Student news, notes, and accolades

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


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.