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The Class of 2018

This crop of public health professionals is ready to take on the world.

Convocation at the Bloomberg School is Tuesday, May 22. This group of soon-to-be-grads shares what really defined their time at JHSPH, their research, their advice and the one thing they couldn't have done without (hint: COFFEE!).

They're on their way to further public health studies, exploration and figuring out next steps in their plans to protect health and save lives—millions at a time


Christine Lee, PhD

NAME: Christine Lee, PhD

SCHOLARSHIPS: Elsa Orent Keiles Award (2016) and the Frederik B. Bang Award (2017)

HOMETOWN: Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

DEPARTMENT: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

RESEARCH: Characterization of the SUMO pathway in regulating mitotic progression

Riding the JHMI Shuttle bookended my days. I have a lot of vivid memories of conversations and encounters with people on the shuttle route—and the daily struggle of getting my things together and making it onto the bus intact and spill-free!

JHSPH is a unique place where you have access to the best resources: extraordinary people. Enjoy the time you have with your fellow students, support staff, mentors, and professors because (1) everyone around you is immensely talented, intelligent and wise and (2) relationships are more valuable than grades or publications. Also: The Insoluble Fraction hosts the best happy hour on campus every Friday afternoon on the first floor!

Running around Druid Hill Park and along the waterfront in Harbor East/Inner Harbor. An indulgence I could not have lived without is the delicious food at Ekiben.

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher studying the mechanisms of viral fusion at Emory University in the Department of Pediatrics and Infectious Disease.


Sandeep Prabhu, MPH

NAME: Sandeep Prabhu, MPH

SCHOLARSHIPS: Global Health Scholars and Dr. Leroy E. Burney MPH Field Experience Award

HOMETOWN: Chennai, India

DEPARTMENT: Biostatistics

RESEARCH: Impact of depression, alcohol use and substance use on HIV viral suppression among men who have sex with men in India

One thing I was sure I would get when I came to Hopkins was a great education. But what really set this MPH experience apart from my other educational endeavors were my amazing classmates. I remain in awe of the sheer breadth of experiences they have had in every corner of the world. The ability to learn from them has truly defined my time at JHSPH and is something I will miss.

There are too many opportunities at the School for everything that interests you, and the fear of missing out can go on overdrive. Remember that you cannot take every course or attend every talk—but this is something to use to your advantage. The different core requirements can be an opportunity to dive into an area you have had no exposure to, or the practicum can be a chance to develop a new skill set. What really helped me make choices was going back to what I wanted to get out of the MPH and weighing potential opportunities to see if they helped me meet that goal.

Coffee. And more coffee.

Returning to medical school at University of California, San Diego and applying to internal medicine residency programs.


Benjamin Barrett, ScMNAME: Benjamin Barrett, ScM 

SCHOLARSHIP: The Trudy Bush Fund 

HOMETOWN: Fairport, New York, USA

DEPARTMENT: Epidemiology

RESEARCH: Characterizing the Geospatial Features in Cervical Cancer Screening Uptake among Amazonian Peruvian Women

Although I only spent two years at JHSPH, I think narrowing down my experience to just one thing is pretty difficult. I have been exposed to an enormous number of new ideas, skills and people throughout my time here. I suppose the one thing that really made all of that possible is the amazing faculty. Receiving training from individuals who are leaders in their fields has been incredibly rewarding, and I learned far more than I had imagined I would in just two short years.

Tailored more toward individuals considering pursuing a master's degree: Just be really sure that this is a degree that you are fully committed to acquiring. Advanced degrees are no walk in the park—especially compared to the workload for undergraduate degrees—and require serious effort and sacrifices in time. These sacrifices, however, are worth it if that degree will assist you in entering a career that you are passionate about. Public health offers great opportunities for rewarding work—you can leave your job each day knowing that you have put in effort to help others and leave the world a little bit better than how you found it.

The friendships I made—incredibly important as support networks, resources for important information and for relaxing with during downtime.

I will be working as a biostatistician for the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) (soon to be merged with the Women's Interagency HIV Study), both of which have coordination centers associated with the department of Epidemiology.


Merricka Livingstone, PhDNAME: Merricka Livingstone, PhD

HOMETOWN: Palm Bay, Florida, USA

DEPARTMENT: Environmental Health and Engineering

RESEARCH: MicroRNAs in aflatoxin-induced hepatocellular carcinoma

My relationship with my adviser really defined my time at JHSPH. His mentoring style allowed me to come into my own as an independent scientist. I wasn't afraid to fail or bring up new ideas. I could just talk science with him. That helped me to develop the confidence I needed to drive my research project.

Have a vision for yourself, where you want to go or what you aspire to be and hold on to it. Along the journey to that goal, celebrate the small victories and embrace the challenges. Surround yourself with the things or people that will help ground you.

My squad. Friends that I've made during my time at JHSPH and the memories we've made.

I will be starting a research associateship at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.


Sahan SozhamannNAME: Sahaan Sozhamannan, MSPH

HOMETOWN: Lutherville, Maryland, USA

DEPARTMENT: Health, Behavior and Society

RESEARCH: High school internship programs as a youth violence prevention initiative

The mentorship I received from Dr. Vanya Jones has easily been the most defining experience I’ve had over the past two years. Whether it was attending meetings at the Baltimore City Health Department or discussing theory in Hampton House, working for Dr. Jones as both a research assistant and TA yielded the most useful lessons and skills I learned at JHSPH. I have already used so much of what she taught me in my current job, and I am thankful for her passion and expertise.

