Spring 2020 Cohort
Jasmine Akuffo (MPH-65/HSB)
Jasmine’s project is a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) into the use of Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) checks for older adults applying to housing in Hampden County, MA. Jasmine Akuffo is a current MPH-candidate in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her research interests lay at the intersection of mass incarceration and housing instability. She is particularly interested in examining these topics through a critical race lense, using qualitative and community engaged methods. In 2017, she graduated from Columbia University with a BA in African-American Studies and Sociology.
Vanessa Beltran (MPH-65/HSB)
Vanessa’s project aims to explore the connection between the history of colonization, structural racism in our food systems, evidence-based nutrition education, and collaborative meal preparation of healthy, whole foods. Vanessa is a Registered Dietitian and an MPH-65 student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She is pursuing a concentration in Public Health Leadership and Health Communication. Vanessa’s research interests include the development of transformative learning experiences, culinary nutrition, and community-based health promotion. Vanessa is also interested in exploring the implementation of the shared care model and key components of healing relationships in clinical practice. Prior to coming to Harvard, Vanessa worked at CommUnity Care Health Centers as a dietitian. She earned a BS in Nutritional Sciences and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Texas at Austin.
Hye Young Choi (MPH-65/HSB)
Hye Young’s project aims to understand how to best support community-based health workers (CBHWs) with lived experiences of homelessness, substance use, and incarceration by interviewing CBHWs about their sense of purpose at work, hopes for personal and professional growth, and opportunities to redress misunderstandings and difficult work environments enabled by healthcare institutions and structural injustices. Hye Young is an MPH-65 student in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department. She is interested studying and addressing upstream causes of health disparities among marginalized groups, particularly undocumented and justice-involved communities. Prior to graduate school, Hye Young worked in the food/service industry while volunteering at federally qualified health centers in Oakland Chinatown and San Francisco Bayview-Hunters Point. She has also served as a community liaison and research assistant for The BRAVE Study for four years and running, investigating the social and political determinants of health and health status of Asian/Pacific Islander and Latinx undocumented immigrants in California.
Kaela Connors (MPH-65/GH)
Kaela will be mapping the food environment in areas densely populated by Venezuelan refugees in Trinidad and Tobago to inform local policy on interventions that promote prevention and management strategies for chronic disease in this population. Kaela is a first year Master of Science Student in the Global Health and Population Department at the Harvard T.H. Chan school. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science and a minor in Environmental Economics and Policy. In between, she spent a year as a Princeton in Latin America fellow at the UN World Food Programme in Panama and two years working at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico City, Mexico. She is interested in the intersection of migration, food systems, and climate change in Latin America.
Madison Esposito (MPH-65/HSB)
Madison’s project is the development of a Indigenous informed and centered cross curricular project and inquiry based unit for ninth grade, resulting in a historical, scientific, traditional, and holistic understanding of community and public health. Madison is a citizen of the Tyme Maidu nation and current graduate student of public health in the Health and Social Behavior department. Madison focuses her work on salient Indigenous health issues such as the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls , and Two-spirit crisis, Indigenous youth suicide, and lack of Indigenous representation in mainstream education. Madison will be pursuing a medical degree and PhD in Indigenous health after completing her master’s program.
Kelsey Hunt (MPH-65/HSB)
Kelsey’s project empowers and profits people with disabilities in Nova Scotia, working to reduce the complexity of applying for disability benefits in Canada and to encourage financial literacy. Kelsey is working on her Master of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Sciences. As an undergraduate at Harvard College she turned her life-long love of Ancient Egypt into a passion for studying Arabic and the sociology of the Modern Middle East. After college, Kelsey worked as a senior field guide in a wilderness therapy program in North Carolina. Through this job she realized the urgent need for a stronger public health system in the US and decided to pursue this career path. Her passions lie in mental health, substance use prevention, and justice system reform.
Ryan Keen (PhD/HSB)
Ryan’s project focuses on evaluating palliative cancer care programs for American Indians in the rural Northern Plains of South Dakota. Ryan is a Population Health Sciences doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Ryan’s research interests include the intergenerational transmission, underlying pathways, and theoretical constructs of family homelessness. Inspired by his upbringing in the Appalachian Mountains, Ryan is also very interested in rural health, particularly how modifying existing healthcare infrastructures can yield more favorable health outcomes and narrow existing health disparities. Prior to coming to Harvard, Ryan studied chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Virginia.
