By: Mira Garin
The University Graduate Fellowship (UGF) is a competitive two-year supplemental funding program through the College of Graduate Studies. This merit-based award is intended to support recruitment, retention, and timely degree completion for graduate students working as Research Fellows who are being co-sponsored by current faculty members. Students are provided with a stipend of $30,000 including benefits. This year’s five SPH awardees’ work spans a variety of projects both US-based and globally. Two incoming students in the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) are profiled below.
Hannah Battey, an incoming JDP student in Public Health focusing in Epidemiology will be working in the Peters Lab at La Jolla Institute of Immunology. Her translational research will combine epidemiological analysis methods with the biological research techniques she sharpened working on vaccine development to combat the ongoing global tuberculosis epidemic. Hannah will use ‘wet lab’ techniques such as flow cytometry and multiplex cytokine assays to identify certain kinds of white blood cells and their signaling proteins to better understand how they interact with disease-causing bacteria. Although she proved herself as a hospital infection preventionist throughout the chaotic early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, “I felt concerned [when applying to doctoral programs] that I would be at a disadvantage compared to other MPH applicants considering my ‘atypical’ educational experience and research goals,” Hannah explained. “I am thankful that SDSU sees my diverse background as a strength and something that they want to invest in,” she stated. “I cannot wait to begin my journey and make my mentors and sponsors proud!”
Elsa Ghebrendrias, an incoming JDP student in Global Health, will be working under the guidance of Dr. Susan Kiene. Her primary interest is investigating the impacts of systemic inequities and global policies on vulnerable populations so that holistic interventions that improve health outcomes for individuals and communities can be developed and implemented. “My experiences as an East African refugee, work in clinical and epidemiological research, volunteer health education work with marginalized communities have instilled [this interest] in me,” Elsa explained. “[I want] to use evidence-based public health knowledge to empower communities dealing with serious health issues complicated by economic, social, and cultural barriers across the world.” Elsa joins the Joint Doctoral Program after over two years working in the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency’s COVID-19 pandemic response as a contract epidemiologist. “I’m excited to further develop my scientific knowledge and research skills to become a global health professional.”