UVA Students to Tackle Global Health Issues

From studying honey as a wound-healing additive in Rwanda to assessing the affect of mobile banking on women in rural India, 52 University of Virginia students will use Center for Global Health scholarships this summer to address public health problems in the far-flung corners of the globe.

The UVA center’s University Scholar Awards, awarded by a faculty committee, offer up to $5,000 in grants for individual and group projects. This year, the center has funded 20 projects in seven countries, which include a water purification program in South Africa, an assessment of emergency medical responses in Guatemala and a review of breastfeeding education in Rwanda. Some projects are built on previous years’ work, including creating a virtual support network for men living with HIV in South Africa, assessing solar water-heating technology at a hospital in Guatemala and studying how Ugandan patients determine which doctors are legitimate and can be trusted.

The scholars, who come from multiple schools and disciplines, as well as UVA’s College at Wise, will conduct six- to eight-week intensive, mentored research projects, most at partnership sites, where they will be engaged in community-based projects with long-term connections to UVA.

The research scholarships, the Center for Global Health’s largest single program, encourage students to design, propose and conduct interdisciplinary projects combining their interests, concerns and ideas. Students travel to Latin America, Africa, Asia and communities in the Unites States, where they build relationships and develop research, communication and other life skills, said Dr. Rebecca Dillingham, director of the Center for Global Health.

The center encourages UVA faculty and international mentors to participate in these projects, as part of its focus on developing new leaders and scholars for global health.

“The CGH University Scholar awardees represent an outstanding group of students committed to learning about and enhancing understanding of challenges to health and well-being in low resource settings,” Dillingham said. “Many of them also work to identify, develop and evaluate potential solutions in collaboration with the communities hosting them. Each year I think that the quality of the applications can’t possibly get much better, and each year, it does.”

Students must complete a comprehensive application describing their projects and personal goals, as well as be interviewed by a selection committee consisting of faculty from across Grounds and a former University Scholar.

This year, the center is awarding an unprecedented number of scholarships to program alums who are building on prior work and relationships, as well as integrating new team members and resources to develop stronger, more advanced projects.

“While conducting their projects, these students are outstanding ambassadors for the University, learning to approach communities with curiosity, humility and respect,” Dillingham said. “The students learn about the communities’ health challenges and ideas for addressing them, and about how they, the students, can partner with the communities to imagine, design and implement solutions. This experience is transformative for the CGH scholars, building skills not only in global health research and evaluation, but also in cultural humility, teamwork and resilience.”

This year’s scholars and projects are:

