Faculty Mentor Awards

Our Faculty Mentor Awards program encourages UMN researchers to include students in their global health research projects to strengthen the next generation of global health practitioners.

Our program builds student skills, knowledge, and abilities in global health research while developing their interpersonal and interprofessional abilities in international settings. Since funding is often an obstacle when considering adding a student to an international research project, we want to reduce the costs and barriers associated with incorporating student learning and training into global health research by providing up to $5,000 to defray these costs. Proposals are encouraged, but not required, to be developed collaboratively between a mentor and student.

Global Health Mentorship Around the World

These awards aid students in gaining invaluable mentorship experiences while providing support for faculty projects.

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2021 Faculty Mentor Awards

Andres Perez, DVM, PhD, Michael Mahero, DVM, PhD, and Sol Perez, DVM, PhD, Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, UMN College of Veterinary Medicine: Research Gap Analysis of Animal Health and Veterinary Public Health Infrastructure of the National Veterinary Services in Rwanda.

Olihe Okoro, PhD, MPH, MPharm, Department of Pharmacy Practice & Pharmaceutical Sciences, UMN College of Pharmacy: Pharmacists’ involvement in the chronic management of hypertension in Low-Middle Income Countries (LMICs): A case study of Ghana

2020 Faculty Mentor Awards

Julio Alvarez, DVM, PhD & Andres Perez, DVM, PhD, College of Veterinary Medicine

Relevant Information on Bovine Tuberculosis Impact in Public Health: A Scoping Review

Within the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, multiple coexisting projects are being developed for funding to support the World Health Organization on the “end of Tuberculosis strategy”, which proposes a 90% reduction by 2035 in TB incidence rate compared with 2015, and Zero TB-affected families facing catastrophic costs due to TB by 2035.

The CGHSR Faculty Mentor Award will be used to support three veterinary students to perform a scoping review during summer 2020. The proposed project will be the first stage in reviewing literature towards the understanding of available knowledge on bovine tuberculosis impact in public health in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). This initial step will lead to the development of a secondary comprehensive and systematic review on the epidemiological quantification of the interaction between bovine tuberculosis and human populations’ project (prevalence and transmission rates among animals and humans).

Silvia Balbo, PhD, School of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Sciences

Identification and Characterization of DNA Adducts as Biomarkers of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Contamination of Atlantic Cod Exposed to Crude Oil, International Site: University of Stavanger, Norway

The goal of this project is to characterize the DNA damage resulting from the exposure of Atlantic cod to crude oil and use these results to identify the specific chemicals causing this damage, in order to develop tools that can be used for the biomonitoring of marine and aquatic areas at risk for PAHs contamination. The effects of PAHs on the environment and human health has been the focus of the research conducted at the Pampanin Lab at the University of Stavanger in Norway. This unique international opportunity will allow the student to deepen his skills and knowledge in two labs with complementary research techniques and approaches, and to enrich his interpersonal and interprofessional abilities, by experiencing conducting research in two different countries. While providing a terrific experience for the student, this will also solidify and strengthen the foundations of the collaboration between my lab and a leading research group in the field of environmental toxicology. 

Rahel Ghebre, MD, MPH, Medical School and Lisa Bazzett-Matabele, MD, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana

A Comparison of Treatment Strategies for HIV-Related Vulvar Dysplasia and Cancer in Middle Income and Low Income Countries of Sub-Saharan Africa

Our objective is to identify the most effective management strategy for HIV-related vulvar dysplasia in low resource settings. We aim to compare middle income (Botswana) and low-income (Malawi) countries’ experiences in SSA with management of HIV-related vulvar dysplasia and assess capacity for treatment of vulvar cancer. Data collection will be performed on management strategies and treatment outcomes will be compared. This project aligns with the ongoing work to develop collaboration between University of Minnesota and University of Botswana. Long term goal of the project is to develop cohort studies among HIV and HPV associated cancers. The mentors will oversee a fellow from the Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship program at the University of Minnesota. The goals will be to establish a relationship with the University of Botswana and Malawi, obtain IRB approval for data collection, and start data collection at this site. 

Jason Kerwin, PhD, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota

Appointments Versus Commitments: Overcoming Self-Control Problems in Preventive Health in Zomba, Malawi

The aim of this project is to investigate ways of increasing the number of high-risk men that get tested for HIV. In particular, we assess the impact of two interventions aimed at reducing procrastination and thereby overcome the problem of continuously putting off HIV testing: appointments and financial commitment devices. We randomly assigned about 1,200 high-risk men recruited from bars in Zomba to either HIV testing appointments, financial commitment devices, a combination of the two, or a control group. Afterwards, working in conjunction with all local clinics, we recorded what share of each group visited an HIV testing clinic. 

