2018 Summer Program Bios

May 29, 2018

Meet the 2018 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program Student Participants

Adjoa Cofie

I am currently studying global studies of women’s health with a concentration in pre-medicine at Stockton University. I plan to pursue a master’s degree in global and women’s health after undergraduate before attending medical school.

I am very excited to work with Dr. Haina Shin on vaginal microbiome and host defense against sexually transmitted viruses. This research program will be providing me not only an opportunity to improve my laboratory skills but also a first hand understanding of how women’s health can be affected by infections. This is a very important and incredible experience for me as it introduces me to the career path I have chosen. I am truly excited to engage with professionals in the fields of medicine and public health, as well as explore St. Louis.

Jelena Debelnogich

I am a graduating public health senior with a concentration iglobal health and a minor in political science. This coming fall, I am entering the master’s program of epidemiology at Kent State University. I have a deep interest in child and maternal health, and I hope to one day use my knowledge and skills to better the lives of mothers and children.

It is a real honor to have the opportunity to work in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program this year. I have not pursued lab research yet, but I am excited for the first-time experience and field-based research I will be participating in at Washington University. I will be working with Dr. Jason Newland to evaluate the tracheitis treatment protocol that is being implemented in the pediatric intensive care unit. I am excited to learn from the program and to explore St. Louis.  

Swetha Nakshatri 

I am a rising junior at Washington University in St. Louis double majoring in biochemistry and anthropology: global health and the environment. In the future, I hope to pursue a career at the intersection of public health research, interventions, and medicine, with a focus on direct service and non-profit work. I am particularly interested in pediatric and environmental health.

This summer, I will be working under the mentorship of Dr. Jeffrey Gordon at the School of Medicine on a project concerning the gut microbiota and its relationship to childhood undernutrition in Bangladesh. I can’t wait to learn from amazing mentors about their public health work and meet the other program participants. 

Sharon-Rose Nartey

I am a rising senior at the University of Notre Dame. I was born in Accra, Ghana. However, I moved to the United States when I was five years old and have been a Chicago native ever since! I am a science pre-professional major, and I look forward to applying to medical school.

This summer, I am very excited to be working in Dr. Christina Stalling’s lab in an effort to characterize proteins involved in the virulence of mycobacterium tuberculosis. In the future, I hope to be a pediatric infectious disease specialist and researcher, with a focus on alleviating global health disparities.

Lorcan O’Byrne

I am a medical student at University College Dublin and a BSc physiology graduate from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. I’m delighted to be taking part in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program at Washington University, which has such a strong reputation in Public and Global Health.

I will be working with Dr. Rumi Price in the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine on the application of technology in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in at-risk populations, such as veterans and victims of human-trafficking. I look forward to meeting the other Scholars this summer and learning of the ground-breaking research being conducted throughout the Washington University campus.  

Margot Palmer

I am a rising undergraduate senior studying microbiology and French at the University of Georgia. I am very honored to be a part of the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program and thrilled to be working with Dr. James Fleckenstein this summer, studying molecular characterization of vaccine antigens for enterotoxigenic E. coli. 

In the future, I aim to pursue an MPH or MS in infectious disease control, which I hope will lead me to a career in tracking the spread of emerging infectious diseases in the field, while also conducting infectious disease research. I am very excited for the opportunity to get one step closer to these goals through this amazing program and to explore St. Louis at the same time! 

Marissa Rasgado

I am a rising junior at DePaul University majoring in health science. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in public health and medicine.

I am excited to be able to participate in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program, and I look forward to learning more about my area of interest. I’ll be working with Dr. Shanti Parikh examining HIV and sexual health risks and risk reduction among sex workers and their clients in Iganga, Uganda. I am grateful to have the opportunity to conduct research, explore St. Louis and Uganda, and to meet my fellow program participants.  

Taylor Ross

I am a rising second year medical student and a Masters candidate in the School Public Health at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I am also currently serving as the Director of Clinic Services at MedZou Community Clinic, a student-run clinic which provides free primary health care for the uninsured residents of central Missouri. I graduated from Missouri State University in 2016 with a degree in cell and molecular biology and minors in chemistry and anthropology. My research interests are in infectious disease and the different factors that contribute to the spread of disease – host, agent, and environment.

I am very excited to work with Dr. Ali Ellebedy to research the cell and molecular B cell responses against rapidly evolving pathogens this summer. I am also excited to explore the local coffee shops and parks in St. Louis this summer and meet my fellow program participants.  

