2018 Center for Global Health University Scholars



We are proud to announce the 2018 Center for Global Health University Scholars who represent the UVA College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the School of Nursing and the School of Medicine. The CGH University Scholar Award supports mentored global health research experiences in underserved communities to facilitate the development of global health leaders. The CGH University Scholar Program encourages UVA students to design and conduct interdisciplinary research projects, which leverage their interests, concerns, and ideas into inquiry, service and transformative experiences in a global context. 

Selected by an interdisciplinary committee involving faculty, researchers and former CGH Scholars, these projects include work conducted in conjunction with established Global Health Partners in Rwanda, South Africa, and Guatemala. Novel, independent research projects in India, Bhutan, and Peru, developed with UVA faculty mentorship, are also supported this year. Healthy Appalachia Institute Global Health Scholars, representing the UVA College at Wise, will join ongoing research projects in South Africa at the University of Venda.

Please join us to learn more about the outcomes of these research experiences in Conflux | A Global Health Journal and at the CGH Annual Research Symposium.



Project Title: Pregnancy with Cardiac disease in Rwanda

Scholars: Onyedikachi Aligbe, Navya Annapareddy, Sarah Hour

Faculty Advisor: Marcel Durieux

Community Partner: University of Rwanda

Brief Summary:

The purpose of this research project is to understand the preventable causes of maternal death in Rwandan hospitals by analyzing the medical history of pregnant women with heart disease who were referred to the University of Rwanda allied hospitals. Additionally, they will identify the effects of cardiac disease during pregnancy on adverse fetal and neonatal outcomes. This research will be conducted in order to propose possible interventions to lessen maternal and fetal risk.


Project Title: Infectious diseases in Rwanda ICUs

Scholars: Simran Budhwar, Olbusola Shifatu, William Burris

Faculty Advisor: Marcel Durieux

Community Partner: University of Rwanda

Brief Summary:

The main question this project hopes to address is: What factors lead to patients acquiring newer diseases in the Intensive Care units of Rwandan hospitals, and how can we limit them? The aim of this project is to identify the ways patients acquire infections when admitted to the ICU. This project is geared to improve ICU care for septic patients and to establish strategies to reduce and prevent other hospital-acquired infections by investigating factors such as primary and ICU diagnosis, comorbidities, types of antibiotics dispensed, duration of hospital stay, among other factors.



Project Title: What is the impact of teaching cognitive aid use, over presence of cognitive aid alone, on performance and retention of advanced emergency airway management skills in simulated scenarios

Scholar: Grace Alexandra Brown

Faculty Advisor: Marcel Durieux

Community Partner: University of Rwanda

Brief Summary:

This project aims to assess the immediate effect of the training in cognitive aids in the improvement and retention of advanced emergency airway management skills over the presence of cognitive aid alone. This project will also test the long-term effect 3 months post-training to understand if there is a justification for the implementation of training with cognitive aids in medical education.


South Africa


Project Title: Malaria in Northern South Africa: Burden of Infection and Genetic Characterization

Scholars: Piper Emily Shifflett, Sara Grace Krivacsy

Faculty Advisor: Elizabeth Rogawski

Community Partner: University of Venda

Brief Summary:

This project in its early stages includes developing a questionnaire to assess the initial knowledge and attitudes of study participants towards Malaria. Additionally, the group members will establish community contacts, determine specific sample populations, and pilot laboratory protocols. This project will include microscopy, rapid diagnostic tests, various assays, and malarial TAC PCR to analyze blood samples collected.


Project Title: Towards Understanding Alcohol Risk, Sexual Risk, and Intimate Partner Violence Among University Students in Limpopo, South Africa

Scholars: Megan Dombrowski, Charlotte Brake

Faculty Advisor: Karen Ingersoll

Community Partner: University of Venda

Brief Summary:

This project will investigate alcohol-related sexual risk among University of Venda students in Limpopo, South Africa. Qualitative interviews will provide the research team with information that will be used to create a larger scale survey methodology that could be applied to the province more broadly— beyond the university setting. The data will generate new information on the epidemiology of alcohol risks, sexual risks, and their overlaps among an understudied population of South Africans.


