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Population, Family and Reproductive Health

Students

Meet some of our current students. Learn why students chose Hopkins, the research they’re pursuing and their experiences while in the program.  


Morayo Akande

Morayo Akande, PhD Student

Area of Interest

Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

I am a social and behavioral researcher focusing on evaluating and improving sexual violence (SV) prevention programs domestically and globally. Much of my experience involves working with adolescent males in Sub-Saharan Africa and adult transgender women in the United States. I chose PFRH department at Hopkins because of the robust curriculum, the numerous faculty that work in the violence field, and the collaboration across departments and schools. I work with amazing and supportive faculty across BSPH, SON, and SOM on various SV projects ranging from individual-, to institutional-, to policy-level interventions and evaluation.


Samantha Grace Alarcon Basurto, MSPH Student

Samantha Grace Alarcon-Basurto, MSPH Student

Area of Interest

Maternal, Fetal, and Perinatal Health

My research interests center around the health systems of LMICs (low-and-middle income countries) that particularly impact women and their infants. Such systems include the accessibility, reachability, and the availability of health care personnel, as well as medical resources that should be a given to every mother and child. My experience involves working with diverse NGOs across the US, that focus on the health of homeless mother and children as well as working with disadvantage youth. Furthermore, as a future lactation consultant I look forward to broadening my research in the area of breastfeeding.

I am currently a research assistant for HER WIC Project, which focuses on looking at the factors that prevent Native American communities from accessing the federal nutrition program WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) benefits. I support with data processing and data analysis. 

I am also a research assistant for the SHORE Project, which looks at the mental health and well-being of Baltimore sexual workers and the impact on their mental health by the COVID-19 pandemic. I support with data collection and data processing.

My field placement is with the NGO PRISMA located in Lima, Peru. I support the project “Causes and Consequences of Anemia on children under 5 years in the zone of Cajamarquilla-Chosica”.  My main responsibilities are data collection through both qualitative and quantitative interviewing, training of community health workers (CHWs), data entry, data management, data analysis, and the final write-up of our main findings.

What I like the most about PFRH is the ability to network with teachers and peers that are experts in their field of study, and even though they are all unique in their research niches, they all contribute to the overarching theme of population health. The faculty of our department is very complete, and their research interests creates many opportunities for students to get actively involved.


Khudejha Asghar

KHUDEJHA ASGHAR, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

Khudejha Asghar works at the intersection of research and practice on violence against displaced women (VAW), children (VAC), and people of diverse SOGIESC. She is interested in systems-level change and joined PFRH to build skills in advocacy and large-scale survey analysis. To date, she has co-developed NASPA's Core Blueprint to address sexual violence at universities and International Rescue Committee's (IRC) Safe at Home family violence intervention. She has worked on mixed-methods research and programming with partners such as the CDC, Fenway Health, House of Ruth Maryland, Institute for Reproductive Health, Universidad de los Andes, UNHCR, and UNICEF, in Colombia, DRC, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Pakistan, and the United States. In the last year, she is most proud of contributing to IRC's organization-wide policy statement supporting employees of diverse SOGIESC.


Michelle Martinez, MSPH'20, PhD Student, Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

MICHELLE baack, MSPH '20, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Adolescent Health

My research interests center around adolescent health both domestically and globally. Within this focal area I primarily focus on mental health as well as sexual and reproductive health with overarching interests in wider population health and wellbeing. My current projects with the Global Early Adolescence Study, Center for Adolescent Health, and William H. Gates Sr. Institute for Population and Reproductive Health reflect this range of interests. The support for my diverse interests and the expertise of the faculty within the department are why I chose PFRH. Further, studying within this department fosters a wide range of skills and competencies that will help me in exploring significant issues of the future.


Sam Beckwith - PhD Student

SAM BECKWITH, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Adolescent Health

I am a social and behavioral science researcher who conducts qualitative and quantitative research related to adolescent health and behaviors. My primary research interests are adolescent opportunity, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and positive youth development; additionally, I am interested in the ways these topics overlap and build on one another. The end goal of my research is to build a better understanding of the ways programs and policies can serve and empower young people, improve outcomes starting at a critical juncture in their lives, and reduce inequities. I currently work as a research assistant within the Global Early Adolescent Study, and conducted research at the non-profit research organization Child Trends prior to joining PFRH.


Kristin Bevilacqua, PhD Student

KRISTIN BEVILACQUA, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

Kristin's research interests lie at the intersection of women’s health and intimate partner violence with a primary focus on the risk factors for violence and the differential impacts of violence on health. Prior to coming to Hopkins, she earned her MPH from the University of Michigan in the department of Health Behavior and Health Education Kristin currently works on several projects focusing on the impacts of housing and other state-level factors on the risk for and health impacts of violence as well as a study on shared contraceptive decision-making among Latinx women and their providers in Baltimore. Kristin chose PFRH because of the department’s focus on interdisciplinary scholarship and faculty dedicated to gender-based violence research.


