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Master’s Awards Go to Adia, King, and Doyle

Three students will receive the Graduate School’s annual master's prizes, with Alexander Adia to be recognized for academic accomplishment; Wesley King for engaged citizenship and community service; and Kelly Doyle for professional excellence.

Adia, a master's student in Public Health, will be recognized for his research on the barriers to HIV prevention, treatment, and care in Manila, Philippines. King, also a master’s student in Public Health, will be honored for his research and advocacy on behalf of LGBT health scholarship and, in particular, transgender health. Doyle, an executive master student in Healthcare Leadership, will be recognized for her Critical Challenge Project surrounding the opioid epidemic in America.

Alexander Adia’s academic talents are exemplified by his thesis research, which has examined the public health response and community-based needs regarding the growing HIV epidemic in the Philippines. As a Master's of Public Health student, Adia has conducted fieldwork and primary data collection for his thesis in the Philippines for the past two summers. 

After securing a grant from the Framework in Global Health program, Adia spent a summer at the University of the Philippines where he independently implemented a qualitative study examining the barriers to HIV prevention, treatment, and care among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Manila, Philippines. He returned to Manila the following summer, sponsored by a grant from the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program, to conduct a second round of data collection focusing primarily on laws and policies that affect MSM living with HIV. Both projects were conducted alongside researchers, service providers, and community-based organizations based in the Philippines.

“Navigating the fieldwork process is challenging even for advanced researchers. His work as an independent researcher demonstrates his excellence as a student and promise as a researcher,” says Don Operario, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

To date, Adia has had eight papers accepted or published at peer-reviewed journals, with four of them as first author. He also currently has more than ten under review or being prepared for review with Brown faculty and students.

In addition to his global health research, Alex has been very involved in the School of Public Health global health teaching portfolio. For two years, he served as a teaching assistant for a large lecture course entitled The Burden of Disease in Developing Countries, and this year he was a teaching assistant for a newer class entitled Intersectionality and Health Inequities.  

"Alex has been an outstanding graduate TA. I most valued his critical thinking skills in addition to being very proficient and responsible. He has a complex understanding of the current U.S. healthcare system and I consistently found that students respected his teaching contributions to my course," says Jennifer J. Nazareno, Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

In addition to his research funding awards, Adia also received the David A. Winston Health Policy Scholarship and a scholarship to attend the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam based on the merit of his presentation about HIV testing in the Philippines.

He also co-founded the Philippine Health Initiative for Research, Service, & Training with faculty at Brown, which serves to center efforts to improve health for Filipinx and Filipinx-Americans at the Brown University School of Public Health. 

Adia begins a position in July at Insight Strategy Advisors, a consulting firm in New York City specializing in healthcare and life sciences.

“More than a personal award for myself, it means so much to me that I can use this award as proof to everyone who has supported me that their efforts to help me along the way were justified. My family, friends at Brown and my faculty mentors all have been absolutely essential to all the work underpinning this award,” says Adia. 

Wesley King, a master’s student in Public Health, joined the Brown MPH program after working for five years as a middle school science and health teacher in the Boston public school system. King arrived with the goal of developing his scientific, methodological, and professional skills in order to advance the field of LGBT health scholarship and, in particular, transgender health. King has pursued community engagement both within and outside of Brown.

King completed an internship with the Adolescent and School Health Program at the Rhode Island Department of Health, co-authoring the State of Rhode Island Department of Health Adolescent Health Strategic Plan, FY 2018. His involvement helped to make identifying and reducing LGBTQ+ health disparities a priority in the Plan.

Additionally, King has advocated for rigorous methods in trans research. He led graduate students in a series of conversations with faculty and administrators to explore the potential biases and harms in research that affect trans communities. King’s mobilization efforts also led to a series of public events to understand the historic roots of anti-trans bias in scientific literature and to re-imagine new directions in trans health research.

King’s master’s thesis research examines the intersections of interpersonal violence, HIV, and mental health in trans populations. In one of his thesis papers he conducted a comprehensive analysis of empirical research to identify, synthesize, and critically appraise how transphobia is defined and measured as a determinant of health in trans populations.

“Wesley’s own research has demonstrated an impressive balance between methodologically rigorous science and community engagement,” says Don Operario, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

While doing his research, King met with community-based service providers that deliver direct services to transgender people in the Providence community, including Sojourner House, Project RENEW, Trans*Health Access, and Youth Pride RI. Through these community-engaged conversations, he enhanced his understanding about front-line considerations of health services delivery for transgender communities.

After graduation, King will be starting a doctoral program in Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan. His research will be funded for five years through the Rackham Merit Fellowship, which supports students who come from underrepresented backgrounds or whose work seeks to reduce social, educational, and economic disparities in the U.S.

“I am very grateful to receive this award from the Graduate School. Critically engaging university leadership around issues of transgender inclusivity was a defining aspect of my time at Brown and would not have been possible without the support of other transgender graduate students and fantastic advisors,” says King. 

In addition to being an executive master student in Healthcare Leadership, Kelly Doyle is the CEO of Rothman Orthopaedic Specialty Hospital, a small for-profit organization in the Philadelphia suburbs. She began her career over twenty years ago, as an RN. She has been personally affected by opioid epidemic in America, which subsequently influenced her work and her academic study.

Doyle leveraged her coursework and professional position to review the practice of prescribing opioids after orthopaedic surgery and the relation to subsequent addiction. Her goal was to start a non-profit foundation with a large orthopaedic surgical practice, to raise awareness around the risk of opioid exposure and addiction.

Doyle utilized the program’s Critical Challenge Project requirement to partner with the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute to create the Rothman Institute Opioid Awareness Foundation. This Foundation’s mission is to promote research, awareness, teaching and alternative pain management solutions. The Foundation started trialing new pain modalities at the hospital, looking for grants, enlarging the footprint of hospitals in the network, and sharing its research findings – principally that hospitals overmedicate and unnecessarily expose people to addictive substances, and most importantly that there are alternatives.

Doyle’s work is on the forefront of the opioid epidemic and her hospital is spearheading research, advocacy, addressing policy and examine current prescribing practices and alternative pain modalities. The non-profit will take roles in our communities to educate and raise awareness around addiction.

“Kelly exemplifies professional excellence, humility and dedication, and is an outstanding representative of Brown’s mission to inspire in its students a commitment to serve the community, nation and world and to improve lives using science and technology, says Healthcare Leadership program director, Scott Goodspeed.

Doyle shares that her approach and critical thinking around processes has evolved tremendously as a result of her program. She has been able to apply what she’s learned from the course work, faculty, and fellow students to every aspect of her work.

Doyle shares, “Often in life our goals are met with adversity. I was able to power through because I have passion in my heart around every human being receiving the healthcare that they need. Additionally, healthcare leaders need to stay the course in finding solutions for safer quality care. This reward is a reminder that there is still work to be done and I will stay dedicated to it. I dedicate this award to my son John, who lost his struggle with this disease. I know he is proud of me!”

Read more on Doyle from the School of Professional Studies.