Meet The Scholars

APPLICATIONS RE-OPEN IN 2020.
“This program connects me to an interdisciplinary network of scholars who, like me, are investigating the root causes of health inequality to achieve health equity.”
— TERRELL FRAZIER
TERRELL FRAIZER, PhD student, Sociology, Columbia University

Health Policy Research Scholars challenge themselves to apply their expertise and outside-the-box thinking to making their communities healthier and more equitable.

No matter what their background, training, or discipline, they play a crucial role building a Culture of Health. They stretch beyond their daily studies and collaborate with scholars from many other disciplines—building their leadership skills, and creating change in their institution, community, and beyond.

Scholars

Displaying 115 result(s)

Rantimi Adetunji
Rantimi Adetunji
Angela Adler
Angela Adler
Chinyere Agbai
Chinyere Agbai
Emanuel Alcala
Emanuel Alcala
Gabriella Alvarez
Gabriella Alvarez
Andrew Anderson
Andrew Anderson
Seciah Aquino
Seciah Aquino
Andrew S. Arriaga
Andrew S. Arriaga
Jason Ashe
Jason Ashe
Max Aung
Max Aung
Anton L.V. Avanceña
Anton L.V. Avanceña
Bukola Bakare
Bukola Bakare
Kellan Baker
Kellan Baker
Matthew Bakko
Matthew Bakko
Deanna Barath
Deanna Barath
Samuel Baxter
Samuel Baxter
Jasmine Blanks Jones
Jasmine Blanks Jones
Erica Browne
Erica Browne
Shanaé Burch
Shanaé Burch
Brittney Butler
Brittney Butler
Patricia Calixte-Civil
Patricia Calixte-Civil
Benjamin Carter
Benjamin Carter
Alane Celeste-Villalvir
Alane Celeste-Villalvir
Jessica Cerdeña
Jessica Cerdeña
Christopher Chiu
Christopher Chiu
Alberto Cifuentes, Jr.
Alberto Cifuentes, Jr.
Dakota Cintron
Dakota Cintron
Aaron Camp
Aaron Camp
Austin Compton
Austin Compton
Hannah Cory
Hannah Cory
Rebekah Israel Cross
Rebekah Israel Cross
Brigette A. Davis
Brigette A. Davis
Yaminette Diaz-Linhart
Yaminette Diaz-Linhart
Tran Doan
Tran Doan
Michelle Doose
Michelle Doose
Catherine Duarte
Catherine Duarte
Andrea Duran
Andrea Duran
Angeliz Encarnación Burgos
Angeliz Encarnación Burgos
Mario Alberto Espinoza-Kulick
Mario Alberto Espinoza-Kulick
Josefina Flores Morales
Josefina Flores Morales
Annie M. Francis
Annie M. Francis
Terrell Frazier
Terrell Frazier
Regina Fuller
Regina Fuller
Sheridan Fuller
Sheridan Fuller
Gerson Galdamez
Gerson Galdamez
Laura Gloria Gálvez
Laura Gloria Gálvez
Cynthia Golembeski
Cynthia Golembeski
Cristina Gomez-Vidal
Cristina Gomez-Vidal
Joseph Griffin
Joseph Griffin
Ashley Gripper
Ashley Gripper
Jenny Guadamuz
Jenny Guadamuz
Mónica Gutiérrez
Mónica Gutiérrez
Katherine Gutierrez
Katherine Gutierrez
Raven Hardy
Raven Hardy
Electa Leigh Hare-RedCorn
Electa Leigh Hare-RedCorn
Ana Herrera
Ana Herrera
Ans Irfan
Ans Irfan
Sireen Irsheid
Sireen Irsheid
Asia Sade Ivey
Asia Sade Ivey
Teresa Jackson
Teresa Jackson
Tyler Jimenez
Tyler Jimenez
Amy Jones
Amy Jones
Jovan Julien
Jovan Julien
Maningbè (Mani) Keita Fakeye
Maningbè (Mani) Keita Fakeye
M. Nicole Kunkel
M. Nicole Kunkel
Sondra Lavigne
Sondra Lavigne
Matthew Lee
Matthew Lee
Demar F. Lewis IV
Demar F. Lewis IV
Leah Lomotey-Nakon
Leah Lomotey-Nakon
Deniss Martinez
Deniss Martinez
Kathleen McCarty
Kathleen McCarty
Jennifer McGee-Avila
Jennifer McGee-Avila
Brie McLemore
Brie McLemore
Tiana Moore
Tiana Moore
Marcela Nava
Marcela Nava
Adrian Neely
Adrian Neely
Kevin Nguyen
Kevin Nguyen
Harvey L. Nicholson Jr.
Harvey L. Nicholson Jr.
Manka Nkimbeng
Manka Nkimbeng
Kadeem Noray
Kadeem Noray
Ezinne Nwankwo
Ezinne Nwankwo
Adedotun Ogunbajo
Adedotun Ogunbajo
Stephanie Keeney Parks
Stephanie Keeney Parks
Samantha M. Perez
Samantha M. Perez
Marie Plaisime
Marie Plaisime
Arrianna Planey
Arrianna Planey
Jocelyn Poe
Jocelyn Poe
Destiny M. B. Printz Pereira
Destiny M. B. Printz Pereira
Arjee Javellana Restar
Arjee Javellana Restar
Laurent Reyes
Laurent Reyes
Jennifer Richmond
Jennifer Richmond
Luisa Maria Rivera
Luisa Maria Rivera
Mya Roberson
Mya Roberson
Dislorei (Desi) Small-Rodriguez
Dislorei (Desi) Small-Rodriguez
Michael A. Rosario
Michael A. Rosario
Kristi Roybal
Kristi Roybal
Leslie Salas-Hernández
Leslie Salas-Hernández
Samantha R. H. Scott
Samantha R. H. Scott
Paul Shafer
Paul Shafer
Gayle Shipp
Gayle Shipp
Nicholas C. Smith
Nicholas C. Smith
Denise St. Jean
Denise St. Jean
Kristefer Stojanovski
Kristefer Stojanovski
Jake Ryann Sumibcay
Jake Ryann Sumibcay
Roy Taggueg Jr.
Roy Taggueg Jr.
Valerie Taing
Valerie Taing
Hawi Teizazu
Hawi Teizazu
Fanice Thomas
Fanice Thomas
Jennifer Whittaker
Jennifer Whittaker
Kevin Wiley, Jr.
Kevin Wiley, Jr.
Patrice C. Williams
Patrice C. Williams
Dana Williamson
Dana Williamson
Henry Willis
Henry Willis
Chioma Woko
Chioma Woko
Blanche Wright
Blanche Wright

RANTIMI ADETUNJI, PHD STUDENT, HEALTH SYSTEMS, ECONOMICS AND POLICY, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH

Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Rantimi’s dissertation will examine demand and supply factors of equitable elder care in Vietnam, with translatable learnings for building a culture of health in the United States. Her research interests include healthy aging, economic evaluations, HIV, injury and violence prevention.

MORE ABOUT RANTIMI
Rantimi’s (run-TEA–me) passion to reduce health and wealth inequities globally has been her career’s compass. Her experiences include financial inclusion, economic participation, and economic evaluations of HIV and TB interventions. She holds Master degrees in Health Economics and Nonprofit Management. She earned a BS with honors in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University. She served in AmeriCorps for two years as a Massachusetts Promise Fellow at MGH’s Center for Community Health Improvement, where she managed youth development programs for students in Boston Public Schools.

Angela Adler, PHD Student, Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Cohort: 2018
Angela DeLuccia

FOCUS
Tens of millions of Americans suffer from one or more illnesses of uncertain cause, such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, migraine, and autoimmune conditions. These conditions disproportionately affect women and people of color, and advances in medicine have not led to advances in curing or preventing these conditions. Angela’s research examines the historical development of these diagnoses and how they connect to social forces, including gender and racial oppressions. By looking at the social and historical development of these medical ideas, medicine can approach these conditions in different ways in the effort to identify their true causes and develop preventions and cures.

MORE ABOUT ANGELA
With her transdisciplinary education in medicine, the social sciences, and critical theory, as well as her experiences as a disabled, queer single mother, Angela uniquely approaches studying medical conditions that affect our society’s marginalized populations.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — AUGUST 2020
Brain Injury and Romantic Partnership: Relationship Quality and Stigma

This dissertation project involves interviews with couples in which at least one person has chronic effects from brain injury. The first research question examines the stigma experienced by people with brain injury, and by partners of people with brain injury. The second research question gathers information on what factors, within and beyond the romantic partnership, improve relationship quality for these couples.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

CHINYERE AGBAI, PHD STUDENT, SOCIOLOGY, BROWN UNIVERSITY

 

Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
The issue of how living in gentrifying Los Angeles neighborhoods affects the overall health of those who originally resided in these communities is the central question of Chinyere’s research. This work is particularly timely as local policymakers advocate urban development projects that often make housing decreasingly affordable. Because of the scarcity of research on this topic, Chinyere hopes this work will not only shed light on a topic that is not well understood but also provide the evidence necessary to intervene on behalf of those most negatively impacted by this phenomenon.

MORE ABOUT CHINYERE
Chinyere is well equipped to explore how gentrification affects health outcomes due to her sociological training, which emphasizes situating groups and individuals in their social and historical contexts when conducting research.

EMANUEL ALCALA, PHD STUDENT, PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, MERCED

Location: Merced, California
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
As part of the program, Emanuel will continue his work of investigating the social and environmental determinants of pediatric asthmatic events and how they may impact emergency department and hospital utilization. Beyond poor air quality, the San Joaquin Valley region has high rates of poverty and low wages. Understanding the mechanisms by which these social and environmental systems generate asthma health disparities is of great importance to the residents of the San Joaquin Valley.

MORE ABOUT EMANUEL
Emanuel has a history of conducting quantitative research to investigate contextual factors that shape health outcomes for residents of California’s San Joaquin Valley region. Building on research experiences, he plans to influence local policy through evidence-based research.

Gabriella Alvarez, PHD Student, Psychology & Neuroscience, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Cohort: 2018
Gabriella Alvarez

FOCUS
How does the social world get under the skin to sculpt the brain and body? As the central question in her work, Gabriella specifically explores how sociocultural risk factors (i.e., race-related and socioeconomic stress) are represented in brain activity and translated into physiological changes that have relevance for mental and physical health. She also examines the psychological and cultural factors that might promote neurobiological resilience among individuals from marginalized groups. In identifying the pathways by which interpersonal and structural systems alter neurobiology, Gabriella’s work has implications for developing interventions that promote health equity.

MORE ABOUT GABRIELLA
The theme of “cell-to-society” that Gabriella explores in her work involves an innovative approach that capitalizes on her training in the basic and social sciences. Gabriella believes HPRS will allow her the opportunity to leverage the benefits of integrating disciplines in order to promote meaningful changes in policy and health care.

ANDREW ANDERSON, PHD, HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND COLLEGE PARK

Location: College Park, Maryland
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Andrew’s current work and research focus on value-based healthcare delivery models, performance measurement, and social determinants of health.

MORE ABOUT ANDREW
Andrew Anderson graduated with a PhD in health services research from the University of Maryland College Park (UMD). Andrew is also a Phyllis Torda Healthcare Quality Fellow with the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Prior to NCQA, he was a senior director at the National Quality Forum (NQF) where led healthcare quality measurement initiatives related to health and health care disparities, social risk, and health equity. Andrew is a Maryland native of Jamaican descent.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — JUNE 2018
Exploring Mental Health Disparities among Accountable Care Organizations

Untreated mental health conditions (e.g. depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and substance abuse disorders) are associated with a higher incidence of disability and increased health care costs. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) —groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who come together to provide coordinated high-quality care — have the potential to improve the continuity of care for people with mental health needs. The findings of this project illustrate how hospitals that participate in ACOs are improving care coordination and the provision of mental health services.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

SECIAH AQUINO, PHD, PUBLIC HEALTH, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Seciah is determined to successfully revolutionize health care in the United States and ultimately the world. She seeks to provide the leadership needed to address the health disparities that currently exist. She is passionate about the intersection of government, health policy, economics and leadership in order to effectively address health inequalities and create structural change across our great nation.

MORE ABOUT SECIAH
Seciah Aquino earned her DrPH from the Doctorate of Public Health Program at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. She was born in Guatemala City and immigrated to the United States at the age of 10. She grew up in Los Angeles, California alongside her beautiful family. Seciah’s training in public health began when she was only 5 years old, as she was exposed to medical missions and the amazing impact they had in rural Guatemalan pueblos. Thereafter, the trials of life as an immigrant refined and shaped her leadership abilities. Through life experience, she has been blessed to learn first-hand how to stand up for the voiceless, how to provide for those in need, and how to speak up for the rights of the destitute. Seciah graduated from the University of Southern California in 2013 with a B.S in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a M.S in Global Medicine. After graduation she joined the USC Division of Dental Public Health and Community Health Programs and served as a promotora and program assistant for the Children’s Health and Maintenance Program. During her time there she provided encompassing oral health education for community members and leaders, health professionals, teachers, families and children. In addition, she was instrumental in communicating and establishing partnerships with school districts, early childcare centers and other head start programs. In a single sitting she was blessed to set up the provision of preventative oral health services for more than one thousand kids.

Location: Austin, Texas
Cohort: 2018
Andrew S. Arriaga

FOCUS
Andrew’s research is motivated by a desire to see equitable health and wellness services integrated more prominently in marginalized communities. His work seeks to particularly explore cultural factors related to help-seeking behaviors and health disparities among sexual and gender minority individuals of color—a population that has long faced adverse health outcomes and significant health care mistreatment. Andrew believes that a move toward health equity begins with a willingness to work collaboratively with underserved communities to identify the prominent barriers to healthy living that they face daily. He ultimately aspires to utilize his scholarship in psychology, cultural identity development, and social justice to contribute to public health efforts that are collaborative, advocacy-based, and action-oriented.

MORE ABOUT ANDREW
Andrew is a counseling psychology doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his BA in Culture, Identity, and the Arts from New York University in 2009. Andrew’s passion for promoting the health and wellness of LGBTQ+ individuals has been greatly informed by his life experiences as a gay Latino youth growing up in rural and traditional Texas Panhandle communities. He draws from training in psychology, community advocacy experience, and collaboration with public service and health professionals to understand the social and systemic mechanisms that can both adversely influence health outcomes and promote greater quality of life across diverse communities.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2021
It’s the Law?: A Study of Policy, Minority Stress, and Gay Men’s Barriers to Parenthood in the United States

Research on family planning decisions among childless, sexual minority adults has often focused on individuals’ attitudes towards having children, availability of familial and social support, and various other individual traits related to parenthood. However, a recent increase in proposed state and federal legislation surrounding an agency’s right to deny placement of children with sexual minority parents on the basis of personal beliefs has presented evolving psychosocial and systemic barriers to parenthood for many within these populations. Examined through a minority stress lens, this study thus seeks to explore how such policy-based factors may further impact gay men’s decisions to have children.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Jason Ashe, PHD Student, Human Services Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Cohort: 2018
Jason Ashe

FOCUS
Studying behavioral medicine and community psychology, Jason’s research interests are interdisciplinary, spanning religious studies, social health psychology, and community health. Jason is interested in exploring the multiple dimensions and behaviors of religious involvement and spirituality among African Americans that influence race-related stressors (discrimination), health outcomes, decision-making, and physician-patient relationships. As part of the program, Jason’s research focuses on the strengths of faith-based communities that promote health and well-being, while also challenging American health policy language utilizing a Christian ethics framework.

MORE ABOUT JASON
A New York native of Antiguan descent, Jason is a PhD student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Prior to pursuing his doctorate, Jason earned his BS in Chemistry from MIT, and his Master of Divinity and Master of Theology from Duke Divinity School, respectively, and was among the first cohort to receive the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Fellowship from Duke Divinity School. He is a licensed Baptist minister and enjoys incorporating sacred literature with health education.

MAX AUNG, PHD, ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Max Aung’s research focuses on characterizing the underlying mechanisms that link environmental exposures to adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes. Humans are exposed to dozens of environmental contaminants everyday, and pregnant women and developing fetuses are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of these exposures. Max investigates the potential effects that prenatal exposures to mixtures of environmental toxicants have on circulating biomarkers of inflammation during pregnancy. Max also seeks to elucidate epigenetic mechanisms—chemical modifications to DNA that impact gene expression—associated with environmental exposures. For his research, Max integrates advanced statistical methods in dimension reduction, variable selection, and machine learning techniques to analyze high-dimensional biomarker data. Max currently conducts his analyses in two prospective birth cohorts: LIFECODES and the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) Study. By understanding these relationships, Max hopes to advance the field of environmental epidemiology to inform environmental health policy.

MORE ABOUT MAX
Max Aung earned his PhD in Environmental Health Sciences and MPH in Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology at the University of Michigan, and his BS in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Max also brings unique perspectives through his trans-disciplinary work in sustainability as a previous Dow Sustainability Fellow.

Anton L.V. Avanceña, PHD Student, Health Services Organization and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Cohort: 2018
Anton L.V. Avanceña

FOCUS
Significant financial and human resources are wasted on ineffective health programs, interventions, and policies; and this waste contributes to rising health care costs and underinvestment in other important areas. Anton is passionate about reversing this trend through his research, which leverages simulation and economic modeling techniques to help guide resource allocation decisions.

Previously, Anton has used economic evaluation to estimate the costs and benefits of HPV screening policies, malaria control and elimination, and an incentive-based program designed to attract physicians to rural and underserved areas. In future projects, Anton will explore efficient ways of promoting health equity to demonstrate that equity and efficiency, which are often viewed as divergent goals, can be pursued concurrently.

MORE ABOUT ANTON
As an immigrant from the Philippines and a health services researcher, Anton offers a unique global perspective on equity and efficiency in health. Anton has collaborated with several public and private organizations in the U.S. and low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia on various public health research projects, and he plans to continue this work after his PhD studies.

BUKOLA BAKARE, PHD STUDENT, TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS (SUPPLY CHAIN CONCENTRATION), NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY

Location: Fargo, North Dakota
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Bukola Bakare’s interdisciplinary research approach and advocacy highlight issues surrounding physically active transportation and corporate social responsibility that informs planners of the need to channel transportation infrastructure and policy that benefit not only automobile travelers but also active travelers. Engaging active travelers through a safely shared road network can cultivate increased active lifestyles and reduce the burden of costs of diseases related to inactive lifestyles. Access to, and the distribution of, healthy foods is also at the core of Bukola’s research.

