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August 1, 2007

Six Students Win Fulbright Awards

2007 Application Deadline is September 24

Six Bloomberg School students are dispersing across the globe to four different continents this summer, courtesy of the U.S. State Department and the Fulbright U.S. Scholar awards. Three doctoral candidates and three master of public health students at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have collected Fulbright scholarships for the 2007–08 academic year. It’s a large haul of the prestigious awards, which will fund student research forays in Brazil, China, Kenya, Colombia and Canada.

Morgan Philbin

For Morgan Philbin, an MHS student in International Health, Fulbrights are a family tradition: When she was 12, her father was awarded a grant to teach chemistry in Denmark. “That definitely planted the seed,” says Philbin, who will travel to China to study HIV/AIDS risk behavior among injection drug users. Her project, which will involve in-depth interviews with users of illegal drugs in both Beijing and outlying provinces, promises to pose a daunting bureaucratic challenge. “The government is not going to want to have a foreigner looking at injection drug users, and I know that,” she says. “When I get there, everything could change. But that’s the wonderful thing about the Fulbright—you don’t have to produce exactly what you planned for.”

Kathryn Muessig

Kathryn Muessig, who is working on her PhD in Health, Behavior and Society, will also go to China to carry out research for her doctoral dissertation on depression management and treatment strategies. As the country experiences massive social disruption on the road to a market economy, the Chinese mental health system is struggling to address a burgeoning public health problem. “In China, there are currently an estimated 26 million people who are diagnosable with depression,” says Muessig, who will be based in Nanjing during her 10 months of fieldwork. “Less than 1 million of these are receiving treatment.”

Kristin Kelling

For Kristin Kelling, an MHS student in International Health, the Fulbright offers her an opportunity to return to Brazil, where she lived in 2005 as a Boren Graduate Fellow. “I felt a special connection that I hadn’t felt about other places I’d been abroad,” says Kelling, who volunteered at an AIDS orphanage during her tenure in the northeastern state of Bahia. Kelling will return this year to study prenatal HIV testing in the region. “Brazil is one of the more progressive countries in Latin America on AIDS issues, but when I was in Bahia, I saw lot of discrepancies with the state data. I’m interested in looking into some of these gaps.”

Valerie Harder

Valerie Harder, PhD student in Mental Health, will go to Kenya to probe the linkages between AIDS, depression and drug use in urban Nairobi. The project, which grew out of her research work on substance abuse statistics in Baltimore, is a collaborative effort with experts from the African Mental Health Foundation and Nairobi University. “There are a lot of intricacies here,” Harder says. “Women, for example, are more likely to be depressed, but men are more likely to be substance abusers.”

Pammie Crawford

Depression and mental health issues are also the focus of Pammie Crawford’s Fulbright project: The PhD student in International Health will go to Canada to analyze the impact of transferring health services to aboriginal communities, where adolescent suicide rates are up to six times higher than the national average. “By comparing the different models of community control,” she says, “the strengths, opportunities and barriers to accessing care can be determined.”

Spacer BarFinally, Whitney Sheen, MHS student in Health Policy and Management, will go to Colombia to collaborate with a team of Bogota physicians on investigating health care access for children at risk of developing acute respiratory infection, the leading cause of death for Colombian children under five.

The Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program, providing funding for students, scholars and professionals to undertake overseas study, research and teaching. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas introduced legislation creating the federal program in 1945 with the aim of promoting international goodwill. More than 45,000 U.S. students and 148,000 students from other countries have benefited from the Fulbright experience; in 2006, the program awarded 6,000 grants worth more than $235 million.

The 2007 application deadline is September 24, 2007. For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit www.jhsph.edu/SFR/fulbright, or contact Cassie Klein, campus Fulbright Program advisor, at cklein@jhsph.edu or 410-955-3257.—David Dudley

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna L. Lowe or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.