Project Title: PureMadi Human Health Study

Scholars: Merly Konathapally, Olivia Jones

Faculty Advisor: Elizabeth Rogawski,

Community Partner: University of Venda

Brief Summary:

Building upon previous year’s research, this project will further analyze the long-term impact of the point-of-use water technology intervention. This study will continue to examine the environmental water quality, and survey the existing household water storage to compare to the two year baseline evaluation to estimate the effect of a low cost point-of-use water treatment on health of children in Limpopo, South Africa.



Project Title: Young People, Uncertainty, and Imagined Futures in Khayelitsha

Scholar: Lauren Greenwood

Faculty Advisor: Christopher Colvin

Community Partner: University of Cape Town

Brief Summary:

This project aims to explore young people’s management of uncertainty, specifically regarding how young people in Khayelitsha think and speak about their futures given the uncertainty of their circumstances. This research is intended to add to a broad understanding of health including education, employment, and sexuality. Additionally, it will contribute to the understanding of how marginalized individuals and groups act and mobilize when faced with challenges in these and similar areas.



Project Title: Socio Economic Status and Health Care Utilization of the Traditionally Religious and HIV+ in Limpopo, South Africa

Scholars: Cameron Haddad, Kamwoo Lee

Faculty Advisor: Jeanine Braithwaite

Community Partner: University of Venda

Brief Summary:

There is a crucial gap in the literature regarding the behavior of the traditionally religious or those with dual beliefs and their interaction with the health system. We seek to answer the question “Are the poor and HIV/AIDS positive people more likely to use traditional healers?” This project seeks to obtain survey data to parameterize an agent-based model (ABM) to simulate the behavior of the traditionally religious. These findings will help determine if traditional healers are a viable resource for establishing a cost-effective method to increase healthy behaviors in poor rural populations, which are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and face many barriers to accessing western health centers (Maimela et al., 2015).




Project Title: Relationship Between Early Malnutrition and Metabolic Syndrome in Tanzania

Scholar: John Hensien

Faculty Advisor: Eric Houpt

Community Partner: Haydom Lutheran Hospital

Brief Summary:

This project aims to address the question: Does early malnutrition and stunting contribute to a later risk of metabolic syndrome amongst the MAL-ED cohort in Tanzania? This project will build on previous MAL-ED research and includes obtaining and analyzing blood pressure, height, weight, and waist circumference data in the field.



Project Title: Culture, Psychology and Buddhist Practices: An Ethnographic Study in Contemporary Bhutan

Scholar: Michelle Walsh

Faculty Advisor: larry merkel

Community Partner: Bhutan Ministry of Health

Brief Summary:

This project will explore the relationships between culture, mental health and Buddhist practices in Bhutan. The motivation driving this research is twofold: firstly, while Buddhist meditation practices have been used as interventions to address mental health issues worldwide, the impact of contextual factors in the experience of meditation practice has not been adequately studied; and secondly, Bhutanese officials report there is an increase in the rate of suicide.





Project Title: Empowering Youth through a Sexual and Reproductive Health Escuela Móvil in Bluefields, Nicaragua

Scholars: Reanna Panagides, Annika Rhinehart, Christine Guzman, Mira Sridharan, Abigail Maclin

Faculty Advisor: Emma Mitchell

Community Partner: Centro de Derechos Humanos, Ciudadanos y Autonómicos-Jovenes Estableciendo Nuevos Horizontes (JENH-CEDEHCA)

Brief Summary:

The goal of this project is to collaboratively develop an Escuela Móvil curriculum focused on sexual/reproductive health (SRH) using a “train the trainer” approach in the Southern Atlantic Autonomous Region. The group members will assess risky behaviors in youth, and explore the feasibility and acceptability of this SRH intervention, combining education, engagement, and prevention through economic opportunity. Through workshops, developing murals, and sustained connection with social media, peer educators will distribute the prevention intervention to at-risk youth.