MORE ABOUT BUKOLA
What matters to Bukola Bakare? To make a physical and emotional difference in the health of her community, among families, and in her sphere of influence. Bukola brings critical thinking and an analytical mind to issues in transportation and logistics related to population health. She leverages her knowledge, research, and health policy training to “transport” people’s imagination to healthier levels while creating access to food that fuels people to those levels.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
Corporate Social Responsibility and Traffic Congestion: A Mixed Methods Study

This study explored the question, “Do corporations that engage in coorporate social responsibility (CSR) have a local impact in the reduction of traffic congestion? The research examined how organizations perceive traffic congestion and the role of public-private partnerships in reducing traffic congestion to mitigate its effects on health and business operations. Results show that the environmental indicator rating of CSR and traffic congestion are inversely related–a significant finding that suggests directly harnessing traffic congestion issues as a measure of the CSR ratings may have a considerable impact on traffic congestion mitigation–which reduces congestion and pollution that can correspondingly improve air quality.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

KELLAN E. BAKER, CENTENNIAL SCHOLAR PHD STUDENT, HEALTH POLICY AND MANAGEMENT, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Kellan believes that health equity is a core social justice issue. His research interests focus on how he and other researchers and advocates working at the intersections of multiple communities can reshape the socioeconomic and political determinants of health to secure high-quality care, safe environments, and the highest standard of health for the transgender population and other marginalized groups. Kellan hopes to use this work to inform public policy related to discrimination and other barriers to health care and health insurance coverage, economic assessments of quality and value, and the collection of data that tell people’s stories and highlight the resources their communities need.

MORE ABOUT KELLAN
Despite majoring in astrophysics and Russian literature, Kellan made the transition to his current studies in health services research and policy after making another transition: coming out as transgender. As a public health scholar, he seeks to improve the policies and practices that affect the lives of transgender people and other communities experiencing health disparities.

Matthew Bakko, PHD Student, Social Work and Sociology, University of Michigan

 

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Cohort: 2018
Matthew Bakko

FOCUS
Matthew is interested in making social change processes more equitable. How do differing systems and practices of philanthropy, welfare, and service delivery alter social change efforts? How do new models and tools for achieving social outcomes transform the means and modes of intervention? Matthew’s research examines how emerging social change mechanisms reconfigure organizations, engage with diverse communities, and alter power dynamics to affect the capacity building and social change process. By tracking these processes as they move from high-level sector leaders to local communities and organizations, he explores how new models and tools are serving marginalized groups. This research promotes the quality of connections and coordination between marginalized groups, community-based organizations, funders, and policymakers. It also supports investments in new forms of partnership that show evidence for building equitable community capacity.

MORE ABOUT MATTHEW
Matthew’s interests have developed through his social work practice in the nonprofit and government sectors. He has observed how well-intentioned social change efforts often perpetuate hierarchies of oppression. He seeks to research and cultivate service and health systems that build the capacity of marginalized communities to transform society.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — JUNE 2021
Disentangling Punishment and Care: Organizing Institutional Change in Municipal Community Safety

As a result of ongoing police violence, municipalities have taken the unprecedented policy step to defund police and transfer community safety resources and responsibilities to social services. To explore this transformation and disentangling of punishment and care logics in community safety, this research project asks: How do local social service organizations mediate the municipal reorganization of community safety? This project will provide insight into how new institutional arrangements are fostered by social service organizations situated in fields that dismantle existing arrangements.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

DEANNA BARATH, PHD STUDENT, HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK

Location: College Park, Maryland
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
As part of the program, Deanna will work on research to improve health equity for vulnerable populations. She is interested in implementation science and the translation of research into community practice and policy. Deanna hopes to work on applied research that adds to the body of evidence around the utilization and clinical implementation of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire to improve management of chronic conditions and increase access to community resources that support proactive factors. Deanna is also interested in the evaluation and implementation of accreditation efforts, quality improvement, and performance management systems, which are the underpinnings that create an efficient public health system to effectively serve communities.

MORE ABOUT DEANNA
During college, Deanna was in a horrendous car accident in which she suffered a traumatic brain injury and fell through the cracks of the medical system. Yet, she thrived and chose to focus her work on creating a supportive local public health system to help the most vulnerable populations.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2020
Hospital Cross-Sector Partnerships to Improve Health Outcomes

This study sought to conduct a taxonomic analysis of hospital cross-sector partnerships and determine the associations between partnership taxonomy and wrap around services and readmission rates. The central hypothesis is that 30-day unplanned readmission estimates are lower among hospitals with broader cross-sector partnerships, more formalized partnership engagement, and case management services.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

SAMUEL BAXTER, PHD STUDENT, HEALTH POLICY AND MANAGEMENT, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Mr. Baxter’s doctoral work focuses on aspects of men’s health within and outside the contexts of health care settings. He is currently working on projects related to health care access, residential segregation, and stress responses concerning young adults.

MORE ABOUT SAMUEL
Samuel Baxter is an emerging scholar advocate who is passionate about improving the lived experiences of boys and men across their life trajectories. He is a fourth-year doctoral student studying Health Policy and Management in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC. His dissertation explores racial differences in the relationship between residential segregation and heart health among young men. Samuel earned his BS in Sociology with a minor in Pan-African Studies from Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, and his MPH from Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to coming to UNC, he worked as a graduate assistant on prison health and reentry support programs at Community Voices: Healthcare for the Underserved, a division of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute. He is interested in understanding how racial disparities in health emerge among young men and leveraging this knowledge to create intervention strategies and policy-relevant solutions to create a Culture of Health that improves the health trajectories of African-American men.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
Examining Racial Differences in Cardiovascular Health among Young Men: The Role of Residential Segregation

Cardiovascular health may be an upstream solution to cardiovascular disease in the United States. I proposed a dissertation study to examine the extent that residential segregation impacts race differences in cardiovascular health among young men in the U.S. I conducted two quantitative studies using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and a participatory research study with community-dwelling young Black men.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

JASMINE BLANKS JONES, PHD STUDENT, EDUCATION AND AFRICAN STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Jasmine Blanks Jones’s research focuses on how young people develop civic capabilities through arts practices that produce outcomes for improved well-being.

MORE ABOUT JASMINE
Jasmine L. Blanks Jones is pursuing a dual PhD in Education, Culture and Society, and in Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Master’s in Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, concentrating in Public and Nonprofit Leadership and Management. Jasmine conducted research in Social Policy and Democracy and Citizenship with the Center for School Change and in Public Achievement, respectively. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Florida A&M University and taught public school music for nearly seven years in Maryland. In 2010, she founded B4 Youth Theatre, Inc. a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides arts education programming for young people in Liberia, West Africa, using a community organizing model.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2019
Performance as Public Work: Youth as Civic Actors for Policy and Practice in Liberia

This performance ethnography considers the impact and interplay between youth’s cultural production and various policies or practices they identified as important for young people in service of Liberia’s greater well-being. The youth in this study advocated for establishing a war crimes court in Liberia, performed national awareness dramas on gender mainstreaming policies, and their tireless Ebola outreach efforts extended from what they understood to be their responsibility as citizens and created a space for them to exercise the right to speech as they gained the attention of prominent global audiences. Youth civic actors in these instances used their performance skills and abilities to build networks, access resources from international organizations, and have their art performed and voices heard before larger and more diverse audiences.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

ERICA BROWNE, PHD STUDENT, PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

Location: Berkeley, California
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Erica Browne’s research interest includes a focus on organizational practice, and the extent to which nonprofit hospital community benefit investments can support equitable economic development, and improved population health outcomes within urban communities.

MORE ABOUT ERICA
Erica Browne is a second-year doctoral student in the Berkeley School of Public Health. Originally from Los Angeles, with strong roots in Covington, Tennessee, she received her MPH. degree in Community Health Sciences from UCLA, and a BA in Development Studies from the International Area Studies program at U.C. Berkeley. Erica’s interest in public health emerged from her curiosity about the cultural, economic and social factors that circumscribe personal choice. She has previously worked with Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, and PolicyLink on various community health and health equity programs, and is a graduate student researcher with Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society (HIFIS) at UC Berkeley.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2019
Moving Further Upstream to Promote Racial Equity: A Mixed Method Analysis of Private Nonprofit Hospital Community Benefit

This dissertation examines how private nonprofit hospital community benefit aligns with health, and the extent to which racial health inequities are addressed. While previous empirical work has examined hospital community benefit in relation to state laws, tax savings, and hospital ownership, less is understood about the relationship between private nonprofit hospital community benefit spending and community health-related needs. Together, the three papers in this dissertation provide support for a racial equity approach to private nonprofit hospital community benefit that builds upon existing theoretical and empirical work, and helps to move research and practice further upstream to advance racial equity and improve population health.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Shanaé Burch, PHD Student, Health Education, Columbia University

Location: New York, New York
Cohort: 2018
Shanae Burch

FOCUS
Shanaé’s research in health behavior will explore the effects of arts participation and cultural engagement on health outcomes. In response to nearly nine out of 10 adult Americans having trouble using everyday health information that is regularly presented in health care settings, marketing, media, and communities, Shanaé’s interests include the use of theater and storytelling as a tool to examine and address complex issues, such as the social determinants of health. Her central focus is to conduct research on social connectedness and creativity that translates to improving the well-being of population groups most likely to experience low levels of health literacy due to age, race or ethnicity, education, language, culture, and access to resources.

MORE ABOUT SHANAÉ
Shanaé is a digital and performance storyteller who earned her BFA in Acting at Emerson College and Master’s in Arts in Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She wholeheartedly believes art can influence the multiplication of health advocates across sectors, as well as champion health-affirming policies and cross-collaborative practices. Shanaé continues to work as a proud member of her union, Actors Equity Association.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2021
In Pursuit of Healthful Narratives: Black Women and/or Gender-Expansive Citizens Creating and Performing Art and Cultural Work in Service of “Good Health”

Ethical questions arise for the “arts in public health” field when we make statements that “art is healing” without repair for the harm of how cultural industries contribute to racial capitalism and health inequities. This study entails conducting a scoping review of the “theatre for health” literature, creating and performing a theatrical production that promotes Black health, and interviewing Black women and/or gender—expansive persons who are artists and cultural workers across the Black Atlantic. In pursuit of generating more healthful narratives, the anticipated findings will generate deeper understanding about the motivations and beliefs of Black artists and cultural workers through narrative analysis — informing future priorities and policy recommendations concerning health promotion, civic participation, and cultivating a sense of kinship with community care.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Maternal and infant mortality is consistently on the rise for Black women and babies. Despite dramatic improvements in technology, health care, and access to health care; Black women continue to have higher rates of pregnancy complications, pregnancy related deaths, infant deaths, and increase risk for chronic disease postpartum. Brittney is training to be a social epidemiologist with a research interest that focuses on understanding the extent to which structural racism and interpersonal experiences of racial discrimination impact pregnancy complications and outcomes for both mothers and infants. Historical and current policy continue to shape women’s ability to have healthy pregnancy and live overall healthy lives by impacting both health behaviors and physiological changes in the body due to racialized stress. Brittney is interested in conceptualizing and measuring how structural racism, such as segregation and disparate incarceration, personally impacts Black women’s pregnancies, their infants and their postpartum health.

MORE ABOUT BRITTNEY
Brittney, daughter of Jamaican immigrants, saw first-hand the changes in pregnancies in her family. Her mother had three pregnancies after coming to the United States. The first pregnancy, Brittney, resulted in a low birthweight infant. The second resulted in a stillbirth and third pregnancy was plagued with gestational diabetes, resulting in a premature delivery, small-for-gestational-age infant with jaundice in the NICU. While shadowing in an obstetric office, during undergrad, Brittney realized not only was this trend more common than she thought, but it was happening to Black women far more than the other women in the practice. Brittney became intrigued with why these disparate outcomes were happening despite similarities in access to health care, education, income and prenatal care. Brittney aims to continue to research why Black women have such poor outcomes and address how systematic racism shapes their lives and experiences.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — JULY 2019
Examination of Exposures to Anti-Black Racism Over the Lifecourse and their Association with Pregnancy Induced Hypertensive Disorders Among Black Women

Black women are disproportionately burdened by pregnancy induced hypertensive disorders (PIHDs) compared to women of all other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. Until very recently, Black race was listed as a risk factor for PIHDs, due to an inability to explain these disparities. My dissertation research explored the relationship between various levels of anti-Black racism and PHIDs among Black women using a mixed method approach to (1) highlight how structural racism at the neighborhood level impacts individual pregnancy outcomes for Black women, (2) dispel the narrative that Black race is a meaningful clinical risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes, and (3) inform equitable policy solutions to create neighborhoods where all people can thrive and live healthy lives.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

PATRICIA CALIXTE-CIVIL, PHD STUDENT, PSYCHOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA

Location: Tampa, Florida
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Patricia Calixte-Civil is seeking to advance her training in the theories and methods of substance use research with a particular interest in barriers to treatments and interventions for tobacco dependence in understudied populations. She also has interests in studying effective and accessible interventions for tobacco dependence in African-Americans and the LGBT community. She plans to do research developing and evaluating clinical treatments and interventions for tobacco dependence in groups that carry the burden of illness, and be able to develop and test the delivery of health services in affected communities.

MORE ABOUT PATRICIA
Patricia Calixte-Civil is a first-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of South Florida. At the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at Moffitt Cancer, she is exploring tobacco-related health disparities among under-resourced populations. She is a proud alumna of the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, Project L/EARN, and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick, where she completed an honors major in psychology with a focus on Substance Abuse Disorders. Previously, Patricia worked as a research assistant in the department of Addiction Psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School on a study testing the efficacy of a computer-based intervention for smokers with psychosis.

Benjamin Carter, PHD Student, Political Science, Stony Brook University

Location: Stony Brook, New York
Cohort: 2018
Benjamin Carter

FOCUS
Even the most promising social policy will fail to improve society if it is not politically viable. Ben uses economic and public opinion experiments to study how citizens understand and vote about policies that affect the public distribution of benefits. His research will help policymakers frame and execute their legislative agendas by exploring how popular support for helpful government programs is influenced by political language, the program’s complexity, and visibility of the program’s benefits.

MORE ABOUT BEN
Ben has witnessed firsthand how politics and identity can cause citizens to think and vote in ways that perpetuate harmful inequities in society. His goal as a Health Policy Research Scholar is to translate his research on policy perception into tools that help policymakers build a healthier, more equitable culture.

Alane Celeste-Villalvir, PHD Student, Management, Policy, and Community Health, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health

Location: Houston, Texas
Cohort: 2018
Alane Celeste-Villalvir

FOCUS
Public health programs, policies, and research have been historically proscriptive, excluding marginalized communities and often denying them the agency to define their health needs and solutions. Alane’s research interests center on addressing health disparities in underserved communities in a way that promotes equity, inclusion, and cultural humility. Her research focuses on elucidating the characteristics and experiences of vulnerable populations, specifically the health and wellness needs of individuals with experiences of homelessness, substance use, incarceration, those engaged in sex work, and sexual/gender minorities. Alane’s goals are to address such issues by way of community-driven, collaborative research that looks to develop new community programs, strengthen existing programs, and make adequate policy recommendations. Alane envisions her research integrating health and social services in order to remove stigma and better serve disenfranchised populations.

MORE ABOUT ALANE
Having been born and raised in New York City, with nine years of her childhood spent in the Dominican Republic, Alane brings a multicultural and multidimensional perspective of community health based on both personal and secondhand experience. She knows firsthand the detrimental effects of systemic exclusion and marginalization, limited public health programming, and poverty. She comes with more than 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including experience in program management, advocacy, and community organizing. Her research looks to move away from top-down research models, and shift the power dynamic between academics and the communities they work with to promote trust and collaboration.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — DECEMBER 2019
Finding the Missing Millions: An Exploration of Challenges and Facilitators to Hepatitis C (HCV) Screening among Individuals Experiencing Homelessness 

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a leading cause of death and the most common bloodborne illness in the United States (U.S), and people experiencing homelessness are at higher risk of HCV because they are particularly vulnerable to risk factors related to HCV. Screening is the first step in the HCV care continuum, and community programs may be an effective way to screen and diagnose people experiencing homelessness for HCV. This study explored the challenges and facilitators to HCV screening among people experiencing homelessness, as reported by employees of two homeless service providers and people experiencing homelessness in Houston, Texas.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

JESSICA CERDEÑA, MD/PHD CANDIDATE, MEDICAL ANTHROPOLOGY, YALE UNIVERSITY

Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Jessica applies a biocultural lens to health disparities, studying the epigenetic underpinnings of intergenerational trauma among Latin American migrants to New Haven, Connecticut. Using ethnographic and epigenetic methods, she attempts to understand the embodiment of migration-related trauma. In her career as a physician-anthropologist, Jessica plans to deploy her research at the intersection of community health and health policy.

MORE ABOUT JESSICA
Jessica grew up in northern New Jersey in a community shaped by immigration. Her current research interests grew out of her mental health work at a free clinic in New Haven, where she first learned of the trauma histories shared among the families of many of the Latin American migrant patients.

CHRISTOPHER CHIU, PHD STUDENT, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS BOSTON

Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Chris decided to dedicate his research career to studying intimate partner violence (IPV). Delving deeper into the field, he realized that limited effort has been invested in researching partner abuse in the LGBTQ community. He hopes to engage in qualitative and quantitative research focused on ameliorating the suffering resulting from health disparities for LGBTQ individuals, especially in relation to partner violence and victimization. His research will serve as a critical step in creating the evidence base for national policy and practice standards to benefit LGBTQ individuals in the future.

MORE ABOUT CHRISTOPHER
Chris was born and raised in Boston, and his personal experiences have shaped his desire to use research to improve the lives of LGBTQ individuals through both enhancing clinical care and engaging in advocacy.

Alberto Cifuentes, Jr., PHD Student, Social Work, University of Connecticut

Location: Hartford, Connecticut
Cohort: 2018
Alberto Cifuentes, Jr.

