Meet Our Students
Sharrelle completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC. She went on to earn her MPH at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health where two experiences proved instrumental in shaping and refining her research interests. The first involved using a community-based participatory research approach, to conduct a qualitative assessment of the strengths and challenges of a low-income neighborhood in rural, eastern North Carolina. The second involved primary data collection and analysis in low-income neighborhoods for the Mobile Youth Survey, a longitudinal study designed to explore the etiology of risk behaviors among adolescents living in impoverished neighborhoods. While different in scope, both brought her literally face-to-face with the realities of structural, economic, and social inequalities at the neighborhood level. As a result, she began to think conceptually about how these contextual factors influence health and more specifically about how they may help explain the inequities in health that exist. As one with a strong passion for social justice, her ultimate goal is to conduct research that both broadens our understanding of these issues in the context of rural communities and informs the development of social and economic policies necessary to eliminate inequities in health.
Natalia Linos is a second year doctoral student in the department of Society, Human Development and Health and is pursuing a concentration in women, gender and health. Natalia grew up in Athens, Greece and is interested in issues around international development and equity. She earned her BA in Social Anthropology from Harvard College, where she conducted research on asylum law and the structure of refugee camps for her thesis. Natalia has worked for the United Nations on economic and social development and has worked and studied in a number of different countries including Lebanon, Pakistan, and Turkey. These experiences led her to apply to the doctoral program at SHDH because she believes that health, human rights, and development are interconnected, and that globally there is a need for further research on the social determinants of health. Her research to date has primarily focused on health in the Arab world and gender based violence; she plans to pursue further research on the way international development policies address and/or ignore gender and health. Following HSPH she hopes to continue working at the United Nations on issues related to international development and health equity and help bridge the gap between policy-making and research.
After graduating from Princeton in 2002 with a degree in Politics, Michael worked for four years as a public relations executive representing pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients, focusing on explaining new cancer therapies to the public. Michael returned to school to study how societal influences shape health behavior and disease risk, earning an M.P.H. in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Program from Yale in 2008. As a master’s student, Michael worked at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity on a broad range of projects evaluating how the food environment shapes diet quality and obesity risk. He chose the doctoral program in SHDH because it combines rigorous methodological training in social epidemiology with a broader focus on addressing social inequities in health through social policy. Last year, Michael received a Rappaport Institute Public Policy Summer Fellowship to work with the Boston Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services to increase student access to the School Breakfast Program, which resulted in improved student nutrition and increased revenue to the department. Michael’s ongoing research focuses on building a strong scientific foundation for food policies seeking to improve diet and prevent obesity.
J. ROBIN MOON
J. Robin Moon is a returning doctoral student. Her research interest lies on traditionally “non-health” policies that impact health, such as social welfare, social security, labor and retirement policies, and how the impact varies over geographical areas and over the life-course of individuals. She is currently a senior research fellow at marketumbrella.org (New Orleans, LA) to lead its international research initiative on public markets, community development and public health. She is also working with Environmental Simulation Center (New York, NY), an urban planning organization, as public health advisor on its launch of Human Development Overlay District (HDOD) nationwide. Her career background includes corporate as well as non-profit sector experience. Robin holds a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Chicago, and M.P.H. and M.I.A. (International Affairs), both from Columbia University.
Vinu Ilakkuvan’s undergraduate studies in biomedical engineering and economics at the University of Virginia, combined with internships in public health and experience in college journalism and public speaking, led her to seek out further education in health communications. This brought her to HSPH, where she has pursued classes in health communications, health policy, and other topics. As part of a student group at the Center for Health Communications, Vinu is working on a project aimed to promote prenatal health among pregnant teenagers in the Boston area. She is also working at the Viswanath Lab, which has a focus on health communications and the disparities that stem from inequalities in the distribution of communication resources. While she entered HSPH with an interest in health communications specifically, her time here has broadened her interests – Vinu hopes to pursue a career that allows her to interact with community organizations on the ground as well as policymakers working at the systems level in order to address and promote health issues she is passionate about.
Tsuguhiko grew up in a family with a long tradition of serving as Buddhist priests in Hiroshima, Japan. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Waseda University and a Master’s degree as well as a Ph.D in early childhood education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While studying early childhood development, he began to notice the connections between education and public health. At HSPH, he is focusing on social epidemiology. His main research interest is in identifying risk and protective factors that impact the development and long-term health of young children, especially those from low-income families. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in research at an academic setting.
Born and raised in Palos Verdes, California, Akshay graduated with high honors from University of California Santa Barbara in 2003 with majors in philosophy and chemistry and a minor in music. After spending a year teaching mathematics and chemistry, he went on to study at Harvard School of Dental Medicine from 2004 to 2008. Upon completion of dental school, he participated in a general practice residency at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he focused on the role of dentistry within a hospital setting, followed by a year spent practicing general dentistry on the Waianae Coast of O`ahu and the southern shores of Moloka`i. Akshay is now pursuing a Master’s in Public Health in Family and Community Health from HSPH. He hopes to use his public health training to help refine the attitudes of the general public toward their oral health needs through community-directed campaigns with multimedia utilization. In his free time, Akshay enjoys participating in marathons and triathlons, playing jazz piano, cooking, and spending time with his fiancée Carly.