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2023 YSPH Student Awards

Dean’s Prize for Outstanding MPH Thesis: Emily Goddard

Thesis: Short-Term Exposure To Wildfire Smoke PM2.5 And Symptoms Of Anxiety And Depression Among U.S. Veterans: A Cross-Sectional Study

In her MPH thesis, Goddard examined the relationship between short-term and long-term exposure to the fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) from wildfire smoke and symptoms of anxiety and depression among participants in the 2019 National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study. Goddard, whose degree was in Social and Behavioral Sciences (climate change and health), was a data analyst for the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC), and a graduate assistant for the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE). Her focus was on preventative health through equitable access to environmental resources. She was most interested in exploring the relationship between the environment and mental health, the health co-benefits of climate change adaptation and mitigation, and the environmental benefits of equitable and sustainable global food systems.

Dean’s Prize for Outstanding MPH Thesis: Caroline Helsen

Thesis: Are News Media Organizations Protecting Youth Mental Health? A Content Analysis of the Top 4 News Organizations on TikTok

Helsen (Social and Behavioral Sciences) wrote her thesis as a response to a December 2012 call to action by the Surgeon General to address the youth mental health crisis, including actions media organizations could take to protect viewers’ mental health. She analyzed a year of TikTok videos posted by the four American news organizations with the largest TikTok followings (ABC News, CBS News, NBC News and the Daily Wire) to determine whether they had taken steps to protect youth mental health. Her work at YSPH also included conducting policy research and focus groups for a labor union to inform recommendations for the electrification and weatherization of home-based childcare facilities; interning at UNICEF's Maternal Newborn Adolescent Health Unit; conducting a rapid-needs assessment for a local health department regarding COVID-19 vaccine uptake for children under 12 years old; teaching a graduate-level discussion section for a course on health equity; and interning at the Office of Policy and Planning within the Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal Child Health Bureau.

Wilbur G. Downs Outstanding Thesis Prize in International Health: Savanna Randi

Thesis: Epidemiology of Human Hookworm (Necator americanus) Infection in Rural Ghana: Investigating Host-Parasite Factors That Mediate Infection

Hookworm infections cause significant morbidity in high-risk populations, and pose a global health concern in locations of rural poverty. Infections in sub-Saharan Africa account for nearly 40% of global hookworm infections, leading to increased morbidity. In her thesis, Randi, whose concentration was epidemiology (Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases), investigated the epidemiology of hookworm infection in Beposo, Ghana, from June to August 2022, aiming to provide insight into the host-parasite relationship and epidemiologic factors that mediate human hookworm infection in West Africa. Randi, a Horstmann Scholar and recipient of a Lindsay Fellowship for Research in Africa, was also a member of the testing staff of YSPH’s SalivaDirect initiative.

Outstanding MPH Thesis Prize in Health Equity: Anna Preston

Thesis: “I was reaching out for help and they did not help me”: Mental Healthcare in the Carceral State”

For her MPH thesis, Preston – who earned both her MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences at YSPH and her MD at the Yale School of Medicine in 2023 – examined the perspectives of nine people who experienced mental healthcare within the carceral state, whether in prison or on parole or probation, with a special focus on how attributes of the carceral state create ideological and functional barriers to effective mental healthcare. While working to complete her two degrees, Preston also found time to write poetry. One of her poems, Birth, was a co-winner in the poetry category of the Marguerite Rush-Lerner and Program for Humanities in Medicine Prize, an annual poetry, prose, and visual art competition open to all Yale health profession students. Another of her poems, Letter to a younger universe, earned an honorable mention.

Outstanding MPH Thesis Prize in Health Equity: Sydney Hussett-Richardson

Thesis: “Hair-Esteem Toolkit for Black Girls”: The development of a self-esteem toolkit for Black adolescent girls centering hair as a tool for empowerment

Hussett-Richardson, whose MPH is in Social and Behavioral Sciences, wrote her thesis to explore the relationship between self-esteem and hair among Black girls, and integrated her findings into a culturally relevant digital toolkit to promote and develop their hair-esteem and self-esteem. Gendered racism and Eurocentric beauty standards pathologize Black girls and their hair, she wrote, leading them to experience high rates of hair harassment and discrimination. These experiences negatively impact their self-esteem, which has important implications for a host of health behaviors. Hussett-Richardson worked on various projects as a research assistant in the SASH Lab, including the Dreamer Girls Project, an HIV and drug use prevention study for Black Girls. She also co-led the Dreamer Girls Project Youth Advisory Board, which brings together Black girls in New Jersey and other parts of the country to discuss ways in which research can be used as an empowerment tool for Black girls.