FOCUS
Urban sex workers, regardless of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, experience high levels of prejudice and discrimination that negatively impact their health outcomes. Moreover, these individuals often lack access to health care, employment, housing, and educational opportunities because of their culturally stigmatized status in society. Alberto’s research seeks to not only reduce prejudicial views of sex workers that alienate them from mainstream society, but also expand their level of access to lifesaving resources and support systems.

MORE ABOUT ALBERTO
As an openly gay Latino social worker that has worked extensively with the LGBTQ community, Alberto has spent over a decade organizing and advocating for marginalized communities. He believes HPRS will serve as a vehicle for transforming his research into policy change that will protect rather than undermine the rights and dignity of sex workers.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2021
A Convergent Mixed Methods Study of the Impact of Stigma on the Sexual Health and Substance Use Outcomes of Internet-based Cisgender Male Sex Workers Who Have Sex with Men

Using a sex-positive feminist and intersectional lens, this study examines the impact of multiple forms of stigma on the sexual health and substance use outcomes of Internet-based cisgender male sex workers as well as the protective factors that may help them counteract the negative effects of stigma. Public health, policy, and social work implications are discussed, especially with regard to redefining sex work as a legitimate form of labor within a culture that negates the human rights of sex workers nationwide and worldwide.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

DAKOTA CINTRON, PHD STUDENT, EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT

Location: Storrs, Connecticut
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Dakota’s academic research interests are in longitudinal and structural equation modeling. In particular, his academic research goals are to conduct methodological research on longitudinal and structural equation modeling, as well as help others apply longitudinal and structural equation models to understand growth and psychopathology.

MORE ABOUT DAKOTA
Dakota Cintron is currently pursuing a PhD in Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment at the University of Connecticut. Dakota grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia and obtained a BS in Economics and Public Health from Rutgers University. While there, he developed a strong interest in statistical and research methods and their application to public and health policy. His experiences ultimately led him to pursue graduate studies at the Teachers College at Columbia University. At the Teachers College, he obtained a MS in Applied Statistics and EdM in Measurement and Evaluation. His research at Teachers College was focused on structural equation modeling and cognitive diagnosis modeling. He has previously held professional positions at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, the Cardiovascular Institute of New Jersey, the National Institute for Early Education Research, the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center, New Visions for Public Schools, and Teachers College at Columbia.

Location: Waltham, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Aaron Camp’s research examines assets, sociopolitical structures, and their impact on the health and economic well-being of underrepresented communities. During his doctoral career, Aaron intends to conduct case studies that explore the responsibilities and potential benefits of community support groups and cultural network systems. He envisions that organizational and cultural entities possess a certain untapped capital that, if understood and utilized passionately, might serve as a model to reduce inequities in our health and social systems. Aaron is particularly focused on relational concepts and their overall influence on the uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis among Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the southeastern United States.

MORE ABOUT AARON
As a doctoral student studying assets and inequalities, Aaron researches topics including educational inequality, the culture of poverty, social movements, syndemics, and HIV/AIDS among Black men who have sex with men. Additionally, Aaron has worked extensively with organizations such as Teach For America and the sociopolitical action group Equality NC.

AUSTIN COMPTON, PHD STUDENT, BIOCHEMISTRY, VIRGINIA TECH

Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Austin is studying mosquito-borne infectious diseases in the context of genetic sex determination in the mosquito vector. He is interested in developing a novel genetics-based approach to controlling mosquito populations by creating a male bias within a mosquito population, which could ultimately lead to a local population crash. Through HPRS, he hopes to engage the public and policy leaders in a dialogue about the potential benefits and risks of new technologies to facilitate the judicious and sustainable control of mosquito-borne infectious diseases.

MORE ABOUT AUSTIN
As he was growing up, Austin’s parents instilled in him the desire to achieve great things, such as completing a college degree and pursuing a fulfilling career. He now believes that the great things to be achieved are those that benefit humanity. Austin wishes to contribute to HPRS by using his biochemistry background to engage in evidence-driven discussions with his peers.

HANNAH CORY, PHD STUDENT, NUTRITION, HARVARD UNIVERSITY

Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Experiencing stigma and discrimination has significant impacts on our long-term health. To unravel how these experiences impact health, understanding exposure over the life course is necessary, but this link is only just beginning to be explored in adolescent populations. Hannah’s research uses mixed-methods approaches to better measure and understand how experiences of weight stigma and discrimination intersect with other socially-stigmatized identities and influence nutrition and chronic disease risk in adolescent populations. Through her research, Hannah aspires to provide an evidence base to identify socially-constructed barriers to wellbeing for marginalized adolescents that can be addressed through policy intervention.

MORE ABOUT HANNAH
Hannah’s mother raised her in a home where food was love and a human right. As a pediatric dietitian, Hannah has worked for the past decade to address inequities in nutrition-related chronic disease outcomes. These experiences shape and drive Hannah’s current work aimed at dismantling the systemic barriers adolescents face in building healthy relationships with food and their bodies.

Location: Los Angeles, California
Cohort: 2017


FOCUS
Structural and institutional racism often determine where we can live, work, and socialize, which ultimately shapes our mental and physical health outcomes. Rebekah is interested in conceptualizing and measuring racism as well as using mixed methods to better understand how the inequitable distribution of power, land, and other resources has shaped the health of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. Her research interests include structural racism, social determinants of health, affordable housing, and community development. She’s especially interested in the processes of residential segregation, housing discrimination, and gentrification.

MORE ABOUT REBEKAH
Hailing from Harlem, New York, Rebekah has always been fascinated by neighborhood culture. The educational journey that took her from New York to Chapel Hill to Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles has allowed her to see not only how racist policies have deprived certain neighborhoods of resources, but also how communities have mobilized to resist and respond to external forces. Rebekah hopes to elevate community voices that are often ignored in health research on neighborhood effects.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — NOVEMBER 2020
Gentrification, Residential Mobility and Preterm Birth among Black Women: A Mixed Methods Study of Racial Resegregation in Northern California

The purpose of this project is to assess the relationship between gentrification, racial resegregation and preterm birth among Black women in Northern California. The specific aims are (1) determine if neighborhood-level gentrification stage is associated with preterm delivery among Black women and whether relationships are mediated by prenatal care and housing insecurity; (2) identify potential mechanisms linking residential mobility to preterm birth risk among Black women; and (3) explore the association between inter-pregnancy residential mobility and preterm birth among Black women.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Brigette A. Davis, PHD Student, Social Epidemiology | Population Health Sciences, Harvard University

Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2018
Brigette A. Davis

FOCUS
Each individual’s road from youth to adulthood has its challenges, yet an ideal society is one that allows all to grow into their fullest potential. However, for people of color, this road is made more difficult by structural racism embedded in the institutions encountered throughout development. Racism ingrained in our school systems, neighborhoods, occupations, and criminal justice system, creates roadblocks across the course of our lives, which ultimately leads to poor health for people of color. Since these systems are connected, improving one domain may not be sufficient to close racial health gaps. Brigette’s research focuses on understanding how racist policies and practices in everyday institutions compound over the life course to produce health disparities. Using transdisciplinary research, she hopes to quantify the overall impact of racism on health outcomes in adulthood, while identifying critical periods of opportunity and resilience at all stages of development.

MORE ABOUT BRIGETTE
Brigette is from Saint Louis, Missouri, where she has been inspired and reinvigorated by her community’s passion, resolve, and commitment to grassroots activism. She’s worked as an analyst and epidemiologist in governmental, private, and academic settings prior to pursing a PhD. As a scholar and advocate, Brigette works to produce research that will be used across sectors that produce the social determinants of health—using transdisciplinary knowledge, policy change, and activism to achieve health equity.

YAMINETTE DIAZ-LINHART, PHD STUDENT, SOCIAL POLICY AND MANAGEMENT, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY

Location: Greater Boston, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Yaminette believes that in order to move toward health equity, organizations will need to include frontline workers as active participants in organizational strategy and design of day-to-day work. Her research explores how worker voice and employee involvement practices impact well-being outcomes for health care and social service workers. Her research focuses on how organizations manage boundary spanner roles, like community health workers, and how work design and employee management practices impact worker and community well-being. She believes that addressing the current gap in managing these roles is crucial for employee health and wellbeing, and as a result, for communities served by these frontline workers.

MORE ABOUT YAMINETTE
Yaminette’s unique perspective straddles multiple identities, including her professional work as a public health social worker, and positions her well to think about building a Culture of Health through cross-sector collaborations in management and employment relations.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — NOVEMBER 2020
Does Worker Voice Impact Worker Well-being in Health Care and Social services?

This dissertation employs a mixed-methods research design to understand employee voice as a predictor of well-being for community health workers, an emerging profession. A mixed-methods design measures predictors of well-being, voice practices and experiences of professionalization for community health workers.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

TRAN DOAN, PHD STUDENT, HEALTH MANAGEMENT AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Cohort: 2016

 

FOCUS
Her dissertation—which focuses on measuring the cost-effectiveness of universal mental health screening for adolescent depression—will likely have policy implications for setting screening practices for pediatricians and family doctors, who are in a strong position to advocate for youth’s mental health. She aims to apply decision science tools and simulation modeling for addressing health equity while accounting for complexities.

MORE ABOUT TRAN
Tran Doan is a PhD student in Health Services Organization and Policy, specializing in decision science and operations research. Before this, Tran worked on a Health Policy and Advocacy team for AIDS United—a D.C. non-profit operating the oldest federal policy coalition working to end the HIV epidemic in the United States. Additionally, she spent some time as a Community Outreach Manager for Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti—a 24/7 non-profit hospital in rural Haiti. Tran has an MPH in Infectious Diseases and a BS in Chemistry with honors.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2020
A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Universal Routine Depression Screening of U.S. Adolescents in Primary Care

About one in five adolescents face major depression. In 2018, American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children ages 12 years and older should be screened for depression annually. However, depression in teens often goes underdiagnosed and undertreated—presenting an opportunity for pediatricians to help identify mental health issues early and guide adolescents and families toward treatment. My dissertation aims to measure the health and economic outcomes of universal routine depression screening in adolescents in primary care using a cost-effectiveness analysis, and the extent to which the results are influenced by demographic factors including race-ethnicity, gender, and age.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

MICHELLE DOOSE, PHD, EPIDEMIOLOGY, RUTGERS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH

Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Michelle Doose’s research focuses on healthcare delivery and cancer care outcomes among cancer patients with chronic health conditions using a health equity lens. Her current doctoral research is examining the multilevel factors that influence optimal diabetes and hypertension care management among African American breast cancer patients. She seeks to understand the influence of medical teams, health systems, and health policies on cancer care delivery and care coordination. She aims to use her research to transform health care for cancer survivors with complex health and social needs.

MORE ABOUT MICHELLE
Michelle Doose earned her PhD at Rutgers School of Public Health in the Department of Epidemiology. Following her MPH in Community Health Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Michelle worked as a health educator helping cancer survivors navigate health and wellness after cancer. She also collaborated on the development and implementation of culturally-tailored, innovative interventions (i.e., photonovela, text messaging, peer navigation, smartphone app) to prepare cancer survivors to transition to post-treatment care. Michelle received her Bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Spanish at Pepperdine University, also in Southern California. Michelle’s research interests have been informed by her past and current research activities, her work as a cancer advocate, and her lived experiences as a childhood cancer survivor.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — APRIL 2018
Examining the Multilevel Influences on Diabetes and Hypertension Clinical Care Management among Breast Cancer Patients

Cancer, diabetes, and hypertension are important public health issues for women in the United States given their significant disease burden and impact on mortality. Yet, clinical care management of chronic diseases before and after a breast cancer diagnosis has not been well evaluated, especially among African American/Black women who disproportionately bear the burden of these chronic illnesses. The specific aims of this dissertation were to evaluate the influence of a breast cancer diagnosis on diabetes and hypertension clinical care management and then examine patient, provider/care team, and health system factors associated with clinical care management and health outcomes after the breast cancer diagnosis.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

CATHERINE DUARTE, PHD STUDENT, EPIDEMIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

Location: Oakland / Santa Rosa, California
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Discretionary discipline is one of the key drivers of suspension and expulsion rates in primary and secondary schools across the United States. Moreover, it is well documented in the education literature that discretionary discipline inequitably targets Black and Latino students in those schools. Catherine’s research focuses on exploring the possible health effects of this racially discriminatory practice to inform education policy interventions aimed at mitigating those effects. In so doing, she aims to contribute to the ongoing efforts to transform the institution of education to one that is more equitable – where all young people are afforded opportunities to come to school and learn in healthful environments that prioritize their well-being.

MORE ABOUT CATHERINE
Catherine is an epidemiologist with a background in social theory and an interest in the mutually reinforcing ways in which education and health collide in the real world—specifically, that we are not students one day and healthful beings the next, but both and more simultaneously. Therefore, to address our most intractable contemporary health issues requires a transdisciplinary approach that Catherine looks to embody in her doctoral training and research, her HPRS experience, her career, and her life.

ANDREA DURAN, PHD, BIOBEHAVIORAL SCIENCES (KINESIOLOGY), COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Location: New York, New York
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Andrea Duran’s research interests include the endocrine and immune responses to acute and chronic sedentary behavior, physical inactivity and exercise in individuals with and without obesity in underrepresented communities. She aspires to translate her research into effective inter-disciplinary behavioral programs for obesity and cardiometabolic disease prevention at different sociological levels.

MORE ABOUT ANDREA
Andrea earned her PhD in Kinesiology and was a pre-doctoral research and teaching fellow in the Biobehavioral Sciences Department at Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition to her coursework, Andrea instructs the Applied Physiology labs in her department and is part of an interdisciplinary research team at the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at the Columbia University Medical Center. Andrea completed her BS and MS in Kinesiology, with an emphasis in clinical exercise physiology, at California State University, Fullerton. Andrea grew up in a small town in northern California (Grass Valley, California). During her graduate studies, Andrea had the opportunity to be an integral part of the Prader-Willi Syndrome, Childhood Obesity and Physical Activity Studies research team, which investigated the effectiveness of a home-based physical activity intervention program in children with congenital and non-congenital obesity. Andrea’s experience with Prader-Willi Syndrome fueled her research interests to explore the endocrine and immune responses to exercise in children with excess adiposity, whether syndromic or nonsyndromic in origin. After her graduate studies, Andrea advanced her biomedical research skill set as a Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training scholar, where she studied molecular level health disparities at King’s College London during the Summer of 2014. Andrea’s well-rounded research experiences have channeled her passion for human movement and physiology into a career path that is fulfilling and advances a Culture of Health.

ANGELIZ ENCARNACION BURGOS, PHD STUDENT, ARCHITECTURE (COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL PLANNING), THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN

Location: Austin, Texas
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Angeliz E. Encarnación Burgos will explore the intersections between urban development and health in the Caribbean Region. She is particularly interested in political economy, local governments’ development agendas, exclusions and marginalization; and how they play as key elements in health, environment and urban life outcomes.

MORE ABOUT ANGELIZ
Angeliz Encarnación Burgos is a Ph.D. student at The University of Texas, Austin. Originally from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, she completed her BS and her Master’s in Planning at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Angeliz then worked on the Caño Martín Peña ENLACE Project for two years with AmeriCorps. As part of ENLACE’s interdisciplinary approach, she was involved not only in the design of instruments to measure program efficiency and collect data in urban and environmental matters, but in social planning issues as well, including adult literacy, violence prevention and housing programs. During this time, she designed methodological approaches and workshops on participatory mapping for an environmental awareness program. She developed a comprehensive GIS database for both ENLACE and the Caño Martín Peña Community Land Trust. Before entering her PhD program, she was working as Associate Director of Research Affairs at the University of Puerto Rico, School of Dental Medicine.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2019
Urban Development under Conditions of Colonialism: A Critical Urban History of Santurce, Puerto Rico

This study analyzes how historical political forces and development/planning processes have contributed to shaping the current uneven urban landscape of Santurce, one of the oldest barrios of the capital of Puerto Rico (San Juan), through state interventions (i.e., development/planning policies). In doing so, this study explores the key agents (i.e., institutions and political actors) and practices that have molded the distinctive development/planning institutional ensemble of Puerto Rico over time. It also considers how certain spatial strategies and colonial political interventions in Santurce, Puerto Rico have been deeply tied to economic growth policies to attract US investors and to uphold US hegemony and the colonial state. Herewith, the study proposes to trace pivotal political configurations (including the expansion of federal regulations, funding, and other institutional engagements) and to describe how the evolving historical configurations of a complex development/planning political-institutional ensemble have organized San Juan’s urban space under the shifting, often contradictory conditions of capitalism and colonialism.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

MARIO ALBERTO VIVEROS ESPINOZA, PHD STUDENT, SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA

Location: Santa Barbara, California
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Mario Espinoza-Kulick is currently researching health advocacy and access for Latinx immigrant communities along the Central Coast in California. His intersectional identity as a Queer mixed-race Chicanx individual with Indigenous cultural roots has provided him unique experiences throughout his journey that give him a distinctive depth in researching immigrant communities at risk for illness and disease. Knowing that health access is simply unequal in immigrant communities motivates Mario to continue his work on ways in which healthcare agencies and social movement organizations can advocate for marginalized groups in culturally appropriate ways.

MORE ABOUT MARIO
Mario Espinoza-Kulick is a third-year doctoral student in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Mario’s research focuses on the intersections of race, class and gender, immigration, and health social movements. Most recently, he finished his master’s thesis, “The Care-Advocacy Paradox: How Social Movement Organizers Strategize in Support of People Living with HIV/AIDS” which researched how the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power garnered attention for people living with HIV/AIDS during an era when most people affected by the epidemic were being dismissed and underserved.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
La Gente Unida: Latinx Immigrant and Indigenous Health and Advocacy on California’s Central Coast

Latinx Immigrant communities face overlapping structural barriers to positive health, including xenophobic policies, racism, settler-colonialism, and the disparate impacts of public health issues like the COVID-19 pandemic. This project developed and utilized a decolonial-inspired methodological framework to center community knowledge of health concerns and advocacy strategies. These findings are useful at multiple levels, including for community members, policymakers, and advocates, as well as researchers in sociology, ethnic studies, and public health.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

JOSEFINA FLORES MORALES, PHD STUDENT, SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES

Location: Los Angeles, California
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Josefina Flores Morales’s primary interests follow two main lines of work: The occupational health and employment of undocumented middle-aged immigrants of Mexican origin; and the educational trajectories of newcomer youth and undocumented college students. Presently, Josefina is curious about how undocumented immigrants negotiate their employment and future plans as well as how their long-term employment in low-wage jobs influences their mental and physical health in the short- and long-term. In her doctoral program, she will gain quantitative skills in demography as well as qualitative skills in ethnographic methods in order to be able to reveal the nuanced narratives of adult immigrant workers using mixed-methods. Her research in both health and education hold great implications for health policy at the local and national level.

