Summer 2018

Benjamin Solomon, ‘20

I worked with Dr. Siegel a professor of environmental health at the BU school of public health. We used the UCR crime file over the 26 year period of 1991 - 2016 to attempt to determine if gun laws had differentiating effects in urban and non-urban areas. We first defined urban areas as cities or counties with a population over 100,000. Then I had to find all those areas using the 1991 population data. I spent most of the summer finding, and in some cases imputing population data, crime data and other and other control data to use for our linear regressions. Eventually we had a full data set with all the information needed to run our linear regressions. After running the regressions we wrote up a paper and sent it to the Journal of Urban Health, to hopefully get published. What was cool about this project is that as far as we could find no previous study had examined differentiating effects of firearm laws in urban vs non-urban areas at the city level.


research 2018

Baadal Vachhani, ‘19

This summer, I was part of the Research Scholars Program at the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). I had the opportunity to spearhead my own clinical research project under the mentorship of cardiologist, Dr. Ellina C. Feiner and cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Kelly M. Wanamaker. My project focused on determining the incidence of aortic arch anomalies in patients with thoracic aortic disease (TAD)--specifically, thoracic aortic dissections and aneurysms. Preliminary findings of the study demonstrate that there seems to be an increased correspondence between the most common aortic arch anomaly, TAD, and Bovine Arch, in which the Left Common Carotid Artery does not have its distinct branch point on the arch, but instead comes off the brachiocephalic artery.

Grace Duah, ‘20

This summer, I researched ant biodiversity at the Harvard Forest. My research partners and I sampled ants in the ‘Megaplot’, a 35 hectare plot within the Harvard Forest. Additionally, we used the computer software R-Studio to generate maps of specific tree species which met a list of criteria. All data analyses were also done using the computer program R-studio. In addition to this I also did a side project where I looked at the impacts of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgids on the environment. Moreover, I looked at risk management strategies pertaining to the environment.

research 2018

research 2018

Hadar Re’em, ‘20

This summer I had the opportunity to participate in Lehigh Valley Health Network's Research Scholars Program.I worked with Dr. Greenberg, the head of the Department of Family Medicine, on a quality improvement study entitled "A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Hidden Access in Primary Care".Access to primary care services is decreasing nationwide for a number of reasons, and the goal of this study was to identify hidden access within the network. Hidden access was not previously a term in the literature, so the way I defined it was the identification of population health opportunities by increasing capacity to meet demand without sacrificing quality of care, patient satisfaction rates, or clinician FTE's. We wanted to make the most efficient use of the resources and time that we currently have, increasing physicians' patient panel sizes, without having to hire new physicians or increase physician burnout. I chose three practices with varying characteristics for comparison sake, and found some pretty interesting results.

Rashida Haye, ‘20

Throughout Summer 2018, I continued working alongside Dr. Chrysan Cronin with her research on radon risk, awareness, and effective health communication. This past semester, we conducted focus groups among Allentown residents as a way to determine which types of media platforms were most commonly used for news and health information. We showed existing radon public service announcements- created by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP)- and asked the focus group participants if the videos were effective and/or made them want to take action to test their homes for radon. At the conclusion of the discussion, each person was given a free radon test kit to test their home radon levels.

I spent time this summer transcribing these focus groups, sorting qualitative data, and searching the literature to find other studies with emphasis on environmental and radon risk communication. In June, we presented our current finding to the PADEP's Radon Division. I'm grateful for this opportunity as it's allowed me to experience ever questioning and analytical step-by-step process of research and has shown me the importance of open communication and data sharing in public health. When it comes to down to preventing certain health issues, there truly is more power in numbers if we all work together.

research 2018

Summer 2017


Greg Kantor

With the support of the Public Health Summer Research Grant, I was able to continue my research into developing a smoke-free policy for Muhlenberg, a project I began working on during the Spring 2017 semester with Professor Cronin. Over the summer, I analyzed and interpreted the data collected from nearly 500 members of the College community, including students, faculty and staff. With that data, I prepared presentations and fact sheets that will be essential in implementing the strategy, if it is approved. Additionally, I spent countless hours speaking with health promotion representatives at colleges and universities across the country to collect best practices for implementation and enforcement. Above all, I am looking forward to utilizing the products of my summer research as I begin meeting with College decision-makers, while also continuing to educate our community about the risks of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.

Mahlet Mesfin

This past summer I had the opportunity to conduct summer research through the Muhlenberg College Public Health Department. My research was entitled “Utilizing a Social Network Approach to Explore Alcohol Use and Hooking up Among a Sorority” and focused on the relationship between alcohol use and an increased vulnerability for hookups to occur among college students. It has become clear that social experiences play a huge role in an individual's college experience, and for many, college life includes creating a social circle which is often times facilitates by drinking alcohol. The relationship between alcohol use and hooking up  is important to examine in order to further our understanding of how to properly implement interventions that could combat the serious health related consequences that sometimes accompany these casual sexual encounters. For my research I collected and analyzed qualitative and quantitative data that was gathered through a survey and then went on to create sociograms based off that data. By looking into an individual's social network ties we are able to get a better understanding of the population that is most at risk of the serious health consequences that can accompany alcohol use and casual sexual encounters. I am hoping that this research will lead prevention programs to take a closer look at social network ties in order to create more effective programing. Through this experience and with the help of my faculty advisor Dr.Burger, I was able to learn how to collect and analyze data, conduct a thorough literature review, operate data analyses systems such as SPSS and UCINET, and so much more. My experience this summer definitely helped me grow as a student and I am looking forward to applying my acquired knowledge in my future career.

