Issue 9, Fall 2010
Welcome New Doctoral Students
Originally from East Lansing, Michigan, Emily Youatt studied Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky where she developed her interest in Public Health by working on a research project in HIV prevention. Her interests in health research led her to study abroad in Switzerland where she worked for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies coordinating disease tracking statistics for infectious diseases in Africa. Before returning to Michigan to pursue her Master’s degree, Emily worked at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Policy. She’s happy she chose Michigan for graduate school, and HBHE in particular, because of the knowledgeable and accessible faculty. She is excited to continue pursuing her research interests studying sexuality and its relationship to health access, health behavior and health outcomes, especially among sexual minority females. The collaborative and supportive environment of HBHE, in addition to the rich resources available university-wide, is what kept Emily here for her PhD.
Alana Wooley is from San Antonio, Texas and majored in Gender and Women’s Studies and minored in Biology at Bowdoin College in Maine. After college, Alana moved to Boston where she worked on a community-based asthma study investigating the influence of prenatal and early childhood exposures to air pollution and stress on the development of asthma in children. She conducted home visits in East Boston, an immigrant hub in Boston, MA, interviewing mostly Latinas from Central America. It was this experience that cultivated Alana’s interest in Latino health disparities and community-based participatory research, an approach she hopes to pursue in the future. Her passion for community-based participatory research is also what led her to come to Michigan after receiving her MSc in Public Health from Harvard. For Alana, part of the appeal of HBHE were the research opportunities regarding racial and ethnic health disparities and methodologies involving CBPR and qualitative research. She is excited by the research opportunities the department promises and enjoys the seminar experience of the smaller classes. Alana wants to focus her research on health patterns among the heterogeneous Latin@ population in the United States.
Prior to earning a dual MPH/MSW at Michigan, Katrina Ellis, a Kalamazoo native, studied Art Education at Dillard University in New Orleans. It was during her time in the Peace Corps in Fiji working with the Ministry of Health where Katrina decided that she wanted to switch gears and get into public health. When Katrina started out in her graduate career, she originally thought that she would go on to be a hospital social worker but she began working in research and became very interested in doing research of her own. Last year she completed a fellowship with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where she was doing early childhood education research and program evaluation, and learning about the role of culture and context in the evaluation process. Katrina feels that the faculty in HBHE are conducting a lot of interesting research and they interact a great deal with students. Overall she likes the feel of the department and the wide range of resources available across the university. Katrina is interested in looking at social and cultural influences on health, specifically cancer prevention, cancer survivorship among African Americans, and the engagement of African American families in preventative behaviors.
Annie Harmon is originally from St. Louis, MO and received her bachelor’s degree in biology from University of Evansville in southern Indiana. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she worked with an octogenarian who was living with Alzheimer’s and became fascinated with different approaches to caring for older adults. This experience led her to earn her Masters of Gerontology at the university of Missouri in St. Louis and she plans to continue to study older adults and mobility, especially driving retirement and its connection to identity and subsequent mental health outcomes while earning her doctorate degree. She chose Michigan because of the research that is going on at the University on transportation and because of the people she met from SPH at national conferences. Annie believes that HBHE has a good perspective on training doctoral students and takes an individualized approach that prioritizes the development of the doctoral student. Annie also really likes her cohort of fellow doctoral students and feels that their support has made a big difference thus far.
Massy Mutumba is from Uganda where she received her Nursing degree at Mbarara University. While earning her degree, she became very interested in health promotion and health education, prompting her to apply to several Public Health schools in the Unites States. Ultimately she chose Michigan because the program here offered opportunities to acquire a broad range of knowledge and skills, plus a friend who told her Michigan is a better school than Columbia. During the masters program, Massy felt that she had a lot of opportunities to acquire skills, work on research projects in collaboration with different schools across the university. Now that she is a doctoral student, she feels like the expectations are somewhat different: more professionalism and focus on studying. She says it helps to be able to share these experiences with other doctoral students in the doctoral seminar and that the department has a homey feel. “You never feel like you need support or direction and you can’t find it.” Massy is interested in working with HIV and sexuality in young people.
A life-long Michigander, Jonathon Vivoda is working on his third degree from the University of Michigan. Originally from Lincoln Park, MI, Jonathon received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and went on to work for eleven years at the University of Michigan Transportation Institute (UMTRI), looking at the social and behavioral aspects of transportation and factors that lead people to engage in behaviors that result in injury (i.e. wearing a seatbelt or not). Jonathon feels grateful for the great working relationships he has developed with UMTRI faculty and staff throughout his years there, and they have been very supportive and flexible since his return to graduate school. His research interests include aging, transportation, and the built environment, and how these factors affect people’s health outcomes. Although Jonathon lives in Milan, MI, about 10 miles from Ann Arbor, he feels like Ann Arbor is home since he’s lived in the area since 1992.
Michelle Johns is originally from Arizona and studied psychology and gender studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. After completing her undergraduate studies, Michelle moved to Chicago to work in HIV research, education, and program development at an LGBT clinic. It was here that she realized she had hit a “glass ceiling with a B.A. degree” and wanted to pursue an MPH degree. She chose Michigan because of its practice focus and at that time she was planning to go back into the field after earning the degree. However, she became involved with HBHE’s SexLab, and her passion for research was re-ignited, prompting her to go on for a PhD. Michelle’s research interests lie in the intersection of gender and sexuality with health outcomes. She has done a lot of work with men and HIV and she feels that the space for women’s experience as sexual beings and how that relates to their health is all too often left out of the big picture. So far Michelle loves being in the PhD program and enjoys the freedom of being able to go wherever your interests take her, take classes across departments and schools, and bring that knowledge and skills back to HBHE
>>Read more about HBHE student life in the HBHESA update.