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Population, Family and Reproductive Health

Current Students

Meet some of our current students. Learn why students chose Hopkins, the research they’re pursuing and their experiences while in the program.  

Susan ChristiansenSusan Christiansen, PhD Student

Susan Christiansen is applying her passion for reproductive health and economics to her research. She hopes her dissertation will focus on making an economic argument for increased family planning access.

Danielle Gaskin, MSPH StudentDanielle Gaskin, MSPH Student

With research interests that focus on both domestic and international populations, choosing to enroll in the Johns Hopkins PFRH department was an easy decision.

During my time at Brandeis University, I studied maternal and child health in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a semester. The field placement component of the MSPH program offers me the opportunity to study maternal and child health abroad was an additional incentive for me to join the PFRH Department. My area of interest is Maternal, Fetal, and Perinatal Health.

I also hope to study Child Health. I have interests in Black American maternal and infant mortality and humanitarian health. I look forward to beginning my studies and exploring the many opportunities a Hopkins MSPH education has to offer.

Jessica JonesJessica JonesPhD Student

I have a commitment to the health of children in the United States. My research to date has focused on critical child health issues such as breastfeeding, medical home access, systems of care for children with special health care needs, and autism. Through my work as a project officer at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, I expanded grant programs to increase analytic capacity among state and local MCH programs.  Additionally, I worked extensively to preserve and improve the National Survey for Children’s Health, as it provides invaluable data on the health of children within the United States.

Neisha Opper, PhD StudentNeisha Opper, PhD Student

I am interested in novel determinants of sexual and reproductive health, particularly among marginalized and underserved populations. Prior to starting in this program, I taught research methods at an academic medical center in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. My research has been broad in scope, ranging from very clinical questions about ovarian stimulation protocols  to very broad questions about reducing bias in our legal system. I am looking forward to spending the next few years focusing on questions related to contraceptive access and use in a domestic context.

MSPH Campbell VeaseyCampbell Veasey, MSPH Student

I was intrigued from the start in a public health program that first and foremost grounds its research and practice in the best interests of the surrounding community. Bloomberg’s community practicum, the community-based public health certificate, and the work coming out of the Urban Health Institute all helped me choose Hopkins. 

As for PRFH, the ways in which families and communities keep each other healthy and well is of special interest to me. I chose the department to gain an in-depth training on the many factors affecting a family’s health, and hopefully some introspection on the tools and resources families draw upon to stay healthy. 

I just graduated from McGill University in Montreal, studying Anthropology and a bit of cell biology on the side. In my fourth year I was given a teaching award for mentoring first years in McGill’s large physics courses. Surviving a 600+ person lecture can be tough, and I really enjoyed navigating the massive lecture hall and helping students learn the material in a more personalized, one-on-one format. 

My academic area of focus is population and health. I’m excited to learn about the complex and very human intersections of migration, demographic change, and wellbeing. My main research interests are community-based health programs. I’m looking to learn more about community health worker (CHW) models to increase patient autonomy and access to care, especially among vulnerable populations. 

Shannon Wood, PhD StudentShannon Wood, PhD Student

My research interests surround the intersection between violence and adverse reproductive and sexual health outcomes among vulnerable populations in low-resource settings. My research to date has addressed empowerment self-defense training among school girls in Malawi; safety decision-making and care-seeking behaviors for women experiencing intimate partner violence in Kenya; and women’s sexual and reproductive health empowerment in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. I am committed to producing research that can be directly applied toward reducing violence and improving women’s and girls’ health worldwide.


Abeer Yaksan, MSPH StudentAbeer Yakzan, MSPH Student

I am pursuing a Master’s of Science in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in order to strengthen my analytical and research skills and broaden my knowledge about the biological, geographical, and societal influences that impact reproductive health. I am excited to take courses regarding contraception, abortion, communication strategies for sexual risk reduction, and reproductive epidemiology. I graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor's of Science in Global Disease Biology in 2017. During my Senior year I conducted research to assess the reproductive health needs of students at UC Davis and student opinions regarding the lack of abortion services offered by the student health center. The resulting research paper, "Abortion and Student Health Services, Expanding the Conversation with Student Perspectives," was recently published in Contraception Journal.

Yousra Yusuf, PhD StudentYousra Yusuf, PhD Student

My work centers around sexual and reproductive health and maternal health in under-served and marginalized communities globally and in the US. My current research investigates decision-making related to contraceptive use and subsequent maternal and birth outcomes. I plan to continue working as a researcher who represents the voices and interests of community members in the fields of maternal and women’s health. In this work, I intend to combine rigorous research methods while prioritizing and centering voices of marginalized groups to ensure communities benefit from my research. Most importantly, I hope to disseminate and give back to communities that continue to help us, researchers, in our endeavors.