Duke Students Showcase their Research at Annual Global Health Event

Published November 06, 2017 under Education News

Yixuan Li with Guests

Second-year Master of Science in Global Health student Yixuan Li discusses her poster with Showcase guests.

What are the effects of a formal breastfeeding education program on acceptance and attitudes toward exclusive breastfeeding in Haiti?

What are the challenges and facilitators of transition from adolescent to adult HIV care among youth living with HIV in Tanzania?

What is the impact of a video presentation on medical students’ attitudes toward depression in Nepal?

These questions and many more were addressed at the sixth annual Global Health Research Showcase last Wednesday, where more than 100 Duke undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students presented 55 posters highlighting their global health research in more than 20 countries. The event was well attended, with about 150 guests.

After a brief welcome by Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) interim director Randall Kramer, Ed Balleisen, vice provost for interdisciplinary studies, gave opening remarks.  

“The global health showcase has become a highlight of the fall academic calendar here at Duke,” Balleisen commented. He noted that the posters demonstrate students’ engagement with the newest research techniques and approaches to global health, including mHealth, sophisticated program evaluation and systems and design thinking. He also observed that the work of global health students and faculty strongly reflects Duke University’s overarching values, such as civic engagement, entrepreneurship, public scholarship, translational research and policy engagement. “Every one of those themes is on display somewhere in this room,” he said.

Mary Story, DGHI’s associate director for academic programs, presented awards for the best undergraduate, graduate and Bass Connections posters, and Sumi Ariely, assistant professor of global health, announced the winners of the student fieldwork photo contest. “Pictures can teach us about the world, show us different ways to see the world and provide another source of data,” Ariely reflected. “We are all picture makers, and using a camera lens as a microscope, global health researchers can display truth in really powerful ways.” 


The student poster exhibition highlighted projects focusing on a range of global health topics from reproductive health to cardiovascular disease to respiratory viruses. The event enabled students to get feedback on their field research findings and offered a supportive environment for them to share their data as they begin to develop the findings into theses or manuscripts.  

Puja Patel, a second-year Master of Science in Global Health student, was one of the students who shared her research project, a qualitative study of barriers and facilitators to treatment seeking for alcohol use among men in Kenya. “Being able to share the knowledge and passion we cultivated over the summer is a valuable experience for all of us,” she said. “I really enjoyed talking about my research experiences and my progress with my mentors and professors.”

Global health professor Kearsley Stewart, who has mentored many graduate and undergraduate students, believes that Showcase is the most important event of the year for Duke global health students. “Students gain essential experience explaining the significance of their data to other scholars,” she said, “and in a single evening, they see an impressive diversity of topics and methods that reflect the current state of global health research and hint at emerging trends.”  


DGHI presented awards for the best research posters in three categories: undergraduate, graduate and Bass Connections. Three DGHI post-doctoral scholars served as judges, who evaluated the posters based on the presentation of research aims, research methods and project description as well as visual clarity and appeal. Learn more about the poster contest and the winners.


This year, 16 Duke undergraduate and graduate students submitted dozens of photos from all corners of the globe, reflecting students’ work in areas such as mobile technology for mental health, global surgery and treatment seeking for HPV infection. (View all of the entries here.)

The photos were judged by a five-member panel, including an undergraduate global health student, a graduate global health student, a DGHI faculty member, a DGHI staff member, and a member of the Duke Photography team. In addition to the judged competition, DGHI also held a People’s Choice Award contest on Facebook. Learn more about the photo contest and the winners.

Global Health Showcase is made possible through the generous support of the Muglia Family Foundation.


The global health showcase has become a highlight of the fall academic calendar here at Duke.

Ed Balleisen, vice provost for interdisciplinary studies