PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2006
MHS, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2000
BA, University of Puget Sound, 1984
As global health professionals, we see disease control and prevention – or health promotion if you want to take a broader view – as our paramount concern. We’re often a bit shocked to find, when we introduce a health intervention, that for our intended beneficiaries health is only one of many concerns. We compete with people's need to keep a roof over their heads, keep food on the table, pay for children’s school fees and supplies, and much more. The competition intensifies when our intervention frames health as a specific behavior we want people to practice such as sleeping under a mosquito net or getting tested for HIV. Then everything from peer pressure to infrastructure to climate plays a role. The history of public health – and of development in general – is littered with technologically or epidemiologically brilliant interventions that failed because their promoters ignored social, economic, or political context. As a social scientist, I’m more interested in the interplay between intervention and context, and how this interplay affects success, than in any particular disease or condition.
That said, the study of interplay between intervention and context must, itself, take place in a context. My principal contexts to date have been malaria and maternal health. My initial malaria research focused on determining the characteristics of a culturally appropriate insecticide-treated bed net (ITN) in the Peruvian Amazon. I’ve continued work on ITNs in Benin, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda and am currently collaborating on two ITN projects with VectorWorks (http://www.vector-works.org/) at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (ccp.jhu.edu). Working with the World Health Organization, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, and the Zambia National Malaria Control Center, I helped develop training materials that enable community health workers to use malaria rapid diagnostic tests safely and effectively (https://www.finddx.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/generic_pf_training_manual.pdf). My interests also include malaria in pregnancy. In maternal health, my principal focus has been testing the clinical competency of skilled birth attendants (SBAs) and improving the cultural competency of labor and delivery care. Additional interests include Chagas disease, clean cook stoves to prevent household air pollution and associated illnesses, and food waste (dumpster diving and discarded food from grocery stores in the United States).
Though my research includes quantitative approaches, my focus is more qualitative. I am a particular proponent of observation since I find it is often more accurate than relying on reported behavior (interviews) and captures a level of detail that is not possible using other methods.