University of Wisconsin–Madison

Graduate Student Research Awards List

2018 Awards

Friendships, Technology and the Transition to College: How College Students’ Well-being and Adjustment to College is Affected by Their Use of Communication Technologies to Maintain Friendships

Chelsea Olson, Ph.D. candidate, School of Education

Mentor: Catalina Toma, Associate Professor of Communication Arts

Abstract: More and more young people across the globe pursue a college education. The transition to college is a challenging developmental milestone, often producing stress. However, this stress can be buffered by social support, with evidence suggesting that freshmen who cultivate both old and new friendships adjust better than those who don’t. Recently, the process of friendship management has been fundamentally altered by the widespread use of communication technologies, especially texting and social network sites. Yet it is unknown how these technologies are used by freshmen to maintain and develop friendships during the college transition and how, in turn, these friendships affect psychological well-being and adjustment to college. Do these technologies enable the cultivation of supportive friendships that improve well-being? As perpetually available, low-effort communication tools, they may encourage individuals to connect with others. Or do they foster unfavorable social comparisons that hurt well-being? On social network sites, users might feel pressured to present positive presentations of their lives, limiting opportunities for real connection. How do shy, socially anxious, or depressed freshmen, who struggle with peer relationships, use these technologies? We develop a series of theoretical arguments to answer these questions and propose a two-wave longitudinal survey to test them.

Unintended Reactance to Health Campaigns and the Presumably Influenced Public

Jinha Kim, Ph.D. candidate, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Mentor: Hernando Rojas, Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Abstract: This study aims to integrate the theory of psychological reactance (boomerang effect) and the third-person effects model from communications field to delineate the psychological process through which the pre-held health beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions of hardened users of alternative tobacco product (e-cigarettes) could become reinforced and even exacerbated. This bases on the integrated model which shows that reactance may not only occurs directly against health campaign messages, but also against the norm perceived by assessing the potential impact health campaigns on others. This study has several significant implications: first, the integrated model accounts for not only the direct influence of messages on individuals, but also the indirect path through which individuals assess impact of messages on others, and reinforce their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. It attempts to refine health campaign effects beyond the simplistic stimulus-organism-response paradigm in media effects, by incorporating mass-mediated messages as one of critical factors that contributes to the key health determinant, perceived norm. Second, through this mechanism, this study describes how strong pre-held health beliefs, attitudes, and hardened behaviors may become further exacerbated. Lastly, the study attempts to examine the integrated model for the first time with various prototypes of health campaign messages.

The Role of New Media and Communication in Youth-Driven Mental Health Promotion Initiatives in Underserved Communities in British Columbia, Canada

Ornella Hills, Ph.D. candidate, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Abstract: Fewer than half of youth utilize needed mental health services in high-income countries and even fewer utilize these services in low-income nations. In Canada, despite mental health disorders being the leading cause of disability, only 31 percent of youth access care. To address this, scholars have called for multi-sector, cross-disciplinary initiatives addressing not only the prevention and treatment of mental health, but also its promotion. In addition, youth engagement in the development of these initiatives has been identified as key to improving sustainability, effectiveness, and cultural responsiveness. However, no existing frameworks exist to guide youth-driven mental health promotion initiatives through public policy.

Additionally, while over 90% of youth utilize new media and communication tools in the US and Canada, the role of these tools in mental health promotion has not yet been elucidated. In a cross-disciplinary collaboration among youth collaborators, policy makers, nursing and communication scholars, this project seeks to address these gaps by investigating the ways in which new media and communication patterns contribute to youth mental health and mental health service use. It will also address the ways in which these tools can support a youth-driven mental health promotion policymaking framework among youth in British Columbia, Canada’s underserved communities.

Satellite Data for Air Pollution Exposure and Public Health

Seohyun Choi, Ph.D. candidate, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Mentor: Tracey Holloway, Professor of Environmental Studies

Abstract: While satellites present many benefits in air quality monitoring, there is yet to be a standard approach of applying satellite data to public health research. An analysis of domestic PM2.5 estimates presented by different public health organizations shows that their estimates are inconsistent. An analysis of search terms on the Web of Science reveals that only 25.8% of studies on air quality link health and satellites, and 16.4% of public health journals publish papers on air, health and satellites. These findings demonstrate the need for further utilization of satellite data in public health research. NASA HAQAST (Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team) has shown that there are benefits in providing stakeholders with easier platform to process satellite data, such as GIS (Geographical Information Systems). One of these benefits includes rapid integration of satellite data in public health research. With funding from Global Health Institute, I propose to extend these lessons learned from NASA HAQAST to GEMS (Geostationary Environmental Monitoring Spectrometer) mission in planning by South Korea.

