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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.  

Khudejha Asghar


KHUDEJHA ASGHAR, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

My primary research interests include prevention and response to violence against historically marginalized and vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on relationships between social norms, gender, and the life course in the public and private spheres. I am looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of research methods and advocacy strategies from the interdisciplinary faculty and staff in the PRFH department. Prior to starting at JHSPH, I worked at the intersection of violence against women and children in humanitarian contexts, and projects include a mixed-methods randomized controlled trial evaluation of an adolescent girls’ empowerment and violence prevention program in DRC, Ethiopia, and Pakistan; qualitative research on social norms affecting family violence in DRC and Myanmar; qualitative participatory research on drivers of household violence in Colombia; and cognitive interviewing to assess applicability of the Violence Against Children Survey in Colombia.


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 is a second-year doctoral student in the department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health. Her 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.


Theresa Boyer MSPH Student - Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

theresa boyer, msph STUDENT

Area of Interest

Maternal, Fetal and Perinatal Health

Theresa is a second-year MSPH student, and her area of interest is maternal, fetal, and perinatal health. She has conducted research with faculty in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine including a recent project examining the risk of blood transfusion for patients with preeclampsia and postpartum hemorrhage. She completed her field placement at the Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She performed a secondary analysis of a preterm birth case-control study that examined how exposure to plasticizers during pregnancy impacts gestational weight gain. She plans to work with Dr. Alison Gemmill in PFRH on her master’s essay, which will investigate phenotypic clusters of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy using a hospital-based dataset.


Omaris Caceres MSPH Student  - Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Healht

Omaris Caceres, MSPH student

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

Certificate in Health Disparities and Health Inequality

Omaris is a second year MSPH student in the department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health. Their research interests are in health disparities and inequalities both globally and domestically in the field of HIV/AIDS care and reproductive health access. Since October 2020 Omaris has been working as a Research Assistant in Center for Public Health and Human Rights where they are working with the Key Populations Investment Fund in the Department of Epidemiology. In this position Omaris supported systematic review processes for a global HIV key populations database, such as data quality assessment processes, data abstraction, and development of reports. For their field placement Omaris was awarded a 2021 Global Health Established Field Placement with Dr. Stefan Baral, the Key Populations Investment Fund (KPIF) at JHU, and the Panagora Group - South Africa where they are providing technical support for ongoing analysis related to key populations and differential risks of HIV acquisition and onward transmission in South Africa. Omaris anticipates that their master’s essay topic will be related to the work that they have done with the Panagora Group – South Africa and KPIF. Along with these fulfilling experiences, Omaris has also engaged with the Johns Hopkins community as a member of the leadership board for Public Health Students for Reproductive Justice (PHSRJ) where they have lead conversations on the history of birth justice, abortion access, and reproductive health access, and as a 2021-22 DSA Representative for the PFRH department.


Carolina Cardona - PhD Student

CAROLINA CARDONA, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Population and Health

My research centers around health economics with a focus on family planning and population health in low-resource settings. Prior to the doctoral program, I worked as a research assistant at JHSPH measuring the progress in mortality reduction and analyzing trends in health spending. In Bolivia, I conducted economic evaluations to measure the implications of health interventions in infectious diseases, and for the Ministry of Planning and Development estimating mortality indicators. I choose the department of population, family and reproductive health because it fosters interdisciplinary work offering a unique opportunity that allows me to apply the tools I have from my economics training.


Sarah Clifford - MSPH Student, Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Sarah Clifford, MSPH student

Area of interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

Certificate in Maternal & Child Health

Sarah Clifford is completing her Master of Science in Public Health with an interest in Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and a certificate in Maternal & Child Health. Broadly, Sarah is passionate about public health advocacy, reproductive justice, and health policy. At Bloomberg, Sarah has worked on research in the Department of Health Policy and Management, translating evidence and research into meaningful policy. For her field placement, she is working as a Graduate Health Policy Intern at the United States Department of Health & Human Services, Office of The Assistant Secretary for Planning & Evaluation where she is focused on health care coverage and access. Additionally, Sarah is working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition, Division of Pregnancy, Infancy and Early Childhood on several Title V initiatives. During her first year at Bloomberg Sarah also enjoyed volunteering with Community Adolescent Sexual Education (CASE), a JHU Source organization, where she taught sexual education to eighth graders in Baltimore.


