Last Week’s Event Was Showtime for Student Global Health Researchers

Published November 11, 2018 under Education News

Jessica Choi Presents Research

Master of Science in Global Health student Jessica Choi talks with guests about her thesis research from Malaysia. Photo by Amey Chaware.

Students presented posters about their summer research and winners were announced for the photo and poster contests.

At the Duke Global Health Institute’s seventh annual Global Health Research Showcase, held on November 5, more than 90 Duke undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students presented 52 posters highlighting their global health research in 16 countries.

Mary Story, Duke Global Health Institute’s associate director for academic programs, welcomed the attendees: “Beyond their geographic reach, these projects cover an incredible range of global health topics and approaches—from care management of scarf injuries in Bangladesh to how people impact zoonotic diseases in Madagascar to the role of diet in the life of the Lumbee Indian community,” Story noted. “But what all these projects have in common is the effort, care and passion that has gone into each one.”

DGHI director Chris Plowe spoke of research as a hopeful enterprise. “When we go to the field to conduct research, we embrace the idea that truth is discoverable. That we can observe it, and measure it. That it can be replicated and scaled,” he said. “As researchers, we believe that no matter how complex the problem, we can hope to understand it—and in understanding it, find new ways to solve it.” We find these truths, he suggested, “only when we learn to be open and curious, to shed our assumptions, to observe and to listen.”


The student poster exhibition enables students to get feedback on their field research findings and offers a supportive environment for them to share their data as they begin to develop the findings into theses or manuscripts.  

Emily Robie, a second-year Master of Science in Global Health student, was one of the students who shared her research project, a study of anemia etiology in the Peruvian Amazon. “Showcase allows us to practice communicating our research with professors, friends and the general public, and gives all these parties a chance to provide new insight into our work," she said. “In presenting at various stages of project completion, we get the chance to step back and appreciate all that has already been done before diving back in to the hard work that still lays ahead.”

David Boyd, the Hymowitz Family Professor of the Practice of Global Health and a seasoned student mentor, noted that in a community of scholars, we learn from each other. “We gain knowledge, inspiration and even ‘research tips’ by discussing and surveying each other’s work,” he said. “The Global Health Showcase is one of our most potent vehicles for those facets of exchange to take place.”  

A few students took time out from their poster presentations to talk to us about their research. Watch the videos below: 




DGHI professor Megan Huchko presented awards for the best undergraduate, graduate and Bass Connections posters. The judging panel included seven DGHI researchers and postdoctoral fellows. They evaluated how clearly students described their research aims, their research methods, the scope of the project and the conclusions reached. They also factored in the visual clarity, appeal and creativity of each presentation.

Tiffany Jiang, a member of the student research Training team in Uganda, won the undergraduate poster award for her poster titled, “Effectiveness of Behavioral Interventions Regarding Water and Sanitation in Naama, Uganda.”

Anna Tupetz, a second-year Master of Science in Global Health student, won the graduate poster award from her poster titled, “Spinal Cord Injuries in Bangladesh: Acute Care Management and Long-Term Impact of Scarf Injuries in Female Survivors.”

The winning Bass Connections poster was “Help Desk: A Student-Led Initiative to Address Social Determinants of Health in Durham,” by the team that’s working with the Lincoln Community Health Center to study health disparities in Durham. Team members include undergraduates Sahil Sandhu, Lillian Blanchard and Jackie Xu, and Master of Public Policy student Veronica Sotelo Munoz


This year, 22 Duke undergraduate and graduate students submitted 60 photos to the ninth annual student fieldwork contest. Taken in all corners of the globe, the images reflect students’ work in areas such as mobile technology for managing blood pressure, clean water access and the effect of artisanal goldmining on human health. (View all of the entries.)

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

DGHI professor Sumi Ariely announced the winners of the student fieldwork photo contest. “Pictures are another source of information,” she reflected. “Just like quantitative data, images are another type of reality that persist across time and help shape our understanding of the world.” In her comments, she told students that their art is an invitation for all of us to push the boundaries of our thinking and to push our understanding outside of our comfort zones.

Prints of the winning images will hang in the hallways of Trent Hall as part of the Institute’s photo collection.


Multimedia feature: Click to see the winning photos and learn about the stories behind the images.​

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


What all these projects have in common is the effort, care and passion that has gone into each one.

Mary Story, associate director for academic programs