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July 22, 2008

Fulbright Awards Given to JHSPH Students and Alumna

Five Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health students and one alumna will travel this summer to bustling cities and remote communities across the globe to study and conduct research as recipients of Fulbright U.S. Scholar Awards. The prestigious scholarship program promotes cross-cultural interaction through education and allows award recipients to study or conduct research in over 100 nations. This year’s scholars will be stationed in Cameroon, Nepal, Mexico, South Africa, Mongolia and Argentina.

Kathryn BerndtsonFor Kathryn Berndtson, an MHS student in International Health, it’s ironic that Cameroonians will face food shortages related to climate change. “Despite producing zero percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions it is estimated that Cameroon is likely to face severely compromised agricultural production and food security due to climate change and variability throughout Africa,” says Berndtson. As a Fulbright recipient, she will travel to Littoral and the western provinces of Cameroon to evaluate a number of agricultural extension programs run by the National Agricultural Extension and Research Programme.

Victoria ChouVictoria B. Chou, a PhD candidate in International Health, plans to complete her dissertation research in Nepal, studying the acute and long-term effects of young maternal age. Chou will focus her research in resource-limited settings where child marriage and adolescent pregnancy are prevalent. The research will be based in Kathmandu with a field site in the rural district of Sarlahi. “My goals include not only refining my research skills by applying learned methodology, but also exploring hands-on to appreciate practical strategies and ongoing challenges for community-based studies,” says Chou.

Miguel Castillo will travel to Mexico to participate in the Binational Business Program. The MPH and MBA student will work to strengthen understanding between the business communities in the U.S. and Mexico through study and practical application. His goal is to obtain a position with an organization that equips social entrepreneurs with tools to address the world’s most urgent social problems. “With time and tenacity, I plan to emulate their example and create opportunities that traditional thinkers cannot see. The rewards, on both a personal and humanitarian basis, will be immeasurable,” says Castillo.

Lindsey ReynoldsFor dual PhD candidate Lindsey Reynolds, choosing which Fulbright award to accept was a welcomed challenge. A student in Health Behavior and Society, and in Anthropology, she won a Fulbright Grant and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Award. Reynolds accepted the latter to conduct research for her dissertation in the KwaZulu-Natal community of South Africa. Her research primarily focuses on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the decision to focus solely on children directly affected by HIV/AIDS, excluding “orphans and vulnerable children.” Reynolds says she plans to examine “how a policy decision finds expression as it travels from Washington, D.C., to local communities, and how it is mapped onto the lives of individual children.”

Deepali PatelDeepali Patel, a part-time MPH student, will travel to Mongolia to research food security. Winning the Fulbright will allow Patel to “create a picture of food security status at the grassroots level, in a country that has malnutrition rates around 30 percent and is extremely vulnerable to climatic changes and fluctuations in food and oil prices.”

Kiesha McCurtisKiesha McCurtis, MPH ’06, will work with the Associacion de las Mujeres Meretrices de Argentina researching health and human rights. McCurtis hopes to gain a better understanding of how sex worker stigma influences HIV risk among female sex workers and how the stigma may prevent them from receiving and obtaining adequate care. “Information about sex workers in Argentina is limited, as they are often marginalized and criminalized despite the fact that sex work in Argentina is legal. This research will help capture the voices and experiences of sex workers,” says McCurtis.

Established in 1946, Congress created the Fulbright Program to “foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges.” Since its inception, more than 196,000 students have benefited from the program that provides funding for students, scholars and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. For more information about the program or for application deadlines, visit

Public Affairs media contact: Natalie Wood-Wright at 410-614-6029 or