Mona Esmat Jarrah, MSPH Student, Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Mona-Esmat Jarrah, MSPH student

Area of Interest

Maternal, Fetal and Perinatal Health

Mona is a second-year MSPH student in the department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health (PFRH), with an area of interest in Maternal, Fetal, and Perinatal Health. Her current research involves examining the barriers and facilitators to housing adequacy among children with medical complexities, alongside Dr. Rebecca Seltzer, Dr. Brandon Smith, and Dr. Pam Donohue. She is also working with Breakthrough Action Guyana, housed in the Center for Communication Programs, and is exploring how storyline animations, radio, and TV announcements can impact malaria testing and transmission among gold mining populations. Mona chose PFRH because of the department's focus to foster cross-sector collaborations to sustainably address maternal, child, and adolescent health inequities.


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.


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

MICHELLE MARTINEZ, MSPH '20, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Adolescent Health

My research interests center around adolescent health, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health, particularly through the lens of health inequities – both domestically and globally. Overarching these primary research areas is my interest in wider population health and wellbeing. My current projects with the Global Early Adolescence Study and Gates Institute of Population & 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. 


Dana Sarnak, PhD Student

DANA SARNAK, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Population and Health

My education and experience reflect my commitment and passion to sexual and reproductive health and demography, particularly their intersection around fertility. Broadly, I’m interested in what conditions and policies support women achieving their child- bearing and spacing goals. I want to study how fertility changes affect societies and populations.  I’m particularly interested in the links to contraception and how these are related to women and their roles in society.


Gretchen Schultz, MSPH - Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Gretchen Schultz, MSPH student

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

My name is Gretchen and I am entering my second year in the MSPH program in the Population, Family, and Reproduction department here at Hopkins! I am honored to be part of such an amazing program that focuses on such a variety of topics. My area of interest is sexual and reproductive health education, family planning programs/ policies, and advocacy in the global field. Currently I am working on two research teams, one that is working to better understand and improve PrEP programs in South Africa among female sex workers and adolescent girls and young women. The other research team I am a part of I working to create a training for health care professionals to combat vaccine hesitancy. Both projects allow me to build upon my research skills and expand my areas of interest and knowledge.

As I enter my second year of the program, I will be working on my field placement with WINGS Guatemala, as a research and data analysis assistant. I will work to create clean and organize data into comprehensive reports for our various stakeholders as well as review the current literature to improve best practices in the field. During this second year I will also be working on my own research for my master’s essay which will focus on the programmatic and implementation challenges experienced by PrEP service users in South Africa. While this program is a huge undertaking, I can say without reservation that I have learned so much from my professors and fellow cohort members and look forward to all of the excitement to come in the next school year!


Grace Sheehy, PhD Student

GRACE SHEEHY, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

I chose to study at JHSPH – and the PFRH department specifically – so I could focus on the work that excites me most: improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes at scale through evidence-based advocacy. Studying at JHSPH has helped me become a well-rounded researcher, with skills in a range of disciplines and methodologies, while also allowing me to specialize in the work I am most passionate about. My research focuses primarily on access to safe abortion and quality family care in a range of settings; currently, I support projects in countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and in India, including PMA2020.


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.


Anaise Williams - PhD Student

ANAISE WILLIAMS, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

Anaise is a second-year doctoral student in PFRH. Her research interests lie in women’s economic empowerment, social norms, and gender-based violence in low-resourced settings. Prior to coming to Hopkins, she earned her MPH from Columbia University and worked in Bangladesh for several years conducting program evaluations of women’s employment and empowerment programming through the University of Oxford. Anaise currently works on several projects focused on violence and gender at both the PFRH department and the World Bank. Anaise chose the doctoral program at PFRH due to the department’s dedication to work on violence and social norms.


Carrie Wolfson PhD Student

CARRIE WOLFSON, PHD STUDENT

Area of Interest

Women’s, Sexual and Reproductive Health

My primary research interests are the health vulnerabilities associated with poverty uniquely experienced by women. Within this broad area, I am interested in exploring reproductive health at the population level, particularly disparities in outcomes among vulnerable communities and across racial/ethnic subgroups within the US. I further plan to examine the role of government programs and policies in reducing or exacerbating such inequities. I chose the PFRH department at JHSPH because of the faculty -- they have the expertise to help me further develop the topical and methodological skills I need to explore these pressing issues.