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Dornsife Public Health Fellows

The Dornsife Public Health Fellows are incoming students of exceptional promise. Preference is given to students with strong interest or experience in urban health and health disparities as well as to students from under-represented groups (based on race/ethnicity or economic disadvantage). International students are also eligible.

2018 Fellows

Adams Ako

Adams Ako

Hometown: Otukpa, Benue, Nigeria
Undergraduate Institution: Ahmadu Bello University Zaria
Undergraduate Major: Medicine
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Yvonne Michael, PhD  

While working in a rural hospital in northern Nigeria, Adams came to appreciate the scope of health disparities across different populations and the potential to make a difference through public health. He is passionate about using evidence generated from scientific research to eliminate these disparities, improve population health and promote health as a fundamental human right. His interests include women’s health research, injury and trauma research, and data science. He aims to acquire proficiency in handling big data and employing systems thinking to solving problems in public health and medicine. He is currently working with Yvonne Michael to investigate the relationships between occupation and post-menopausal health using data from the Women’s Health Initiative– a long term national health study. They are also working the Urban Health Collaborative and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to investigate neighborhood risk factors associated with avoidable pediatric admissions. Adams looks forward to a research-oriented career in public health, where he shall apply the skills gained during this fellowship to develop evidence-based tools to improve the health of populations.

Maura Boughter-Dornfeld

Maura Boughter-Dornfeld

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Undergraduate Institution: Brandeis University
Undergraduate Major: Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP), and Biology
MPH Major: Health Management & Policy
Faculty Mentor: Mariana Chilton, PhD

Maura is interested in discovering ways to improve both individual and population health through a widespread, policy-oriented approach. Maura is interested in learning more about how deeply enmeshed access to care is with social determinants of health and disparities, and hopes to detangle these problems from a systemic approach. Maura is currently doing research with Chilton in the Center for Hunger Free Communities, specifically on the Building Wealth & Health Network that is a Trauma-Informed Financial Self-Empowerment Program for Families with Young Children. Maura hopes to use her MPH to work to ameliorate perpetual disparities and inequalities within all communities, specifically within those that are underserved and underrepresented.

Sarah Bowler

Sarah Bowler

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Undergraduate Major: Biological Sciences and Sociology
MPH Major: Health Management & Policy
Faculty Mentor: Ali Groves, PhD

Sarah aims to further her understanding of public health practice through research with Groves in the department of Community Health and Prevention. Her interests lay in reducing health disparities, maternal and child health, and women’s reproductive health. She is currently involved in the MAMAS project, a study designed to reduce STI/HIV incidence by increasing re-enrollment of adolescent mothers at school through a mentorship program. Additionally, Sarah is assisting with a systematic literature review of community-based HIV testing services among general and key populations for the World Health Organization. This information will be used by WHO officials to update testing guidelines worldwide. In the future, Sarah would like to work for a global non-profit organization as a political consultant and advocate, specifically developing health policy and promoting women’s fundamental rights.

Breauna Branch

Breauna Branch

Hometown: Bowie, MD
Undergrad: The Lincoln University
Undergrad Major: Biology
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Janell Mensinger, PhD

Breauna is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. She always had a passion for healthcare and hopes to improve the health of African-Americans and other minority communities. Prior to Drexel, Breauna has worked at Trusted Health Plan, a Washington D.C.-based Medicaid company, interned at the American Public Health Association as an Injury and Violence Prevention Intern, and most recently worked at Health Volunteers Overseas, a global health nonprofit. She currently works with Janell Mensinger at the Urban Health Collaborative where she is studying healthcare avoidance in obese women. Breauna plans to have a career in infectious disease epidemiology as an officer in either the United States Public Health Service or Air Force.

Danielle Catrillo

Danielle Catrillo

Hometown: Henryville, PA
Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Undergraduate major: Psychology (Honors); Minors in French and Biology
MPH major: Community Health and Prevention
Faculty mentor: Randy Sell, ScD

Danielle is a first year MPH student concentrating in Community Health and Prevention. She has always had an interest in bridging the gaps between domestic and global public health, utilizing health communication and policy to advance health equity. Danielle’s public health interests span different aspects of reproductive and sexual health including access to family planning services, sex education and communication, and the empowerment of women and LGBTQ people in the public health sphere, in relation to healthcare choices.  With Randy Sell, she hopes to improve access to information regarding LGBTQ demography both domestically and abroad in public health research.

Katherine LaWall

Katherine LaWall

Hometown: Cary, NC
Undergraduate Institution: University of South Carolina
Undergraduate Major: BA,Public Health
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Yvonne Michael, PhD

Katherine is currently a Master of Public Health student concentrating in Epidemiology. Before starting this program, she was a Senior Program Assistant in the Health and Medicine Division of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and had previous positions andinternships related to health policy at both the state and local levels. With her background in health policy, she understands how important good research and data analyses are for the development of sound, evidence-based, public health policies and interventions. Katherine has always enjoyed working with data and sees her future role in the public health field as working on the background science that supports the implementation of various public health policies and interventions. Her areas of interest include, but are not limited to, disease control and prevention, emergency response and preparedness, environmental health, and the health disparities that are related to these areas as well.