  • Catherine Reynolds of Round Hill, a third-year civil engineering major focusing on environmental and water resources; Kelly McCain of Jamestown, North Carolina, a second-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences; Evelyn “Evie” Stinger of Lovettsville, a third-year nursing major; Amanda Gaylord of Arlington, a second-year biology major; and Courtney Hill of Jonesboro, Arkansas, a first-year Ph.D. candidate in civil engineering, who will perform baseline testing of the health effects of the MadiDrop water filtration system in the Limpopo region of South Africa.
  • Michaela Banks of Charlotte, North Carolina and Mrinmayee Takle of Herndon, first-year students in the School of Medicine; and Dallas M. Ducar of Phoenix, a graduate student in the School of Nursing’s Clinical Nurse Leader program, who will conduct an analysis of emergency medical services in Totonicapán, Guatemala.
  • Vatsal Patel of Lynchburg, a first-year student in the School of Medicine; and Joemar Priscila Pazos Flores de Valgas, of Quito, Ecuador and Stephenson, Virginia, a graduate student in the School of Nursing’s Clinical Nurse Leader program, who are designing a pilot discharge navigation program for Spanish-speaking patients at the UVA Emergency Department.
  • Chang Sup Lee of Seoul, South Korea, a third-year medical student, who is researching possible connections between traditional eye medicines and the development of corneal ulcers in patients in Uganda.
  • Sarah Dar of Bethesda, Maryland, a second-year biomedical engineering major; Auroa Lofton of Bristow, a third-year foreign affairs major and Spanish minor; and Logan Haley of Mechanicsville, a second-year student in the College planning to major in global public health, who will evaluate biosand water filters implemented by the UVA-Guatemala Initiative to expand clean water access in several rural communities.
  • First-year medical students Ceshae Harding of Miramar, Florida, and Cherise Green of Charlotte, North Carolina, who plan to survey best breastfeeding practices among both HIV-infected and non-infected mothers in Rwanda to ultimately create a standardized breastfeeding curriculum.
  • Mary Kay O’Brien of Lewistown, Missouri, a first-year graduate nursing student; Jennifer Stueve of Topeka, Kansas, a first-year nursing student; Lillian-Marie Ware Drew of Cleveland, Mississippi, a first-year graduate nursing student, who will research palliative care in South Africa’s Limpopo Province.
  • Eliza Campbell of McLean, a third-year public policy and foreign affairs major in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, who will evaluate health sector sustainability for Rwanda’s Ministry of Health.
  • Laura Deal of Charlottesville and Simone Reaves of Chesapeake, both first-year medical students, who will research cardiovascular health and disease prevention by evaluating methods used to teach residents of Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, about cardiovascular health.
  • Porter Nenon of Charlotte, North Carolina, a fourth-year political and social thought major; Adam Jones of Cleveland, a second-year economics and computer science major; William Henagan of Atlanta, a third-year history major; and Kaija Flood of Reston, second-year master of public policy student in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, who are examining education platforms for refugee students, using messaging as a tool for learning and performing data tasks, and bettering the lives of those performing such work.
  • Alice Burgess of Barrington, Rhode Island, a third-year pre-medical student in the College; and Emily Romano of Wilmington, Delaware, a fourth-year global public health major, who will survey Rwandan district hospitals to determine local physicians’ interest in using locally produced honey to treat acute-care burn injuries.
  • Grant Anhorn of Houston, a first-year student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science; and Adam Schefkind of Bethesda, Maryland, a first-year medical student, who will assess solar water-heating technology at the Hospital Nacional de Totonicapan in Guatemala.
  • Ella Shoup of Falls Church, a third-year political and social thought major; Vijay Edupuganti of Portland, Oregon, a second-year computer science major; and Sasheenie Moodley, of Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa, a fourth-year global development studies major who is dual-enrolled as a Master in Public Health candidate, will research creating a virtual support network for men living with HIV in South Africa.
  • Anna Eisenstein of Patterson, New York, a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology, who is researching how patients in urban Uganda assess practitioners as trustworthy or not, and how this becomes a key factor in medical choice.
  • Mark Duda of Harrisonburg, a third-year global development studies and English major; Sam Campbell of Charlottesville, a third-year global development studies and French major; Charlotte Delany of Charlottesville, a third-year religious studies major; and Rosemary O’Hagan of Richmond, a third-year history and French major, who will study water quality, enteric disease and childhood health in the Dodoma region of Tanzania, as well as potential distribution channels for a point-of-use water filter.
  • Korey Marshall of Atlanta, and J.P. Baker of Vienna, both first-year medical students, who will seek to implement an electronic medical record system in a Guatemalan hospital.
  • Nebil Nuradin of Washington, D.C., a first-year medical student, who will assess the effectiveness of simulation workshops in teaching surgery in low- to middle-income countries, using hospital records in Rwanda, where the workshops started in 2012.
  • Mariana Forero of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, a second-year student in the College; Hala Al Kallas of McLean, a second-year pre-med cognitive science major;
 and Yolande Pokam Tchuisseu of Takoma Park, Maryland, a third-year cognitive science major with a concentration in neuroscience, who will research the feasibility and cultural acceptability of an at-home cervical cancer screening method in Bluefields, Nicaragua.
  • Mary Long of Great Falls, a second-year English and foreign affairs major; Jordan Arnold of Lexington, a first-year student in the College; Claudia Muratore of Fairfax, a second-year English and foreign affairs major; and Ashwanth Samuel of Olathe, Kansas, a first-year student in the College, who will investigate mobile banking and gender dynamics in southern India, focusing on micro-finance.
  • Bailey Curtlan Helbert of Coeburn, a third-year biochemistry major at UVA’s College at Wise: Maha Hassan of Dunn Loring, a fourth-year global public health major at UVA; and Deega Omar of Vienna, a fourth-year anthropology major at UVA focusing on medical anthropology, who will study the distribution and prevalence of childhood asthma in St. Kitts & Nevis.

The grants are funded through support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the Healthy Appalachia Institute and the UVA Medical Alumni Association. Endowments contributed by the following individuals and groups provide awards that support students each year: The Class of 1985 Nancy Walton Pugh Scholarship Fund; The Glenn and Susan Brace Center for Global Health Scholarship Fund; the Joy Boissevain Scholar Award for Global Public Health; K.C. Graham and Family; the Lyle Global Health Scholar Award; the Pamela B. and Peter C. Kelly Award for Improving Health in Limpopo Province; the Ram Family Center for Global Health Scholar Award; the Richard and Nancy Guerrant Center for Global Health Scholar Award; the Sister Bridget Haase, O.S.U. Center for Global Health Scholarship; Catherine and James MacPhaille; and Glen and Susan Brace.

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications