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Dornsife International Research Fellows

The Dornsife International Research Fellows award is designed for outstanding international applicants whose career and research interests align with the Dornsife School of Public Health's focus on global, urban health. Award includes tuition scholarship and research assistantship.

Marie Owino headshot

Marie Owino, 2023 Fellow

Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya
Undergraduate Institution: Graceland University
Field of Study: Biological Sciences
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Allison Groves, PhD, MHS

Before joining Drexel, Marie worked as a clinical technician at a reproductive health facility providing innovative IVF care. Gaining a deeper understanding of reproductive and sexual medicine and applying it to her past experiences growing up in Kenya helped Marie hone her interest in reproductive care on the global scale, specifically in exploring how social determinants of health impact reproductive health outcomes around the world.

Marie is passionate about achieving global health equity by addressing barriers to healthcare for marginalized communities and hopes to learn more about how technology can be leveraged to propel the quest for equitable healthcare. Her primary interests relate to Black maternal health outcomes, maternal and child refugee health, and sexual and gender-based violence as a public health crisis. Marie looks forward to exploring these areas during her time at Drexel and is excited to work under the guidance of Dr. Groves, where she will assist in ongoing projects that seek to use community-engaged research to solve issues related to housing insecurity, sexual and reproductive health, and health care access both within the city of Philadelphia and beyond.

Meseker Fentie headshot

Meseker Fentie, 2023 Fellow

Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Undergraduate Institution: Addis Ababa University
Field of Study: Doctor of Medicine
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentors: Jessie Kemmick Pintor, PhD, MPH

Meseker is a first-year student in the MPH Epidemiology program. He has a deeply rooted commitment to addressing health challenges in underserved populations, a commitment shaped and solidified through firsthand experiences in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia. Serving as a coordinator in a COVID treatment and quarantine site in Addis Ababa, he navigated through the complexities and challenges of health provision in the face of limited resources, deriving him towards pursuing a career in clinical and public health research to find strategic and sustainable interventions for such health crises. Prior to joining Drexel, Meseker worked as an associate researcher at the Armauer Hansen Research Institute, a leading research institute in his country, focusing on developing innovative approaches to the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. His research interests include infectious disease epidemiology, clinical trials, and health inequities.

Currently, Meseker is working with Dr. Jessie Pintor on a project focused on improving access to essential safety net programs for immigrant families across Atlanta, Des Moines, and Philadelphia. This initiative encompasses in-depth research and strategic collaboration with local organizations, aiming to understand and augment their support for immigrant families, with a particular focus on facilitating access to programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, housing assistance, and food stamps.

Bikiltu Dirbaba headshot

Bikiltu Dirbaba, 2022 Fellow

Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Undergraduate Institution: Addis Ababa University
Field of Study: Doctor of Medicine
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentors: Brent Langellier, PhD and Usama Bilal, PhD

Bikiltu is a first-year student in the MPH Epidemiology program. Looking at various patients with advanced diseases, she was motivated to engage in researches improving health. With her passion to help the community in her country, Ethiopia, she was working as a medical doctor treating patients, providing health education programs, and working on voluntary medical screening and blood donation programs.

Bikiltu looks forward to a career committed to research focusing on prevention of cardiovascular diseases, control of infectious diseases, reducing health disparities of disadvantaged populations, and treatment of cancer. She aspires to be a health professional studying the distribution and possible intervention of diseases, enhancing health equity, and influencing the health policy at both national and international levels.

Currently, she is working with Dr. Brent Langellier and Dr. Usama Bilal to characterize spatial and social heterogeneity in food price changes that have occurred over the past two years. The aim of the research is to understand how spatial and social heterogeneity in price changes have contributed to inequities in chronic disease risk factors.

Aakanshya Aryal headshot

Aakanshya Aryal, 2021 Fellow

Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal
Undergraduate Institution:Pokhara University
Undergraduate Major: BS, Health Care Management
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Ayden Scheim, PhD

Aakanshya is a first year student in the MPH Epidemiology program. Working as a research assistant in Nepal made her well acquainted with the diverse health status of the country and motivated her to contribute to the health of communities at a larger scale through study and research.

She is interested in addressing health disparities and working for the health of the underserved populations. Her research interests include mental health, HIV, substance abuse, LGBT health, and addressing mental health disparities.

Currently Aakanshya is working with Ayden Scheim, PhD in a mixed method study which is the first quantitative study of trans man in South Asia. The project is aimed at addressing the mental health burden among trans men and developing intervention promoting mental health of trans men in India.

Yazid Barhoush headshot

Yazid Barhoush, 2021 Fellow

Hometown: Kafr al-Labad, Palestine
Undergraduate Institution: Earlham College
Undergraduate Major: Biology/Human Development, BA
MPH Major: Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Joe Amon, PhD

Yazid is from a small village in Palestine struggling to exist due to the surrounding settler colonies. Aiming to improve public health in his local community, he worked with organizations like Save the Children, GIZ, and Red Crescent Society to organize free medical days and raise awareness about health and conflict through theatre. He carried his passion for public health at an international boarding school in India when he volunteered for two years as a medical clown. At Earlham College, he contributed to public health through clinical and wet lab research spanning several fields, including sickle cell disease, microbiology, and epigenetics. In addition, he convened Students for Justice in Palestine, Interfaith Theme House, and Muslim Student Association hoping to raise awareness about human rights violations.

Yazid is currently working with Dr. Joe Amon on a number of global health and human rights projects, including a project tracking attacks on health in conflict settings and the development and launch of an online course on human rights and advocacy for grassroots activists around the world. Additionally, he will be working to foster partnerships between Dornsife and universities in Palestine. His career goal is to utilize epidemiological methods to research conflict as a social determinant of health and redefine ineffective health policies.

Sandra Nannozi headshot

Sandra Nannozi, 2019 Fellow

Hometown: Kampala, Uganda
Undergraduate Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Major: Nursing & Economics with a concentration in Healthcare Management and Policy
MPH Major: Community Health and Prevention
Faculty Mentor: Allison Groves, PhD, MHS

Sandra is a first-year MPH student in the Community Health and Prevention Program. She has a passion for eliminating health disparities among underserved populations from growing up in Uganda, further reaffirmed by her undergraduate experiences as a nursing student. In addition to health disparities, she is interested in maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health and women's health. Prior to Drexel, Sandra worked as a registered nurse in upstate New York before returning to Uganda for nine months where she worked with the public health department at the oldest hospital in Uganda to assess prevalence of prostatitis in Uganda, as well as other data analysis work.

Sandra is currently working with Ali Groves, PhD, MHS, on assessing the qualitative data gathered from the MAMAS project, aimed at reducing HIV incidence among adolescent mothers. Additionally, Sandra will be assisting with running focus groups and qualitative interviews with the HIV positive population in Philadelphia to address issues with adherence to HIV treatment, in partnership with Philadelphia's Public Health Department. In the future, Sandra aspires to work with a global nonprofit organization partnering with communities to address the disparities affecting those communities.

Adams Ako

Adams Ako, 2018 Fellow

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.

Claudia Zumeta Castillo

Claudia Zumaeta Castillo, 2018 Fellow

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.

Bede Nriagu

Bede Nriagu, 2017 Fellow

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, PhD

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.”

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.

Subecha Dahal

Subecha Dahal, 2017 Fellow

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

Subecha Dahal is an MPH student with a concentration in Community Health and Prevention. 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.

Sharon Dei-Tumi

Sharon Dei-Tumi, 2017 Fellow

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

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.