Student Biographies

Current MCH/CYF Concentrators 

Kathryn (Kate) Barker is a doctoral student in the department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Prior to joining HSPH, she worked at the Population Council where she co-authored and coordinated the development of “Girls on the Move,” a report that examines the internal migration of adolescent girls in developing countries and its links to gender norms, socioeconomic conditions, health, education, and employment. Kate also worked at the US Agency for International Development in Washington, DC and New Delhi, India on sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention programming. Through her research, Kate intends to generate evidence that will inform policy and practice to address social inequalities in health, particularly among adolescent populations in developing countries. Kate holds a Masters in Public Health from UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, exploring the great outdoors, and gardening.

Jodi Anthony is a third year doctoral student. Her interests include applying mixed-method techniques to understanding the complex social and biological interplay of factors that support health and well-being of young children and adolescents.  For her doctoral dissertation, she will evaluate smoke-free policies and cessation efforts in affordable housing.  She was drawn to this work because of the persistent inequities in cancer by race/ethnicity and socio-economic status. Equally compelling is the opportunity to think deeply about measurement, evaluation and translation of effective multi-level change strategies that are embedded in the environment in which people live, play and work. Prior to coming to Harvard, Ms. Anthony collaborated with community, state, federal, and international health entities in participatory strategic analysis, technical assistance, and evaluation.

Leslie Farland is a doctoral student with a focus on Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Epidemiology. She graduated in 2010 with a A.B. in Biological Science from the University of Chicago and in 2012 from the Harvard School of Public Health with a S.M. in Epidemiology. During her undergraduate career, Leslie’s research focused on health care utilization through projects at the Trauma Department of Cook County Hospital  and at Mujeres Aliadas, a women’s health and rights organization in Patzcuaro, Mexico. Her work in Mexico focused on birthing practices among indigenous Purepecha populations and prompted her seminal college research on the overuse and misuse of cesarean sections in Mexico. Leslie has been involved in several research projects while at HSPH. Her master’s thesis utilized data from the Project Viva birth cohort and studied the ways in which maternal craving and diet during pregnancy affect risk for gestational diabetes. She has also researched the effects of a chemical found in sunscreen and beauty products, benzophenone-3 (BP3), on birth weight outcomes. Currently Leslie is researching usage patterns of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in the Nurses Health Study II participants and the ways in which exposure to different (ART) methods influence risk for high blood pressure and benign breast disease later in life. Leslie is also the student coordinator for the MCH Data Connect website. Leslie’s research interests include assisted reproductive technology and the health consequences for both mother and child, risk factors for preterm labor, and drug safety during pregnancy. Outside of school Leslie enjoys photography, picnics, and learning how to cook.

Kelsey Holt is a doctoral student in the Social and Behavioral Sciences department working on completing her dissertation. She directs several projects at the Women and Health Initiative (W&HI) at the school, including a study investigating the readiness of the United States primary care physician workforce to provide reproductive health services and a project to develop a new composite measure of voluntary, informed contraceptive choice in the context of client-provider interactions.

Prior to coming to Harvard, Kelsey spent four years managing a dynamic program of research related to contraception, unintended pregnancy, abortion, and HIV prevention in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and the U.S., at the non-profit clinical and social science research organization Ibis Reproductive Health. She has also previously worked for several other non-profit organizations on research, evaluation, and programmatic work in a number of different areas including sexual and reproductive health, tuberculosis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. During her Master’s program in medical anthropology at the University of Colorado-Denver in 2005, she designed and conducted original research to investigate multi-level factors influencing low rates of institutional births in a rural Bolivian city. Kelsey’s quantitative and qualitative research has been published in an interdisciplinary set of peer-reviewed journals and she has presented on her work at various international and U.S. conferences.

Jane Lee is a doctoral candidate in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department. Previously, she was a research analyst at the UCSF Center on Social Disparities in Health helping with the redesign and evaluation of California’s Black Infant Health program and working on issue briefs for the RWJF’s Commission to Build a Healthier America.  Prior to that, she worked at the Kaiser Family Foundation in the Women’s Health Policy group helping with a state-level report on racial and ethnic health and health care disparities among women.  Currently, Jane is researching the effects of socially-patterned maternal exposures on early childhood weight using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort dataset.  She received her B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University in 2005 and a M.H.S. degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2007.

Jennifer (Jenny) O’Donnell  is a doctoral candidate in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department. A Maternal and Child Health concentrator, her research interest is the intersection place and identity as it influences access to reproductive health, specifically abortion care, recognizing the importance of these services to women and families.

In addition to her doctoral work, Jenny serves as the Deputy Director for Provide. As Deputy Director, she stewards organizational development and oversees the Core Functions team and work in development, communications, operations, personnel and research/evaluation. As a member of Provide’s Management Team since 2010, Jenny works with colleagues to ensure strategic and effective programming in support of the organization’s mission. Jenny is Fellow in the 2012-2013 cohort of the National Council for Research on Women-Amex Fellowship, a program dedicated to developing women leaders in the nonprofit sector. Other past experience includes NSF-sponsored research/ writing with Professor Rosanna Hertz on her 2006 book capturing a qualitative study of single motherhood, work with the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School, and consultation with Harvard University’s Women’s Leadership Board as well as internships at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts’ development department, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s government relations department, and Our Bodies Ourselves’ translation and adaptation program.

Jenny has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College and a Master of Science degree from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As a coastal dweller (both right and left) for most of her life, she is delighted that her work has introduced her to the art-deco buildings of Oklahoma, the soybean fields of Iowa, and the small town bakeries of Kentucky.

Christine Simon is a third-year doctoral student in Social Behavioral Sciences and the Maternal and Child Health/Children, Youth, and Families concentration. Her research focuses on father involvement and men’s health. For the past three years, she has provided research assistance to the Boston Healthy Start Initiative and now works primarily with the Father Friendly Initiative at the Boston Public Health Commission. Christine is a graduate of the HSPH Master of Science program in Social Behavioral Sciences and completed the Maternal and Child Health/ Children, Youth and Families and Health Communication concentrations. Prior to attending HSPH, she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator on the National Children’s Study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Agudile Emeka Pascal is a returning doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH). He received a Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences with a focus on Maternal & Child Health; and Women, Gender, & Health from the HSPH. His career objectives are on the socioeconomic, cultural and political determinants underlying health service delivery and health disparities among the most vulnerable members of the community especially in the areas of sexual, reproductive and child health in resource poor environments in both the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Emeka obtained a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery degree (MB, BS) from the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. Upon graduation from Med. School, he worked briefly at the Farida Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) Hospital in Zamfara State, Nigeria before he enrolled into an Obstetrics and Gynecology residency program at the Federal Medical Center, Gusau, Nigeria. Over those years, he has witnessed a lot of women and children suffer disabilities and death from preventable causes and diseases. The above scenario influenced his desire to make a transition from clinical medicine to public health.  This among other issues regarding the health of children and women at both the family and population levels lead him to enroll in the MPH program with a focus on Maternal and Child Health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

After his MPH program, Emeka worked as a Research Assistant/Quality Improvement Associate for the Program for Patient Safety and Quality at the Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston. Here, he was involved in the development of a quality improvement strategic plan and measurement landscape for child healthcare quality measures for Boston Children’s Hospital. At the same time he collaborated with the Massachusetts Child Health Quality Coalition under the auspices of Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) Demonstration Grant to develop a shared understanding of pediatric healthcare quality measures across the health care delivery system.

Emeka is a recipient of the 2015 Summer Fellowship Awards from the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston and hence, he is working with the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians on an Immigrant Integration and empowerment project, which will identify gaps and disparities in how Boston serves the immigrant community. He also received the Cultural Bridge Fellowship Awards from the Women and Public Policy Program of the Harvard Kennedy School; consequently, he is working with the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance to examine the current status of domestic violence and emergency assistance shelter beds in the state of Massachusetts and the state systems engaged in housing/shelter services for victims, the matrix of referral networks, and triage systems among state agencies.

His research interest is, therefore, on maternal and child health inequities and how social support and social network could be employed to ameliorate these disparities. He is a member of the HSPH Nigerian Students Association; HSPH Doctoral Students Association and also a member of the Committee on African Studies, Harvard University. His hobbies include swimming, cycling, playing football and watching comedy movies.

Elizabeth Janiak is a doctoral candidate in Social and Behavioral Sciences. She is an interdisciplinary researcher trained in public health and the social sciences, with an A.B. in the Comparative Study of Religion from Harvard College, an M.A. in American Studies from New York University, and an M.S. in Society, Human Development, and Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. Ms. Janiak’s research is jointly based at Harvard and at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her work focuses on the U.S. context and centers on four themes: 1) understanding barriers to and facilitators of comprehensive reproductive health care delivery, particularly abortion; 2) describing the impact of these barriers and facilitators on patients and providers; 3) designing and evaluating interventions to improve the accessibility of reproductive health care; and, 4) describing reproductive health knowledge, attitudes, and work experiences among the health care workforce. Her current research includes a first-of-its kind quantitative assessment of job stress and its relationship to abortion stigma among clinical abortion workers, funded through a Society of Family Planning Research Fund career development grant; a qualitative investigation of factors affecting provision of long-acting reversible contraception in primary care; and a survey querying a national probability sample of primary care physicians regarding their sexual and reproductive health care service delivery, knowledge, and attitudes. Prior to transitioning to a research career, Ms. Janiak was privileged to serve as the manager of the statewide sexual health hotline based at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and as a case manager facilitating abortion access for women with complex medical and social needs. She has also worked as an education and research consultant on a variety of sexual and reproductive health projects for local and national organizations and universities.