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2024 YSPH Student Awards

Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Belonging, Equity, and Justice

Amrit Sandhu (left) Ashley Nicole Reynolds Marshall

Ashley Nicole Reynolds Marshall

As Deputy City Manager for Social Equity for the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, Ashley oversees a robust portfolio that includes the city’s Downtown Job Center and Home to Hope program focused on welcoming formerly incarcerated persons back into the community. Ashley also serves as the city’s Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer and LGBTQIA+ Liaison.

Amrit Sandhu

Amrit is a Student Fellow with the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy and a Graduate Research Assistant with the Yale Trauma and Mental Health Lab. A health policy student specializing in global health, Amrit has a long history of human rights involvement including internships with Minnesota’s Safe Harbor program and The Advocates for Human Rights Women’s Human Rights Program.

Dean’s Prize for Outstanding MPH Thesis

Ellie Cragan Bourgikos (left) Riena Suzanne Harker

Ellie Cragan Bourgikos

Thesis title: “Ecological Factors Influencing the Evolution of Jamestown Canyon Virus in the Northern United States.”

Jamestown Canyon virus (JCV) is a re-emerging arthropod-borne virus in the Midwest and northeast United States, infecting mosquitoes and white-tailed deer in a seasonal transmission cycle. Its spread may contribute to thousands of asymptomatic human infections, with 194 total cases of neuroinvasive disease diagnosed. However, very little is known about the virus’s evolutionary history, transmission patterns, and lineage distribution. For this project, we sequenced 689 JCV samples, increasing the availability of this species’ genomes. Incorporating both genomic and surveillance data, this project significantly expands our understanding of JCV, untangling a complex viral transmission cycle to identify future areas for public health intervention.

Riena Suzanne Harker

Thesis title: “Effects of Wildfire Smoke and Nonsmoke PM2.5 on Respiratory, Circulatory, and Mental Health in Nevada: A Case-Crossover Study on Emergency Department Visits from 2016-2019.”

As climate and land use change amplify the frequency and severity of wildfire-conducive environmental conditions, wildfire smoke pollution becomes an increasingly pressing public health concern. Our study indicates that wildfire smoke and nonsmoke PM2.5 have the greatest effects on different health outcomes. Wildfire smoke PM2.5 was most strongly associated with increased risk of schizophrenia and cerebrovascular disease, while nonsmoke PM2.5 was most strongly associated with all-respiratory, COPD, and hypertensive diseases. We also show significant and lasting effects of both smoke and nonsmoke PM2.5 on substance use disorders.

Wilbur G. Downs Outstanding Thesis Prize in International Health

Catherine Wenger

Catherine Wenger

Thesis title: “Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Alternative Infant and Neonatal Rotavirus Vaccination Schedules in Malawi.” Dr. Downs was a pioneer in international health and a long-time faculty member at YSPH.

The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of and cost- effectiveness of the current Rotarix rotavirus vaccine, two alternative vaccine delivery schedules, and the next-generation vaccine (RV3-BB) in Malawi. Findings show he current vaccine program is cost-effective, reduces burden, and saves lives, and it should be sustained. However, switching to the neonatal RV3-BB vaccine is the most cost-effective, and in the absence of this vaccine, a three-dose alternative to the current strategy is preferred.

Henry J. (Sam) Chauncey Jr. Inspiration Award

Kamali Clora

Kamali Clora

The Henry J. (Sam) Chauncey Jr. Inspiration Award is awarded by alumni of the Health Management Program to a student who exemplifies Mr. Chauncey’s ideals of innovation, integrity, leadership, and community service. Mr. Chauncy, BA ’57, is a former secretary of the University and one of the founders of Yale’s Health Management Program.

Lowell Levin Award for Excellence in Global Health

Charles Minicucci

Charles Minicucci

The Lowell Levin prize is awarded to a graduating student whose work addresses health promotion and global health. Lowell Levin, ’60, is a former YSPH professor who was a long-time policy advisor to the World Health Organization.

Outstanding MPH Thesis Prize in Health Equity

Karenna Kinsella Thomas

Karenna Kinsella Thomas

“I don't work for the prison. I don't work for the hospital either. I’m yours. Who else here is yours?” A Qualitative Analysis of Facilitators and Barriers of Launching Enhanced Perinatal Programs in Seven State Prisons”

The objective of this study was to identify facilitators and barriers to implementing enhanced perinatal programs in seven state prisons in order to inform future program initiation. We identified six main facilitators (moral obligation, precipitating events, physical access to the facility, relationships and partnerships, champions, and pragmatism) and four key barriers (resistance, bureaucracy, lack of consistency around application of policies, and power imbalances). These results highlight the importance of legislation in codifying doula programs as well as provide insight into strategies for implementation of future perinatal programming in other states as a provisional effort while simultaneously continuing advocacy for expanded decarceration and furlough policies.