Rachel Seitz

Rachel Seitz

Hometown: Monkton, Maryland
Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland
Undergraduate Major: BS, Behavioral and Community Health
MPH Major: Health Management and Policy
Faculty Mentor: Esther Chernak, MD

Rachel is a first year MPH student in the Health Management and Policy department. Through an internship at the Maryland General Assembly, Rachel developed an interest in policy and legislation. She is interested in influencing policy that disproportionately affects populations with chronic health conditions and disabilities. Rachel is currently working with Dr. Chernak on a project focused on emergency preparedness and children with special health care needs. Through interviews with health care providers and family caregivers, she seeks to better understand the disaster information needs of families with special health care needs. Rachel looks forward to applying her research experience to the policy arena and to advocating for policy change in the health care system.

Claudia Zumeta Castillo

Claudia Zumeta Castillo

Hometown: Lima, Peru
Undergraduate Institution: Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
Undergraduate Major: Psychology
MPH Major: Community Health and Prevention 
Faculty Mentor: Ana Martinez-Donate, PhD

Claudia has always been interested in the inequality in living conditions, growing up in a developing country made her realize at a very young age about the gap in society. It was while studying psychology and working with oncology patients that she observed how social determinants directly affect health outcomes and quality of life. She is interested in addressing health disparities among underserved communities globally, promoting programs that empower communities to be sustainable in time. She is a Dornsife International Fellow from Peru, currently working in two projects led by Dr. Ana Martinez-Donate among Latino Populations; exploring the negative impact of deportation policies, and implementing a program to promote resilient opinion leaders.

2017 Fellows

Samantha Stalford

Samantha Stalford

Hometown: Green Lane, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Undergraduate Institution: West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Major: BS, Public Health
MPH Major: Health Management and Policy
Faculty Mentor: Tran Huynh

Samantha aims to increase her understanding of how system-wide efforts affect individual and population health so she can find ways to promote health through policy, advocacy, and organizational management at all levels. She is interested combating health disparities by targeting the social determinants of health and ensuring the consideration of health in all policies. Currently, Samantha is working with her faculty mentor, Tran Huynh, on research aimed at improving and protecting the health of nail salon workers through a multi-level intervention strategy that brings everyone to the table, including policymakers and the workers themselves. Samantha looks forward to translating what she learns in academic and research settings into fair and feasible action that protects health as a human right, whether that be through improving food security, advocating for labor rights, or helping to make the health care system more just for all.

Bede Nriagu

Bede Nriagu

Hometown: Oraeri, Anambra, Nigeria
Undergraduate Institution: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Nigeria
Undergraduate Major: MBBS, Medicine & Surgery
MPH Major: Environmental & Occupational Health
Faculty Mentor at Dornsife: Yvonne Michael

Bede is particularly concerned about the effects of occupation and workplace environment on the health of individuals particularly on the development of cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Practicing as a physician in a developing country, he became increasingly aware of the diverse roles of occupation/work environment on the health of individuals. This has subsequently led to his strong belief in the words of Ramazzini that “occupational diseases should be studied in the work environment rather than in the hospital wards.” Currently, together with his mentor Dr. Yvonne Michael, he is studying cardiovascular health in women of various occupational categories using data from the women’s health initiative study. Bede is also interested in studying infectious diseases and its epidemiology. He hopes to acquire a graduate medical education in internal medicine or pursue a post-doctoral fellowship upon graduation.

Sharon Dei-Tumi

Sharon Dei-Tumi

Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Undergraduate Institution: Greensboro College
Undergraduate Major: BS, Biology
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor at Dornsife: Gina Lovasi

Sharon believes the double burden of malnutrition and obesity in developing nations is an issue of public health concern. She believes in health as a human right however, in order to achieve that utopia, social disparities need to be addressed. With her background as a medical assistant in a primary care clinic, she has insight and appreciation of the inseparable relationship between the healthcare system and public health. Sharon plans to apply her MPH in research aimed at policy creation and evaluation of programs to address non-communicable diseases, with a focus on cardiovascular risks in mothers and children.

Maura Adams

Maura Adams

Hometown: Ocean City, New Jersey
Undergraduate Institution: Stockton University
Undergraduate Major: BS, Public Health
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor at Dornsife: Amy Auchincloss

Maura is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. She is interested in data analysis, spatial analysis, and urban health. Through research, she hopes to understand how to reduce health disparities and increase wellness and sustainability of communities in Philadelphia. Prior to Drexel, Maura interned with the Environmental Health Unit at a county health department in South Jersey. She also volunteered at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance, assisting with their Syringe Exchange Program. Another experience that helped to form her interests was helping to build a grassroots Smart Growth Association in her home town. This group advocated for environmental protection and transit-oriented development on a local level. Maura is now working with Dr. Amy Auchincloss on the Drexel Neighborhood and Transportation study. This project investigates bicycle share program effects on physical activity, as well as disparities within the effects. Maura has also been working with Dr. Jana Hirsch on creating data briefs for the Urban Health Collaborative. Maura plans to pursue a career in public health research and make a positive impact on the local community.

