Traveling Fellows pursue research far afield

Left to right: Corey Prachniak, Laura Goodman (via Skype), and Yadira Almodóvar-Díaz

July 19, 2016 — Three students from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health are among the 32 recipients of the Harvard Traveling Fellowship for 2016-17. Fellowships are awarded to graduate students and recent graduates from across the University to support research, study, and travel abroad or domestically.

Corey Prachniak, MPH ’16, has begun to explore gender, health, and human rights in Bogotá, Colombia; Laura Goodman, MPH ’17, is researching the epidemiology of birth defects in Mongolia; and Yadira Almodóvar-Díaz, DrPH ’17, is working to improve the health care system in her native Puerto Rico.

Prachniak decided to pursue public health after earning a law degree in order to be a more effective advocate for the health rights of LGBT people. In Bogotá, Prachniak is exploring how forms of gender-based discrimination, such as denial of gender-affirming care to transgender individuals, violates people’s right to health. Prachniak views the Fellowship as an opportunity to combine advocacy, activism, and research in order to make the biggest possible impact.

Goodman, a student in the School’s new online/on-campus MPH in epidemiology program, hopes her work will promote policy changes to improve pediatric surgical capacity in Mongolia.  After taking courses first from her home in Sacramento, California, and on campus in June, Goodman is now working with colleagues from the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences and the National Center for Maternal and Child Health of Mongolia to study the epidemiology of birth defects as part of her MPH capstone project.

Almodóvar-Díaz is working in San Juan at the University of Puerto Rico and with a government-appointed council charged with examining the island’s health care system. Through her work, Almodóvar-Díaz hopes to contribute to policy recommendations—such as how to control drug costs while improving efficiency and value for patients—that will especially help vulnerable populations with multiple health conditions.

Article and photo by Sarah Sholes