Bre Calhoun

bre calhoun, phd student

Area of Interest

Maternal, Fetal and Perinatal Health

Bre Calhoun's area of specialization focuses on the inequities in healthcare delivery that leads to the disproportionate rates of Black and Hispanic maternal mortality, following in-hospital deliveries, in the United States. Her interest in health equity began at a young age as she witnessed the lack of access to quality medical care in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan and how social determinants of health impacts the health of populations over an entire life course. She aims to create sustainable solutions to prevent mortality from pregnancy-related complications and ensures that minority women in the United States can experience a safe pregnancy, labor and delivery experience, and postpartum care.

Her past research experience includes: studying the lack of access to surgical treatment for obstetric fistulas and the quality of the data collection methods for women in Kampala, Uganda, omega-3 fatty acids as a postpartum depression treatment method for women in Ann Arbor, Michigan, implementation of a technology-enabled treatment program for stroke patients at Mayo Clinic, and evaluating the reliability of deep brain stimulation YouTube videos for movement disorders with the Neurosurgery Department at Mayo Clinic Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Movement Science / Kinesiology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a Master of Science in Global Health Sciences from the University of California, San Francisco.


Adrija Chakrabarty, MSPH Student

Adrija Chakrabarty, MSPH Student

Area of Interest

Maternal, Fetal and Perinatal Health

Adrija's experience in interdisciplinary research under the UCLA Institute of Society and Genetics is where her interest in mixed-methods and qualitative research methods began. Her time teaching sixth grade science in Oakland, CA and seeing the impact of parent and community involvement on child success informs her current interest in intergenerational processes as it relates to health outcomes. Within the PFRH department, she has been able to apply both her interest in interdisciplinary research and intergenerational health outcomes in various research positions. Her current research projects include studying the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on family wellbeing using longitudinal data, exploring the connection between maternal psychosocial stress and child cardiovascular health, and the impact of migration and displacement on early marriage and childbearing. She hopes to continue studying critical and transitional points throughout the lifecourse.


Jennifer Choi, MSPH Student

jennifer Choi, MSPH Student

Area of Interest

Population and Health

Jennifer has demonstrated great interests in several areas, ranging from disability health to fertility, and had the wonderful opportunity to work with Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA)-Ethiopia as well as the Disability Health Research Center, respectively. Furthermore, with courses that emphasize practice not just theory such as Fundamentals of Program Evaluation, she was inspired to seriously pursue a career in evaluation. The support from faculty helped her not only become more confident in the field but also continue practicing her skills she learned from the courses by contributing to research projects such as Project Vital and HEYBmore. 


Sneha Lamba, PhD Student

SNEHA LAMBA, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Population and Health

I chose the PFRH department within Hopkins for my doctoral studies because of the interdisciplinary approach and global lens it provides for the pursuit of my research interests. I am interested in using econometrics to answer questions that lie at the intersection of gender and health. This includes exploring how women’s empowerment and leadership can improve health outcomes. I hope to design and evaluate policies mainstreaming gender and equity within health systems in developing countries through my training at Hopkins.


Elizabeth Larson - PhD Student

ELIZABETH LARSON, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

My research interests include the use of normative approaches to understand family planning use and how social norms affect women’s and couple’s decision making around family planning internationally and with a focus on Francophone West Africa. Prior to starting my PhD in the PFRH department, I earned my MSPH from the International Health Department, Health Systems Program at JSHPH. I currently work on several projects, including Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA), a large scale international mobile phone-based survey on key sexual and reproductive health indicators. I also participate on a project based out of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health that aims to understand how to increase women’s voices in demand generation for family planning to ensure the ethical provision of family planning care to women in Francophone West Africa. I chose PFRH because of its role as a leader in the international family planning field.


Stacy Lu

Stacy V. Lu, MSPH '21, PhD Student

Area of Interest

Maternal, Fetal, and Perinatal Health

I am interested in exploring the intersection of nutrition and disability health across the life course using qualitative and mixed methods. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the parenting and infant feeding experiences of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. My experiences working with disabled persons and having ADHD myself are deeply connected to my commitment to disability justice and advocacy. I received my MSPH in the Department of PFRH and chose to continue my PhD in the same department because of the research opportunities aligned with my interests and supportive network of faculty and mentors.