MORE ABOUT JOSEFINA
Josefina is a first-year doctoral student studying demography in the Sociology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. She recently graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Public Health. As a teenager, Josefina worked as a trombone player in a Mexican band for five years. She worked throughout her undergraduate career in this job and others in several nonprofit organizations (legal and mental health focused). Her own employment trajectory is vastly distinct from that of her mother’s and those of many members of her community, of which a large proportion are undocumented. She believes it is a ripe time to address the health of marginalized undocumented communities—who have contributed much to the fabric of our present society and are the backbone of many local economies.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — AUGUST 2020
Three Essays on the Health of Immigrants and Undocumented Adults and Elders

The United States is increasing in demographic diversity, especially among immigration. Alongside shifting racial and ethnic composition, comes variations in immigration status. Previous researchers have identified the fact that immigrants tend to be healthier and live longer lives compared with non-immigrants of similar race/ethnic and socioeconomic groups. However, few of these studies have examined the implications of differences in immigration status for health in middle age and older age. Immigration status is an incredible force of inequality that shapes access to education, occupations, social mobility, and healthcare access. All of these factors are reliably associated with health. This dissertation offers three distinct but related studies on the negative effects of immigration status on health in older-age and across the life course.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

ANNIE M. FRANCIS, PHD STUDENT, SOCIAL WORK, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Annie’s research focuses on preserving cultural connections for American Indian children placed in out-of-home care. Her work includes evaluating the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act in her home state of North Carolina. Her future work also includes developing and evaluating culturally appropriate social support networks for foster parents who provide out-of-home care to Native children.

MORE ABOUT ANNIE
Annie, a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe of North Carolina, is dedicated to challenging the status quo to better serve the needs of tribal communities. Her passion is fueled by her personal experiences as a member of a tribal community, her professional experiences as a foster care social worker, and her cultural responsibility to address the needs of her community.

TERRELL FRAZIER, PHD STUDENT, SOCIOLOGY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Location: New York, New York
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Terrell Frazier’s research interests include political sociology, social movements, social networks, organizations, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and stratification and inequality. His current research—a study of activist network structures in New York City—investigates the relationship between social movement actors’ social positions and their capacities for strategic action. His research also examines health and disease at the intersections of identity, social position, and processes of advantage and disadvantage, to illuminate both the etiology of health disparities in marginalized communities and the relationship between the social patterning of disease and the patterning of related social movements.

MORE ABOUT TERRELL
Terrell Frazier is a PhD student in Sociology and a Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow at Columbia University. Prior to joining the Sociology department, Terrell completed his MA in African-American Studies at Columbia, where he has also worked as a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) and Education and Outreach Director of the Columbia Center for Oral History. He received a BA in Social Relations & Policy and Journalism from Michigan State University.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2020
Innovation at the Intersection: Specifying the Dynamics of Tactical Innovation within Heterogenous Activist Networks

This project, a longitudinal comparative study activist network structures in New York City, endeavors to identify and elaborate the micro-processes of tactical diffusion and associated forms of political contention within social movement networks with a narrow focus on social justice activists in relationship to the varied movement communities in which they are embedded. This study is driven largely from the collection and analysis of both approximately 100 semi-structured interviews and novel ego-centric network data from research participants in the form of an edge list in the statistical environment R. This study is poised to contribute to the sociological understanding of innovation and diffusion within movement networks as well as processes of advantage and disadvantage that may influence variability in movement outcomes.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Regina Fuller’s research focuses on how young people learn about sexuality and sexual relationships both within formal school spaces, such as sex education classrooms and in non-formal spaces such as after-school clubs and recess. Her research seeks to answer how young people discuss sexuality and desire and make decisions about sexuality. This research has the potential to inform educators, families, and public health practitioners alike on how youth prioritize their sexual lives.

MORE ABOUT REGINA
A native of South Carolina, Regina focuses on youth stems from her tenure as a teacher and former tutor. She has worked with Spanish-speaking families and students in Spartanburg, SC and tutored high school students with the Urban League of Greater Madison. Regina’s research aims to bridge the gap between education and public health research on youth sexuality.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2020
The (Un)Making of Comprehensive Sexuality Education Policy in Ghana

My dissertation examines the politics and debates surrounding sexuality education policy in Ghana. As momentum grows for reproductive rights, young people’s health and sexual education is often caught in the cross-fire of religious and political debates of what young people should and should not know about their bodies. This study illustrates how religious opposition to sexual and reproductive health policies can hinder policy implementation and progress for young people’s reproductive health.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Sheridan Fuller, PHD Student, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, Illinois
Cohort: 2018
Sheridan Fuller

FOCUS
Since the passage of “welfare reform” in 1996, there have been sharp changes in the safety net—for example, the proportion of eligible families who receive cash welfare benefits dropped by 42 percent between 1996 and 2017. Researchers still know very little about the reform’s causal impacts on children and families—especially in the long run. Furthermore, existing research related to public cash assistance has primarily focused on families’ earnings and employment outcomes. Amidst the backdrop of an increasingly work-oriented social safety net, Sheridan is focused on understanding how families’ interactions with social safety net programs influence the direction of their lives, including their long-term health. His research objective is to broaden policy discourse and provide a better understanding of how non-health policies impact health; thus expanding current understandings of the effectiveness of the social safety net while also addressing an important driver of health inequity.

MORE ABOUT SHERIDAN
Sheridan’s research focus stems from his time as a Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Sheridan’s insight into how federal policies are crafted provide him a unique lens for conducting research that informs policymakers’ decisions on public investments in and structuring of social policy programs.

GERSON GALDAMEZ, PHD STUDENT, GERONTOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Location: Los Angeles, California
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Since junior high, Gerson has volunteered as a musician in several long-term care facilities, and developed strong friendships with the older adults living there. Hearing about their experiences with abuse and mistreatment strongly compelled him to research elder abuse as a gerontology PhD student. In addition to exploring the prevalence and mechanisms of elder abuse, Gerson is conducting national-scale research on multidisciplinary elder abuse forensic centers. This intervention uses collaboration across professional fields to address the problem, bringing us a step closer to ensuring a secure old age for everyone.

MORE ABOUT GERSON
Gerson grew up in Compton, California, with several aging relatives, and experienced firsthand the lack of supports and services necessary to maintain a quality late life—inspiring his pursuit of gerontology.

Laura Gloria Gálvez, PHD Student, Native American Studies, University of California, Davis

Location: Davis, California
Cohort: 2018
Laura Gloria Gálvez

FOCUS
Laura is conducting research along with undocumented Indigenous Oaxacan communities in California. Using health narratives, Laura studies and highlights Indigenous Oaxacan understandings of well-being in contemporary places. This work is timely given the negative political atmosphere toward undocumented communities in the U.S. Laura’s work not only hopes to shed light into the resistance of undocumented Indigenous migrants reconstructing structures of health care far away from their homelands, but also offer evidence for structural interventions needed to create health equity at the state and national levels.

MORE ABOUT LAURA
Born in San Felipe Usila, Oaxaca, Laura maintains a strong connection to her Chinantec community and homeland. Laura brings forth a critical perspective and action-oriented framework to uphold Indigenous autonomy and self-determination. She believes that HPRS offers an avenue for her to translate her research into praxis and structural interventions.

Cynthia Golembeski, PHD Student, Public Affairs and Administration/Law, Rutgers University

Location: Newark, New Jersey
Cohort: 2018
Cynthia Golembeski

FOCUS
Cynthia uses mixed methods to research how policy, law, public management, and citizen‐state relations operate at the intersection of criminal legal and health systems. She also serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Correctional Health Care, World Medical and Health Policy, Harvard Public Health Review, and Public Integrity. Cynthia is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network, which is committed to using research to improve policy and strengthen democracy. Research interests include: criminal justice and health policy and management; equity; ethics; nonprofit management and philanthropy; state and local politics; and citizen-state relations.

MORE ABOUT CYNTHIA
Cynthia collaborates on health equity and criminal justice reform initiatives to achieve advocacy, policy, research, and service objectives. She is a former USAID Research and Innovation fellow and a Fulbright grantee to South Africa. She teaches with the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP) and serves as Vice President of the New Jersey Public Health Association. She received her Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University and her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley.

Cristina Gomez-Vidal, PHD Student, Social Work, University of California, Berkeley

Location: Berkeley, California
Cohort: 2018
Cristina Gomez-Vidal

FOCUS
Cristina believes in building systems that uplift the dignity, ingenuity, and health of communities. Disadvantaged rural and unincorporated communities are often excluded from policymaking consideration due to their low numbers and limited influence, despite their ability to remain resilient with limited resources. Her research is focused on examining how government systems and participatory processes either enable or restrain small population communities from accessing resources to address their health and well-being needs. This research promotes the development of more socially and politically inclusive systems.

MORE ABOUT CRISTINA
Growing up and working on health and social policy issues in California’s Central Valley, Cristina witnessed the resilience and resourcefulness of residents in rural communities. Inspired by their wisdom and leadership, Cristina plans to bridge the gap between academia and community knowledge through inclusive research models that highlight the value of those most impacted by health inequities.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — AUGUST 2020
The Legal Reproduction of Maternal and Infant Health Inequities in Unincorporated Communities

This project will address the gap in the public health literature on unincorporated communities by leveraging a legal epidemiological approach to place which interrogates how health disparities are manufactured through the absence of local government and reliance on the more distal county government structures and policies which may contribute to harmful risk environments in unincorporated communities across California’s San Joaquin Valley.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

JOSEPH GRIFFIN, DRPH CANDIDATE, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

Location: Berkeley, California
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Joseph’s research is focused on community violence as a public health issue in urban communities of color. His approach looks at the social determinants of health as the root causes of violence. Through this lens, he explores how changes to the built and social environments may act as resiliency factors for communities that suffer from a history of violence. He is inspired and motivated to address this topic by his personal experiences growing up in a violent neighborhood and his professional experiences in violence prevention. Today as an HPRS fellow, Joseph relishes the opportunity to continue this work in his hometown of Richmond, California. Using mixed-methods approaches, with an emphasis on community-based participatory research, he hopes to leverage the expertise found in both the community and academia to help communities like his own heal from violence-related trauma.

MORE ABOUT JOSEPH
People of color from low-income communities are often underrepresented at the doctoral level. As the first person in his family to pursue a doctorate, Joseph believes he has an opportunity to represent voices like his own in a space where those voices are often unheard, and to shed light on issues that affect his community.

Ashley Gripper, PHD Student, Environmental Health, Harvard University

Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2018
Ashley Gripper

FOCUS
Ashley believes black communities are stronger when they are self-determined. Her research examines the connection between agriculture, land access, and the health of black growers; it is community-centered and community-driven. In order to more effectively advocate for anti-racist federal and local land access policies, new strategies are needed to establish an association between growing food and the health of farmers and their communities. She hopes that her research will lead to the restoration of land to black farmers and families who have, at the hands of discriminatory lending practices and legal procedures, lost over twelve million acres in the United States since 1920.

MORE ABOUT ASHLEY
Ashley was first introduced to the idea of growing food as a tool for dismantling systemic oppression at the Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference in 2013. While she has always cared deeply about social justice and health equity, it wasn’t until attending this conference that she developed a particular passion for food and land sovereignty. This passion now guides her research and environmental justice work. Ashley is a Philadelphia native and hopes to bring many of the skills and knowledge she is gaining back home one day.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2020
We Don’t Farm because it’s Trendy: An Environmental Justice Approach to Understanding the Connections Between Urban Agriculture and Health in Philadelphia

Black people have used farming to build self-determined communities and resist the oppressive structures that seek to tear them down for over 150 years. Black farmers continue to grow to provide healthy food access to their families and communities, exercising collective agency and community resistance. Through spatial analysis, focus groups, and structural equation modeling, this study investigates the connections between urban agriculture and mental health, spirituality, and collective agency of Black farmers and gardeners.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

JENNY GUADAMUZ, PHD STUDENT, PHARMACEUTICAL SYSTEMS, OUTCOMES, AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Jenny S. Guadamuz’s research involves examining disparities in cardiovascular disease and their structural causes. Her current focus is on cardiovascular medication use among immigrants in the US, which due to their immigration status may be excluded from the labor market, social safety net, and healthcare system. By focusing on structural causes of health disparities, Jenny hopes to identify areas that policymakers can address in the aim of improving health equity.

MORE ABOUT JENNY
Jenny S. Guadamuz is a first-generation American, born into a proudly Nicaraguan-American family. With a little luck and a lot of work, Jenny achieved some semblance of the American dream. However, the odds were against her and her community—those who live in impoverished, segregated cities. This is her motivation—she hopes to play a small role in changing those odds.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
Immigration Status, Cardiovascular Risk Factors, and Medication Use in the United States

Despite the critical role of immigration status on cardiovascular health and medication use, this factor has largely been ignored in immigrant health research. The proposed dissertation attempts to fill this knowledge gap by investigating (1) the association between immigration status and the prevalence and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors; (2) the relationship between living in noncitizen enclaves and non-adherence to cardiovascular medications; and (3) individual and community level factors that mediate or confound these relationships.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Mónica Gutiérrez, PHD Student, Social Work, Arizona State University

Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Cohort: 2018
Mónica Gutiérrez

FOCUS
Mónica’s research focuses on structural and institutional racism and how this affects the inequitable distribution of power, land, and other resources for racial and ethnic minorities. She is particularly interested in the use of participatory research to inform social policy and systems change. She is inspired by her years of work experience in various sectors of service delivery including child welfare, veterans’ health, criminal justice, and health promotion. Her research experience includes collaboration with marginalized communities utilizing community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches to ask and answer questions of interest to the community.

MORE ABOUT MÓNICA
Mónica Gutiérrez, MSW is a daughter of immigrants, born near the U.S./México border, and raised in the California Central Coast. She is a first-generation college student, and currently a doctoral student in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University (ASU).

In addition to her coursework, Mónica is a Senior Research Specialist with the Office of Evaluation and Partner Contracts at the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center, where she works in partnership with a wide array of agencies and communities to perform evaluations and disseminate findings that support effective research-based interventions aimed at eliminating health disparities. She volunteers with the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at ASU, providing mentorship to first-generation college students. Mónica holds a Six Sigma Green Belt certification from the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at ASU, which allows her to apply a comprehensive view of systematic tools and conceptual models for analyzing, understanding, planning, and implementing effective delivery of public services.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2021
Does Power Impact an Individual’s Ability to Maintain Place, Space, and Identity? A Community Study.

The interrelationship between gentrification and displacement continues to be a highly contested topic. Historically, the debate has been grounded in whether the displacement is a process of voluntary or involuntary movement and whether neighborhood residents benefit from gentrification’s economic opportunities. However, whether displacement and gentrification are mutually exclusive should not be the focus. The issue lies in whether an individual’s sense of place and space has been altered through their movement in or out of a neighborhood.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

KATHERINE GUTIERREZ, PHD STUDENT, ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Cohort: 2017


FOCUS
Katherine’s interests lie primarily in the realm of public and health economics, specifically for New Mexico, where Hispanics constitute a majority of the population. She is particularly interested in the efficacy of federal income and food assistance, racial and ethnic disparities in socioeconomic status, and children’s nutritional status and well-being. Katherine’s research passion is to use her training in economics and data science to evaluate and contribute to the ability of public systems to help communities break out of the cycle of poverty, and to do so in a way that simultaneously enhances access to health services, affordable housing, and safe neighborhoods in a meaningful, bottom-up way.

MORE ABOUT KATHERINE
Katherine’s ethnic and cultural heritage as a New Mexican gives her a unique perspective on rural Southwestern communities, and her heavily quantitative training in economics allows her to use data to think of evidence-based policy solutions.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2021
Three Essays on Policy, Equity, and Economics

My dissertation’s first two chapters look at the impact of grocery taxes on food insecurity and health outcomes, and the third focuses on the effect of an education policy change on student outcomes at the University of New Mexico. I am elated to receive the HPRS Dissertation Award because it is allowing me to buy equipment and a new (to me) dataset to work with in finishing my dissertation.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

RAVEN HARDY, PHD STUDENT, NEUROSCIENCE, EMORY UNIVERSITY

Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Raven’s research focus combines neuroscience, nutrition, and psychopathology. She is interested in maladaptive eating behaviors. The goal of her project is to identify risk and resilience factors for disorders such as obesity and food addiction. She is interested in the psychopathological, neurobiological, endocrinological, cognitive profiles, and eating behaviors that might predict these disorders. To obtain this goal she will be conducting assessments, neuroimaging and endophenotype analysis in a highly traumatized, low-income, and minority population. Learning more about the biology and profiles associated with various maladaptive behaviors, such as emotional eating and the newly suggested food addiction, can help us detect signs so that therapies could be performed earlier.

MORE ABOUT RAVEN
Raven Hardy is a second-year doctoral student at Emory University. Prior to pursuing her PhD, she attended Spelman College where she received a Bachelors in Science. Raven was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Her research interest combines both basic and social sciences. The literature has shown that there is an interplay between biology and social determinants of health. There exists a feedback loop between the two. She believes that to have success in eliminating health disparities one must assess the contribution of each when designing policies, strategies, and therapies.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2020
Mechanism of Brain Circuitry Underlying Cognitive Decline in Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)

We will examine the hypothesis that, disruption in WM connectivity is a potential mechanism of cognitive and neurobehavioral deficit in SCD. Furthermore, that myelin, axonal injury, and neuroinflammation are potential mechanisms for disruption of brain WM connectivity in SCD. The hypothesis will be tested based on the following specific aims: [1] Determine the relationship between age and deficit in WM connectivity and their relationship to onset of cognitive deficit in SCD. [2] Determine the potential cellular mechanism of onset and/or progression of deficit in WM connectivity.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

ELECTA LEIGH HARE-REDCORN, PHD STUDENT, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS

Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Electa’s focus area is to continue to support the amazing work of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative of the University of Arkansas. The Indigenous nations and displaced peoples of our country have a heritage and a voice that is humming, rising, and ready to be heard. The goal of Electa’s research is to reduce chronic disease and obesity by strengthening tribal capacity in policy making for agriculture and health. She believes that our leaders will benefit from the beauty of reciprocity and the preservation of culture and agricultural ways of knowing. There are many grassroots initiatives in existence that carry the goal of a healthy ecology and environment, and it is Electa’s hope to highlight the work of these preservationists and translate it into meaningful policy to build a Culture of Health.