Protecting Children from Junk Food Online Game: Introducing Stop-And-Take-a-Break Intervention Strategy

Eunji Cho, Ph.D. candidate, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Abstract: Childhood obesity is a major global health concern. The WHO concluded that the intense advertising of energy-dense food is a probable causal factor in childhood obesity worldwide. Advergames are one of the most popular channels through which children get exposed to food brands and products. Since the majority of foods and beverages promoted in advergames contain high levels of sugar, sodium, and/or fat, playing advergames has the potential to impact children’s health. Considering the influential power of advergames such as the tendency for children to eat/favor/choose energy-dense foods, the proposed study suggests a new parental intervention strategy, “stop and take a break” to reduce harmful effects of unhealthy food advertising on children. More specifically, the proposed technique causes children to dislike the unhealthy food brand, which in turn leads to better selections of foods. Furthermore, it can redirect children’s attention to other healthy activities outside. By suggesting parents to utilize this technique, we can avoid a situation where children vulnerably favor and request parents for unhealthy food brands.

Evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of oral rabies vaccination of vampire bats in Mexico

Elsa Cardenas Canales, Ph.D. candidate, School of Veterinary Medicine

Mentor: Jorge Osorio, Professor of Pathobiological Sciences

Abstract: In Mexico, vampire transmitted rabies is a burden to the livestock industry and a significant public health concern. Widely distributed, the common vampire acts as the principal reservoir of rabies virus. Currently, rabies control measures include culling vampires; however, this practice is not effective. We have developed a novel rabies topical vaccine that protected big brown bats against rabies challenge. This technology could be adapted to target other bat species and also be directly applicable toward control of vampire-bat associated rabies in Mexico as an alternative to culling.

To begin, we want to evaluate the uptake and rate of transfer of a topically delivered vaccine mechanism (jelly mixed with a biomarker). We recognize that, for a vaccination campaign to succeed, the engagement of the public is essential. Therefore, we will evaluate public knowledge and perceptions about vampire-transmitted rabies in four Mexican communities where rabies is endemic using a knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) questionnaire. Results from this project will help tailor public outreach efforts and to design effective educational campaigns and control methods for rabies. Our project will be the first to assess the feasibility and practicality of vaccinating free ranging vampire bats to prevent rabies.

Learning from the outsider within: Adolescent pregnancy as constructed, experienced and negotiated by adolescent girls and boys

Selah Agaba, Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy Studies and Anthropology

Abstract: Being pregnant, bearing and raising a child are major life events. For adolescent girls, these events are usually accompanied by structural hardships such as increased risk of mortality, unsafe abortion, expulsion from school, diminished economic potential, and social stigma (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation, 2014; World Health Organisation, 2014). However, efforts to decrease adolescent pregnancy, and thus decrease the harsh medical and material burden imposed chiefly on adolescent girls continue to be fashioned without comprehensive understanding of adolescents’ lived experiences and tend to be based on an imagined idea of the ideal adolescent.

This has resulted in policies and practices that: 1) reduce adolescent sexuality to risk- and deficit-driven interventionist models of understanding that are severed from the material life of adolescents as living, feeling, sexual beings; 2) ignore the perspectives and experiences of adolescent boys; 3) construct and perpetuate notions of innocence or culpability in the expressions of sexuality based on race and class; and 5) continues to present and uphold imaginations of adolescent sexuality formed without the input of adolescents. This research will extend and question these understandings by bringing adolescents and adolescent sexuality to the centre and as the beginning point of research and analysis.

Quantifying the Air Quality and Human Health Benefits of Energy Efficiency in the U.S.