Jean Christophe Rusatira, PhD Student

Jean Christophe Rusatira, MD, MPH’17, PhD Student

Area of interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

I am a physician and earned my master’s in public health and certificate in health economics from the Blomberg School of Public Health. My current research focuses on the role of men’s egalitarian gender ideologies in their fertility preferences and contraception decision-making behaviors. Over the last nine years, I have worked as a clinical practitioner, public health advocate, and researcher. I worked as a Technical Advisor and Program Officer at the William H. Gates Sr. Institute for Population and Reproductive Health of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I led the Institute's team that developed the Demographic Dividend Effort Index and co-chaired the Scientific and Demographic Dividend Subcommittees of the International Conference on Family Planning bringing together more than 4000 professionals working in the domain of family planning and population health. I was one of the first 40 awardees of the 120 Under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders recognizing my public health practice work through the Healthy People Rwanda, a local non-profit that he founded, and the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning that he co-founded. I decided to pursue my Ph.D. in PFRH due to the global nature of the work done by the faculty in the department and the dedication of the faculty to generate new knowledge that informs policy to improve population health across the life course.


Bianca Smith, PhD Student

BIANCA SMITH, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Adolescent Health

My decision to attend Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was based on the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health (PFRH)'s commitment to social justice and health equity. University-affiliated institutes, such as the Urban Health Institute, highlighted the impact PFRH was making not only in the research world, but also in the Baltimore community. My research interests surround the impact of structural racism on health outcomes in African American adolescents and young adults.


Haley Thomas, MSPH, PhD Student

Haley L. Thomas, MSPH ‘22, PhD Student

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

With a human rights and reproductive justice lens, Haley explores the social and interpersonal dynamics that impact sexual health, reproductive health, and childbearing trajectories. She has experience with both direct and indirect measurement methods for estimating sensitive or stigmatized behaviors and experiences such as sex, family planning, abortion, infertility, reproductive coercion, and intimate partner violence. She received her MSPH from the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health (PFRH) in 2022 and is pursuing a PhD in the same department. She chose PFRH for both her MSPH and PhD because of their focus on interdisciplinary research and advocacy. She currently works for Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA) and is involved in both quantitative and qualitative research.


Kelsey Williams, MSPH, PhD Student

Kelsey Williams, msph '22, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Child Health

Kelseypreviously earned her MSPH from the department with a Women’s, Sexual, and Reproductive Health concentration. Kelsey has been a research assistant on various projects with the Early Childhood Services Research Program, the Maryland Department of Health, and Performance Monitoring for Action, and also served as SOURCE Service Scholar. She is a TA in many classes, including for introductory public health courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Her research interests involve investigating the impact of community-level social, structural, and environmental determinants of health on children’s life course outcomes.


Sylvie Wilson, MSPH Student

Sylvie Wilson, MSPH student

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

I am interested in the intersections between neuroendocrinology and reproductive justice. I chose Johns Hopkins to gain top-tier skills and master frameworks that I could then take with me into advocacy and programmatic positions in my home state of California. I am also extremely interested in birth justice and pursuing midwifery – I am a trained Doula -- so I was excited about the potential of being able to utilize the resources of the Nursing and Medical schools. In my first year I worked with Dr. Kristin Mmari on Project VITAL, where I engaged in qualitative research within the adolescent population of Baltimore to determine areas that may benefit from additional greening of vacant lots, as well as with Dr. Noelene Jeffers in research surrounding the birthing experiences of Black women with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Finally, I have loved learning more about reproductive justice for the incarcerated through ARRWIP as a Hopkins student.


Krista Woodward

Krista Woodward, MPH, MSW, PhD Student

Area of Interest

Child Health 

Krista's research interests lie at the intersection of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and grief focusing on systems-level solutions to mitigate poor health outcomes across the life course. She currently works at the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) supporting early childhood practice and policy transformation to improve child and family flourishing and resilience across the nation. Prior to coming to Hopkins, Krista worked at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) as a Program Officer in the Public and Patient Engagement Department studying the science of engagement in research and developing tools to support PCOR workforce. She completed her dual MPH and MSW degrees at Washington University in St. Louis School of Social Work and BS in Psychology at Lafayette college.


Emily Young

Emily Young, PhD Student  

Area of Interest

Adolescent Health  

My research lies at the intersection of adolescent and school health. Specifically, I am interested in the implementation science of school health frameworks and how school environments influence adolescent health behaviors and outcomes. These interests stem from my years as a high school English teacher in Baltimore, and from my ongoing work with the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health. I chose to pursue doctoral studies with PFRH to further develop skills and expertise in school-based program design, implementation, and evaluation alongside faculty who work closely with Baltimore City Public Schools – the place where it all started for me! I currently work as a research assistant for ‘Nobody Asked Me’, a collaborative research project between JHSOE and JHSPH that explores young Baltimoreans’ experiences living and attending school in the city.