Student news, notes, and accolades

News and notes highlighting the work of students from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Zeenith Ebrahim, DrPH ’23, has received a prestigious fellowship from Echoing Green. The award recognizes her work as a social entrepreneur who uses innovative solutions to solve entrenched societal problems. She is the founder of Jamii Life, an organization in South Africa that is redesigning home care delivery. Jamii Life’s technology platform connects patients, families, and home caregivers in order to improve accessibility, transparency, quality of care, and peace of mind.

Tiffani Bell Washington, MPH ’22, has been named a “40 under 40” leader by the National Minority Quality Forum. The award recognizes minority health leaders under the age of 40 who work to improve patient outcomes, strengthen communities, and reduce health disparities. Washington is a physician providing culturally centered care for minority populations while treating obesity and mental health disorders.


Tigist (Tiggy) Menkir, a PhD student working with Caroline Buckee, professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, was featured on the July 6, 2021, episode of the podcast “From where does it STEM?” Menkir discussed her work using machine learning-based methods, spatial statistics, and traditional dynamic models for infectious disease surveillance, with a focus on data-limited settings and marginalized populations.

Shawna Narayan, a student in the Summer Session for Public Health Studies, has been honored with the Diana Award for going above and beyond to create and sustain positive change. Narayan is executive director of Empower the Future, a nonprofit focused on breaking barriers in STEM fields and supporting the mental wellbeing of underrepresented groups, including LGBTQ+, ethnic minorities, and inner-city students. The Diana Award is considered the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts. It was established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Julien Heidt, a second-year SM-80 student in the Department of Epidemiology, is this year’s recipient of the Dimitrios Trichopoulos Memorial Award. The award honors the late Dr. Trichopoulos, past chair of the Department of Epidemiology, and was created to serve as an extension of Dr. Trichopoulos’ dedication to epidemiology, his kind spirit, and his altruistic views.

Jemar Bather, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biostatistics, was named a “Rising Star” as part of a list of up-and-coming black mathematicians who are already exhibiting promising potential and providing outstanding contributions for the math community. Bather was one of four students named on the Mathematically Gifted & Black website. Last November, Bather was named a Fellow of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Fostering Diversity in HIV Research Program.

Tariana Little, who earned a DrPH last year, was recognized as a “student who rocked public health” in 2020 for producing a series of inspiring videos during the pandemic. Little was one of nine students from across the U.S. highlighted for their public health efforts in JPHMP Direct, the companion site of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.


Four Harvard Chan School students have been selected to join the 2020 cohort of Adrian Cheng Fellows by The Social Innovation and Change Initiative (SICI) at Harvard Kenndy School. They include Antón Castellanos Usigli, DrPH ’22; Bishal Belbase, MPH ’21; Madison Esposito, MPH ’21; and Kwabena Lartey, MPH ’21. Cheng Fellows focus on building community wealth, creating healthier communities, transforming healthcare systems, and re-imagining education. They include healthcare intrapreneurs, educators, nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs, organizers, and community change-makers.

Doctoral student Brigette Davis received a dissertation award from the National Collaborative of Gun Violence Research.  Her dissertation is titled “The Impact of Police Violence and Prolonged Sociopolitical Conflict on Birth Outcomes.”

Two Harvard Chan School doctoral students have been awarded the 2020 Dissertation Research Award from the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness. Ashley Gripper, PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Health, won for her dissertation titled “An Environmental Justice Approach to Exploring the Connection between Urban Agriculture and Health in Philadelphia.” Eric Coles, DrPH candidate, won for his dissertation titled “Measuring the Health Impact of Community Development Interventions.”


Two Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health students have been named to a list of “Students Who Rocked Public Health 2019,” from the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Receiving honorable mentions on the list were Jane Carpenter, MPH ’20, for helping develop a citywide initiative in Cambridge, Mass. to promote children’s mental well-being; and Sitara Mahtani, MPH ’20, who worked on a project in Cambridge to improve oral health for schoolchildren.

Djokovic Fellows 2019-20
From left: Beckerman, Schwartz, Zemplenyi

Three doctoral candidates from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—Jacob Beckerman, Gabriel Schwartz and Michele Zemplenyi, all PhD ’20 students—have been awarded the 2019-20 Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship. The fellowship supports the research of Harvard doctoral students whose work aligns with the mission of the Center on the Developing Child, which is to drive research that achieves groundbreaking results for children coping with adversity. Beckerman is studying ways to prevent obesity by improving early childhood nutrition. Schwartz is exploring the links between neighborhoods, social policy, and racial and health inequities. Zemplenyi is using biostatistics to study the long-term health effects of prenatal exposure to toxins.


Two students from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—Scott Delaney and Zhihui Li—have been awarded the 2018-19 Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship. The fellowship supports the dissertation research of Harvard doctoral students whose research aligns with the mission of the Center on the Developing Child, which is to drive science-based innovation that achieves breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity. Delaney, SD ’19, is studying the effects of child poverty and stress on brain development; Li, PhD ’20, is studying the impact of prenatal exposure to sand and dust storms on fetal and child health and development.

Katherine Wu, a fourth-year PhD student in Eric Rubin’s lab at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was awarded an AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship for the summer of 2018, when she will be working as a science writer at Smithsonian Magazine. The highly competitive fellowship strengthens the connections between scientists and journalists by placing advanced undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate level scientists, engineers, and mathematicians at media organizations nationwide.