Doctoral Students

Peter RockersIryna PostolovskaMahesh Karra





Peter Rockers                Ira Postolovska             Mahesh Karra


Alex RadunskyJesse HeitnerPanji Hadisoemarto





Alex Radunsky                 Jesse Heitner              Panji Hadisoemarto



Panji HadisoemartoPanji Hadisoemarto is a fifth year doctoral candidate in the Department of Global Health and Population with a major in Population and Reproductive Health. In addition to his role with HSPH, Dr. Hadisoemarto is also a faculty member of Padjadjaran University Faculty of Medicine in Bandung, Indonesia. He has worked with the US Naval Research Unit 2 in Indonesia and coordinated two large studies on dengue hemorrhagic fever in the city of Bandung. Currently, he is a recipient of the HSPH Presidential Scholarship, and is currently working on a doctoral dissertation that will gauge the need for a dengue vaccine in Indonesia and show how a new dengue vaccine can be used alongside with other control methods to obtain the maximum impact for controlling dengue. Under the mentorship of Professors Castro and Lipsitch, he is building a mathematical model that will be useful to assist dengue control policy making in Indonesia. He is also looking at the politics of new vaccine adoption under the guidance of Professor Michael Reich.


Jesse Heitner PhotoJesse Heitner is entering his fourth year as an SD student in the Economics major in the Department of Global Health and Population. He is also a part of the HSPH Interdisciplinary Concentration in Infectious Disease Epidemiology.  His varied interests include, but aren’t limited to, child health, sanitation, infectious diseases, cost-effectiveness, physician payments, and quantitative methods.  Though his previous work had focused more on East Africa, Jesse has recently decided to switch gears and is starting to focus in China.  He has been quite enjoying learning Mandarin.  Slowly.  His current research is a randomized experiment using text-messages to educate expecting mothers in China about antenatal and newborn health topics, and he is just starting to get involved in evaluating the effects of a large health systems experiment in Ningxia China.  He is very grateful to be the first recipient of the Sumner L. Feldberg Fellowship at HSPH.


Mahesh KarraMahesh Karra is a second year doctoral student majoring in health economics in the Department of Global Health and Population.  His academic and research interests are broadly in economic theory, applied demography, quantitative methods, and economic development.  Most recently, his research focuses on examining the short- and long-term impacts of family planning on fertility, maternal and child health, and downstream economic outcomes, including labor force participation, income, and wealth.  To further investigate these issues, Mahesh is presently in the process of designing a family planning field experiment in urban Burundi.  Prior to coming to Harvard, he was a policy analyst at the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) in Washington, DC, contributing to dissemination and research activities and providing technical assistance to initiatives associated with the Population and Poverty (PopPov) research network.


Iryna PostolovskaIryna Postolovska is a second year doctoral student (SD) majoring in Health Systems. Prior to matriculation to HSPH, Iryna worked as a research assistant at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., in the health sector of Europe and Central Asia. Her current research interests are most closely linked to the development and implementation of universal health coverage in order to ensure effective access to care for the poor.  She is also interested in studying the behaviors of providers to better understand the governance structures and types of incentives that can be used to improve the outcomes of a health system in a fiscally sustainable manner. Originally from Kyiv, Ukraine, Iryna received her bachelor’s degree in economics and international studies, with a minor in political science and a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism, from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


Alex Radunsky PhotoAlex Radunsky is a second year doctoral student in the Department of Global Health and Population.  He majors in the Population and Reproductive Health track and he has developed minor courses of study in quantitative methods and qualitative methods.  His interest is in applying mixed-methods techniques to understand transmission, prevention and treatment of HIV in Africa.  By utilizing complimentary qualitative and quantitative techniques, Alex will be able to more fully capture the complex social and behavioral factors that influence disease transmission.  His current projects look at subjective expectations including context specific perception of HIV information in Malawi, the impact of HIV and anti-retroviral therapy on perceived risk of sexual behavior, and time preferences and resource allocation in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.  He hopes to build a more complete understanding of HIV risk using the relative strengths of the different methodological approaches, which will in turn prescribe more useful policy strategies.


Peter Rockers PhotoPeter Rockers is in his fifth year in the Doctor of Science program, pursuing a major in Health Systems.  Peter’s dissertation is comprised of two field experiments conducted in Zambia and one quasi-experiment that uses health service administrative data collected by the Zambian Ministry of Health.  One field experiment evaluates the effects of cash incentives on parental care seeking for children, and the other tests the effects of two interventions that aim to improve parental recognition of illness in children.  The quasi-experiment uses a policy change as an instrumental variable to investigate the effect of midwife staffing at rural health centers on frequency of child deliveries.  Peter is also involved in efforts by leading knowledge translation institutions that aim to consider the role that evidence from quasi-experimental studies should play in informing national and global health policies.  He is currently on the job market.