February 28, 2019

GHI Student Fellowships Combine Research and Mentorship in Global Health

Each fall and spring semester, the Global Health Initiative (GHI) selects a cohort of undergraduate and graduate students to conduct global health research alongside faculty mentors through the GHI Student Fellows Program. 

A student fellow conducting lab research.
A student fellow conducting lab research.

The program, launched in fall 2017, pairs student fellows with faculty in the global health field from the main campus, Medical Center, and Law Center. Over the course of the semester, fellows work closely with their mentors on research projects to gain insight into the profession. 

By bringing together students and faculty across schools and departments, the fellowship brings together perspectives across disciplines. 

“It is impossible to function at a world class level in global health without partnerships,” said Professor Lawrence Gostin, faculty director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. “The fellowship is a wonderful opportunity to foster collaboration.”

Student-Faculty Collaboration 

The global health fellowship supports about 10 fellows each semester. In addition to research with faculty, fellows meet monthly to hear from guest speakers and write blog posts on global health issues or events. Many of the fellows also participate in other GHI programming, such as simulation exercises, special projects, and regular “brown bag” lunch events with Georgetown faculty.

“The students find the GHI fellows program really enriching,” said Mendenhall, Provost's Distinguished Associate Professor in the Science, Technology and International Affairs Program in the School or Foreign Service. “They get to work on faculty research, learn about new research methods and ideas, and in some cases design and execute their own projects. They are always really impressive and eager thinkers.” 

Right to Left: Avery Hong (G'18) and Jonathan Kluczynski (SFS'20) at a GHI networking event.
Right to Left: Avery Hong (G'18) and Jonathan Kluczynski (SFS'20) at a GHI networking event.

As a GHI fellow, Hana Burkly (NHS’19, G’20) worked with faculty mentor Vincent Turbat, assistant professor in the Department of International Health, on a project that examined demographic trends and health outcomes in sub-Saharan African countries.

“Collaborating with faculty helped me use the skills I had learned in the classroom and apply them in the real world,” said Burkly. “I learned to be patient with myself as I navigated the larger, more complex datasets.”

A Field Without 'Quick Fixes'

Robert Treval (SFS’19) assisted in planning a meeting on international malaria policy under the mentorship of Susan Kim, executive director of the Center for Global Health and Quality (GHQ). When he traveled to New Orleans for the event with GHQ Senior Research Associate Lauren Mathae, he watched global health policy take shape in real time.

“The process of traveling was exciting because it showed the human aspect to this high-level meeting and gave me a view of the work and effort that goes into even small details of policy,” said Treval. “The fellowship itself, along with the work I did with Susan, also showed me how diverse and large the health field can be.” 

“I hope that [students] walk away from the GHI fellowship with an understanding of the complexity and breadth of global health problems,” said Mendenhall. “There are no quick fixes or easy answers.”

Careers in Global Health

Katelyn Shahbazian (SFS’18) conducted archival research in Georgetown's Special Archives during her GHI fellowship. After graduation, Shahbazian began working with Population Services International as a program assistant for the President’s Malaria Initiative. 

“I learned to absorb and analyze vast amounts of information, and then write and speak about it in a meaningful and concise manner,” said Shahbazian. 

“GHI also connected me to an amazing network of students and professors around campus that I would not have otherwise had the pleasure of working with.” 

Before enrolling in the MSFS international development concentration to build his background in development, security, and international affairs, Sanjay Iyer (G’19) helped coordinate a malaria program in Zambia as a Peace Corps response volunteer. As a GHI fellow, Iyer researched the “Know-Do Gap” between health care worker knowledge and practice with James Habyarimana, Provost's Distinguished Associate Professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy.

“I knew I needed to expand my understandings of development best practices to truly be an effective agent of change,” said Iyer. “Thanks to the GHI program, the guidance of Professor Habyarimana, and the strong Hoya global health network, I feel empowered and resolute in my decision to pursue a career at the nexus of health, development, and international affairs.”

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Professors discuss the Global Health Initiative at the 2018 Faculty Forum

August 30, 2018

Since its founding in 2017, the Global Health Initiative has brought together faculty and students from across the university to advance concrete solutions to global health challenges.