David Abel, Ph.D. candidate, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Abstract: The potential for utilities to expand energy efficiency offers an under-utilized opportunity to meet clean air and health targets by reducing emissions of health-damaging pollutants and greenhouse gases. This represents a win-win-win opportunity for states, ratepayers, and utilities by reducing adverse health outcomes at lower cost than technological controls, which increase greenhouse gas emissions. Proposed research fills a need for study addressing the benefits of energy efficiency on air pollution exposure and health impacts. The goals of the work include quantifying the mortality and morbidity impacts of a realistic energy efficiency scenario developed with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), compiling a scientific publication, mentoring an undergraduate student, and establishing a framework for future work. I am requesting $5,000 from the GHI Graduate Student Research Award to purchase a computer monitor and fund travel to to present results and perform outreach at the 2018 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings and the 2018 American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. Proposed research and travel advances the mission and vision of GHI by progressing scientific understanding of an interdisciplinary, complex public health concern and promoting a healthy and sustainable future.

2017 Awards

Impact of Hospital Antimicrobial Stewardship Policies in Manila, Philippines

Kaitlin Mitchell, Ph.D candidate, Department of Population Health Sciences

Abstract: Antimicrobial resistance has rendered numerous drugs ineffective against infections that were once easily treated. This process is being accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. Hospital antimicrobial stewardship programs require coordination between clinical pharmacists, infection control staff, and prescribing physicians to curtail inappropriate use of antibiotics. While these types of policies are important in all healthcare facilities, they are especially critical in countries such as the Philippines where multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs) are highly prevalent.

This project will study the impact of antimicrobial stewardship policies at The Medical City, a large hospital in Manila, Philippines.The Medical City has had an antimicrobial stewardship program in place since 1989, and preliminary qualitative analysis at this site indicated it to be generally well-received by healthcare providers. However,the policy has been amended in recent years to better adhere to guidelines suggested by the Centers forDisease Control. Using mixed-methods, the project will analyze these updated policies in terms of their impact on 1) antibiotic usage, 2) patient outcomes and rates of MDROs, and 3) healthcare providers’ prescribing behaviors and perceptions of policy feasibility. This work will help to evaluate existing hospital regulations and point to areas for potential revision and intervention.

Culture Shapes Appraisal And Cardiovascular Recovery From Anxiety

Jia Yoo, Ph.D candidate, Department of Psychology

Abstract: Anxiety has been shown to predict poor health via behavioral and physiological processes. Particularly, prolonged cardiovascular response to anxiety (i.e. delayed cardiovascular recovery) is one important physiological pathway through which emotions affect health. However, whether cultural context affects links between emotions and health has been largely neglected. Although anxiety is predominantly seen as undesirable in North American cultures, this view does not hold across cultures. In East Asian cultures, negative emotions in stressful situations are considered as more positive and appropriate compared to Western cultures. This research seeks to determine whether appraisals about anxiety affect cardiovascular stress recovery differently among East Asians and Americans. Building on prior studies showing that found anxiety appraisals (e.g., believing that anxiety is more harmful vs. less harmful) predicts physiological responses, cultural differences are hypothesized. The balanced view of anxiety among East Asians is expected to predict more adaptive cardiovascular recovery compared to the predominantly negative view of anxiety among Americans. Identifying cultural influences on health risks of anxiety have significant implications for advancing understanding of local and global health.

Cultural differences in parent-child endorsement of germ and cold weather theories of the common cold

Iseli Hernandez, Ph.D candidate, Department of Psychology

Abstract: It is thought that cold weather beliefs originated with the ancient Greek physicianHippocrates’ bodily humors theory (Harwood, 1971)According to this theory, human emotions and behaviors could be attributed to an excess or lack of bodily fluids, otherwise known as humors. Its central principle lies in the idea that the body is in a state of imbalance. In the case of cold weather and the common cold, when the warm body is exposed to cold winter elements, an imbalance between the internal and external temperatures occurs causing the body to become sick.  If an individual believes that cold weather leads to a cold, this has implications for the health behaviors they engage in, particularly during the cooler months. People may engage in behaviors that minimize exposure or that protect the body against cold weather. For example,they may wear extra layers of clothing, such as a jacket or a hat, and avoid going outside in the winter immediately following a warm shower. Although these behaviors do not appear to be harmful, examining these beliefs is important because these beliefs and behaviors directly compete with germ theory based preventative behaviors (Sigelman, 2012). Broadening our understanding of cold weather theory beliefs can inform the development of teaching tools aimed at maximizing common cold preventative behaviors in line with germ theory. This understanding can help advance health by promoting behaviors that truly prevent sickness, while discouraging those that are erroneous.