Project Title: Cervical Cancer Prevention in Bluefields, Nicaragua

Scholars: Imani Morgan Marks-Symeonides, Danielle Morrone, Shernai Banks, Charlotte Pitt

Faculty Advisor: Emma Mitchell

Community Partner: Centro de Derechos Humanos, Ciudadanos y Autonómicos

Brief Summary:

The goal of this project is to explore the care continuum of cervical cancer from screening to detection to colposcopy and through follow-up treatment. The team will collect data through informant interviews, develop focus groups with healthcare providers, and observe participant interactions in the healthcare setting. The project will also explore the cultural acceptability and feasibility of tele-colposcopy to increase access to cervical cancer treatment and diagnostics. In addition the team will collaborate with UVA TeleMed to find and present a resolution for technical limitations of tele-colposcopy in Bluefields, Nicaragua and surrounding areas.




Project Title: UVA-SEWA Partnership: Designing Occupational Health Solutions for Informal Women Workers

Scholars: Mary Collins, Elizabeth Watt, Patrick Robinson, Lina Hong

Faculty Advisor: Rupa Valdez and David Edmunds

Community Partner: Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA)

Brief Summary:

The goal of this internship is for the research team to have co-produced (with SEWA’s women workers) pilot curricula that will improve the understanding that SEWA’s rural women have of occupational health and safety–including what their exposures are and how to address them. The team will have helped expand the reach of SEWA’s health cooperative to rural areas, and will have identified key roles for health institutions to play in support of SEWA’s rural members.


Dominican Republic


Project Title: Assessing "Emotional Diabetes" and Performing a Community Needs Assessment in Las Malvinas in The Dominican Republic

Scholars: Jack Capra, Jessica Duska, Katherine Soba

Faculty Advisor: Paige Hornsby

Community Partner: University of Unibe

Brief Summary:

This research will create a better understanding of the community’s knowledge of emotional diabetes and its impacts. This understanding will help to develop tactics for addressing diabetes and treatment options based off the perceived causes of diabetes among the community. As well, the knowledge gained from a chart review, and needs assessment will provide a broad health picture for further research and possible intervention in the Las Malvinas community, while continuing cooperation between UNIBE and UVA. Specifically this data should be able to help determine the feasibility of new research studies and health interventions.



Project Title: Assessing Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Strategies in Peru

Scholars: Caroline Shermoen, Carolina Gomez Grimaldi

Faculty Advisor: Rae Blumberg

Community Partner: Liga Contra El Cancer

Brief Summary:

The team expects that their research will allow them to expand the previous year’s project to identify barriers keeping underserved women from proper access to breast and cervical cancer interventions in low-to-middle income countries like Peru. Their immediate goal is to gather more data on the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of women in later reproductive years to match them with services provided by their partner organization, and to explore disparities between cancer rates in high versus low socioeconomic groups.



Project Title: Improving Health Outcomes and Fostering Community Development through Potable Water

Scholars: Andria Li, Parker Brodsky, Anna Buttaci

Faculty Advisor:  David R. Burt

Community Partner: Community of San Lucas Tolíman

Brief Summary: The team will travel to several communities in San Lucas Tolíman to evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented water filtration systems from previous years. In addition the project aims to assess the perceptions of community members towards the water filters, while contributing to the educational component of the water filtration systems.


Project Title: Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of a Resource Limited Women’s Reproductive Health Curriculum

Scholars: Mariam Gbadamosi, Hannah Sweeney

Faculty Advisor: David R. Burt

Community Partner: Communities in South Lake Atítlan Basin

Brief Summary:

The group expects to obtain confirmatory results of previous research showing the effectiveness of the Women’s Reproductive Health course in the South Lake Atítlan Basin region of Guatemala. The project aims to identify areas for improvements in course content and content delivery methods. Lastly, the team expects to identify attitudes in the South Lake Atítlan Basin community towards the inclusion of men and adolescent girls in future women’s reproductive health courses.


