Fall 2012: Bernice Garnett, MS
“Weight based discrimination and bullying are common in our society and, sadly, often accepted as the norm. But for youth, they can have serious consequences on their health, well-being, and academic achievement. My goal is to help create and maintain safe spaces for youth that foster emotional and physical well-being, healthy relationships, and academic excellence. To do this, we need better evidence-driven policies and programs for youth. My hope is that my research will help us develop these much-needed interventions to eliminate discrimination and bullying.” -Bernice
Bernice Garnett is a doctoral candidate beginning her last year in the program in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH. With a dual concentration in health communication and maternal and child health, she is gaining a unique blend of expertise to bring to eating disorders prevention. Bernice’s doctoral dissertation focuses on the intersections of multiple forms of discrimination among ethnically diverse adolescents, highlighting the consequences of weight-based discrimination and bullying for the mental and physical health of teens. In 2011, she was honored for this work with the top prize for student research from the Society for African American Public Health Issues.
In a STRIPED research project, Bernice is leading the first-ever evaluation study of Fat Talk Free Week, a unique social marketing campaign from the Delta Delta Delta national sorority to increase awareness of the harmful effects fat talk and ultimately to encourage more constructive and body-positive and affirming ways for girls and women to talk about their bodies. In addition to her dissertation research and STRIPED projects, Bernice is dedicated to promoting community-based participatory research and has been managing a trail-blazing collaborative effort among researchers, community members, educators, and policymakers in Cambridge, MA, to better understand and address the persistent racial and ethnic disparities in excess weight gain affecting the city’s youth.
Summer 2012: STRIPED Team
This past year, we celebrated the graduation of our first doctoral-level trainee, Monica Wang, and three master’s degree trainees – Rob Buelow, Elisabeth Malin, and Boram Seo — and cheered on Leah Hawkins, currently a medical student at Harvard. Leah finished her training at HSPH and will earn her MD/MPH next year. We are also welcoming to STRIPED two new trainees, HSPH doctoral student Allegra Gordon and Harvard Law School student Katherine Cohen. In addition, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Jerel Calzo, our newest STRIPED faculty. Jerel, who was our first postdoctoral fellow with the initiative, brings an invaluable combination of stellar teaching and mentoring skills and a unique research focus on gender, masculinity, and eating disorders. Jerel is sure to bring important new perspectives and opportunities for our trainees. Welcome, Jerel!
I am especially grateful to both our founding and new funders, who have made it possible for us not only to expand our cadre of outstanding trainees and faculty, but also to offer new opportunities through our initiative. Here are some of the highlights from this past year:
- For the first time at the Harvard School of Public Health, we awarded in 2011 two $5000 dissertation research awards and are now preparing to award two more for the 2012-13 academic year.
- We sponsored a STRIPED practicum for a trainee to organize a legislative briefing at the Massachusetts State House on eating disorders screening in schools. Health policy student Elisabeth Malin worked with the National Eating Disorders Association, Massachusetts-based Multiservice Eating Disorders Association, and the office of state Representative Kay Khan on the briefing, which had an excellent turn out from legislators and their staff along with community advocates.
- We carried out the first-ever evaluation of Fat Talk Free Week, a national social media campaign to challenge people, especially girls and women, to interrupt the kinds of body disparaging conversations that are so common. Stay tuned for results from this important evaluation research effort, led by STRIPED trainees Bernice Garnett and Rob Buelow in collaboration with STRIPED International Expert Advisory Panel member Dr. Debra Franko.
- And in our debut in the popular press, the Huffington Post ran a piece on STRIPED and our unique approach to advancing eating disorders prevention.
-S.Bryn Austin, ScD
Spring 2012: Rob Buelow, BA
“It’s no surprise that so many people struggle with some form of disordered eating. We live in a society that bombards us with unrealistic messages and expectations about weight, body image, and beauty. The true challenge for public health is to work upstream to create a culture where people are healthy and happy being themselves.” –Rob
Robert Buelow graduated with a Master of Science degree in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at HSPH. Rob is working with STRIPED as the project manager for a pilot evaluation of Fat Talk Free Week, a national social media campaign to interrupt the constant drone of body-disparaging commentary, especially among girls and women, and encourage more body-positive and constructive conversation. His specific research interest is on the potential role of bystander intervention as a strategy to interrupt and redirect fat talk.
Rob’s professional background is in violence prevention and men’s anti-sexism activism. This year, with the support of the Women, Gender, and Health Interdisciplinary Concentration and HSPH Dean Frenk’s Women and Health Initiative, Rob organized the first ever White Ribbon Campaign at HSPH as part of an international effort to engage men in ending violence against women. He has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an evaluation consultant for a state-run lead poisoning prevention initiative. Bringing together his role as Vice President of Student Life at HSPH and his savvy in health communications and social marketing, Rob masterminded a creative new initiative to reach his fellow students in the most unlikely of places: Stall Stories, a weekly newsletter posted in the bathroom stalls of the school, delivers engaging stories and news about events and opportunities to get involved in the many activities around the school to advance health equity and social change. Rob’s work is featured in the magazine Harvard Public Health (Roeder A. Accentuating the Positive. In The Art of Getting Things Done. Harvard Public Health Spring-Summer 2012).
Postscript: Rob received his MS from HSPH in spring 2012.
Fall 2011: Monica L. Wang, MS
“Advancing programs and policies that prevent DWCB and obesity among youth and address disparities in these outcomes is critical. Public health offers so many opportunities to be a catalyst for change, particularly among underserved populations. My goal is to translate knowledge and research into practice to work towards improved and equitable health outcomes for youth.” –Monica
Monica L. Wang, MS, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Society, Human Development and Health, was the first trainee with our initiative, joining our team in 2009. With the support of the Ellen Feldberg Gordon Fund for Eating Disorders Research for her doctoral dissertation with the Health Choices Study, Monica is examining behavioral, familial, and environmental risk and protective factors for disordered weight control behaviors (DWCB) among youth, exploring racial/ethnic disparities in DWCB among youth, and developing recommendations for programs and policies that address both DWCB and obesity.
Even at this early stage in her career, Monica has a wealth of experience working for health equity and social justice in diverse communities. This past year, Monica was awarded a highly competitive Albert Schweitzer Fellowship to support her work to reduce the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages Boston youth drink. Her project centered on youth-led advocacy in collaboration with Sociedad Latina, a non-profit organization that serves middle and high school youth from Boston Public Schools. In addition, she is a co-instructor with a school-wide public health foundations course at HSPH and works as an evaluation consultant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and National Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning with the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative. She graduated with her doctor of science degree from HSPH this May.
Postscript: Monica received her ScD from HSPH in spring 2012.