2016 Awards

The effects of prenatal exposure to the Korean War on health and labor market outcomes

Taehoon Kim, Ph.D candidate, Department of Economics

Abstract: Recently researchers recognize that early childhood health is an important determinant of health in later life (Almond and Currie, 2011a). Especially, people have found that the 280 days experience in utero may be critical periods in an individual’s life in the sense that these periods can determine much of the future health and life. The hypothesis that prenatal experience can shape health in later ages is called as “the fetal origins hypothesis.”

This study tests the fetal origins hypothesis using the evidence from the Korean War (1950-53). The Korean War was the traumatic event for most Koreans and war veterans from many countries. It is well known that the Korean War caused many casualties but less is known for survivors’ health in later life. More specifically, this study estimates the effect of prenatal exposure to the Korean War on health and labor market outcomes in later life. This may help understand implicit war damages that we did not recognize.

Strong health institutions in weak states: Investigating successful drug control in Nigeria

Michael Roll, graduate student, Department of Sociology

Abstract: During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 Nigeria surprised the world. On July 20, a man coming from Liberia collapsed at Lagos International Airport and was taken to a hospital. When he was diagnosed with Ebola three days later, nine health care workers were already infected. The stage seemed to be set for a major disaster: an Ebola outbreak in one of Africa’s most dysfunctional states and in the continent’s biggest and most densely populated city with a population of 21 million people. Contrary to expectations however, on October 21, 2014, the World Health Organization declared Nigeria Ebola-free and its fight to contain the disease “a spectacular success story” (WHO 2014).

How can we account for the existence of strong health institutions in otherwise weak states? While we know that institutions are critical for development and for health service provision, we know much less about why strong institutions sometimes emerge in highly unfavorable contexts. This project studies government agencies that provide the public goods and services they are officially mandated to provide in contexts in which most other government agencies are dysfunctional. I call these exceptional organizations “pockets of effectiveness.”

Moving away from biomass burning to decrease infant mortality: Evidence from LPG policies in Thailand

Thanicha Ruangmas, graduate student, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Abstract: About 70 percent of Thailand’s households still rely on biomass, mostly in the form of wood and charcoal, for cooking. Slowly, these fuels are being replaced as households adopt liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) instead. LPG is made up of butane and propane gas, which comes from either a petroleum distillation process or a natural gas separation process.

This research will analyze the effect of both decreasing LPG price deregulate and increasing macro LPG infrastructure (such as the set up LPG distilleries and LPG retail stores) on district-level household fuel use. In the second stage, we will look at how decreased biomass use affects infant mortality. The merits of this research are: 1) This research will utilize individual birth and death cohort data which can become available. 2) It will analyze how the availability of LPG has allowed households to substitute LPG for biomass burning. 3) It will find if there are costs to fossil fuel subsidy removal on infant mortality.”

Mother, daughter, schoolgirl: Student pregnancy and readmission policy in Malawi’s era of education for all

Rachel Silver, Ph.D. candidate anthropology and educational policy studies.

Abstract: In Malawi, teachers and students, parents and policy-makers, chiefs and clerics all hold up the figure of the pregnant schoolgirl as a tragic emblem of moral failure and sexual shame. Until recently, secondary students were forcibly checked for pregnancy; any girl found to be expecting was whisked out of school never to return.  Pregnant schoolgirls are anathema in mainstream international development discourse, too, where  girls’ education represents a panacea. Here, the value of educating a girl is calculated by multiplying any inherent good of education by a range of public health, social and economic indicators said to improve by keeping her in school and delaying her reproduction.

This project considers how fears about pregnant schoolgirls may act to keep girls out of school, thus complicating traditional analysis about the relationship between fertility, sexuality and schooling, and about factors that shape the wellbeing of pregnant adolescents in Malawi. With an analytic focus on a policy that seeks to increase educational access, the project promotes equitable health for people worldwide.

