Fest and Pumpkin-palooza   

Congratulations to the Department of Quality, whose “Proud as a Peacock” pumpkin took first place in the Pumpkin-palooza contest at this year’s Fall Fun Fest! Thanks to an army of volunteers, our courtyard became a festive setting for employees to take a break and enjoy the season, some snacks, and some fellowship. See the photos and count the smiles, plus read a first-hand account from one of the Project SEARCH interns who volunteered at the event and helped create the second-place pumpkin!

Pumpkin winning team Dept of Quality-pulse

Jan. 24 (642)

Spotlighting Our Faculty 

Improving immigrant health, advancing infection prevention programs, and researching novel cancer therapies are just a few of the accomplishments featured in the winter edition of Faculty Spotlight.

The School of Medicine’s Office of Faculty Affairs’ video series celebrates our researchers, clinicians, and educators, and also includes an On-Point update from CEO Dr. Andy Agwunobi and medical school dean Dr. Bruce Liang.

Watch the Winter 2019 edition of Faculty Spotlight.

Campus Safety Corner: Run, Hide, Fight

Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver
UConn Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver (Photo by Kristin Wallace)

Active threat incidents are often unpredictable and evolve quickly. In the midst of the chaos, anyone can play an integral role in mitigating the impacts of an active threat incident. The Division of Public Safety aims to enhance preparedness through a “whole community” approach by providing resources.

If there is an active threat in your vicinity, you should do the following:


  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Keep your hands visible.
  • Get as far away from the threat as you can.
  • If you can’t run, hide.


  • Hide in an area out of the suspect’s view. (Preferably behind large objects)
  • Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors.
  • Ensure the lights are off.
  • Silence your cellphone or other electronic devices and remain quiet.
  • If you can, have options for moving or escaping.
  • As a last resort, if you can’t run or hide, be ready to fight.


  • As a last resort and only when your life is in danger.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the active threat.
  • Act with physical aggression and throw items at the suspect. When it is safe to do so, call 911 and give the location, number and physical description of the suspect(s), and the number of potential victims if possible.

We offer free training programs on active threat, de-escalation, workplace safety, and workplace violence: recognition and prevention. These courses can be requested via

—UConn Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver

UConn Medical Trainees Shine at Family Medicine Research Day

Katherine Spiegel presenting poster
UConn medical student Katherine Spiegel discusses her poster presentation, “Biomarker for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: A prospective study of otolin-1 in serum,” at the Connecticut Academy of Family Physicians research day Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo provided by Monty Douglas)

Congratulations to the UConn medical students and residents who were recognized for their poster presentations at the Connecticut Academy of Family Physicians research day earlier this month:

Dr. Kristine Faulknham, family medicine resident: “Increasing influenza and pneumococcal vaccination rates in the outpatient setting”

Dr. Jessica Perez, family medicine resident: “Increasing performance and reporting of diabetic foot and eye exams”

Elisa Gonzalez Cuevas, medical student: “Anxiety, neuroticism and late-life depression”

Christian Schaufler, medical student: “The effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy on apnea of prematurity”

Katherine Spiegel, medical student: “Biomarker for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: A prospective study of otolin-1 in serum”

Amisha Dave, medical student: “Automated extraction of pain symptoms: A natural language approach using electronic health records”

Years of Service Milestones

handshake line at employee recognition dinner
UConn Health senior leadership members congratulate employees at the Farmington Club Oct. 16, 2019. (Photo provided by Robin Perregeaux)

Congratulations to the following employees, who have achieved milestones of 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45 years of service:

25 Years of Service

Khamis S. Abu-Hasaballah, Asst VP, Research Informatics

Scott R. Allen, Interim Chief Medical Officer

Sandra A. Barnosky, Nurse Practitioner

Frank E. Barton, Multimedia Specialist 2

Christina A. Caron, Medical Technologist 2

Alexandra P. Crean, Educ & Development Spec.