Henry J. (Sam) Chauncey Inspiration Award: Jacob Eisner

The Henry J. Chauncey Jr. Inspiration Award was established in recognition of Mr. Sam Chauncey, a former secretary of the University who developed YSPH’s program in health management and fostered its close collaboration with the Yale School of Management. It is given to the graduating Health Care Management student who most exemplifies innovation, integrity, leadership, and community service. Eisner is the founder and CEO of First Mile Health, and has experience in EMS and home-based care, hospital administration, and HR transformation. His interests within public health innovation primarily lie in service delivery mechanisms and labor markets. He hopes to improve social determinants of health for both patients and the healthcare workforce by way of novel business models and human-centered integration of digital technology.

Lowell Levin Award for Excellence in Global Health: Anqi He

The Lowell Levin Award for Excellence in Global Health is awarded to a graduating student whose work addresses health promotion and global health. It is named for the late Lowell Levin, MPH ’60, professor emeritus of public health and the first head of the YSPH International Health Division. He, who earned her MPH in Health policy, was a Center for Methods in Implementation and Prevention Science (CMIPS)-associated Wilbur G. Downs Fellow, and worked with Donna Spiegelman, ScD, Mayur M. Desai PhD, MPH, FACE, and Dong (Roman) Xu, PhD, MPP, on maternal and child health promotion in Mozambique. She also received a Lindsay Fellowship for Research in Africa from the Yale MacMillan Center’s Council on African Studies.

Student Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Belonging, Equity and Justice: Eiman Abdoalsadig, Nassim Ashford, Maame-Owusua Boateng and Mukund Desibhatla

The YSPH Student Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Belonging, Equity, and Justice recognizes one or more graduating YSPH students who have demonstrated a significant contribution toward creating and fostering a diverse and inclusive community while at YSPH. The 2023 award recipients, all earning MPH degrees – Eiman Abdoalsadig (Social and Behavioral Sciences, Public Health Modeling); Nassim Ashford (Social and Behavioral Sciences, Global Health); Maame-Owusua Boateng (Social and Behavioral Sciences, U.S. Health & Justice and Global Health); and Mukund Desibhatla (Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Maternal Child Health) – were recognized for creating community and implementing programs to help bring students together. They did significant work in organizing efforts to increase a sense of inclusion and belonging for students at YSPH through a range of activities, such as supporting recruitment efforts and organizing student events.

Teaching Fellow Award: Sarah Megiel

The YSPH Teaching Fellow Award recognizes a student who demonstrates outstanding performance as a Teaching Fellow and promise as a future leader. Excellent teaching fellows convey their passion for public health and for their specific field of study; demonstrate outstanding effort in supporting the course instructor and assisting students; explain difficult concepts in innovative and creative ways; are sensitive to students’ needs and concerns; and treat students with fairness and respect. Megiel, MPH ’23 (Health Policy and Management), taught three classes at YSPH: core biostatistics for the Executive MPH Program (Summer 2022), core biostatistics for traditional MPH students (Fall 2022), and health of women and children (Spring 2023). Many of the comments from the students and faculty who recommended her for this award cited her passion and wealth of knowledge, her kindness, her generosity, her patience, her flexibility, and her support. She was also a community engagement associate for the SalivaDirect program in Spring 2022, helping run the COVID-19 testing site at the refugee organization IRIS in New Haven. She also helped implement the technology and inventory tracking systems at two Connecticut Department of Public Health-sponsored COVID-19 testing sites in New Haven; created a monthly newsletter that was shared with the SalivaDirect laboratory network, and conducted outreach to community members. She has also been a research assistant since January 2022 on a mixed-methods cervical cancer study based at the Center for Methods in Implementation and Prevention Science (CMIPS). She has written qualitative interview scripts, helped create quantitative data collection forms, and done extensive literature searches.