HIV risk behavior, physical and mental health, and marriage among Chinese men who have sex with men: An examination based on the minority stress model

Shufang Sun, Ph.D. candidate in counseling psychology

Abstract: In the past decade, the HIV rate among Chinese men who have sex with men (MSM) has risen drastically, with an estimated incidence rate between 8 and 9.1 percent, accounting for a third of new HIV infections in China (Li et al., 2011; National Health & Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China, 2015; Yu et al., 2010). In urban areas like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, & Guangzhou, MSM accounted for more than 70% of new HIV cases (Juan, 2015). The societal level of stigma associated with HIV and same-sez relationships/behaviors, as well as lack of sex education, HIV testing and HIV awareness, all contribute to the increasingly high prevalence of HIV infections among Chinese MSM (Huang et al., 2012; Liu et al., 2006).

This study (a) explores the relevance of the minority stress theory to Chinese MSM, especially roles of minority stress factors such as discrimination, stigma, and homophobia in Chinese MSM’s HIV risk behaviors and mental health outcomes, (b) understandx how sociocultural factors such as the pressure of forming a heterosexual marriage and cultural standard of filial piety impact Chinese MSM’s decision-making about marriage, and (c) Investigates sociocultural predictors of marital satisfaction, sexual behavior, and conflict for Chinese MSM involved in heterosexual marriages and, potentially, extramarital relationships.

Climate change effects on infectious diseases in environmental, wildlife and human health: An evaluation of West Nile virus in Wisconsin

Jonny Uelmen, graduate student researcher in Environment and Resources/Epidemiology, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Abstract: The state of global health is alarming and despite strong efforts to implement reductions in carbon emissions, our planet is still warming.  In addition to increasing temperatures, anthropogenic forces are creating a cascade of devastating forces, ranging from increasing episodes of extreme events of flooding and droughts to new and emerging infectious diseases. Climate change has profound effects on public health and the proliferation of both vector-borne and water-borne infectious diseases.  Previous environmental health models largely incorporate one pathogen and one vector.  However, implementing the most robust and practical assessments of environmental health and climate change provide challenges integrating complex designs.  This project will incorporate a multidisciplinary approach utilizing Epidemiological, Entomological, and Geographic Information System knowledge to assess and predict the effects of climate change on environmental health evaluating West Nile Virus through a One Health approach.

Using a residential sorting model to better understand the relationship between urban green space and health

Austin Williams, graduate research assistant, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Abstract: This project aims to better understand the relationship between the built environment and health outcomes, an area of research that has received a great deal of attention. It will determine if health characteristics, such as obesity, shift how individuals value neighborhood amenities, while also developing new estimates of the value of proximity to amenities such as public parks and gym facilities. A wealth of literature has shown an association between neighborhood amenities, such as parks or open space, and health. This study attempts to resolve one of the biggest empirical issues prevalent in this literature: people sort themselves into neighborhoods based on the characteristics of those neighborhoods and their personal preferences. Public health policy initiatives aimed at obesity prevention or reduction through the expansion of recreation amenities may not be effective if sorting is the main driver of the amenity-health association. This project provides a more comprehensive understanding of how urban environmental interactions impact health, which becomes increasingly important as cities grow and become more densely populated.

Self control in interruption task-switch behavior: the trade-off between motivation and temptation

Ranran Zhu, Ph.D. candidate, School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Abstract: Multitasking goes globally with the growth of information and communication technologies, as a study conducted in Kuwait, Russia and the USA shows (Kononova, Zasorina, Diveeva, Kokoeva, & Chelokyan, 2014). A few real-word or field investigations also have demonstrated that task-switching is a dominating pattern for different populations around the world. To name a few, young adults seated in cubicle switch tasks 27 times an hour, or every 2 minutes (Marci, 2012, in Boston), medical students switch 12 times an hour, or every 5 minutes (Judd & Kennedy, 2011, in Australia), and middle school, high school and college students averaged less than 6 minutes (Rosen et al., 2013, in Southern California). Working and studying time seems to be segregated by the “continuous partial attention” problem (Rose, 2010), and this echoes the evidence that multitasking impairs information processing (Gilbert, Tafarodi, & Malone, 1993; Lang, 1995; Lang, 2000), leads to unregulated media usage that caused mental problems such as depression, isolation, and low-esteem, clinical problems such as losing sleep, and even worse harmful life consequence such as driving accidents, divorce or financial disruptions (Larose, Lin & Eastin, 2003; Song, LaRose, Eastin & Lin, 2004; Oulasvirta et al., 2012).