MORE ABOUT ELECTA
Electa is a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and a descendant of the Ihanktonwan Dakota tribal communities. From her ancestors, she has been gifted with an awareness of social justice issues. Electa’s occupations as a public health community liaison and as a youth advisor have blessed her with a keen sense of humanitarian strength in adverse conditions. She has a heart to cultivate beautiful, strong leaders who are as eager to pull roots in the garden bed as they are to deliver a harvest of health policies. Her goal is to bring their collective knowledge forth as they embrace their history and heritage.

ANA HERRERA, PHD STUDENT, KINESIOLOGY AND HEALTH EDUCATION, THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN

Location: Austin, Texas
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Ana Laura Herrera’s research focuses on the social, environmental, and personal influences on youth behaviors, particularly those relating to obesity and tobacco prevention. In pursuing a doctoral degree, she aspires to refine her research skills and learn how to develop, implement, and evaluate effective programs and policies to help eliminate health disparities. She believes that her research on the social determinants of health can provide a practical guidance for policies and add meaning and credibility to ethical and economic arguments needed to act, not only to ameliorate the adverse health consequences, but also to reduce social disadvantage itself, as health should not be a privilege for some, but a right for all.

MORE ABOUT ANA
Ana Laura Herrera is a first-generation student originally from Compton, California. Currently, she is a PhD student in Health Behavior and Health Education at The University of Texas at Austin. She received her MPH in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science from The University of Texas School of Public Health-Austin Regional Campus. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Chicano & Latino Studies from California State University, Long Beach. For the past nine years she served with numerous nonprofit health organizations to gain first-hand experience about the problems that plague medically underserved communities. Through these experiences and her formal education, she learned that the public health approach provides a framework to investigate and understand the causes and consequences of disease. Therefore, she decided to further her education and pursue a career in public health.’

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
The Association between Tobacco Retail Outlet Density and Advertising with Neighborhood Socio-demographic Characteristics around Colleges in Texas

The proposed research can add to existing evidence of tobacco and alternative tobacco products (ATP) marketing disparities and provide support for the development of policies that incorporate the off-campus environment in efforts to eliminate tobacco disparities and reduce tobacco use prevalence among young adults, including college students.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Ans Irfan, PHD STUDENT, Environmental and Occupational Health, The George Washington University

Location: Washington, D.C.
Cohort: 2018
Irfan Ans

FOCUS
Each year, thousands of workers die on the job, and those workers disproportionately come from low-income and marginalized communities. We, as a society, ought to do better. The location and type of one’s work should not determine one’s quality of life or lifespan. Work has been a known, fundamental social determinant of health in public health sciences and beyond; yet, the field of occupational health has largely been siloed. Ans’s research is focused on the operationalization of “work” as a social determinant of health, particularly at the intersection of climate change and occupational health equity. The essence of his interdisciplinary research is the exploration of occupational health through an equity lens by collaborating with academic researchers and the private sector. Ans aims to explore and identify sensitive indicators of worker safety at the macro, meso, and micro level to bring about much-needed change for a safer world.

MORE ABOUT ANS
As a recent immigrant to the U.S., and having lived in three different sociocultural geographies, Ans brings a unique perspective to health policy. Trained as a physician, he left clinical medicine after being smitten by public health and health policy. He aims to leverage his knowledge and experiences to steer the field of public health toward translation of evidence.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2021
Advancing Culture of Health & Health Systems Strengthening through Climate Adaptive Social Entrepreneurship: Social Impact Case Study for Climate Competent Care

The Climate Crisis is an existential threat that exacerbates social, racial, and health inequities across the globe. There is an urgent need for climate adaptation of our world, including health systems, by leveraging multidisciplinary tools to offer integrative, innovative solutions. This project operationalized the World Health Organization’s Operational Framework for Building Climate Resilient Health Systems to develop, implement, and evaluate a global program – Climate & Health Equity Practice Fellowship – focused on training physicians, representing and serving historically marginalized communities, in the Global South as climate medicine leaders.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Sireen Irsheid, PHD Student, Social Work, University of Chicago

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Cohort: 2018
Sireen Irsheid

FOCUS
Social structures entrenched in racism and social inequality systematically fail students of color. Sireen is primarily interested in examining how these structural and contextual dynamics impact factors contributing to health and education inequities. She believes it is important to develop a deep understanding of the root causes of inequity and systemic issues in order to build education and health policy solutions. Through her scholarship and research, Sireen endeavors to create equitable schools and communities that will improve student school success, increase graduation rates nationwide, and improve the overall well-being and life satisfaction of youth and families who reside in high stressed communities impacted by trauma.

MORE ABOUT SIREEN
Sireen’s passion to understand the complex intersection between structural inequality, health and education is fueled by her personal and professional experiences. She is a first-generation college student who grew up in an underserved community. Her spiritual foundation and strong family support system gave her momentum to persevere in the face of inequities. Likewise, her extensive clinical practice experience as a school social worker serving underrepresented students of color has further reinforced her commitment to continue to challenge prevailing systemic mechanisms that perpetuate health and education inequities.

Asia Sade Ivey, PHD Student, Sociology, University of California, Davis

Location: Davis, California
Cohort: 2018
Asia Sade Ivey

FOCUS
Asia’s research has a sociology of education focus where she examines how race and poverty impact the K-12 experience. Asia is currently interested in the role of culturally sustaining educators within public education, the resources and support they require, and how to measure their skill sets. Additionally, she focuses on the ways in which culturally sustaining educators impact the academic achievement of students, specifically, middle school aged, Black students, impacted by the trauma of poverty. Asia hopes to develop a measure to identify culturally sustaining educators and the key pedagogical elements that improve the achievement of students experiencing the most vulnerability.

MORE ABOUT ASIA
Asia Sade Ivey is a Spelman Alumna who made “A Choice to Change the World,” and she is confident that her role in the HPRS program will align her with other scholar activists with similar goals. She plans to combine her psychology training with her sociology of education perspective to reconceptualize poverty as a trauma, and to inform policy that will combat the intergenerational trauma of poverty.

TERESA JACKSON, PHD STUDENT, HEALTH & HUMAN PERFORMANCE, OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY

Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Teresa Jackson’s dissertation will focus on an innovative nutrition education approach and the differences educator personality may have on health outcomes. Her current plan of study includes classes related to community nutrition, food security, educational counseling, culture, and society. She hopes to empower others to lead healthier lives through sound research and the sharing of experiences that could ultimately lead to program and policy changes throughout Indian Country and beyond.

MORE ABOUT TERESA
Teresa Jackson is a third-year PhD student in Health & Human Performance in the Departments of Applied Health & Educational Psychology and Health, Leisure & Human Performance in the College of Education, Health and Aviation at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She earned her MS in Nutritional Sciences and her BS in Human Environmental Sciences, Nutritional Sciences Dietetics option at Oklahoma State University as well. She is also a Licensed Dietitian and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Teresa was a practicing dietitian for five years and gained tremendous experience with the maternal and infant population. She also taught nutrition in an elementary school setting with the goal of increased fruit and vegetable consumption and increased physical activity to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes. Teresa is Native American, an enrolled member of the Ft. Mojave tribe but also Seminole, Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee and Yuma.

TYLER JIMENEZ, PHD STUDENT, SOCIAL AND PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI

Location: Columbia, Missouri
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Tyler Jimenez is broadly interested in how people respond to threats, be that to their society, worldview, or even existence, and how these responses affect health and intergroup relations. This has led to research on topics such as racist backlash against social progress and policy decisions in the face of shifting racial demographics. In the future, Tyler Jimenez hopes to continue researching these and similar topics, with an eye towards improving the health of, particularly Indigenous, communities.

MORE ABOUT TYLER
Tyler Jimenez, a member of Nambé Pueblo, was raised in Albuquerque, NM. His background fostered an acute sensitivity to injustice and a desire for a better world.

AMY JONES, PHD STUDENT, SOCIOLOGY, THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON

Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Amy E. Jones’s research interests focus on understanding the effects on health and wellness for African-Americans in this canera of multiculturalism and diversity. She is in her first year of the doctoral program and is currently conducting an ethnography of a diversity scholarship organization and the lived experiences of the students. She plans to include a software app data collection component to her study to get real-time information about the effects on those providing diversity to a group, university or organization.

MORE ABOUT AMY
Amy E. Jones earned her undergraduate degree at Yale University in 2009 as a cognitive neuroscience and sociology major, and a master’s degree in Sociology from The University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016. Amy grew up in the Appalachian region in Kentucky and West Virginia.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
The New Affirmative Action: The Experience of Students of Color in Diversity-Focused Collegiate Incorporation Programs

My dissertation focuses on students of color recruited to majority white universities under the new Target of Opportunity programs. In the wake of ongoing battles over Affirmative Action, Target of Opportunity programs have emerged as a more politically feasible means to continue the racial incorporation process begun through the Civil Rights Movement.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

JOVAN JULIEN, PHD STUDENT, OPERATIONS RESEARCH, GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Isolated and marginalized individuals, families, communities, and organizations often have the least access to the data and evidence that can help clarify the likely outcomes, trade-offs, costs, and benefits of a complex interaction of specific policies and dilemmas faced by decision-makers. Jovan’s research integrates and synthesizes evidence-based models that are accessible, relevant, and available to community-level decision-makers. Designing tools that support democratic decision and policymaking, at its most basic level, is about supporting the actualization of a Culture of Health that is accountable to and in part controlled by those who have been traditionally sidelined in our society.

MORE ABOUT JOVAN
Jovan is a student of many schools of thought emerging from the U.S. South, including the Black radical tradition. Jovan’s time as a regional organizer in the South has cemented a focus on creating tools that can support the expansion of a Culture of Health, particularly in rural and isolated communities.

Maningbe (Mani) Keita, PHD Student, Health Policy and Management, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Cohort: 2018
Maningbe (Mani) Keita

FOCUS
As America’s older adult population increases, the effects of managing multiple chronic conditions become more burdensome. This program will support Mani’s work on evaluating the economic and social implications of chronic disease management in older adults and caregivers. Her work will inform equitable policy efforts to facilitate self-management, mitigate costs, improve quality of care, and enhance quality of life for older adults and caregivers.

MORE ABOUT MANI
Mani’s passion for older adults and caregivers comes from her multicultural upbringing that values maximizing well-being at all stages of life. She seeks to leverage her interdisciplinary background in gerontology, health economics, and health services research to drive policy and program improvements at the local and national levels.

M. Nicole Kunkel, PHD Student, Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Texas

Location: Austin, Texas
Cohort: 2018
M. Nicole Kunkel

FOCUS
Nicole’s current research involves testing how chemical exposures during pregnancy may change brain and behavior, and how that impacts an individual’s response to subsequent life stress/trauma. She uses a rat model and looks at brain images, circulating hormone levels, and neurotransmitters as indicators of stress or reward. She also uses behavioral tests to look at mate choice and sexual motivation in females. This project relates to Nicole’s broader interest in understanding and promoting the reproductive and sexual wellness of women. Too often cases of sexual violence are forgotten, rape kits left untested. When cases do move forward in the criminal justice system, victim-survivors lose control over their narrative when prosecutors tell their story for them, question their experiences, and counter their experiences. It is Nicole’s hope that developing more methods and approaches to understanding the needs of victim-survivors of sexual violence, they can feel more control of their experiences.

MORE ABOUT NICOLE
Nicole is a bicultural Mexican-American woman who was the first in her family to be born in the United States. She hopes to broaden her perspective of bench science to public policy. She believes HPRS will help her to think more critically about how the design and translation of her rodent models will promote meaningful interventions for populations that are vulnerable to sexual violence.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2021
The Effects of Perinatal PCBs and Sociosexual Stress on the Hypothalamus and Behavior of Female Rats

Stressors impact an organism throughout the life course, from gestation to adulthood, and have serious implications for health and wellbeing. This dissertation will focus on two stressors experienced at different life stages and how each independently, as well as inter-dependently, change the trajectory of health and disease, with a focus on female sexual health.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

SONDRA LAVIGNE, PHD CANDIDATE, EPIDEMIOLOGY AND VETERINARY SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Sondra studies how antibiotic use and stewardship in veterinary medicine (both companion and food animals) affects the population health of both animals and humans. More broadly, she is interested in One Health, an interdisciplinary collaborative movement that recognizes that human health is closely interconnected with animal and environmental health.

MORE ABOUT SONDRA
Sondra Lavigne is a fourth-year student in the Epidemiology PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. She is a seventh-year combined degree VMD-PhD student and completed most of her veterinary medical coursework prior to starting her PhD. She now works with UPenn faculty across the veterinary school, medical school and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on interdisciplinary research initiatives. Prior to joining HPRS and the VMD-PhD program at UPenn, Sondra completed her AB in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University where she graduated summa cum laude. She has previously conducted bench-based research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Perelman School of Medicine, served as a high school science and math instructor, and worked in private practice as a veterinary technician. Sondra grew up in rural, western Maryland and was active in 4-H and Future Farmers of America in her youth.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — JUNE 2018
Antimicrobial Use and Resistance: Intersections of Companion Animal and Public Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least two million people become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria annually, causing 23,000 deaths. Antibiotic use is the greatest driver of the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, although growing evidence indicates that environmental and social factors may play a significant role in their transmission. Local, national, and international institutions have developed policies to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with antibiotic resistant bacteria. These policies have largely focused on the human medical and food animal sectors. Despite veterinary research and recent outbreaks demonstrating the transmission of antibiotic resistant bacteria from pets to people, these policies have largely ignored how pets may impact public health. This study will investigate potential consequences of those policies in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

MATTHEW LEE, DRPH STUDENT, SOCIOMEDICAL SCIENCES, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Location: New York, New York
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Matthew is committed to designing innovative solutions that address the use, lack of use, and misuse of scientific evidence in public health policy and practice. His research focuses on enhancing the implementation and sustainability of social policies and structural interventions, particularly in the areas of health equity and minority health. He aims to apply translational and implementation science in order to build bridges between marginalized populations, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners.

MORE ABOUT MATTHEW
Matthew draws from training in anthropology and health promotion, as well as his personal, local government, and international experiences, to understand how policies and everyday life intersect to impact health and healing in diverse communities.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2019
Advancing Understandings of Policy Implementation and Sustainability to Address Health Equity: A Mixed Methods Case Study of Tobacco Control in New York City

Public health and social policies are often debated, designed, and adopted without implementation, sustainability, or equity in mind, which can generate profound uncertainty about how to equitably deliver them initially and over time. Although sustainability and equity considerations are sometimes considered in post-hoc policy analysis and evaluation, little is known about how to plan for and track planned and unplanned adaptations to policy implementation, as well as the ways that key sustainability factors and strategies can relate to the equitable delivery or relative effectiveness of policies on the ground and in community settings. The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the long-term sustainability and equity of tobacco control policies and programs in New York City to understand and contextualize their limited reach and impact on persistent smoking and tobacco-related health disparities in underserved Asian American communities.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Demar F. Lewis IV, PHD Student, Sociology & African American Studies, Yale University

Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Cohort: 2018
Demar F. Lewis IV

FOCUS
Demar aspires to ensure that the U.S. criminal justice system discontinues its practices of mass elimination. Right now, this work is in progress inside and outside of the academy. People living in communities that have historically experienced lynching are more likely to experience incarceration, fatal police-citizen encounters, deportation, and persisting social inequities that lead to negative health outcomes. Demar’s research promotes the development of more equitable and just solutions that enable individuals, families, and communities to live healthy lives free of violence and trauma.

MORE ABOUT DEMAR
Demar was born in Los Angeles, California, and spent the majority of his childhood living in Denver, Colorado. The combination of his life experiences, personal relationships, and work experiences across multiple sectors motivate his PhD research agenda. Demar believes that the transdisciplinary approach of the HPRS program will help him use empirical research as a tool for convening multiple audiences that are concerned with addressing pressing health disparities.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2020
Black Ideologies on Community Safety in the 21st Century

My dissertation uses a mixed methods approach to examine how Black people living in a large midwestern city from diverse socioeconomic statuses and neighborhoods of residence prioritize their safety concerns and envision the future of community safety in the United States. While a robust body of research analyzes the experiences and perceptions of Black people residing in economically-disadvantaged communities with high levels of police contact, this scholarship does not explore how Black people’s political ideologies vary by class or how Black people organically conceptualize community safety concerns beyond the realm of policing. As 21st century calls to “defund the police” proliferate, my dissertation reveals how addressing the perennial health needs and safety concerns of Black residents across class strata are inextricably linked.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Leah’s work investigates how moral and religious experiences shape expectations about one’s self, one’s communities, and those one deems as “other.” Leah is particularly interested in the formal and informal processes by which people manage moral disappointment, both publicly and privately. This interest is steeped in a curiosity about relationships between organizational and personal values, particularly as they relate to work-life boundaries for health care practitioners.

MORE ABOUT LEAH
Leah’s ecological approach to human and organizational ethical development emerges from her academic training at the disciplinary crossroads of political science, education, community psychology, religion, and ethics.

Deniss Martinez, PHD Student, Ecology, University of California Davis

Location: Davis, California
Cohort: 2018
Deniss Martinez

FOCUS
Deniss is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Group in Ecology at UC Davis. The purpose of her dissertation is to find strategies for California Native communities and their collaborators to create governance and collaborative mechanisms that support Tribal self-determination and governance. Using qualitative methods and community-based research Deniss’ work centers the stories and narratives of cultural fire practitioners in California. Her vision is to work on creating a future that centers the wisdom of Indigenous people, not just as marginally relevant but as central to environmental decision making. She believes that just as people are an essential part of the environment; decolonization, reparations, and justice are essential to a just climate future. She aims to continue work that informs both settler governments and tribal governments on best strategies towards solving the climate crisis in a way that uplifts Tribal sovereignty, ensures justice for communities of color, and builds governance, culture and decision-making based on values of reciprocity, responsibility, and seven generation thinking.