Lori A. DelVaglio, Application Analyst 1

Carol L. Dumont, Staff Nurse CN3

Jacqueline P. Duncan, Assoc Prof/Clinical

Kelly A. Moore, Laboratory Assistant 2

Cheryl Oncken, Dept Head, Medicine

Hilary Onyiuke, Assoc Prof/Clinical

Margo A. Petrunti, Telephone Opr

Charles A. Saunders, MTCE Spv 1 HVA

Carol A. Schramm, Clinical Nurse Specialist

Craig M. Schramm, Assoc Prof/Clinical

George R. Smith, Staff Nurse CN3

Lorrie E. Tripp, Operations Mngr-Facilities Svc

Clelia Vanasse, Staff Nurse CN3

Wendy E. Walsh, Sponsored Program Specialist

Karen L. Zucker, Administrative Officer

30 Years of Service

Angelo A. Airo, Pharmacist-UHP

Susan L. Blasi, Staff Nurse CN3

Joanne Brochu, Information Specialist

Dorothy M. Buslewicz, Staff Nurse CN2, Outpatient

Patrick P. Coll, Professor/Clinical

Caroline N. Dealy, Assoc Prof/Basic Sci

Terri T. Donohue, Staff Nurse CN3, Outpatient

Deborah A. Dow, Adm Program Assistant 2

Diane N. Fillion, Staff Nurse CN3

Christopher Frechette, Mag Resonance Imaging Tech 2

Susan Garthwait, Adm Program Coordinator

Jeffrey B. Gross, Dept Head, Anesthesiology

Virginia R. Janick, Medical Records Clerk

Barbara E. Johnson, Respiratory Therapist

Brenda J. Kawecki, Executive Assistant

David A. Lombardo, MTCE Spv 1 HVA

Clarice Marcelino, Clinic Office Assistant

Mina Mina, Chair, Ped Dent/Dir DMD Prog

Frank Morgan, Research Associate 2

Mary-Marjorie Murphy, Clinical Coordinator 2

Michael Nowak, Asst Prof/Basic Sci

Andrew D. Nowicki, Storekeeper

Donna L. Patterson, Program Manager Faculty Devlpm

Kathleen A. Pellizzari, LPN

Douglas E. Peterson, Professor/Clinical

Lawrence G. Pittman, Director, HR Operations&Payroll

Elizabeth Pokorski, Administrative Officer

Deborah A. Redford-Badwal, Assoc Prof/Clinical

Sandra A. Rodriguez, Staff Nurse CN3

Mansoor Sarfarazi, Professor/Basic Sci

Kevin P. Shea, Professor/Clinical

Kimberly A. Sokol, Business System Analyst

Deborah H. Spillane, Business Services Manager

Cathy S. Spisak, Staff Nurse CN3

Elizabeth Strull, Asst Nursing Manager

Thomas D. Taylor, Dept Head, Reconstructive Scie

Catherine G. Trahiotis, Physical Therapist 2, UHP

Kimberly A. Tripputi, Office Assistant

35 Years of Service

Debby S. Anderson, Procurement Contract Spec

Raymond B. Carlson, Qual Crft Wrkr-Painter

Lisa Godin, Adm Program Coordinator

Lynn Godin, Office Assistant

Marja Hurley, Assoc Dean, Hlth Career Opp Pr

Alyce E. Ivey, Clinical Case Manager

Susan L. Jerwann, Purchasing and Inventory Spec

Leslie M. Loew, Director, CCAM

Martha L. Lojzim, Associate Director

Robin E. Menasian, Staff Nurse CN2

Diana L. Mikulak, Business Services Manager

Deborah A. Milewski, Medical Technologist 2

Sandra J. Newton, Application Analyst 3

Frank C. Nichols, Professor/Clinical

Linda S. Paradis, Adm Program Assistant 2

Margaret O. Rathier, Assoc Prof/Clinical

Lauren M. Salinger, Poison Information Spec

Sandra K. Weller, Dept Head, Mole Biology Biophy

Shawn H. Winberg, Desktop Technician II

Edwin L. Zalneraitis, Professor/Clinical

40 Years of Service

Rashmi Bansal, Professor/Basic Sci

John H. Carson, Professor/Basic Sci

Paul M. Epstein, Assoc Prof/Basic Sci

Jane M. Grant-Kels, Professor/Clinical

Susan Hill, Adm Program Coordinator

Lucina M. Nadeau, Medical Technologist 2

Mary E. Peach, Adm Program Coordinator

Ted S. Rosenkrantz, Professor/Clinical

Deborah Talamini – Adm Program Coordinator

Scott L. Wetstone – Assoc Prof/Basic Sci

45 Years of Service

Yvonne G. Grimm-Jorgensen, Asst Prof/Basic Sci

Faculty Appointments, Promotions Fall 2019

The Academic Affairs Subcommittee of the Board of Directors has approved the following new faculty promotions and appointments for the Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine:

School of Dental Medicine Promotions

(Photo by Jeanine Gelineau)

Professor In-Residence

  • Dr. Steven Lepowsky – General Dentistry

Associate Professor with Tenure

  • Dr. Aditya Tadinada – Oral and Maxillofacial Diagnostic Sciences

Associate Professor In-Residence

  • Dr. Takanori Sobue Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences

School of Medicine Appointments

Professor – In Residence

  • Dr. Kwame S. Amankwah – Surgery
  • Dr. Raymond A. Dionne – Cell Biology

Associate Professor – Affiliated Institution

  • Dr. Mark Marieb – (Hartford Hospital) – Medicine

School of Medicine Promotions

Professor – In Residence

  • Anton M. Alerte – Pediatrics
  • Steven V. Angus – Medicine
  • Raymond J. Foley – Medicine

