Blog Behavioral/Mental Health

Summer Research Program alumni blog – Biva Rajbhandari

Written by Biva Rajbhandari,  Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program alumna

I have always been passionate about global health and the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program gave me the opportunity to build my skill set and knowledge for a career in global health.

I first learned about the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program while pursuing my Masters in Social Work and Public Health at the Brown School. I applied in Summer 2016 and was accepted under the mentorship of Dr. Patricia Cavazos-Rehg at the Department of Psychiatry.

My summer project was to investigate the perceived health risks and safety of dabbing, which is the inhalation of highly concentrated marijuana. My specific task involved conducting qualitative research including examination of in-depth interviews and using NVivo software for analysis.

At the end of the summer, I was extended an offer to continue working with Dr. Rehg’s team as a Research Assistant and happily accepted. Over the next year of working with the team, I contributed to multiple research studies that examined how youth use social media to discuss issues related to mental health, eating disorders, or substance use. As a Research Assistant, I helped collect and manage data, develop surveys, draft sections of manuscripts, and review study designs. I am grateful to Dr. Rehg and my research colleagues in their continued support.

Hanging out with muppets during a new season launch of Galli Galli Sim Sim.

After graduating in May 2017, I began working as an Analyst at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) in New Delhi, India. In my role, I support all of CIFF’s investments in India which tackle multiple issues from improving maternal and child health to creating access to reproductive health services for adolescents. I also oversee our investment in Galli Galli Sim Sim, which is a locally adapted show similar to Sesame Street and part of the Sesame Workshop Initiative. The investment helps develop and air the children’s television program in order to improve cognitive, health and hygiene skills of children in India. Since all of our investments require monitoring and evaluation to assess impact we regularly engage in conversations around study design and disseminating information through publications and outreach.

My time working and learning from Dr. Rehg and her team provided a strong foundation for critically thinking through research and survey design. Furthermore, I find myself drawing on seminars from the program and my public health and social work courses.

As I begin my public health and social work career, I think fondly of my experience as an Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program participant. Moving forward, I am excited to apply what I’ve learned to tackle global health problems.