MORE ABOUT DENISS
Deniss is a Tutunaku and Mexica scholar. As an immigrant to the U.S., she is excited to be able to give back to the indigenous communities that welcomed her and her family when she was a child. She also looks forward to addressing some of the problems she noticed growing up in the forests of Northern California, including catastrophic fire, tribal food insecurity, and degradation of natural resources.

Kathleen McCarty, PHD Student, Kinesiology, Oregon State University

Location: Corvallis, Oregon
Cohort: 2018
Kathleen McCarty

FOCUS
College students with disabilities are not being afforded the same access to physical activity and sporting opportunities as their peers without a disability, and exploring this gap is the foundation of Kathleen’s research. Legislation, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), ensures that no individual with a disability is denied access to activities that are otherwise available to their peers without a disability. Further clarification from the Office of Civil Rights, in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter in 2013, specified that extracurricular and sporting events were not exempt to this mandate. However, this clarification only identified grades K-12, leaving no policy for collegiate programming through which these athletes can matriculate. Drawing from the experience of women in college after Title-IX, Kathleen’s focus will be exploring current collegiate programs, including identified barriers and facilitators, and advocating for the creation of new ones.

MORE ABOUT KATHLEEN
Kathleen believes, strongly, in recognizing the physical potential of all people and advocates for equitable access for folks to realize it within themselves. Her life goal is to use the training and opportunities given by HPRS to champion the prioritization of a Title IX- mirroring policy for disability.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — AUGUST 2020
Sport Opportunities for Collegiate Students with Disabilities: A Mixed Methods Review of Current Program Offerings, Barriers, and Facilitators

The purpose of this study is to build on a foundation of information regarding collegiate adapted sports using a critical, equity lens, and utilizing a framework which blends social movement and organizational theory. Specific aims include: (1) identifying and describing intercollegiate, adapted athletics programs in the US, (2) examining facilitators and barriers to existing intercollegiate, adapted athletics programs in the U.S.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

JENNIFER MCGEE-AVILA, PHD STUDENT, URBAN SYSTEMS, RUTGERS SCHOOL OF NURSING


Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Jennifer has participated in internships with the California Medical Association Foundation working on a project involving HPV, HPV vaccination, and cervical cancer. She also received a Bixby Reproductive Health Fellowship to intern with Population Council, located in Nairobi, Kenya. There she worked on projects involving HIV/AIDS prevention, microfinance for adolescent girls, and female genital mutilation. Jennifer is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and received her Certified in Public Health (CPH) certification. She was selected as an Equity & Opportunity Fellow by the Center on Law, Inequality and Metropolitan Equity from Rutgers School of Law.

MORE ABOUT JENNIFER
Jennifer is currently a third-year doctoral student in an interdisciplinary program through Rutgers School of Nursing and the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Urban Systems, with an Urban Health concentration. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles as an undergraduate majoring in Anthropology and Women’s Studies. She completed her Masters of Public Health in Urban Health Administration with Rutgers School of Public Health. Jennifer grew up in Palmdale, California, located in the Antelope Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles, where she attended Palmdale High School. She is currently the Program Manager for the Northeast/Caribbean AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) at the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center. She also worked in this capacity at Charles Drew University in South Los Angeles prior to moving to New Jersey.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
Multilevel Points of Intervention to Improve Cervical Cancer Screening Among Women Living with HIV: A Mixed Methods Approach to Addressing Health Inequities

Using a multi-level approach, this project aims to (1) examine patient level and psychosocial determinants (2) examine social and structural determinants and (3) examine, through focus groups, barriers to and facilitators of cervical cancer screening in a racially/ethnically diverse population of women living with HIV who receive care at a Ryan White Part D funded healthcare site in New Jersey.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Brie McLemore, PHD Student, Jurisprudence and Social Policy, University of California, Berkeley

Location: Berkeley, California
Cohort: 2018
Brie McLemore

FOCUS
In recent years, there has been an increased dialogue concerning the impact of policing on communities of color. However, the implications of how policing impacts health outcomes has been largely omitted. Brie’s research explores how brutality and harassment at the hands of police can operate as a determinant of health for low-income people of color, as well as the pervasive impacts the incarceration of individuals can have on their families and communities. Her work explores the health implications for the children and partners of those who are incarcerated, how the impact of experiencing and witnessing police brutality and harassment affect health outcomes, and how communities understand and define the various forms of “harm” that can result due to violent policing and whether their perceptions align with how practitioners conceptualize health.

MORE ABOUT BRIE
Brie’s training in the social sciences and experiences as a policy analyst and community activist has instilled an awareness of the factors dictating health that centers communities of color, which have an unparalleled understanding of what a healthy life entails for them.

Tiana Moore, PHD Student, Developmental Psychology, Columbia University

Location: New York, New York
Cohort: 2018
Tiana Moore

FOCUS
Housing is one of the most important social determinants of health. Dimensions of housing, including stability, quality, and conditions of the surrounding neighborhood can pose differential risks for families according to socioeconomic status. Tiana’s current research investigates these dimensions’ association with developmental outcomes in the contexts of city-level and federal housing interventions. She hopes to translate insights gained from such analyses to health and housing policy in an effort to create more equitable home environments for low-income children and their families.

MORE ABOUT TIANA
With an educational background in both sociological and biological sciences, Tiana brings a unique perspective to her discipline and research. Tiana’s interest in housing and neighborhoods stems from her childhood, in which she navigated both the resource-rich and under-resourced neighborhoods on a daily basis. Anecdotally observing how contrasts in neighborhood conditions paralleled health and education outcomes inspired her to investigate these effects empirically through her doctoral research.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2021
Residential Mobility and Historical Discriminatory Housing Policy’s Influence on Contemporary Child Health and Cognition

While several studies of residential instability have explored potential associations with a variety of health and cognitive outcomes cross-sectionally, the present study is the first to explore these associations across the lifespan via a birth cohort longitudinal study. This approach allows for both analysis of age-dependent and cumulative associations between instability and developmental outcomes for children and adolescents. The present study seeks to expand the body of housing mobility research by examining frequency of residential moves and how such mobility may influence outcomes at several points in development, while also examining the etiology of such instability by investigating potential associations between historical housing policies and present day mobility for families.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Location: Richardson, Texas
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Marcela’s research is focused on exploring how health policy and the social determinants of health are shaped by their broader socioeconomic and political framework. She is interested in connecting the historical legacy of colonialism to the current local, state, and national context of political actors, social service organizations, and health care systems. Her research explores decision-making processes among leaders in these different sectors to better understand how and why they may hinder or support efforts to improve health equity, particularly for immigrants and people of color. She hopes to apply her research to help communities leverage their political and economic power, develop local solutions, and promote institutional changes that contribute to health equity.

MORE ABOUT MARCELA
As a bicultural mestiza growing up in an immigrant family of humble origins, Marcela was acutely aware of the dissonance between her family’s experience and popular narratives of political and economic prosperity. As a Health Policy Research Scholar, she feels empowered to combine her knowledge of immigrant communities with her professional experience in social work and public health to elevate children of diaspora as both a resource and a priority in health equity research.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
The Political Economy of Immigrant Health: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Social Capital and the Immigrant Paradox

This dissertation is framed as a body of interdisciplinary, multilevel and multisectoral approaches to explore immigrant health. I clarify the public policy environment, advance a conceptual framework, and explore measures of social capital and other determinants of health. Finally, I highlight opportunities for interdisciplinary research and conclude with a call to action for greater integration of political economists within health equity research.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Neely’s research includes understanding how schools that self-identify as trauma-sensitive, are accountable to their student population through policy implementation at the micro and macro levels. She is particularly interested in education and health outcomes of students attending schools that function as a system of care to understand if schools are mitigators or perpetrators of trauma.

MORE ABOUT ADRIAN
Adrian Neely is a second-year doctoral student in the Middle and Secondary Education Department with a concentration on Teaching and Teacher Education at Georgia State University. She earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Education from the University of Georgia. Adrian began her educational career as a high school science instructor in the Atlanta metropolitan area. She has served as an Aerospace Education Specialist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), serving urban and rural communities throughout the United States. Neely has provided leadership and coordination of policy implementation in state government at the Georgia Department of Education and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — DECEMBER 2019
School Connectedness and African American Students: An Examination with Implications for Policy and Teacher Education

This study examined student perceptions of school connectedness across racial subgroups (African American, white, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, and Other) and the relationships between school connectedness, teacher racial composition, peer support, adult support, teacher support, discrimination, and expectations when examining African American middle school student’s perceptions, as measured by the Georgia Student Health Survey 2.0. These relationships were explored using data collected from middle school students (N = 308,887) across 580 public schools in Georgia. This three-part, quantitative study employed one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and an integrated, multilevel modeling approach (inclusive of confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling) for statistical analyses. The results indicated that perceptions of school connectedness are practically similar across racial groups, with the largest variance between white and African American students. Further analyses revealed African American students’ conception of school connectedness differs from the construct widely used in Georgia. These findings are discussed in terms of the challenges facing racial equity in understanding, contextualizing, and developing culturally sensitive measures of school connectedness.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.


Cohort: 2018

FOCUS
Kevin’s research focuses on improving the quality of care patients receive from safety net providers and programs. He hopes to expand evidence on the determinants of high-quality care in the U.S. health care safety net, and use research to inform the design of state and federal health policies. He is particularly interested in evaluating new care delivery models that better integrate health services and systems, and ultimately improve patient experience of care.

MORE ABOUT KEVIN
As the child of Vietnamese immigrants, Kevin has seen firsthand the challenges that many patients with limited English proficiency face in navigating the U.S. health care system. With these experiences in mind, Kevin’s research focuses on better understanding and improving patient experience for marginalized communities.

HARVEY L. NICHOLSON JR., PHD, SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

Location: Orlando, Florida
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Harvey’s current research focuses on racial disparities in substance use and health. In the future, he plans to explore ethnic disparities in similar outcomes among Blacks and Asians living in the US.

MORE ABOUT HARVEY
Harvey Nicholson earned his PhD in Sociology at the University of Central Florida. He received his BA in Sociology from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and MA in Sociology from Lehigh University. Harvey was drawn to HPRS given the program’s focus on building a Culture of Health and attention to the health of racial and ethnic minority populations. As a scholar and researcher, he is strongly invested in eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in substance use and health. He intends to utilize his research to develop policies to achieve this goal.

MANKA NKIMBENG, PHD, NURSING, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Ms. Nkimbeng’s research focuses on understanding the impact of psychosocial factors on health outcomes for minority older adults. In her dissertation, she is exploring the relationship between racial discrimination, acculturation and physical function in older African immigrants. She intends to use her research findings to develop and test interventions to decrease physical function difficulties in minority older adults in the United States.

MORE ABOUT MANKA
Manka Nkimbeng earned her PhD in Nursing at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She holds an MPH in Health Policy and Management from Boston University. Prior to beginning the PhD program, she was a nurse at a federally qualified community health center, where she cared for vulnerable populations. She later moved to Baltimore city to work as a community research nurse on the Community Aging in Place: Advancing Better Living for Elders (CAPABLE) study where she helped disabled community dwelling older adults age-in-place.

Kadeem Noray, PHD Student, Public Policy and Economics, Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2018
Kadeem Noray

FOCUS
Kadeem’s research uses economic theory and applied econometrics to examine the consequences of criminal justice, taxation, and other social policies, with a focus on how these policies affect opportunity, inequality, wealth concentration, and poverty in the United States. Research projects he is working on include: 1) evaluating how Chicago police respond to high-profile police brutality incidents, 2) analyzing whether current officer discipline deters police misconduct, and 3) investigating the implications of using the tax system to redistribute from those who happened to be raised in wealthy neighborhoods to those who were raised in under-resourced neighborhoods. Kadeem hopes that his research can help change policing and taxation policy to increase economic opportunity for those who live in high-crime, low-income communities.

MORE ABOUT KADEEM
Kadeem is a Trinidadian immigrant who was fortunate enough to benefit from upward mobility and the American Dream. With broad knowledge of policy analysis and economics, Kadeem studies how policy surrounding criminal justice, education, and health can be changed to promote economic mobility and equality of opportunity.

Ezinne Nwankwo, PHD Student, Community Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles, California
Cohort: 2018
Ezinne Nwankwo

FOCUS
Everyone in the U.S. should have the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. Currently, anti-immigrant sentiment, policies, and restrictive laws make this realization difficult for some members of our community. Recent immigrants are more likely to live in under-resourced communities, where the economic, social, and physical environments do not support their health and well-being. Ezinne’s research interests center on the migration and immigrant experiences of black and African populations. In the U.S., this group of immigrants is seldom the focus of public health research, and their immigrant experience is rarely the center of public debate. Ezinne believes that her research will shed light on the challenges that immigrants face to integrating into U.S. society, and the impact that these barriers have on health and well-being. She expects that this research will help to identify opportunities for effective immigrant integration policies and programs.

MORE ABOUT EZINNE
Ezinne’s experiences as an immigrant from Nigeria have helped to shape her interests in migration and immigrant health. Over the years, Ezinne has worked with teams on various health-related research projects and programs. She is now excited to focus her work on a topic and population that represent her experiences and those of people in her community.

ADEDOTUN OGUNBAJO, PHD STUDENT, BEHAVIORAL & SOCIAL SCIENCES, BROWN UNIVERSITY

Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Adedotun’s research interests are on issues related to health disparities and inequity, specifically HIV prevention and treatment, mental health, and substance use in racial and sexual minority communities both in the United States and across the African continent. He is also interested in the determinants of health outcomes among African immigrant communities in the United States. Upon completion of the doctoral program, Adedotun plans on pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship and subsequently starting a career as an academic researcher.

MORE ABOUT ADEDOTUN
Adedotun Ogunbajo is a first-year doctoral student at Brown University who holds a BS and MHS from Johns Hopkins University and a MPH in Social & Behavioral Science from Yale University. Adedotun was born in Lagos, Nigeria and lived there until 2004, when he moved to the United States with his parents and two brothers.

Stephanie Keeney Parks, PHD Student, Medical/Psychological Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles, California
Cohort: 2018
Stephanie Parks

FOCUS
By highlighting the health care disparities faced by African American families that have children with autism, Stephanie looks to identify ways to change the landscape to provide more equitable care. To achieve this, Stephanie studies the everyday lives of these families, centering the parent’s narratives as experts in their own lived experience. She also spends time observing clinicians in the medical spaces where these families receive the diagnosis of autism and related disabilities. It is Stephanie’s goal to create a corpus of data that represents the experiences of African American parents that have children with autism or other related disabilities to design health care policies that will provide equitable access to much needed health care and services.

MORE ABOUT STEPHANIE
Stephanie Keeney Parks is a doctoral student at UCLA in the Department of Anthropology where she focuses on medical and linguistic anthropology. Stephanie is also the recipient of the prestigious Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship at UCLA. She received her Master’s degree in Medical Anthropology from Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska in 2017. Stephanie is a wife and the mother of two children; her oldest child is diagnosed with autism.

SAMANTHA M. PEREZ, PHD STUDENT, BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and patients with the most common form, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), have only a 7 percent five-year survival rate. Samantha’s research focuses on characterizing the role of extracellular Plectin-1, a robust biomarker for PDAC, in extracellular and intracellular signaling in order to help develop novel diagnostic and treatment modalities for PDAC.

MORE ABOUT SAMANTHA
Samantha is a first-generation college student who received her bachelor of science in engineering degree from Duke University in 2015 and is currently a PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. With the help of HPRS, Samantha wants to bring together her research from the lab and a rare perspective from her community to influence health policy.

Location: Washington, D.C.
Cohort: 2017



FOCUS
Each day, we are presented with reports of racially charged conflicts across the nation, yet we repeatedly ignore the indirect and often devastating impact of personally mediated racism within the health care system. Studies have shown that Black men are more likely to receive lower-quality care than are white patients, even when presenting identical symptoms of myocardial infarction. As a doctoral student at Howard University, Marie seeks to investigate how provider bias contributes to cardiovascular diseases. As a Health Policy Research Scholar, she plans to identify how racism impacts policies, practices, and norms that perpetuate racial disparities in cardiovascular care. By measuring and analyzing interactions between patients, clinicians, and medical teams, Marie hopes to enhance the detection of racial disparities in cardiac care and contribute to policy development in health care delivery.

MORE ABOUT MARIE
Marie’s desire to understand the complex interactions between race and health stems from her experiences as the daughter of Haitian immigrants. Her work aims to improve life for disadvantaged communities. Marie’s PhD research goals are focused on ensuring that optimal health is a shared value for all, regardless of social location.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — DECEMBER 2019
Perceptions of Racial Bias & Interracial Anxiety Among Medical Students: A Mixed Methods Study

Building on previous research, my dissertation analyzed longitudinal survey data and semi-structured interviews to investigate the impact of training on racial bias, interracial anxiety, interracial interactions, and burnout on medical decision-making. Using quantitative research methods, including structural equation modeling, latent growth curve modeling, cross-lagged path modeling, and qualitative in-depth interviews, findings from my study suggest that misinformation regarding race and racism in medical curricula and training are left unresolved and must be addressed to improve clinical practices and inform current policies.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

ARRIANNA PLANEY, PHD STUDENT, GEOGRAPHY AND GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN

Location: Urbana, Illinois
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Arrianna is a health geographer whose dissertation examines dimensions of health care access in the United States with an emphasis on audiologists (hearing and balance specialists). As the U.S. population ages and hearing and balance disorder prevalence rises, there is a growing shortage of audiologists. The resulting inequitable spatial distribution of providers is associated with high rates of untreated hearing and balance disorders, which are linked to fall risk among older adults. Arrianna uses spatial analytic, spatial epidemiological, and qualitative methods to examine the political economy of health care systems and their effects at multiple scales—from the state level to the space of the clinic. Ultimately, she aims to make a case for health care policy that ensures access to services indispensable to the well-being of elderly and disabled people.

MORE ABOUT ARRIANNA
Arrianna is a deaf-blind geographer who switched from a clinical audiology (AuD) program back to the social sciences (Geography) to address the effects of health policy on dimensions of health care access for disabled and aging populations. She previously studied Political Science (University of Chicago) and History (U.C. Berkeley).

