VA Research Communications
The VA Research Communications team helps keep Veterans, other VA stakeholders, and the American public informed about the work and progress of VA researchers nationwide.
The team aims to communicate science in a clear, accurate, balanced fashion. Working with our scientific and program experts in the Office of Research and Development and members of the nationwide VA research enterprise, we develop informational materials for use on VA websites (including this one), social media, and other platforms.
We tell the stories of the VA investigators working to improve Veterans’ lives, and of the Veterans who volunteer to take part in research (with their full consent, and only when privacy and confidentiality considerations allow). We help inform VA responses to media and congressional inquiries, and support special events in which researchers share their work. We also collaborate with outside partners such as Veteran Service Organizations to provide up-to-date, accurate information for external websites and publications.
We hope our work is helpful to you, and we invite your feedback and suggestions at VA Research Communications.
Meet the VA Research Communications team:
Mitch Mirkin is acting director of communications for the VA Office of Research and Development (ORD). He has been with the ORD communications team since 2000, serving most of these years as a supervisory writer-editor. Before joining VA, Mitch worked as the publications manager for a large healthcare system in Philadelphia, and as the managing editor of a community newspaper. Mitch holds a bachelor’s in advertising and journalism from Baruch College, part of the City University of New York, and a master’s in mass media arts and journalism from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He has been recognized for his writing, editing, and communications skills with several awards, including a National Association of Government Communicators first place Writer’s Portfolio award in 2017, and a Center for Plain Language Clearmark Award in 2010.
Celeste Anderson is a staff assistant with VA Research Communications. She provides administrative support for human resources, budget, travel, space utilization, and procurement for communications and other programs within ORD. Celeste joined VA Research Communications in 2018. Prior to that, she served 15 years as a visual information specialist with the Journal of Research and Development (JRRD), formerly published by VA’s Rehabilitation Research and Development. She also served 12 years providing administrative support to the director and manager of VA’s Office of Technology Transfer and Prosthetics Assessment & Information Center.
David Bartlinski is a technical Information specialist with VA Research Communications. His roles including serving as social media manager, website manager, and data analyst. He also oversees the formatting and dissemination of internal and external newsletters. Additionally, he manages internal collaboration and communications systems, using SharePoint and other platforms. David became a VA employee in 2013. Previously, since 2009 he had worked as a contractor for the Journal of Research and Development, formerly published by VA’s Rehabilitation Research and Development, serving as webmaster. David holds a Bachelor of Science in Imaging, Digital Arts, and Interactivity from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Tristan Horrom is a writer-editor with VA Research Communications. He writes content for the VA Research website, including news briefs, VA Research Currents articles, Research in Action stories, and fact sheets. He also performs writing and editing for research topic pages, program websites, and internal communications products such as ORD Field Update and summaries of daily news clips related to VA research. Tristan joined the communications team in 2016. Prior to that, he had worked for VA since 2009 as an editor for the Journal of Research and Development, a peer-reviewed research journal formerly published by VA’s Rehabilitation Research & Development service. Tristan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a Master of Science in professional writing from Towson University.
Mike Richman is the managing editor in VA Research Communications. He writes content for the VA research website, primarily articles for VA Research Currents and VA Researchers Who Served. He’s an editor-writer for the print version of VA Research Currents and edits copy by colleagues and freelancers. He also voices 60-second audio clips called VA Research Nuggets that air on the D.C. radio stations Federal News Network and WTOP, and he prepares articles for posting on VA blogs, including Vantage Point and Inside Veterans Health. In VA communications contests, he placed first in feature writing in 2017 and 2019, and he won Best of Show for his feature articles in 2019. Mike is also the author of three books—The Redskins Encyclopedia, The Washington Redskins Football Vault, and Joe Gibbs: An Enduring Legacy—and is completing a biography on legendary NFL coach George Allen. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in journalism and public affairs from American University.
Carol Roberts is a program and management analyst in VA Research Communications. She oversees administrative functions regarding human resources, budget, space utilization, and contracting, and is a liaison on these and other administrative matters to VA’s Office of Research and Development, VA field research offices, and academic affiliates. She also analyzes, evaluates, and makes recommendations on administrative programs and issues. She joined VA in 2012, first serving with VA Research Communications and the Journal of Research and Development, and then serving as the research administrative officer for the VA Maryland Health Care System. She rejoined VA Research Communications in 2020. Prior to her time with VA, Carol worked as an administrative officer at the National Center for Research Resources and at the Clinical Center within the National Institutes of Health. She holds a graduate degree in public administration and an undergraduate degree in health systems management—both from the University of Baltimore.
Erica Sprey is a writer-editor with VA Research Communications. She authors and manages multiple communications products, including VA Research Currents articles; topic pages for the VA Research website; other digital publications that target members of Congress, nonprofit organizations, and Veterans; and special projects to support senior-level VA executives. In 2019, she served as executive speechwriter for the Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks. Erica joined VA in 2016 after working as a feature writer and managing editor for Physicians Practice and Medical Economics—both nationally recognized practice-management journals. She is a U.S. Army Veteran who served as a dental assistant in Germany and Ft. Meade, Maryland. Erica is a graduate of the University of Maryland Global Campus and did undergraduate work at Michigan State University.
Robert Williams is a visual information specialist with VA Research Communications. He designs digital and hard-copy materials such as VA Research Currents magazines, infographics, fact sheets, brochures, posters, and signage. He also assists departments within ORD to develop new layout and design concepts. Robert joined the communications team in 2016. Prior to that, he had worked for VA’s Journal of Research and Development, a peer-reviewed research journal formerly published by VA’s Rehabilitation Research and Development service. He served there as a visual information specialist from 2006 to 2014, and as the frontline supervisor from 2015 to 2016. Robert holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from New York Institute of Technology.