By making an appraisal of the trade-off effect between psychological dispositions and technology affordances, this study will contribute to a better understanding of the mechanism underlying people’s task-switching behavior and bring up insights on media coping strategies for different populations globally in this media saturated world.

2015 Awards

Investigation of the reservoir competency of two resident passerine birds for west nile virus

Emily Cornelius, graduate student, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
Mentor: William Karasov, professor, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology

Abstract: Since its introduction to North America in 1999, West Nile Virus (WNV) has caused local declines of bird species, and illness and death in both equines and humans. Many bird species are known to be a reservoir of WNV, potentially amplifying local outbreaks or spreading the disease during migration. However, the reservoir competence for WNV of a number of avian species likely to visit our feeders is not known. We propose to study the reservoir competence of two temperate, resident passerine birds, the black-capped chickadee and American goldfinch, for WNV. After capture, birds will be infected with WNV and monitored for viremia titers, shedding, antibody production, body mass and clinical outcome. Ultimately, we expect that both species will be sensitive to WNV and that their performance will decline following exposure to the virus. As the boundary between wildlife and humans continues to decrease and global warming continues to alter vector distribution, special attention must be dedicated to investigating host-pathogen dynamics. This project will increase understanding of the role that temperate resident birds in Wisconsin might play in the spread and/or occurrence of an ecologically important infection disease, West Nile Virus.

Measuring Individual variation in health concepts to determine health outcomes

Matthew J. Jiang, graduate student, Department of Psychology
Mentor: Karl Rosengren, Ph.D, professor, Department of Psychology

Abstract: How does individual variation in their beliefs of health influence how they conceptualize health and their health decisions? This is a relatively unexplored area of health cognition. My proposed research project will revise a new measurement tool and use it to identify individual differences in health concepts related to health promotion and illness prevention. This tool will then be used to predict health decisions and outcomes. Our research includes specific plans to target a representative population, and specifically examine how motivation orientations influence health concepts and health outcomes. As an extension of past research, we also aim to identify physical health outcomes such as blood pressure, body fat, Body Mass Index (BMI). The results of this project have potential to impact health education and public policy.

The social determinants of antibiotic misuse: A mixed-methods study in rural india

Anna Barker, Ph.D, M.D., Epidemiology in the Department of Population Health

Mentor: Nasia Safdar, MD, Ph.D, assoicate professor, Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine and Public Health

Abstract: While its severity is agreed upon, the causes and solutions of antibiotic misuse are complex, and require immediate further investigation. Patient and provider understanding of the underlying motivations of both populations. Objectives include: 1) to identify the roles that economic instability, education, and healthcare access, have in a patient’s decision making regarding antibiotic use, and 2) To identify how pharmacists’ antibiotic dispensing practices are affected by their economic pressures, baseline knowledge of antibiotic resistance, and experience working with patients who use the pharmacy as their primary access to healthcare. Data collection will take place in five rural villages in the district of Allahabad, India, over a teen week period in the summer of 2015. This study utilizes a mixed-methods research design. Focus groups and semi-structured interviews will used to engage with pharmacists and community members, respectively. In both populations, a quantitative, cross-sectional survey will be conducted to assess levels of antibiotic resistance knowledge.

The subnational politics of doctrinal gender policies: backlashes to reproductive rights in Mexico

Camilla Reuterswaerd, graduate student, Department of Political Science

Abstract: Reproductive rights constitute critical global health and human rights issues that disproportionally affect women. In Latin America, where abortion polices remain restrictive, clandestine abortions resulting in high maternal mortality levels are a growing public health issue. The goal of the proposed dissertation project is to conceptualize abortion policy backlash and specify the determinants behind its onset. Advancing knowledge of the factors that trigger backlash and risk exacerbating maternal mortality levels will help us predict the durability of reform, and better understand obstacles to women’s fuller exercise of human rights and participation in society. Studying backlash politics in Latin America is of particular importance not only because backlashes have occurred in several countries yet remain understudied, but because women’s reproductive and human rights in the region continue to be weak. Based on quantitative and qualitative comparative examination of Mexican states, the findings of the project will travel to other federal system in the region, including the U.S., and contribute to a greater understanding of the politics of reproductive rights with important implications for women’s equitable and sustainable global health.