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2019
A Multi-Scale Spatial & Political Economic Analysis of Health Policy, Provider Location Decisions, and Access to Audiology Services

This project seeks to analyze hearing health care workers in the United States and the ways in which structural, top-down pressures shape their spatial behavior and practice, which cumulatively affects the availability and accessibility of their services. Specifically, this project examines audiologists, focusing on how their scope of practice and autonomy as professionals are constrained by health policy at the federal and state levels and the broader political economy of inter-professional practice in health care, all of which hinge on the classification of audiologists as non-medical ‘non-physician’ care providers.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Jocelyn Poe, PHD Student, Urban Planning and Development, University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, California
Cohort: 2018
Joscelyn Poe

FOCUS
Jocelyn seeks to explore the relationship between trauma and the built-environment. She desires to examine how lasting oppression creates cultural trauma for people of color and effects planning and policy processes. Historically, urban planning played an infamous role in shaping cultural trauma, and planners had the power to manipulate place to oppress disadvantaged populations. She wants to investigate how power dynamics affect the ability to live a healthy lifestyle and develop strategies and processes that change existing oppressive structures.

MORE ABOUT JOCELYN
As a child growing up in a low-income community of color, Jocelyn has seen how power, policy, and the shaping of physical place has impacted the health outcomes for populations that have been marginalized. She seeks to conduct research that inspires new planning strategies and processes that truly promote agency within historically oppressed communities.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2021
On Trauma Imaginaries & Community Health

While planning theory has long acknowledged the profession’s role in producing racialized spatial realities, few have explored how place-based trauma shapes places, spatial processes, and lived experiences. This work develops communal trauma as an analytical planning concept by examining trauma imaginaries to fill this gap.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Destiny M. B. Printz, PHD Student, Clinical Psychology, University of Connecticut

Location: Storrs, Connecticut
Cohort: 2018
Destiny Printz

FOCUS
Destiny’s research aims to address mental and physical health disparities in marginalized populations. She is primarily interested in building coping and resilience in people of color, and low-income individuals and families, to reduce the impact of trauma and chronic stress. Her current research focuses on the intergenerational transmission of trauma, perceived discrimination, symptoms of post-traumatic stress, psychometrics, and health outcomes related to the dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system.

MORE ABOUT DESTINY
Destiny’s work as a project manager for the Yale School of Medicine and VA Healthcare System has enhanced her ability to assist individuals with multiple intersecting marginalized identities and conditions, including substance dependence and homelessness. These experiences have informed her interest in translational research, and through the HPRS program she will strengthen her ability to bridge the gap between academic research and the wellbeing of marginalized individuals and families.

ARJEE JAVELLANA RESTAR, PHD STUDENT, BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, BROWN UNIVERSITY

Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Arjee’s research engagements in public health concentrate on promoting structural and behavior-based interventions to improve the health of communities affected by a multitude of adverse sexual and mental health outcomes, such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, sexual violence, and suicidality, particularly as experienced by transgender and gender-nonconforming communities of color. This work includes advocating for institutional policies and practices that dismantle systems of oppression, inequality, and inequity.

MORE ABOUT ARJEE
Born in the Philippines, Arjee is now practicing public health to make visible the importance of health policies and equitable community resources in the lives and health of historically disadvantaged populations, including transgender and gender-nonconforming communities of color.

LAURENT REYES, PHD STUDENT, SOCIAL WORK, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY

Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Using qualitative methods, Laurent plans to examine how community programs and initiatives are designed to meet the needs of diverse aging populations, as well as assess the knowledge and attitudes of the staff working in aging services. More specifically, she is interested in working directly with older Latino adults to understand their experiences engaging with these services and staff, as well as their ingenuity in bypassing barriers to access with the help of informal services and resources, such as ties with family, neighbors, church, etc.

MORE ABOUT LAURENT
Laurent was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to West New York, New Jersey in 1999 with her mother. As a first-generation college student, she has a commitment to her family and community’s success. They have taught her to persist in the face of inequalities and challenges, and that’s why she says, ‘yo sigo aquí en la lucha.’

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2020
A Phenomenological Study Exploring Experiences of Civic Participation among Older African Americans and Latinx Immigrants using an Intersectional Life-Course Perspective

The aim of this dissertation was to better understand the experiences of civic participation among African American and Latinx older adults aged 60 years and older while considering intersectional identities and major life transitions throughout the life course in the context of systemic inequality. Findings offer new insights on the multidimensionality of civic participation beyond formal and informal, and social and political dimensions, to consider spirituality, solidarity, survival, and empowerment.
ourwayoflifearchive.com

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

JENNIFER RICHMOND, PHD STUDENT, HEALTH BEHAVIOR, UNC GILLINGS SCHOOL OF GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Jennifer Richmond’s research interests lie in exploring the social determinants of health among African-Americans and the roles racial discrimination, neighborhood conditions, and medical mistrust play in health outcomes. She is also interested in understanding and improving the quality and value of care that African-Americans receive from the health system. In her career, she aims to explore connections between these research interests (e.g., how receiving poor quality health care may contribute to medical mistrust) and to participate in interdisciplinary efforts that translate research results into policy.

MORE ABOUT JENNIFER
Jennifer Richmond is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jennifer grew up in Burlington, North Carolina, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Health Policy and Management with a minor in African-American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked at the American Institutes for Research for over seven years where she supports research focused on increasing patient and family engagement in health care and understanding the role of evidence in health care decision-making.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
Reducing Racial Disparities in Health Services Use: Exploring the Role of Racial Equity Training for Nurse Navigators and Improved Measurement of Trust in Health Care

Study 1 of this project assessed whether patients with early-stage lung cancer who were paired with nurse navigators that received racial equity training were more likely to receive surgical treatment than patients paired with usual care navigators. Study 2 of this project focused on the development and validation of measures of trust in three health care entities: the Trust in My Doctor (T-MD), Trust in Doctors in General (T-DiG), and Trust in the Health Care System (T-HCS) scales. This project’s results can inform health organizations’ decisions about requiring racial equity training for staff and help researchers measure whether new interventions and policies improve patient trust.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

LUISA MARIA RIVERA, PHD STUDENT, ANTHROPOLOGY, EMORY UNIVERSITY

Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Luisa studies the transgenerational transmission of trauma and adversity in communities experiencing chronic and acute stressors. She currently conducts research with two populations: pregnant women delivering at a safety-net hospital in rapidly gentrifying San Francisco, and post-conflict Mayan villages in northwestern Guatemala. In both places, her research focuses on the ways in which historical trauma and structural violence are lived out through caregiving, examining the cultural and biological pathways that may buffer stress and augment resilience in communities of color.

MORE ABOUT LUISA
Luisa is a bicultural Puerto Rican woman who brings a critical perspective to biocultural and engaged anthropology. She believes that HPRS offers her the opportunity to move her work beyond the boundaries of a traditionally very theory-oriented discipline and engage policy and change makers to translate her work into structural and clinical interventions for young children and families in the United States and Latin America.

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Mya’s broad research interests are in applying epidemiologic methods to health policy and health services research to promote health equity using big data. She is specifically interested in equity in cancer care delivery for Black people in the US South. Mya has experience working in cancer registries, claims data, national healthcare databases and electronic health records, along with expertise in health disparities, health equity and social epidemiology theory.

MORE ABOUT MYA
Mya Roberson is an Assistant Professor in the department of Health Policy at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She earned her MSPH and PhD degrees in the field of epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gilling’s School of Global Public Health. While at UNC she was a Truman Scholar and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar.

DESI RODRIGUEZ-LONEBEAR, PHD STUDENT, SOCIOLOGY/DEMOGRAPHY, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

Location: Tucson, Arizona
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Desi Small-Rodriguez’s ongoing research explores issues of data equity for Indigenous peoples, specifically tribal data sovereignty and the enumeration of Indigenous peoples in official statistics and tribal data systems. She also examines the intersection of race, identity, and tribal citizenship.

MORE ABOUT DESI
Desi Small-Rodriguez is pursuing dual PhDs in sociology at the University of Arizona and demography at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. She received both her MA in Sociology and BA (with honors) in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University. A citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, Desi was raised on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Lame Deer, Montana. She ran for her Tribal Council in 2012, and maintains a strong connection to her people and her homeland. Desi is committed to evidence-based tribal development and has served as a tribal researcher for tribes in the United States and Māori tribes in New Zealand. She also has a policy research background spanning tribal, national, and international governments. Desi is an appointed adviser to the Director of the United States Census Bureau as a member of the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2020
Remaking Collective Identities: Data Sovereignty, Citizenship, and Indigenous Nations

This dissertation does not seek to answer why blood quantum persists; rather, I examine how the fraught persistence of blood quantum is an example of both a race-making and nationmaking mechanism of statistical statecraft. I use the case of Native nations to study how forces of statistical statecraft, colonial race logics, and epistimicide1 converge to shape a narrative of data dependency in the United States. This study focuses on Native nations because the postcolonial realities of Native nations reflect the ongoing dialectical relationship between the violence of state knowledge production and official statistics systems.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Michael A. Rosario, PHD Student, Neuroscience, Boston University School of Medicine

Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2018
Michael Rosario

FOCUS
The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is twice as high for black compared to white Americans, but the reason remains unclear. Michael’s research focuses on psychosocial factors that contribute to this health disparity. Using functional and structural brain imaging, he seeks to understand the impact of interpersonal experiences such as racial discrimination on regions of the brain that are important for learning and memory, which are among the first to show signs of disease in Alzheimer’s.

MORE ABOUT MICHAEL
Michael is a Crucian Virgin Islander whose experiences both at home and in the continental United States have brought him to examine how our contextual experiences, specifically those related to stress and trauma, influence and change the brain. HPRS gives him the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers to effect intervention and policy changes that reflect an understanding of how every day experiences influence health and disease.

Location: Denver, Colorado
Cohort: 2018
Kristi Roybal

FOCUS
Through community-based research, Kristi hopes to inform policy and practice initiatives that reduce place-based barriers to health and improve the health opportunities of women, infants, and children living in low-income urban neighborhoods. Her current research aims to understand how the physical, social, and service environments in low-income urban neighborhoods shape pregnant women’s health and infant birth outcomes, particularly for low-income women and women of color.

MORE ABOUT KRISTI
Kristi’s work with an urban public health department and her personal experiences with pregnancy motivate her interest in understanding how urban conditions shape maternal and infant health. She believes that the HPRS Program will help her learn and implement strategies for using her research to effectively bridge the experiences of pregnant women living in low-income urban neighborhoods with policymakers to inform equitable place-based policy solutions that support maternal and infant health.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — AUGUST 2020
Exploring the Relationship between Historical Redlining and Place-Based Reproductive Health Inequities: A Qualitative GIS Approach

Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities in adverse birth outcomes persist in the United States, however, individual level-characteristics do not fully explain these inequities and evidence suggests that medical advancements and increased access to prenatal care have done little to reduce these inequities. As a result, increased attention has been given to neighborhood effects on health. Despite increased attention to neighborhood influences on reproductive health, there is limited research on the historical macrostructural determinants of neighborhood conditions and place-based reproductive health inequities. Guided by feminist neighborhood political ecology, this dissertation explores the legacy of a racist federal housing policy, specifically residential redlining, as it manifests in contemporary neighborhood conditions and spatial clusters of preterm birth in the City and County of Denver.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

LESLIE SALAS-HERNÁNDEZ, PHD STUDENT, PUBLIC HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY

Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Mass incarceration is a public health issue that requires continued cross-sector collaboration between community members, policymakers, public health professionals, and the justice system. Leslie plans to further drive research in community mental health and trauma, an oft-overlooked aspect of mass incarceration, in order to implement effective and sustainable community mental health efforts. Community mental health policies or programs that have been informed by multiple stakeholders are more likely to have a lasting impact on creating equitable communities.

MORE ABOUT LESLIE
Having been raised in Inglewood, California, and later working at a community mental health clinic there, Leslie has seen the intersection between mass incarceration and mental health firsthand. For her dissertation research, she plans to study police-public contact and its association with mental health in Los Angeles County.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2020
Understanding Police-Public Contact: The Role of Police Violence and a Police Training Intervention

My dissertation research identified patterns of exposure to police violence. Additionally, it assessed the relationship between direct and vicarious exposure to police violence and mental health outcomes. The study also explored the relationship between exposure to police violence and the anticipation of police violence, a construct which is considered to be on the pathway to poor mental health outcomes. Lastly, there have been limited evaluations conducted on interventions intended to decrease police violence, particularly in-service police trainings. I have conducted an external evaluation of a training implemented by the Baltimore Police Department, as a result of their consent decree with the Department of Justice, which will have direct internal policy implications.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

SAMANTHA R. H. SCOTT, DRPH STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MĀNOA

Location: Wahiawā, Hawaii
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Samantha is interested in addressing Native Hawaiian health disparities and exploring protective factors that affect the mental and physical health of Native Hawaiian women. Using the community-based participatory research approach, she hopes to restore cultural identity through culturally grounded interventions that revitalize ancient practices and values that have been lost through colonization.

MORE ABOUT SAMANTHA
Samantha is a doctoral student in the Office of Public Health Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She received her master of social work degree from the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, Honolulu. Through her graduate studies, she has gained experience in facilitating community-based participatory research projects within predominantly Native Hawaiian communities, including the PILI (Partnerships to Improve Lifestyle Interventions) ‘Ohana Project, targeting obesity in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Samantha has also served as a program coordinator for National Institutes of Health–funded undergraduate and graduate training grants in the John A. Burns School of Medicine Department of Native Hawaiian Health. She works closely with God’s Country Waimānalo, a nonprofit, grassroots organization that has initiated culturally grounded projects focused on wholistic wellness, self-sufficiency, and food safety for Native Hawaiians. Samantha feels it is her kuleana (responsibility) to serve her Lāhui (Hawaiian Nation), and she is dedicated to a healthier Hawaiʻi.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — AUGUST 2020
How Deep is your Kaumaha? Unfolding the Experiences of Historical and Intergenerational Trauma among Wāhine

Cultural severance enforced by western colonization dramatically changed the political, economic, social, and cultural systems of Hawaiʻi. The introduction of patriarchal gender norms disrupted Native Hawaiian functioning of gender duality.” “By investigating historical and intergenerational trauma, we can build tools to accurately measure Native Hawaiian womenʻs health that will provide concrete evidence in proposing targeted policy and interventions to decrease health disparity.

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PAUL SHAFER, PHD, HEALTH POLICY AND MANAGEMENT, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Paul is currently working to measure the effect of coverage gains under the Affordable Care Act on emergency department and primary care utilization with a focus on the previously uninsured. He is also working to estimate the impact of federal, state, and insurer advertising on consumer engagement with state and federal health insurance exchanges.

MORE ABOUT PAUL
Paul earned his PhD in health policy and management at UNC. He is a first-generation American, college graduate, and graduate student as the only child of parents who defected from then Soviet-controlled Hungary in the 1970s. He is a health economist, focused on health insurance policy and how the use of medical care is influenced by coverage transitions and benefit design. He has also worked as a research economist in the Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research at RTI International (2011 to 2017) and as a junior fellow at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2018).

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — APRIL 2018
Effect of the Affordable Care Act on Utilization of Emergency and Primary Care

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) considerably reduced the uninsured rate nationally; however, expanding access to health insurance coverage may not be a sufficient incentive for patients to change how they use health care. This dissertation investigated the effects on the use of emergency and primary care, resulting in 3 key findings—1) there is evidence of pent-up demand for health care but no substitution between ED and primary care among the newly insured, 2) increases in population-level health insurance coverage are not enough to yield reductions in potentially avoidable ED visits, and 3) enrollment in a high deductible health plan discourages use of free preventive services covered by the ACA. All of this together means that expanding health insurance coverage and benefits are part of the solution, but should not be expected to solve sizable inequities in health outcomes and access to care in the United States.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

GAYLE SHIPP, PHD STUDENT, HUMAN NUTRITION AND DIETETICS, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

Location: East Lansing, Michigan
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Gayle Shipp is in her fourth year at MSU working on an NIH R21 intervention study titled “Mama Bear”. It is a dual intervention study gathering pilot data, integrating components of breastfeeding support and weight management for African-Americans. Specifically, her research will focus on understanding Breastfeeding Self- Efficacy and Perceived Social Support in African-American women enrolled in a Randomized Control Trial testing different levels of breastfeeding support. This is an opportunity where Gayle plans to take her experiences working within the community and apply the knowledge to her research while beginning to make changes and build collaborations with the long-term goal of building policies and procedures that can positively impact the breastfeeding dyad.

MORE ABOUT GAYLE
Gayle Melissa Shipp was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Gayle graduated from Michigan State University with a BS in Human Nutrition and continued on completing her MS in Nutritional Science at Wayne State University (WSU) in 2012. Concurrent with her studies, she completed the Certificate in Public Health Practice at WSU in 2015. After completing her MS in Nutritional Science, Gayle was a Nutrition Educator and also became a Certified Lactation Specialist with the Women Infants and Children (WIC) Program. Gayle was also previously a Nutrition Instructor with Oakland Community College and has served as the Michigan State Breastfeeding Coordinator with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

NICHOLAS C. SMITH, PHD STUDENT, SOCIOLOGY, INDIANA UNIVERSITY

Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Nicholas’s research interests focus on stress, social networks, mental health and illness, and stigma and status loss. His current research examines how racial homophily in social networks may serve as a protective factor in some situations (e.g., in buffering against stress from discrimination) but a risk factor in others (e.g., when access to instrumental or financial support is needed). He aims to use his research to better understand how the structure of social networks affects access to key resources and social capital, especially among minority populations.

MORE ABOUT NICHOLAS
As a first-generation college student coming from a working-class, single-parent household, Nicholas brings a unique perspective to the world of research that will help him construct feasible and effective policy solutions.

Denise St. Jean, PHD Student, Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Cohort: 2018
Denise St. John

FOCUS
Denise’s current research explores socioeconomic inequities in childhood diarrheal disease in Latin America. Broadly, she is interested in the effectiveness of interventions for tropical infectious diseases in low and middle-income countries. Ultimately, she hopes that her research will inform better decision-making and health policies for infectious disease management in resource-limited settings.