Michelle Korte (MPH-65/GH)
Michelle’s project focuses on supporting capacity-strengthening for female public health researchers through the design of a mentorship program together with partners in Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan, and mapping maternal and newborn health national policies in these countries to inform future research and advocacy. Michelle is an MPH student in the Department of Global Health and Population. Her background includes coordinating impact evaluations of development interventions in Uganda and Myanmar, and her interests lie in strengthening the provision of responsive, person-centered, quality health care to improve the lives of women and children worldwide. She uses quantitative, qualitative, and design methodologies to explore this topic from different angles, from the user to the systems to the historical and social determinants. Michelle is also engaged in research about how societies and governments can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. In her free time, she loves to bake and salsa dance.
Ruhi Nath (MPH-65/HM)
Ruhi will be developing a standard blueprint for nonprofit community organizations on how to apply health equity tools and frameworks to improve health outcomes, both in crisis and non-crisis scenarios, for marginalized communities. Ruhi is a Masters of Public Health student in Health Management. Her research interests focus on improving access to culturally competent healthcare for marginalized communities, especially those who are disproportionately affected by violence, including women and those touched by the criminal justice system. Prior to coming to Harvard, she received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, completed a CDC fellowship providing health services to rural communities in Southern California and worked in pediatric cancer clinical trial research at Stanford University.
Sarah Page (MPH-65/HSB)
Sarah’s project focuses on evaluating the MA Department of Public Health’s programming related to the transition from pediatric to adult health care for youth with special health needs. Sarah is a master’s student in the Social and Behavioral Sciences department.
Her primary areas of interest in public health are maternal and child health and health communication. Her work focuses on program evaluation and implementation in those areas.
Dana Rosenberg (MPH-65/HSB)
Dana will be completing two projects for the Community Benefits Office: updating Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s breast lay health advisor (LHA) curriculum and creating a summary digest of the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). Dana is an MPH student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2016. After working as a registered nurse in Washington D.C., Dana decided to pursue an MPH to focus on preventing chronic illnesses and promoting health equity on a population level.
Jessica Schiff (MPH-65/EH)
Jess’s project focuses on assessing the impacts of climate change on rural communities in Mexico and analyzing policies and programs that strengthen community resilience to climate disasters in an effort to make tailored recommendations for programs that alleviate poverty and strengthen resilience. Jessica Schiff is a first year Master of Public Health student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is interested in the intersection between climate and health and wants to explore the direct and indirect impacts of global climate change on human health. Her current interests include the impacts of natural disasters and weather patterns on disease transmission, ecosystem transformation and health, climate change impacts in the Arctic, air and water pollution, and forced migration and conflict related to climate change. She works at the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) studying natural gas exposure in the home. She has also been working with the Centre for Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation (CCHN) researching the experience of humanitarian professionals responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is further investigating how the response to COVID-19 could provide learning experiences for other global policy challenges, such as climate change. In her free time, Jessica enjoys baking, traveling, and reading.
Jenna Sherman (MPH-65/HSB)
The overarching goal of the project “Birth Beyond Bars: Assessing Caregiver and Infant Needs” is to gain a better understanding of the context in which the caregivers of the babies of incarcerated women are operating and what challenges they face across health, finances, and housing, and how those variables impact the infants and their health outcomes. Jenna Sherman is an MPH student in the department of Social Behavioral Sciences, where she concentrates in ‘Maternal and Child Health’ and ‘Humanitarian Studies, Ethics, and Human Rights.’ She is also a Senior Project Coordinator at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society where she works on tech ethics with a focus on bias and discrimination in AI. Jenna’s interests in public health are manifold, but primarily fall along the following two themes 1) reproductive justice in settings that are conducive to or reinforce trauma (e.g. prisons, refugee camps, detention centers), and 2) digital health, with particular interests in misinformation online and AI bias in healthcare. Hailing from Alabama, Jenna is a lover of all fried food and enjoys spending time dancing and playing with her cat, Dolly.
Samantha Tracy (SM/EH)
Samantha’s project focuses on using public health data to advocate for carbon pricing initiatives to reduce global climate change outcomes and improve air quality, while networking environmental action groups, academics, legislators and scientists to push for stricter emissions regulations on a state level. Samantha is a masters student in the Department of Environmental Health. Her research focuses on the alterations of pollutant cycling due to climate change impacts particularly in regards to persistent organic pollutants and associated public health outcomes. She is also a student intern in the Industrial Permitting Sector at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Samantha is active in many student climate advocacy initiatives including the Harvard Climate Leaders Program.