2013 Awards

Leveraging evidence based system-related strategies to improve medication safety in Ethiopian emergency departments

Ephrem A. Aboneh, graduate student, Social & Administrative Sciences, School of Pharmacy

Mentor: Michelle A. Chui, PharmD, Ph.D., assistant professor, Social & Administrative Sciences in the School of Pharmacy

Abstract: Background: Multiple system-related hazards exist in hospital emergency departments that are associated with increased risk of medication errors. Hospitals in the US and other developed countries have successfully implemented strategies that may be leveraged to support patient safety in hospitals in developing countries. Objectives: To identify hazards, strategies,

and recommendations to improve medication safety at Black Lion Hospital in
Ethiopia. Methods: Extensive literature review, observation and two sets of interviews, guided by the SEIPS Model, will be employed at the Black Lion Hospital in
Ethiopia. Data will be collected and analyzed using rigorous qualitative methods in order to develop a set of recommendations.

Risk of environmental exposure to emerging bat viruses in Uganda

Andrew J. Bennett, Ph.D. student, Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Mentor: Tony L. Goldberg, Ph.D., DVM., M.S., professor, Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine

Abstract: Emerging infectious diseases pose serious threats to public health, and efforts to conserve global biodiversity alike. Many emerging viral pathogens have their origins in the Pteropid fruit bats of the Old World, but direct

transmission from bats to people remains rare. Human outbreaks of the Filoviruses, Ebola and Marburg, are often linked to contact with wildlife that have become infected through poorly understood natural associations with the Pteropid bats that serve as viral reservoirs. A likely source of recent outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fever in great apes is

environmental contamination of shared food sources by infected bats shedding virus in urine, feces, or saliva at fruiting fig trees (Ficus spp.). I will examine the potential for environmental transmission of RNA viruses from the Pteropid bats of Kibale National Park, Uganda, to awell-studied chimpanzee troupe, through non-invasive sampling of bat saliva deposited on the forest floor in discrete ‘wadges’ of macerated fruit pulp and saliva. This would be a new direction for UW-Madison’s Global Health community, addressing the harrowing rise in viral hemorrhagic fever incidence in Uganda, with the Global Health Institute’s philosophy that animal and human health are irrevocably linked. This project would develop an entirely new method for observing the upstream mechanisms of viral transmission from bats to people, expand UW-Madison’s global health presence in rural Uganda, and promote a new, non-lethal bat surveillance strategy to monitor emerging viral threats to Uganda’s people and wildlife, exemplifying the Global Health Institute’s vision for ‘One Health,’ through the preservation of human and animal life.

Application of feminist intersectional approach to health behavior change model: interdisciplinary theoretical integration

Yangsun Hong, Ph.D. student, School of Journalism & Mass Communication

Mentor: Shawnika Hull, M.A., Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Abstract: This study attempts to apply the Intersectional theory from women’s studies to the Integrated model of HIV prevention behavior change from health communication field. The theoretical and empirical integration will be beneficial for both models. First, it includes the social and contextual

structures and limitations in health communication model that may be strongly related to adoption of health behavior, but many healthcommunication models have less considered. This study explores whether the effects of intersection of identities (e.g., Race * Gender * Income) can also be captured bypsychological predictors (attitudes, perceived norms, and self-efficacy) of the integrated model, and whether the intersectional effects influence behavior in ways consistent with the theoretical model (i.e. mediated through the predictors). Although intersectional research has focused on predicting the inequalities of health status across populations such as HIV status based on the perspective of public health, I would argue that intersectional effects also explain the differences of adoption of preventive behaviorssuch as HIV testing with the lens of public campaign.