Project Title: Resource Limited Electronic Medical Records: Crossing the Quality Chasm

Scholars: Madison Orlow, Nicholas Aldredge

Faculty Advisor: David R. Burt

Community Partner: Totonicapán Hospital Emergency Department

Brief Summary:

This project aims to investigate the impacts of the widespread use of resource limited electronic medical record (EMR) and its further potential through exploring the following questions: What are the prevailing attitudes regarding the current version of SABER (the EMR platform) that is implemented at the Totonicapán Hospital? What data is being consistently collected using SABER? What data is of highest value to the Totonicapan Hospital administration? How can this data be analyzed and used for quality improvement?



Project Title: Collaborative Point of Care Teleultrasound: The application of telecommunication and imaging technology in a resource-limited environment

Scholars: Krista Hartmann, Maeve Buni

Faculty Advisor: David R. Burt

Community Partner: Totonicapán Hospital

Brief Summary:

This team will examine the feasibility and reliability of telehealth connections between Guatemala and the United States. The project aims to ensure that UVA-GI and Telemedicine could confidently initiate a high-quality, professional-grade teleultrasound teaching program.



Project Title: UVA-SWO Partnership for Rangeland Ecology Research and Education

Scholars: Megan Eisenfelder, Claire Kirchoff, Sarah Cox, John Leahy, Samuel Willis

Faculty Advisor: Howard Epstein

Community Partner: Lake Traverse Reservation

Brief Summary:

The team will be investigating the question: Is bison grazing better for the tall grass prairie on Native American Reservations in economic, environmental, cultural and health terms? Knowledge from this project is projected to lead to increases in turnover from cattle to bison ranching. In addition to collecting the ecology data, the team will be running an education program in conjunction with a Curry graduate student.


Project Title: Decreasing the Maternal and Infant Mortality Rate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Scholar: Maya Lezzem

Faculty Advisor: Charles Lewis

Community Partner: PROSAMI

Brief Summary: PROSAMI, a non-profit organization registered in the commonwealth of Virginia in May 2009, focuses on the promotion of maternal and infant health in the rural areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). One of PROSAMI’s methods for promoting maternal and infant health has been to set up telemedicine systems in these two regions that link to the UVA health system so that a training course for nurse midwives can be implemented. The work that I would like to do would not only help to facilitate this training through the use of the UVA’s telemedicine system, but it would also allow for research regarding the effectiveness of said training through the collection of success stories and data. An aspect of the research that is especially intriguing to me is figuring out how these training methods are being implemented within the context of the existing cultures in the villages.


St. Kitts and Nevis


Project Title: Violence in Nevis: A Retrospective Analysis of Homicides 2000-2017

Scholar: Trina K Kumodzi

Faculty Advisor: Jeanita Richardson

Community Partner: The Nevis Ministry of Health

Brief Summary:


The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence and distribution of homicidal violence in Nevis.  The quantitative research design will create a profile of Nevisian homicide victims and perpetrators and describe the circumstances, motives, and weapons used in the individual acts of homicide. The Principal Investigator will read police narratives for all Nevisian homicides 2000-2017 and code them using a predetermined set of variables. The intent is to describe victim characteristics, perpetrator characteristics, motive, and weapon use.



Project Title: Yielding Accomplished African Women

Scholars: Diana Wilson, Maame Esi Eghan, Ernest Addy-Nettey

Faculty Advisor: Jaronda Miller-Bryant

Community Partner: Mobile Web Ghana

Brief Summary:

This project’s objective is to provide transformative career opportunities to ten young college women at the University of Ghana, Legon by providing them with skills in finance or technology, mentorship, and leadership development that will lead them to land internships at top firms in Ghana. They will engage with students with different financial or technology courses for six weeks.



Project Title: Post-Stroke Depression in Nigeria: An Observation of its Silent Prevalence

Scholar: Kpankpando Anyanwu

Faculty Advisor: Gertrude Fraser

Community Partner: Regions Hospital Enugu

Brief Summary:

This research project aims to concentrate on how a stroke may trigger the onset of depression characteristics, either major or minor, thus giving focus as to how severe the consequences of PSD appear based on the following circumstances: time period of development, intensity of its behavioral and physical traits on the patient, and level of impact for the method of treatment.