2017 Practica Profiles

Amruta Houde


Amruta Houde, a 2nd year MPH student in the Mailman School’s Sociomedical Sciences Department doing a certificate in Global Health, completed her practicum at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil where she worked with a team in the Department of Psychiatry on a research study looking at the development of preschool children in urban Sao Paulo, especially those experiencing traumatic events. Her research interests center on mental health and disorders of preschool children living in poverty, and she brought to her practicum a range of experiences in both academic mental health research settings as well as on-the-ground exposure to NGOs that serve vulnerable children and adolescents through afterschool activities and group therapy. “My time in São Paulo has been quite enriching,” she writes, “as I immersed myself in the Brazilian culture and learned about the perception and attitudes towards mental health and limited access to care.”


Nicole Khauli


nicoleOriginally from Lebanon, Nicole Khauli is a second year MPH student in the department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School and completed her 6-month global health practicum at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. There, she undertook the role of regional coordinator for the Arab participating sites in the WHO ICD-11 ecological implementation field studies concerned with the revision of the classification of mental and behavioral disorders. She was also involved in epidemiological research while abroad, examining the effects of alcohol policies on youth alcohol consumption in Lebanon.




Ayo Ojo


ayoOluwabusayo Ojo, a second year MPH Epidemiology Student with a global health certificate, spent his 2017 Practicum at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Ogun State, Nigeria. “I chose this site because it provided the opportunity to identify and support research priorities that lead to improvement in the lives of those living with neuropsychiatric and substance use disorders in Nigeria,” he says. As a Nigerian-American, a high priority for his research is the reduction of stigma through harm reduction initiatives in low-resource settings. “I am currently assisting the prioritization of research as it relates to delivery of mental health care by creating a comprehensive database to record patient information for the Aro Primary Care and Mental Health program. This aims at improving the quality of data flow from the local sites and may potentially serve as a strong evidence base to garner more resources. I have also been involved in the framework development for a new self-help group initiative and ICD-11 field studies. So far, I have been able to learn, understand and practice navigating cultural barriers/norms in a dynamic professional setting.”


Marie Onakomaiya

The interesting architecture of the Livraria Cultura on Avenida Paulista, the largest bookstore in Sao Paulo.

The interesting architecture of the Livraria Cultura on Avenida Paulista, the largest bookstore in Sao Paulo.

An accelerated MPH student in the General Public Health track at Mailman, Marie Onakomaiya spent her summer in Sao Paulo, Brazil conducting research with Dr. Jair Mari in the Psychiatry department at the Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP). Her project was part of a population neuroscience study of children in Brazil with a high risk for developing mental health disorders. “I chose this placement for three reasons,” she writes. “First, because I am interested in mental health, second because I wanted to conduct neuroscience research in an LMIC, and third because this project incorporated neuroscience and epidemiology in a unique way. The main lesson I learned here is how much emphasis the faculty and students here place on collaboration. Everyone went out of their way to ensure I had all the resources and expertise I needed and were quick to connect me with someone who could help, if they were not able to provide it themselves.”



Mary Raddawi

South Africa

A second year medical student at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Mary Raddawi’s summer practicum placement was with the Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP) in Cape Town, South Africa. PMHP offers free mental health screenings and counseling services at three different Midwife Obstetric Units (MOUs). They service many women living in high crime and/or high poverty areas. They also create educational materials; promote awareness of postnatal depression; and conduct research around best practice and current findings in prevention and treatment of postnatal mental health problems  “My summer culminated in the creation of a chapter about the effects of postpartum depression on infant mental health, to be added into one of PMHP’s existing publications on maternal mental health,” Mary reports. “To do this, I shadowed screenings for depression across the MOUs, as well as closed patient files. I also shadowed a clinician at an HIV clinic in one of the city’s government hospitals.” Mary explored South Africa to the fullest while she was there. “During my free time, I hiked table mountain, saw elephants and penguins, tried over 10 different restaurants, visited a vineyard, and did a road trip along the coast. It was truly an unforgettable summer!”


Ian Rodgers


Ian Rodgers is a second-year MPH student from Colorado. He is studying epidemiology with a certificate in public health and humanitarian assistance. Ian completed his practicum at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro in Southwestern Nigeria, working with members of the Aro Primary Care and Mental Health Program team. Together, he and Busayo Ojo, another Mailman epidemiology student, created an electronic database of the 2000 patients the program has seen since its inception in 2011. They plan on working with psychiatrists and epidemiologists at the hospital to analyze the data to help improve the program. Ian learned many lessons in professional diplomacy and cross-cultural communication throughout his time in Nigeria, and also improved his database management skills.

To see poster presentations from some of our 2017 practica cohort, head to Here and Now.