T32 Predoctoral Trainees Update

June 28, 2021

Recently, we have been highlighting PSTC community members on Twitter and our website, and wanted to check in with our 2020-2021 T32 predoctoral trainees to see what research they are conducting and planning. As always, their projects are diverse and creative.

Parsa Bastani (Anthropology) reports that he is “planning a qualitative surveillance study with The Miriam Hospital/The RI Department of Health over drug usage and harm reduction in RI and has a forthcoming article in Ethos entitled “Feeling at Home in the Clinic: Therapeutic Dwelling in an Addiction Rehabilitation Center in Tehran, Iran.” Parsa won the Watson Smith Award for the Best Anthropology Paper of the Year from the Brown University Department of Anthropology and the Condon Prize for Best Student Essay in Psychological Anthropology from the Society for Psychological Anthropology. He also published an article related to his dissertation, "Set Up for Failure: Law Enforcement Doing Public Health," in Society for the Anthropology of Work

Ailish Burns (Sociology) provided this update: “The T32 fellowship allowed me to advance several research projects in collaboration with other PSTC faculty and trainees this past year. In April 2021, a paper I co-authored with Emily Rauscher was published in Sociological Perspectives. The paper is titled “Unequal Opportunity Spreaders: Higher COVID-19 Deaths with Later School Closure in the United States.” This research was featured on the podcast Research Minutes, produced by the CPRE Knowledge Hub at the University of Pennsylvania. 

She further adds, “I am currently working on four other research projects. First, along with Teresa DeAtley and Susan Short, I conducted a scoping review of research on the maternal health of Indigenous women in the United States. This is an interdisciplinary project between sociology and public health. We expect to submit this for review by the end of June. Second, I am third author on a paper examining the relationship between public spending and infant health. Margot Jackson and Emily Rauscher are the first and second authors on this paper. This project links 20 years of birth data with state-level data on public spending. The manuscript is currently in preparation. Third, I am working on a sole-authored paper about the association between maternal health and health later in life. This paper is my Master’s Thesis and I hope to submit it for publication sometime during the upcoming academic year. Finally, I am working on a paper with Emily Rauscher that examines the effects of simplified Medicaid eligibility on infant health inequality.”

Ruchi Mahadeshwar (Economics) offers this news: “I am collaborating with a public health researcher at Penn to study the behavioral response to HIV self-tests using data from an experiment with women engaged in transactional sex in Kenya, and I will present work from this project at the 2022 American Economic Association Annual Meeting.  I am also working on studies to understand (1) anti-vaccination attitudes in the US and (2) impacts of historic family planning methods in India. Finally, I am also planning other studies on (1) public housing schemes in India and (2) textile factories in Southeast Asia. Ruchi has received financial support for her research through multiple awards and fellowships, including an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, a fellowship through Brown’s Center for Contemporary South Asia, and several awards toward specific projects including an external grant from the IFREE Small Grants Program and internal grants from Brown’s Bravo Center, the Graduate Program in Development, and the PSTC.

Alex Wambach (Sociology): “Broadly speaking,” Alex says, “I am interested in understanding how aging, family, organizations, and health relate to each other. I try to think about these topics from many angles and employ a broad methodological toolkit to answer my questions--I use machine learning and qualitative interviews in one current project, and in another I use longitudinal national-level survey data with sequence analysis.  In one project, I use machine learning and qualitative interviews to investigate how and why senior centers use social media. In another project, I use longitudinal national-level survey data with sequence analysis to model loneliness among older adults as a process instead of a stable state. So far, I've found that there is significant heterogeneity in individual pathways through loneliness. Next, I hope to identify differences in health outcomes depending on one's pathway through loneliness as well as the family structure conditions that make certain pathways more or less likely than others.” 

Additionally, Alex and PSTC Assistant Director Zhenchao Qian presented “Union Formation and Assortative Mating among Single Older Americans” as part of a flash session at the 2021 Population Association of America annual meeting.

Rachel Yorlets (Epidemiology) writes, “My dissertation research focuses on the effect of migration on care utilization patterns among persons with HIV in South Africa. I'm currently working with South Africa-based teams on two projects. I am completing an analysis of the validity and feasibility of using self-reported HIV status from circular migrants in South Africa: self-report would more readily link mobile populations to HIV care by removing the burden of confirmatory testing or provision of medical record documentation, which is especially challenging for migrants. As that concludes, I've begun a survival analysis to evaluate the effect of migration on time to achieving viral suppression among persons who have initiated treatment; geospatial analyses will characterize distance and clustering of migration events.” She adds, “I have presented at the Public Health Association of South Africa, the Population Association of America, and the Society for Epidemiologic Research; where this work was awarded first prize in the Department of Epidemiology Abstract Competition.”