Professor – Tenure Track

  • Kimberly L. Dodge-Kafka – Cell Biology

Professor – Affiliated Institution

  • Christine M. Finck – (Connecticut Children’s Medical Center) – Surgery

Clinical Professor – Community Faculty

  • Charles L. Castiglione – Surgery
  • Joseph H. McIsaac, III – Anesthesiology
  • Thomas C. Mort – Anesthesiology

Associate Professor w/award of Academic Tenure

  • Lisa C. Barry – Psychiatry

Associate Professor – In Residence

  • Laurie C. Caines – Medicine
  • Justin J. Finch – Dermatology
  • Jennifer M.P. Kanaan – Medicine
  • Jun Lu – Dermatology
  • Pooja Luthra – Medicine
  • Kenia Mansilla-Rivera – Family Medicine
  • Wendy A. Miller – Medicine
  • Michael J. Payette – Dermatology
  • Christine Thatcher – Family Medicine
  • Kristina F. Zdanys – Psychiatry

Associate Professor – Affiliated Institution

  • Elizabeth A. Deckers – (Hartford Hospital) – Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Lawrence Engmann – (Center for Advanced Reproductive Services) – Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Annmarie Golioto – (Connecticut Children’s Medical Center) – Pediatrics
  • Louisa Kalsner – (Connecticut Children’s Medical Center) – Pediatrics
  • Lisa B. Namerow – (Hartford Hospital) – Psychiatry
  • Avinash Prasad – (Hartford Hospital) – Neurology
  • Stephanie E. Rosener – (Middlesex Hospital) – Family Medicine
  • Melissa Santos – (Connecticut Children’s Medical Center) – Pediatrics
  • Erica A. Schuyler – (Hartford Hospital) – Neurology
  • Shailendra Upadhyay – (Connecticut Children’s Medical Center) – Pediatrics

Associate Clinical Professor – Community Faculty

  • Sivasenthil Arumugam – Anesthesiology
  • Melanie S. Collins – Pediatrics
  • Thomas J. Martin – Anesthesiology
  • Dhamodaran Palaniappan – Anesthesiology

In Memoriam: Richard G. Stevens, PhD

Richard G. Stevens in 2008 (Photo by Barbara Case)

It is with deep sadness that we share news of the passing of beloved colleague, researcher, and teacher Richard G. Stevens, Ph.D.

Dr. Stevens served UConn School of Medicine as a longtime faculty member since 1999. He was a professor and researcher in the Department of Community Medicine and Health Care and additionally contributed greatly to teaching UConn graduate students in the public health program, the masters in clinical and translational research program, and medical school students.

Dr. Stevens was a highly renowned cancer epidemiologist. For more than three decades he studied the effects of body iron levels associated with cancer and the role artificial lighting has on human health. He was steadfast in advancing our available scientific knowledge and the general public’s awareness about how artificial light, including light emitted from our electronic devices, is affecting our biology including disrupting our circadian rhythms.

He authored more than 150 academic publications including many with high impact in top scientific journals. As an avid communicator he authored high-profile media pieces that achieved large readership, spreading awareness and the UConn name far and wide.

In addition to his successful professional career, Dr. Stevens enjoyed the outdoors and was a great friend to many at UConn.

Dr. Stevens was a graduate of the University of California and completed his Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University of Washington.

A memorial service celebrating Richard’s life will be held on Friday, August 23, at 3 p.m. at the Carmon Funeral Home Family Center, 301 Country Club Road, Avon.

Our sympathy is with his wife, Ann, and family.



Dr. Bruce T. Liang
Dean, UConn School of Medicine

Dr. Douglas Brugge
Chair, Community Medicine and Health Care

Honoring UConn Health’s Volunteers

3 UConn Health volunteers at a table7 UConn Health volunteers at a table2 UConn Health volunteers at a table4 UConn Dental students provide music for the eveningGroup of volunteers and honorees at a table3 UConn Health volunteers at a table4 UConn dental students who provided music

UConn Health held a recognition reception for its volunteers June 4 in the academic rotunda.

Last year, 171 UConn Health volunteers gave more than 21,600 hours in various roles. Some volunteer for a few days a month, while others come in daily. In a typical week, UConn Health benefits from 415 volunteer hours.

Departments that could use volunteer assistance should email to inquire about availability and to schedule. Those who are interested in learning more about volunteering, or who know someone who might be interested, also should email