Summer 2016

Alexis Giovinazzo

It was such a rewarding experience being able to present the research I was working on all year at the RSA Conference in New Orleans. I was not only able to present the results Dr. Burger and I have been working on, but was also able to see the amazing work of my peers and superiors from around the country. The experience has allowed me to meet some incredible people within the field, make connections with other students, and opened my eyes to a possible new career path. I am interested in pursuing both a clinical career as a Physician Assistant as well as expanding my interest in research, hoping to end up in a job that satisfies both paths.

Shoshana Fishbein

Thanks to the Summer 2016 Public Health Research Grant, I spent my summer doing an independent research project, entitled Socioeconomic Status and Sources of Information in Prenatal and Childhood Vaccination where I examined the associations between socioeconomic status, prior vaccination, and availability of vaccine information in determining how a woman vaccinates herself and her children. In order to collect data, I spent my time surveying mothers in outpatient pediatric and obstetric / gynecologic offices. After collecting the data, I entered it into SPSS, coded it, and ran statistical analyses. Due to the nature of the study, I spent much of my time interacting with patients and learned that I much prefer spending my time talking to people about social determinants of health. Although all research is based on population data, hearing individual stories from parents was a valuable experience that will guide me in pursuing a career that is not a "desk job." Because at times it felt like I could spend all day in an office and no one would want to talk to me, I learned to appreciate statistics we hear from places such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization. Although it might seem simple to collect data, public health researchers must work to get information from each and every person to draw conclusions about the health status of a population.


Ashely Landesman

This summer I did research on Medical Amnesty entitled, “I Didn’t Want to Get in Trouble:” A Study of the Effects of Differing Medical Amnesty Policies on the Likelihood of Seeking Medical Treatment for Alcohol-Related Illness and Injury.” Medical Amnesty exists in over 30 states, providing legal immunity to underage persons who have been drinking alcohol when one needs medical help and help is called for. The immunity policy differs from state to state; in some states only the caller is protected while in others both the caller and patient benefit from medical amnesty. For my research, I collected and analyzed qualitative and quantitative data gathered from a survey that I created asking whether medical amnesty coverage affects decision-making when medical help is needed by underage drinkers. Because Pennsylvania only provides protection to the caller, I am hoping that, since my data shows that fear of getting in trouble is a common barrier to calling for help, I can work toward having the Pennsylvania medical amnesty law changed to provide legal immunity to more persons. This summer, I learned how to create and implement a survey, how to incorporate ideas from others studies and organizations to support my project and guide new ideas, how to analyze data, how to write a research paper, and how to conduct research professionally. My research was funded by RJ Fellows Summer Research Institute, so I was able to learn from and work cooperatively with another student and other faculty researchers from several disciplines. I acquired the idea for my project while writing a paper for my Issues in Public Health class, and became so passionate that I wished to continue to investigate this topic and establish my own data on the subject. From my research, I learned that there are ways to promote patient advocacy apart from solely clinical experience, which will be beneficial with my career goal of becoming a physician.

Maura Dugan

My name is Maura Dugan and I am a senior Neuroscience major and Public Health minor. Over this summer I worked at Muhlenberg College with Professor Chrysan Cronin to do environmental public health research. The focus of my research project, “Assessing Knowledge Levels of Radon in Allentown”, was measuring how much health practitioners—pediatricians, family physicians, nurse RNs and Physician Assistants—and the Allentown community know about radon. The research on the Allentown residents is specifically looking at difference in health information/radon knowledge between Hispanic and non-Hispanic populations. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and although there are ways to prevent radon inhalation, proper tests and house mitigation must be done. Radon is especially high in the Lehigh Valley area, but is also present across the world. Doing the research over the summer allowed me to understand what my future career in research would be like by not only designing my research project but then working daily to reach my personal goals for it.

Hannah Holmlund

This summer, I was a research assistant in the Women’s Health Initiative clinic at the University at Buffalo under the supervision of Dr. Michael LaMonte.  I assisted with epidemiologic research on a National Institute of Health sponsored project looking at three overlapping components, each a randomized controlled comparison among women who were postmenopausal (50 to 79 years of age).  The first component was a dietary modification program, the second a hormone therapy component and lastly a calcium and vitamin D component.  I was specifically  working on a new addition to the study which looked at physical functioning in older adults.  I administered a physical functioning assessment consisting of a 6 minute timed walk and grip strength test.  I was responsible for data collection and entry, study related phone calls to participants, filing records and reviewing questionnaires for completeness.  Lastly, my final project was a literature review of the methods used to assess physical functioning in the elderly.  Being an active part of a national study that has greatly contributed to women’s health was inspiring!  I learned how epidemiology is practically applied, how to follow strict research guidelines for entering data, and how to closely work with research subjects and a research team.  Upon graduation from Muhlenberg College, I would like to pursue a masters in public health focusing on community wellness/behavioral health.  Ideally, I would like to combine my passion for psychology and public health.