MORE ABOUT DENISE
Denise is a PhD student in Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is a first-generation American and dual-citizen of the small Caribbean island of Dominica. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Denise earned a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University. Outside of academia, she worked as an Associate at Beghou Consulting, a pharmaceutical consulting firm, where she evaluated pharmaceutical markets and provided data-driven solutions to assist in client decision-making. Denise hopes to combine her academic training with her experiences from the private sector to bring a unique and interdisciplinary perspective to challenges in global infectious disease prevention and treatment.

KRISTEFER STOJANOVSKI, PHD STUDENT, HEALTH BEHAVIOR AND HEALTH EDUCATION, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Kristefer Stojanovski’s research examines structural causes to health disparities among ethnic, racial, sexual, and gender minorities. During his doctoral program, Kristefer intends to continue this work domestically and internationally.

MORE ABOUT KRISTEFER
Kristefer Stojanovski is a doctoral student in health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan. Kristefer has extensive experience in conducting a variety of academic and applied research studies in the areas of public health, mental health, and criminal and social justice, both domestically and globally. Kristefer holds dual master’s degrees in epidemiology and health management and policy from the University of Michigan. He has also worked as a consultant with county and state governments in the United States, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and other non-governmental organizations in the Balkans. He is an Associate Member of the European Academic Network on Roma Studies, and has presented and published his work in international conferences and peer-reviewed journals. Mr. Stojanovski is a former Fulbright grantee to Macedonia and has been awarded numerous early-career researcher awards.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
Systems Science Approaches to Visualize, Model, and Explore Stigma’s Role in Socially Patterning HIV Risk Among Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men (GBMSM) in Europe

The objective of my dissertation was to portray how HIV risk among European gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) is socially patterned by structural stigma (i.e., policies) to improve public health’s conceptualization, estimation, and quantification of stigma’s role in perpetuating HIV. Using Complex Systems Theory, my dissertation found that HIV risk emerges from a dynamic process influenced by numerous interacting factors and feedback loops shaped by stigmatizing policies and norms. In totality, my dissertation expounded on how HIV risk emerged from the amalgamation of stochastic and heterogenous factors that interact, in concert, to socially pattern HIV disparities among European GBMSM—indicating the complex nature behind HIV risk.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

JAKE RYANN SUMIBCAY, DRPH STUDENT, CLAREMONT GRADUATE UNIVERSITY

Location: Claremont, California
Cohort: 2017
 

FOCUS
Jake’s current research is focused on driving a more effective engagement in health for the Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) youth and young adult populations by utilizing health promotion and education. Some of the critical issues that Jake has applied his research to include tobacco control, cancer prevention, healthy eating and active living initiatives. More importantly, Jake hopes to deconstruct the fallacies of AANHPI populations by contributing to the movement of disaggregating data, especially among the different subgroups that fall under the AANHPI umbrella. Having detailed data that highlight the diversity of our communities can better guide us to create meaningful, inclusive, and equitable policies for all.

MORE ABOUT JAKE
Jake was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the intersection of multiple cultures. The sense of community and the islands’ spirit of “aloha” positions Jake to work in public health with the willingness to include people, to be caring, and to humble himself to serve.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2021
Examining Structural Racism as a Fundamental Cause of Health Inequities Among the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in the United States and the Indigenous Māori and Pacific Peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand: An Exploratory Comparative Case Study Analysis

Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) in the United States are known to experience profound and persistent disparities across most indicators of socioeconomic status and health when compared to the majority population. Similarly, the Indigenous Māori and Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand parallel the same experiences. Reducing disparities and improving health equity among racial/ethnic minority populations have been regarded as national priorities in both the U.S. and New Zealand. The findings of the study will offer new insights into the wider historical and socio-political context of how structural racism affects indigenous health and engage in critical race analyses of current public health practices in the U.S. and New Zealand.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

ROY TAGGUEG JR., PHD STUDENT, SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS

Location: Davis, California
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Roy B. Taggueg Jr.’s research interests revolve around undocumented immigrants and their interaction with institutions. Specifically, he looks at how individuals construct meaning from their experiences in health care, and how identity is shaped by the intersection of culture and citizenship.

MORE ABOUT ROY
Roy B. Taggueg Jr. received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. He worked at the UCI Office of Research as an Analyst for the Institutional Review Board, and developed an expertise on human ethics in research before coming to UC Davis in the Fall of 2016 to pursue a degree in Sociology.

VALERIE TAING, PHD STUDENT, JOINT PROGRAM IN SOCIAL WORK AND SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
How can child care and early education promote the health and well-being of immigrant children? Why do some programs meet the needs of children and families while others fail to do so? Using mixed methods, Valerie studies ways in which politics, partnerships, and social policy determine the quality of care received by immigrant children. Answering this question requires looking beyond child care centers to consider family and work support policies, early intervention, and early childhood development, as well as how such connections can promote healthier children, families, and communities. This research promotes the development of more equitable and accessible systems for child development and family support.

MORE ABOUT VALERIE
As a child of immigrants and a former community organizer and policy advocate, Valerie has seen how politics shapes whose needs are met by government programs and whose needs are ignored. She seeks to conduct research that inspires new political strategies and policies that truly address the needs of the most marginalized communities.

Hawi Teizazu, PHD Student, Public Health, Columbia University

Location: New York, New York
Cohort: 2018
Hawi Teizazu

FOCUS
Hawi is interested in investigating the social and structural factors that impact the health outcomes of racial minorities, and the ways that the social capital of minority communities can be incorporated into public health services. Health interventions in historically marginalized communities are often informed by deficit-focused frameworks. Hawi hopes that her work will reframe health disparities research in ways that center the experiences and resilience of underserved populations in health services and policies.

MORE ABOUT HAWI
Hawi’s research is driven by an interdisciplinary focus, which integrates social science and public health in order to better understand and address the mechanisms and outcomes of inequity. Hawi’s research is also shaped by a background in public health practice, which recognizes the influence of policy in determining the quality of services for underserved communities.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2021
Maternal Mortality in the Spotlight: An Analysis of Maternal Health Research, News Media Coverage, and Public Opinion Related to Maternal Mortality and Maternal Health Policies in the United States

Improving the high rates of maternal mortality in the United States has been a focal point for researchers and politicians in recent years. As research seeks to understand the experiences of birthing people for the purpose of improving adverse health outcomes, it is important to also consider how the experiences of birthing people are translated in news media, and how this information impacts the attitudes and beliefs of the general public, whose opinions influence the policy process. This dissertation examines the issue of maternal mortality through a review of literature that examines the perinatal care experiences of birthing people through an ecological framework, a critical analysis of news media about maternal mortality through a content analysis of newspaper coverage, and an experiment that examines the effects of birthing people’s narratives on public perceptions of the causes of, and policy solutions for, maternal mortality in the United States.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

FANICE THOMAS, PHD STUDENT, APPLIED SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGY, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Fanice’s research focuses on improving health behaviors, specifically diet and exercise, in immigrant populations. Current research explores how mindsets about the fixed or changeable nature of health, as well as people’s expectancy-value beliefs, influence their intentions to engage in positive health behaviors. Ultimately, she aims to create culturally informed interventions that encourage healthy eating and exercise behaviors as a way of reducing obesity outcomes within immigrant communities.

MORE ABOUT FANICE
Born and raised in Kenya, Fanice moved to the United States to pursue her college education. Her interest in research was sparked by observations regarding differences between Kenyan and American culture in notions of the desirability and attractiveness of different body types, and how immigrants navigate them.

Jennifer Whittaker, PHD Student, Urban and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cohort: 2018
Jennifer Whittaker

FOCUS
People living in rural communities experience avoidable and unjust disparities in health outcomes. Lack of access to health care services is compounded by shortcomings in physical infrastructure, transportation, housing, education and economic systems. Jenny’s research seeks to understand how health care systems can partner with other community and municipal systems to improve health care provision and create healthy rural communities.

MORE ABOUT JENNIFER
As someone who grew up in a rural community, Jenny has witnessed the deep frustration and severe consequences of failures in the rural health care system. Her training as a community and regional planner makes her well-suited to identifying a full systems approach to community health that better meets the needs of rural populations.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2020
Understanding the Role of Place in Health and Wellbeing for Rural Families: A Photovoice Project by Moms

Infants born in rural areas, rather than cities or suburbs, are less likely to celebrate their first birthday. Decreasing rural infant mortality requires rural-relevant policies and widespread structural investments in rural communities. This project aims to understand and envision what those investments and policies could look like, at the local government level, through the eyes of low-resource mothers living in rural Pennsylvania. The project incorporates photovoice and story mapping, two community-based research methods that activate participants as researchers themselves by taking photos, mapping the images, and re-imagining how local governments could better support the health of rural families.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Kevin Wiley, Jr., PHD Student, Health Policy and Management, Public Health Informatics, Indiana University

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Cohort: 2018
Kevin Wiley

FOCUS
Kevin’s research applies informatics methods to address public health issues and health disparities among marginalized patient populations. Specifically, he seeks to understand the effect of biases in care delivery and its impact on patient data quality and health outcomes using informatics tools (e.g., natural language processing, machine learning models). Kevin is also interested in assessing how the digital divide among patient populations and health care organizations worsens health outcomes. Kevin will translate his research to communicate and develop policy solutions that can improve clinical data quality and make health care more equitable for all populations.

MORE ABOUT KEVIN
Kevin is a second-year doctoral student at Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. Having worked across disciplines to conduct health information technology research in resource-poor settings domestically and abroad, Kevin brings unique experience to HPRS.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2021
Data Quality and Care Coordination in Type 2 Diabetes Management

The proposed dissertation combines three related approaches to examine whether and to what extent a relationship exists between patient and aggregate-level measures of EHR data quality and care coordination outcomes: delayed care and repeat visits across care settings.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

PATRICE C. WILLIAMS, PHD STUDENT, URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING, FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY

Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Patrice Williams’ general research interest encompasses how physical and social environments influence health outcomes with a more specific focus on how the built environment and ecologically-sensitive land use practices affect individual and community-level health outcomes of low-income populations and communities of color.

MORE ABOUT PATRICE
Patrice Williams is a third-year doctoral student and her overall research experiences have included studying the influence of structural and social determinants on disparities in health outcomes, as well as the use of biophysical techniques, mathematical modeling, and geospatial analyses to better understand the relationship between various factors that contribute to health outcomes. The driving force behind Patrice’s research interests is to increase agency through research and evidence-based health policies that acknowledge and dismantle social and structural barriers that create inequities.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — SEPTEMBER 2018
“They Over-Promised and Under-Delivered”: A Mixed Methods Study on the Effects of Residential Displacement Pressure on Black Residents in Southwest Atlanta

The project aim is to understand the relationships between neighborhoods exposed and unexposed to greenspace redevelopment, social environmental stressors associated with residential displacement, and sleep quality among Black adults. The Atlanta Beltline, a public-private greenspace redevelopment project that will result in improvements to 700 acres of existing parks, the addition of 1,300 acres of new and expanded greenspace, and 33 miles of new multi-use trails, will be used as my case study. To achieve the project aim, the following phases will be enacted: Phase 1, use a structural racism lens to develop a displacement risk index to identify census block groups within the target development area of the Atlanta BeltLine that have a concentration of residents who are most susceptible to the pressure of displacement; Phase 2, pair exposed block groups (i.e., characterized as high risk of displacement) to unexposed block groups using propensity score matching; Phase 3, employ a survey to eligible households within exposed and unexposed block groups that asked questions pertaining to social environmental stressors (i.e., everyday discrimination, heightened vigilance, housing unaffordability, and financial strain), subjective sleep quality, and sociodemographic covariates; Phase 4, collect objective and subjective sleep data for seven days using wrist actigraphy and sleep diaries from a subset of participants; Phase 5, conduct semi-structured interviews with a subset of participants who completed the sleep study; and Phase 6, perform linear regression models for quantiative data and direct and conventional content analysis for qualitative data.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

DANA WILLIAMSON, PHD STUDENT, BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES AND HEALTH EDUCATION, ROLLINS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY

Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Dana Williamson’s research focuses on understanding community organizing strategies to address issues related to environmental justice. She is particularly interested in community mobilization as a response to environmental stress and racism, how community mobilization can serve as a buffer for environmental stressors, and how communities maintain a sense of resilience despite varying exposures and lack of resources.

MORE ABOUT DANA
Dana Williamson is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Dana was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, earned her BA in Biology and Chemistry from Oberlin College and received her MPH from Emory University. Finding meaningful ways to impact lives and contribute to society has not only been a professional aim of Dana’s, but also a very personal goal that has radiated throughout her life. Her love for community, volunteerism, and advocacy with vulnerable populations is a fundamental part of who she is. She has diverse public health experience that includes working as an emergency medical technician, a health communications specialist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a project director for an NIH funded, culturally sensitive intervention educating about organ and tissue donation. She is dedicated to service, prevention, and creating collaborative solutions to the complexities of health inequities that plague low-income and minority communities. Dana’s diverse experiences have maintained a core theme of a health disparities lens. This perspective is crucial to addressing key questions about society, inequities, health consequences, and lack of resources. Dana is pursuing a doctoral degree because she recognizes the immediacy for change, the need for advocacy, and the interdisciplinary teamwork that is needed to create solutions to the complexities of health inequities.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — FEBRUARY 2019
Understanding Capacity-building Efforts to Address Environmental Justice Concerns

In the United States, environmental racism has plagued our society for decades and the communities that are affected the most also tend to be overburdened with limited resources and poor infrastructure directly impacting their ability to counteract and respond to multiple environmental exposures. In addressing these issues from an environmental justice (EJ) lens, solutions must be rooted in collaborative efforts with intentional focus on building capacity, community participation, and community decision-making. Capacity building is fundamental for promoting solidarity in the development of local solutions to problems and enacting broader environmental decision making and policy change; however, models for building capacity, evaluating capacity building approaches and measurement of capacity with respect to environmental change are lacking. This dissertation introduced a systematic approach to evaluating previously published EJ research using a community capacity theoretical perspective; used mixed methods to evaluate the U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Academy to assess the degree to which communities were strengthened to address environmental concerns; and used a multiple-case study approach, incorporating dimensions of community capacity theory, to delineate approaches utilized by EJ Academy trainees in striving for policy, systems, and environmental change.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

HENRY WILLIS, PHD STUDENT, PSYCHOLOGY & NEUROSCIENCE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Cohort: 2016

FOCUS
Henry Willis is interested in exploring how specific sociocultural risk (i.e., race-related stress) and protective (i.e., racial identity) factors affect the mental health of African-Americans. During his doctoral program, he plans to translate this research into cultural adaptations of mental health treatments for underserved populations. He also will begin creating mobile-health mental health applications that can disseminate low- or no-cost treatment to underserved populations in an attempt to reduce mental health disparities.

MORE ABOUT HENRY
Henry is a student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a graduate student researcher in the African American Youth Wellness Lab. Henry is originally from Jackson, Mississippi and completed his undergraduate career at Howard University, majoring in Psychology with a focus on African American Studies. He went on to gain a Master of Arts degree in Psychology and Education, with a concentration on Psychopathology and Psychotherapy, from Columbia University. He is currently an executive board member of the National Student Circle board of the Association of Black Psychologists.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — MAY 2019
Developing a Culturally-Adapted Mobile Mental Health Intervention: A Multi-Study, Mixed Methods Approach

African American young adults are less likely to have access to evidence-based treatments for mental health symptoms, yet mobile-health interventions may increase access to evidence-based treatment options. For mobile-Health interventions to be effective, it is important that they are culturally-adapted to address the unique sociocultural risk and protective factors that may impact psychological well-being for this group (i.e., online racial discrimination and racial identity beliefs, respectively). In light of this, the proposed dissertation will explore a variety of questions over three studies that will lay the foundation for the development of a culturally-adapted mHealth intervention for mental health for African American young adults.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

Chioma Woko, PHD Student, Health Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cohort: 2018
Chioma Woko

FOCUS
Disproportionate access to health information and resources by marginalized groups is one indicator of health inequity and disparity in the United States. Further, the composition of an individual’s social networks is a strong predictor for their health outcomes and behaviors. Social media has expanded the traditional idea of a social network, allowing people in different places in the world to form connections. Chioma is studying how these online relationships, and subsequent exposure to health-related information and misinformation, influence health behaviors. With a focus on black populations, Chioma hopes that her research will inform policy that addresses issues with health literacy and health behavior interventions.

MORE ABOUT CHIOMA
Chioma’s public health research experience in both industry and academia has given her a global perspective of the multi-sectoral issues influencing health equity and the health outcomes of marginalized groups. She hopes to use her knowledge and expertise to develop scalable and sustainable health behavior interventions and ultimately impact health policies affecting underserved populations.

DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — AUGUST 2021
The Effect of Source Credibility on Promising Message Themes: A Message Pretesting Study to Address COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy among Black Americans

Vaccination against the novel coronavirus is the prioritized approach to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, however there is vaccine hesitancy across different subgroups of the U.S. population. Focusing on hesitancy among Black Americans, this dissertation seeks to investigate a strategy to increase COVID-19 vaccination through public messaging efforts across three studies. The goal of the research is to provide evidence to inform the development of public health communication efforts to address the disparity in COVID-19 vaccine uptake, which can also inform other risk communication efforts in future public health crises.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HPRS DISSERTATION AWARDS, CLICK HERE.

BLANCHE WRIGHT, PHD STUDENT, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES

 

Location: Los Angeles, California
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS
Evidence-based treatments (EBTs) designed to improve youth mental health problems have been predominantly validated with middle-class, white families in university settings. As millions of tax dollars are invested in bringing EBTs to the Los Angeles community, which largely serves disadvantaged, Latino families, Blanche aims to (1) identify ethnic disparities in the quality of mental health care; and (2) devise solutions to reduce disparities. By integrating her PhD education in clinical psychology with the HPRS public health and policy training, she is studying how caregivers’ engagement and therapists’ cultural sensitivity and humility can improve the treatment process for Latino and Hispanic families.

MORE ABOUT BLANCHE
As a first-generation American and Los Angeles native who grew up in low-income, Hispanic communities that did not prioritize mental health, Blanche aspires to make publicly funded mental health services more accessible, acceptable, and effective for families from similar backgrounds.

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