Virginia Noblet

Virginia Noblet

Hometown: Langhorne, PA, US
Undergraduate Institution: Pennsylvania State University
Undergraduate Major: BS, Biology
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor at Dornsife: Augusta Villanueva

Virginia has always wanted to help improve the quality of life for people, and felt her skill set and interests would be most effective at the population level in the field of pubic health. Virginia tends to focus on the science behind public health interventions. Her interests include, but are not limited to, disease control and prevention, emergency response and preparedness, environmental health, and global health. She hopes to be involved in increasing preventative measures of disease, and their effectiveness, for those with health disparities. In addition, she is interested in working to improve preparedness for natural disasters and epidemics, especially in areas with high burden of disease.

Subecha Dahal

Subecha Dahal

Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal
Undergraduate Institution: University of Pune
Undergraduate Major: MA, Sociology
MPH Major: Community Health and Prevention
Faculty Mentor at Dornsife: Suruchi Sood

Subecha Dahal is a first-year MPH student with a concentration in Community Health and Prevention at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. From Nepal, she is a Dornsife International fellow and is currently supporting the project led by Dr. Suruchi Sood to develop a global framework to measure & evaluate social norms changes in FGM. Previous to this, Subecha was working as a Project Coordinator with VaxTrac, a global health non-profit in Washington D.C. At VaxTrac, Subecha supported the coordination of mHealth projects that were implemented in partnership with UNICEF, WHO and CDC. She is an Atlas Corps Alumni and part of a diverse group of Atlas Corps fellows from all over the world. Subecha completed her graduate degree in sociology from Pune University in India, where she also completed her undergraduate studies. Subecha is interested in maternal and child health, project monitoring and evaluation, and addressing health disparities.

2016 Fellows

Benjamin Borchers

Benjamin Borchers

Hometown: North Wales, PA
Undergraduate Institution: West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Major: BS, Health and Physical Education
Year of Graduation: 2011
MPH Concentration: Health Management and Policy 
Faculty Mentor: Jonathan Purtle 

Ben is interested in exploring and helping to bridge the gap of health disparities that occur within the urban environment of the city that he calls home, Philadelphia. He is most interested in working with underserved populations, with a specific interest in mental health and substance abuse disparities that occur within the homeless and veteran population. He is currently working on research focused on comprehensive state mental health parity legislation with his faculty mentor, Jonathan Purtle. After graduating from the Dornsife School of Public Health MPH program, Ben would like to take the skills and principles that he learned and work in the field of health policy analytics.

Kathryn Boyle-Steed

Kathryn Boyle-Steed

Hometown: Salem, NH
Undergraduate Institution: University of New Hampshire
Undergraduate Major: BA, Psychology
Year of Graduation: 2012
MPH Concentration: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Félice Lê-Scherban

Kate believes that health is a human right and that healthy lives are necessary to social equity. Kate’s interests in health disparities began by observing patterns of social determinants of health while working for a dating violence organization, a psychiatric hospital, an underfunded school, and adolescent health clinics. Kate is particularly interested in working at the local level due to its focus on community involvement, need for accountability, and potential for observable impact. Kate aspires to work as an epidemiologist for a city health department using data and community input to help strengthen community health, justify funding for needed programs, and encourage proactive health behaviors. Kate is most interested in urban health, sexual health, and maternal and child health.

Kelli Kostizak

Kelli Kostizak

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Undergraduate Institution: The University of Arizona
Undergraduate Major: Double Major: BA, Communication and English
Year of Graduation: 2015
MPH Concentration: Community Health and Prevention
Faculty Mentor: Suruchi Sood

Kelli is currently pursuing a Master's of Public Health degree in the Community Health and Prevention department with a minor in Program Planning and Evaluation. Kelli is working with Dr. Sood and her team as a research assistant in the development and evaluation of two global health programs. One of the programs focuses on Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management in India and is in the final evaluation stages. The other program is being implemented this year and focuses on ending the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in two countries in Africa. In the future, Kelli would like to create, monitor and evaluate health communication programs both in the global sector and here in the United States. 

Abigail Mudd

Abigail Mudd

Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Undergraduate Institution: Drexel University
Undergraduate Major: BA, Chemistry
Year of Graduation: 2016 
MPH Concentration: Epidemiology 
Faculty Mentor: Yvonne Michael

Abby Mudd has a love of research. She works with Dr. Yvonne Michael at the Urban Health Collaborative on a Big Data Project with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Her project investigates spatial accessibility to pediatric primary care in Philadelphia. Continuing the work from her practicum, she is completing a descriptive epidemiology analysis of a database she built consisting of multidrug resistant organism (MDRO) screens at St. Christopher's Children's Hospital. As there is no agreed upon best practice for screening for MDROs, such as VRE and MRSA, she hopes her work will add to this field. For her Masters Project, she is working at the Philadelphia Public Health Department in Tuberculosis Control with Dr. Jane Gould. She is investigating how country of origin and time since arrival to the United States relates to pediatric tuberculosis. She is also a TA for the core Methods class and president of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Club.