Experience Baltimore. As a native to the area, I have found that not enough students truly get to know the city and its people. It is really easy to stay within the Hopkins and waterfront bubbles, but make the most of your time: Explore, engage with the community and meet people!

Coffee from the Daily Grind and lunch at Northeast Market! I used to go to the market as a child, and lunch there during a stressful day of school is a perfect escape.

I am currently working at an organization that provides health education to middle school students across D.C. as a part of a fellowship program. I hope to continue this health education and youth empowerment work, as the skills I have gained from JHSPH have perfectly coupled with my classroom teaching experience.


Dexter WatersNAME: Dexter Waters, MSPH

HOMETOWN: Calgary, Canada

DEPARTMENT: Health, Policy and Management

RESEARCH: My field placement at the Center for Medical Technology Policy involved working on a spectrum of clinical research issues including addressing evidentiary requirements for coverage of therapies for rare diseases and increasing the efficiency of medical device development to address high-priority health needs in Maryland. The projects I work on bring together stakeholders from across health care to help ensure clinical trials, regulation, coverage, and reimbursement are appropriate, relevant, and efficient.

Building friendships and being inspired by tenacious public health advocates. Tackling coursework with my policy-minded classmates helped form lasting friendships, and my extracurricular activities allowed me to meet people who are relentlessly dedicated to public health and social justice.

The relationships you foster with faculty, peers and other professionals are just as valuable as what you are learning in your studies. Surround yourself with people who inspire and support you, and be generous in your support of others!

Dino's chicken parm subs.

Working at the Center for Medical Technology Policy as a research associate.


Shannon KingNAME: Shannon King, MSPH

SCHOLARSHIP: The Nancy Stephens Student Support Fund

HOMETOWN: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

DEPARTMENT: International Health

RESEARCH: Implementation Research within Public Health Nutrition

The opportunities that professors create for their students to bring their classroom knowledge to real-world experiences. While at JHSPH, I had the opportunity to travel to both Malawi and Mozambique to assist with research projects and worked in India for my practicum experience. It has been incredible engaging firsthand with research studies and in-country consultations while still being a student. The fieldwork helps balance out the hours spent behind a computer learning the theory and technical skills.

Enjoy your time at Hopkins! At times it can be incredibly overwhelming, but it goes by so quickly. Reach out to professors and get to know them. If you are interested in their work, don't be afraid to ask whether there is an opportunity for you to get involved—often they are happy to have you join!

Workouts with the incredible November Project Baltimore.

I will continue on at JHSPH in the PhD program in the Department of International Health. 


Jura AugustinaviciusNAME: Jura Augustinavicius, PhD

SCHOLARSHIP: Dr. Ali Kawi Doctoral Scholarship in Mental Health Research

HOMETOWN: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

DEPARTMENT: Mental Health

RESEARCH: Caregiver well-being, family functioning and child cognitive development among HIV-affected families in Uganda

My mentors and colleagues, many of whom have become my friends. I feel so fortunate to have been surrounded by incredible people across the school of public health and specifically within our department and the Global Mental Health lab.

While at JHSPH I have also been fortunate enough to teach spinning classes at the Cooley Center and to learn conversational Spanish.

My advice is twofold:

First, take advantage of the incredible and diverse opportunities available at the School, from the sheer breadth of courses offered to valuable mentorship time, career development resources and access to peers from around the world. Challenge yourself through these opportunities to explore new interests and develop those you are already passionate about.

Second, remember to take it one day at a time. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with so much going on, so try to set reasonable expectations for yourself and carve out time to do what you like. I found that making time to do the things I love outside of school helped me get my bearings, keep my balance and carry on while in the program.

Coffee!

I will be continuing in my postdoctoral fellowship in global Mental Health at JHSPH. I'm working with collaborators from across the School and at other institutions on global projects focused on caregiver well-being and child development, stigma and factors affecting psychotherapy impact.


Tanvi PotluriNAME: Tanvi Potluri, ScM

HOMETOWN: Hyderabad, India

DEPARTMENT: Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

RESEARCH: The Effects of Sex and Age on Vaccine-Induced Immunity and Protection

I've always had a great passion for basic science research but at JHSPH, I saw how closely public health and basic research are intertwined. Be it women's health or infectious diseases, I now have a much broader outlook on tackling scientific questions. As a scientist, I take great pleasure in knowing how my lab work is going to have a public health impact.

I felt the first two terms were the hardest. Work at Hopkins will get hectic but you will learn to handle and deal with the stress. Have a support system like friends from class or lab, and find a mentor you can rely on. Don't be shy to ask for help.

Coffee for sure. I (almost) acknowledged it in my thesis!

My immediate plan is to pursue a PhD and develop into a more independent researcher over time. I would love to continue working on infectious diseases, bridging my basic research into public health.


Amirah WahdiNAME: Amirah Wahdi, MSPH

HOMETOWN: Pekanbaru, Indonesia

DEPARTMENT: Population, Family and Reproductive Health

RESEARCH: History of abortion is positively associated with preterm birth

The opportunities to work with many prominent names in public health on cutting-edge, intersectional projects.

You’ve come to the right place! Once you get in, get engaged with the projects, studies and volunteer work offered by the School and our partners. That is the best way to learn.

The day the Daily Grind started to sell samosas and biryani rice was one of my greatest days at Hopkins.

I will resume my position as a researcher at the Center for Reproductive Health of Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia. I miss practicing medicine, so I will return to that, too. I am also planning to apply for a doctoral degree in the near future.