Effects of friend networks on sexual debut among secondary school students in Malawi

Jinho Kim, Ph.D. student, Department of Sociology; Center for Demography and Ecology

Mentor: Monica Grant, Ms.C., Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Sociology

Abstract: In 2003, the concept of combination prevention approach was initially introduced as a strategy to combine evidence-based, mutually reinforcing biomedical, behavioral, and structural interventions, and since then, much attention has been paid to this approach. Despite such attention and interest, little is known about the effects of combined HIV/AIDS

prevention efforts. In response to the urgent need for rigorous study on the effectiveness of the combination approach, a research project was initiated by Africa Future Foundation in partnership with Daeyang Luke Hospital in Malawi and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). This project focuses on examining the combined effects of three different HIV/AIDS prevention strategies (i.e. HIV/AIDS education, male circumcision, and conditional cash transfer) among secondary school students in Malawi. This research setting provides unique opportunities to examine adolescents’ sexual norms, behaviors, and networks in school context. Examining school context is tremendously important because the high HIV prevalence rates in sub-Saharan Africa including Malawi appear to be closely linked to the majority of teenagers experiencing early sexual debut. Among many dimensions of school context, my focus lies on the role of friend networks in influencing students’ sexual behaviors. In consultation with the Africa Future Foundation team, I developed a module of friend networks and added it into the existing questionnaire for follow-up survey which is scheduled to begin this June. Through my study, I expect to contribute to an understanding of the mechanism where friend networks influence students’ sexual attitudes and behaviors.

Thailand’s rural primary healthcare expansion and its ongoing impact on health, mortality, and social enfranchisement

Stephanie Koning, Ph.D. student, Department of Population Health

Mentor: Ajay K. Sethi, Ph.D., M.H.S., associate professor, Population Health Sciences

Abstract: I am proposing to study the impact of Thailand’s rural primary healthcare expansion on maternal and infant mortality

and the social enfranchisement for ethnic minorities. Using mixed methods, I will determine whether the intervention in highland ethnic minority villages, beginning in 1985, had the following effects: 1) an immediate or lagged increase in hospital childbirths; 2) an increase in child birth registration; and 3) a reduction in maternal and infant mortality. This research has important implications for global health research and utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to study the social and political motivations behind changing health behaviors, the broader impacts of health system reform, and the protection of human rights through health promotion. Furthermore, it innovatively mixes epidemiological, demographic, and social research methods in the development context and merges a broad range of information sources. In order to complete this study, I am requesting funding to support the cost to travel to Thailand and meet with colleagues and mentors, conduct an exploratory pilot study, finalize my dissertation research aims and methods, and find a research assistant.

Uganda environmental pathogens and ecosystem services

Gail Rosen, Ph.D. student, Population Health Sciences, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Mentor: Tony L. Goldberg, Ph.D., DVM, M.S., professor of Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine

Abstract: Forests provide critical ecosystem services, including water purification. With forest fragmentation occurring globally, it is unclear how such services can be preserved. I propose a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to examining the value of small forest fragments for reducing pathogens in surface water. The study takes place in western Uganda, where forest

fragments persist in low-lying areas through which water flows and where the water- borne pathogen burden in people and animals is very high. The overall objective is to determine whether small forest fragments in this highly relevant setting have value for reducing water-borne pathogens. I hypothesize that even small forest fragments can act as “filters” and that passage of water through forest fragments improves water quality with respect to pathogens. This proposal, with its innovative “one health” approach to ecosystem changes as upstream determinants of health, is an excellent fit for the Global Health Institute’s focus on the role of “healthy places” in public health. Furthermore, this proposal is highly relevant to water sanitation and sustainability, both GHI priority topics.

Characterization of emerging arboviruses in Santa Marta, Colombia

James Weger, graduate student, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine 

Mentor: Jorge E. Osorio, SVM,  Department of Pathobiological Sciences

Abstract: Mosquito-borne viruses, or arboviruses, are an increasing public health threat and comprise some of the most medically relevant viral pathogens. Arboviruses include Dengue, West Nile, Yellow fever, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, among others. These viruses, specifically Dengue,

represent a massive threat to public health and relevant epidemiological data is necessary for continued understanding of transmission dynamics, predicting outbreaks and development of an effective vaccine. Colombia represents a unique environment for the study of arboviral pathogens and is home to all of the aforementioned viruses. In order to study the current status of arboviruses we will perform human dengue fever surveillance in northern Colombia. In addition, we will isolate mosquitoes from the area and test them for a panel of arboviral pathogens in order to understand infection rates in the vector. These studies will foster global collaboration and an increased epidemiological understanding of extremely important viral pathogens.