Beasley Travel Award Recipients 2019

This year’s recipients of the R. Palmer Beasley, MD and Lu-Yu Hwang, MD Travel Award in International Research are Leilina A. Ayalew, Quiera S. Booker, Sarah Y. Chowdhury, Micaela N. Sandoval and Zoe Spieler.

The award serves two purposes: support for UTHealth School of Public Health students working on pressing public health issues in resource-limited countries; or as an opportunity for students or junior faculty from developing countries to work with faculty in one of the school’s six campuses across Texas.  

This year’s award funded the following projects:

Ayalew developed a policy brief to disseminate data on the effects of the Integrated Health, Nutrition and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Project in Ethiopia with Save the Children. Ayalew is Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences MPH student with a certificate in Maternal and Child Health. She studies at the Houston campus.

Booker will be collaborating with Project Flamingo and Groote Schuur Hospital to gain hands-on experience with global breast cancer in South Africa. Booker also created an epidemiological pilot study to reprove breastfeeding as a protective factor for breast cancer in South African women. This will be the foundation for her Master thesis. Booker is an Epidemiology MPH student with a certificate in Global Health. She studies at the Dallas campus.

Chowdhury is working with Cayetano Heredia University in a two-week program covering tropical medicine, maternal/fetal care, fieldwork, infectious diseases and other topics. Chowdhury is an Epidemiology MPH student with a certificate in Global Health. She studies at the Houston campus.

Sandoval conducted dissertation work in pediatric tuberculosis and HIV in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine. Her project focuses on the cascade of care for tuberculosis by evaluating novel community-based contact tracing and diagnostic techniques in Eswatini, in southern Africa. Sandoval is an Epidemiology PhD student with a certificate in Maternal and Child Health. She studies at the Houston campus.

Spieler will be attending an immersive two-week program at Cayetano Heredia University in Peru to investigate tropical infectious diseases and maternal and child health. Spieler is an Epidemiology MPH student with a certificate in Health Disparities. She studies at the Houston campus.

Since 2014, UTHealth School of Public Health has awarded 21 students funds for these types of projects. This award was established as a permanent endowment in memory of Beasley, a former UTHealth School of Public Health dean renowned for his groundbreaking research on the epidemiology and prevention of hepatitis. The award was created to provide highly motivated individuals to experience mentored research and practicum training at funded research centers or institutions in developing countries. In the past, recipients of the Beasley award researched in Vietnam, Uganda, Kenya, Bangladesh, India, Chile, Hong Kong, Geneva, Colombia, Ecuador, and Congo. Recipients then presented their international research travel experience at the PH 5612 Global Health Seminar course, a weekly seminar that allows faculty, students, and visiting professors to present their research to their peers.