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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


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


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


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.

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.

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


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.


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


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.

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


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


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


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.