From studying pregnancies in rural settings to developing support systems for tuberculosis patients, 29 Center for Global Health Equity scholars are gearing up for a summer of international research. Through the CGHE’s research grants, these students will travel abroad to engage in interdisciplinary research related to topics in global health equity.
The CGHE Scholar Award provides students resources to engage with global health issues around the world. Scholars are eligible to receive grants for a summer research project — between $2,000 to $6,000 dollars based on a budget application. A majority of scholars do their research on public health in Africa, and the CGHE has connections with several East African universities, as well as a network of universities that aims to improve health issues in Kenya.
The CGHE is an organization at the University whose faculty and students are committed to promoting interdisciplinary approaches to global health issues. The CGHE organizes regular events and opportunities for students to engage with them, while also facilitating international research opportunities.
April Ballard is the associate director of program development at the CGHE and said she is impressed by this year’s group of scholars.
“There’s something really special about people finding a niche and a platform to step on to go further,” Ballard said.
As a recipient of this year’s award, fourth-year College student Sophie Lyon will be spending her second consecutive summer doing research in Uganda. This year, her project will address repeat adolescent pregnancy in southwest Uganda, with a community-driven approach that seeks to address these challenges in rural areas.
Lyon said she appreciates the CGHE particularly in giving her the chance to conduct her research abroad, something that the pandemic had made impossible.
“I never anticipated to have this opportunity in the first place,” Lyon said. “[The CGHE] connected me with the right people and found a project that aligns really well with my interests.”
Fourth-year Commerce students Carolin Fabian and Liza Khutsishvili will be spending four weeks this summer in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania, working on the development of a mobile health intervention system to support tuberculosis patients and facilitate their communication with hospitals. They will be working with researchers from U.Va. Health who have partnered with the Kilimanjaro Research Initiative, and will be doing primarily qualitative research, speaking with health professionals and patients to figure out the practical implications of the technology.
“Just seeing different aspects of the work that they’re doing there will be so interesting,” Fabian said. “I think it will just be a cool environment of new ideas, interactions and exchanges.”
Khutsishvili was a CGHE scholar during her first year, and was planning on going to Rwanda before the pandemic made international research impossible. This summer will be her first opportunity to do her research abroad, and both she and Fabian said they are looking forward to the opportunity to travel and learn. The two first got engaged with this year’s project through a CGHE case competition inviting students to create proposals addressing TB in Tanzania.
To get involved with the CGHE, students are expected to work with a faculty mentor to develop a plan for their prospective research opportunities. Faculty fellows can be found across many schools, and students are encouraged to reach out if they have any questions.
All scholars will present their research in the fall and submit their research by January of next year for consideration to the Conflux Research Journal — a global health publication.