Archive for June, 2013

Annual meeting of the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues

Dr. Briana Mezuk of Virginia Commonwealth University and Susannah Anderson of Tulane University with Linda Linstrom, the Executive Director of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL). Dr. Mezuk and Ms. Anderson presented their research on the relationship between high school debate participation and psychosocial development and college attendance to the NAUDL Board of Directors in Washington DC this April.

Dr. Briana Mezuk of Virginia Commonwealth University and Susannah Anderson of Tulane University with Linda Linstrom, the Executive Director of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL). Dr. Mezuk and Ms. Anderson presented their research on the relationship between high school debate participation and psychosocial development and college attendance to the NAUDL Board of Directors in Washington DC this April.

By Susannah Anderson, MPH

My research focuses on social determinants of health, and perhaps because I’m a former biology teacher, I’m specifically interested in education as a determinant of health.  Disparities in education mirror disparities in health, and in the interests of cutting expenses, education policy may be widening these gaps rather than shrinking them.  Though my research may not have always have a health-related outcome like viral load or blood pressure, I’m convinced of its importance to public health.

On April 18-19, I attended the annual meeting of the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL) in Washington, D.C. with Dr. Briana Mezuk, my advisor from my MPH.  We attended the annual awards dinner and presented our recent research on students in Chicago Public Schools.  Graduation rates and college attendance in many of the cities in the NAUDL lag behind the national average, and in my Master’s thesis, Dr. Mezuk and I documented how participation in an urban debate league may improve a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school.

At NAUDL’s annual dinner, I met and heard speeches by students, coaches, and NAUDL staff.  The student speech was especially inspiring, in which Wynter Haley Scott discussed how her experiences with her debate team shaped her time in high school.  After focusing on recoding data and looking for significant effects, I appreciated hearing about how these programs have contributed to positive outcomes for the students.

I appreciated the opportunity to share my research with NAUDL staff, while listening to their feedback and hearing their ideas and questions about the analyses.  Dr. Mezuk and I presented our recent research on college attendance and survey data from Chicago Public Schools to the NAUDL’s board of directors and to the league directors.  Because I was one of the few people at the meeting who had never been any kind of debater, getting to know the coaches, student debaters, and former debaters reminded me of the people behind the numbers I’d been analyzing, and how that work can have a tangible effect on people and programs.

Susannah Anderson is a doctoral student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences. Her research interests center around adolescent health and social determinants of health.

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June 18, 2013 at 9:49 am Leave a comment

Psychosocial Workshop in Aspects of Reproductive Health and Demography

By Jennifer Glick, MPH

On April 9 and 10, I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Psychosocial Workshop in Aspects of Reproductive Health and Demography.  The Psychosocial Workshop is an annual two-day gathering of psychologists, social scientists, and related health professionals held in conjunction with the Population Association of America (PAA).  Although the topics discussed during the meeting vary from year to year according to current interests, the predominant focus of the gathering has been on issues related to fertility, family planning and contraceptive use, abortion and women’s health, sexuality, and sexually transmitted diseases.  The signature format of the workshop is the five minute presentation, during which each speaker is encouraged to talk about their current or future work.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss my proposed summer research, for which I am currently seeking funding.  My presentation, entitled, “HIV Testing Desirability among a Community of Transwomen in Northeastern Brazil,” was well received and garnered questions and insightful feed-back.  The proposed research will utilize qualitative methods through a Rapid Anthropological Assessment (RAA) to enhance the efficacy of a Biological and Behavioral Surveillance (BBS) study using Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS), slated for later in the year.  Previous BBS studies in the area have had high rates of HIV testing refusal.   The proposed research will seek to understand this resistance to testing, and propose recommendations to increase HV testing uptake among study participants (Martins, Kerr, et al, 2012).  It was an honor to be able to share my ideas with all of the accomplished scholars in attendance.

Hearing the presentations of my colleagues at the workshop was also very inspiring.  As a first year PhD student, being exposed to various methods and research questions in the field of reproductive health and demography helped to illustrate applications of all of the skills and methods I am learning in the classroom.  Tulane GCHB faculty members were also present at the workshop and presenting, including: Alessandra Bazzano, Eva Silvestre, Francoise Grossmann and Aubrey Madkour.

The meeting format is also designed to support networking and informal exchange of ideas.  The first day of the workshop culminated in a group dinner in the French Quarter.  This was a space to learn more about the history of the workshop community and talk casually with colleagues about their work and careers.  The group was very warm and friendly, and while many in attendance had been coming to the workshop for years, I was warmly welcomed as a first time attendee.  I had the opportunity to discuss the works presented as well as those still incubating.  I learned about abortion rights work and research going on in Texas.  I also spoke with author, Lauren Sandler, about her new book, “One and Only,” which explores the only child family structure, using a feminist perspective to consider the impact of such a structure on both parent and child.

Hearing all of the interesting theoretical paradigms, insightful research questions, and cutting edge methodology being employed by my colleagues was very inspiring.  While I have had conference presentation experience in the past from a programmatic vantage point, this was my first academic conference in which I presented research ideas.  I came away with new colleagues to collaborate with, new research tools to explore and implement, and new inspiration for tackling the health, gender, sexuality and justice issues I hope to impact in my work.  I hope to remain a part of the Psychosocial Workshop community in years to come.  It seems quite fitting that my first meeting was in New Orleans, as the very first meeting of the Psychosocial Workshop took place in New Orleans (circa 1973).

Jennifer L Glick is a doctoral student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences. She may be contacted at: jglick3@tulane.edu.

•    For more information about the workshop: http://www.tfri.org/TFRI.org/The_Psychosocial_Workshop.html
•    For more information about the Population Association of America: http://www.populationassociation.org
•    Work Cited: Martins , Ligia Regina F.S. Kerr , Raimunda H.M. Macena , Rosa S. Mota , Kalina L. Carneiro ,Rogério C. Gondim and Carl Kendall (2012): Travestis, an unexplored population at risk of HIV in a large metropolis of northeast Brazil: A respondent-driven sampling survey, AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV, DOI:10.1080/09540121.2012.726342

June 4, 2013 at 9:35 am Leave a comment


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