Kricia Ruano Espinoza

I am a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in physics and chemistry from Willamette University. I was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador, but have become a true Oregonian since then. I am incredibly excited to participate in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program. I will be working on Dr. Tarek Alhamad’s project, creating models that predict kidney and pancreas transplant success outcomes.

I hope to ultimately pursue an MD/PhD in medical physics, and the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program will allow me to become well-versed in scientific and medical statistical analysis, an imperative skill for further graduate work. I look forward to calling St. Louis my home for the summer and creating connections with fellow research students.  

Adetutu Sadiq

I am an international student from Nigeria pursuing my undergraduate degree in public health at the University of California, Berkeley. I care about a lot of things, but medicine and public health have stood out for me over the past years. I am fascinated by the human body and love learning about it. I’m also passionate about strengthening health systems especially those in under-resourced settings such as Nigeria. To that note, I see myself pursuing a career that is at the intersection between public health and medicine, which is why I plan to pursue MD/MPH programs post graduation. An area of interest of mine is maternal and child health. I have conducted research analyzing user perceptions of  the usefulness of Text4BabyTM, a US-based health text-messaging program for pregnant women and new mothers.  

I will be working with Dr. Allan Doctor to assess cerebral malaria monitoring strategies used by doctors in the Pediatric Critical Care Unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. I am also very excited to learn the principles of systems dynamics as well as the cross-cultural implementation tools that are being utilized in this project. My hope is to be able to utilize my skills and develop a better understanding of what working in a low-resourced settings looks like, as well as learn more about pediatrics!

Austin Smarsh

I just completed the first year of my MPH program at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. I studied in the health behavior and health education department, focusing particularly on mental health and mental health interventions in adolescents. While an undergraduate, I studied both neuroscience and medical anthropology at the University of Michigan. I plan on pursuing an MD and a career in psychiatry after I complete my MPH.

I am passionate about understanding both the biological and social factors that contribute to various mental health states throughout adolescence and young adulthood. Specifically, I hope to one day contribute to interventions and systems on college campuses that promote positive mental health and care-seeking behavior in students.  

I am very excited and thankful to be working with Dr. Patricia Cavazos-Rehg this summer through the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program. We will be working to understand health risk behaviors on social media and then use this understanding to identify ways to intervene. I can’t wait to learn from her, as well as everyone in the lab and in the program!  

Laura Whitehill

I’ve just completed my first year of medical school at University College Dublin. Between finishing my bachelor’s degree in human biology and starting medical school, I completed a masters in sociology, focusing on medical sociology. 

I am honored to have been chosen for the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program. I am excited to gain experience in public health research and be able to expand upon my knowledge of public health and medicine

I will be working under Dr. Bobbi Pineda on her project evaluating sensory intervention for pre-term infants. I am looking forward to learning about neonatal care and contributing to the impressive research Dr. Pineda and her team are working on this summer.  

Sarah Wishloff

I am a rising senior at Amherst College pursuing a major in Anthropology and a certificate in Culture, Health and Sciences. I am honored to engage in global health research through the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program, as I am passionate about addressing social determinants of health and hope to one day practice medicine in underserved areas.

This summer I will be studying severe cerebral malaria and nutrition in Blantyre, Malawi under the direction of Dr. Allen DoctorI am excited to experience the city and am looking forward to meeting new people.  

Tiffany Xie

I am an undergraduate student and Wells Scholar at Indiana University Bloomington pursuing a dual degree in biology and English. My internship with the Indian Health Service Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention this past year not only sparked my interest in minority health and health disparities, but also inspired me to engage in public health research.

I am excited to work with with Dr. Kathleen Bucholz this summer investigating substance use from ethnically diverse youth in high-risk families. I am especially grateful to the Washington University Institute for Public Health for enabling me to further study and combat health disparities through their summer program at an incredible research institution. Although I have conducted research in a molecular neuroscience lab, I am looking forward to learning more about population health and approaching health issues from a macroscopic scale this summer.  

Celia Zhou

I am a second-year biochemistry major at Wake Forest University, and I intend on pursuing a MD/MPH in the future. This summer, I will be working with Dr. Phillip Budgeto assess variability in filarial lymphedema using a 3D infrared scanner. I am thoroughly excited to travel to both St. Louis and Galle, Sri Lanka to carry out this field study. I am looking forward to learning more about lymphatic filariasis and infectious diseases in general. This summer will be an incredible opportunity for me to learn more about global health and engage with mentors and peers with similar interests.