The PhD student working on this project, Natalia Ordaz Reynoso, was heavily involved in the field work during summer 2019; she helped train enumerators and worked with partners to implement the intervention. She will devote her RA role to analysis and manuscript preparation during the summer of 2020.

Jonathan Kirsch, MD, Medical School, University of Minnesota and Dra. Lyda Osorio, MD, PhD, Department of Health of Valle de Cauca, Cali, Colombia

Point of Care Ultrasound in Dengue Fever

The research team has been performing a prospective trial studying the use of point of care ultrasound (POCUS) to detect early warning signs of severe disease in patients infected with dengue virus. The project was initially funded by a CGHSR Seed Grant which was vital to the success of this project. The project has had lasting engagement with the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia by supporting numerous student research assistants (med students and fellows), faculty exchange from both institutions. To build on this bilateral research and educational collaboration, this award will support Juan David Diaz, a Masters student in the Epidemiology program from Universidad del Valle to perform data analysis and contribute to research dissemination, including presenting their research findings.

Jennifer Rickard, MD, MPH, Medical School, University of Minnesota

Implementation and Analysis of an Operative Database at Mulago Hospital, Kampala, Uganda

In 2019, Dr. Rickard mentored a Fogarty Global Health Fellow to develop an operative database at Mulago Hospital. The aim of the database is to collect specialty-specific variables and outcomes for patients undergoing a wide range of operations. The database will be used to monitor quality and quantity of surgical care in Uganda. The operative database has been set up and implemented. We are currently in the data collection process. In the next year, we anticipate having sufficient data captured to begin analyzing data.

This award will be used to recruit a Makerere University student or resident to assist with data collection, data management and analysis during the coming year. This student will have the opportunity to use the data to write an abstract and present study results at either the Uganda Surgical Society Annual General Meeting or the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) annual general meeting in Zambia in December 2020, with the opportunity for the student to further develop a manuscript for publication.

2019 Faculty Mentor Awards

Irina Stepanov, Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health will support a graduate student at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to work on her collaborative study with Dr. Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin and Dr. Anne Yee Hway Ann. The study,  “Biomarkers of exposure and effect in SREC users” aims to characterize the toxic and carcinogenic potential of the Standardized Research E-Cigarette (SREC). This project will also expand the ability of the mentors and advisors of the graduate student at the University of Malaya to conduct relevant research and build capacity to meet new and emerging challenges in the field of tobacco control.

Kumi Smith, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health will mentor Richie Xu, a first year MPH student in Dr. Smith’s ongoing research on health empowerment in sexual minority men in China. Dr. Smith has mentored Richie over the last year on his independent study for his summer Applied Practice Experience investigating  the sexual health information needs of sexual minority men (SMM) in Guangzhou, China. Their project, titled “Finding out the Hard Way: HIV Knowledge in Newly Diagnosed Sexual Minority Men” investigates the relationship between HIV knowledge, health literacy, and health behaviors in SMM in China.

Chas Salmen, Department of Family Medicine, Medical School will implement a Twinned Field Station model on Mfangano Island as part of his MOMENTUM study. The model supports one graduate student (MPH or MD) from the University of Minnesota and one candidate from partner institution at Maseno University. The internship will provide a hands-on opportunity for global health trainees to participate in both quantitative and qualitative data collection, program monitoring and evaluation, data analysis, and community report-backs.


Discover How to Apply

In light of current COVID-19 travel restrictions, note that funds are not required to be used for travel of a UMN student to an international research site. Use of funds to support student involvement can be broadly interpreted and proposed, including effort for a student to work as a research assistant or to support a student from an international partner institution.

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Eligible Expenses

Eligible Expenses

Faculty may use the funds to support the following activities:

  • UMN health science graduate student travel and/or living expenses while the student is at the international research site. UMN health science schools: School of Dentistry, Medical School, School of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, School of Public Health, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Graduate students include masters, doctoral, residents, fellows, and postdocs.
  • Stipend for a student research assistant who is enrolled at an international partner institution (ie: Ugandan nursing student at Makerere University to work on a project in Uganda).
  • Student travel to present at a scientific conference; the research should be that which was conducted under the mentorship of the University of Minnesota faculty member.
  • Training expenses for any student who will be working on the mentor’s research project and applying these skills to their work.
  • Other uses of FMA funds may be considered. Please inquire via email to [email protected].

Selection Criteria

Selection Criteria

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Quality of the learning or training opportunity for the student and how it can contribute to their academic or professional development in the proposed field.
  • Impact of the student’s contribution to the overall success project.
  • Synergy with CGHSR priorities and activities. This includes, but is not limited to, interdisciplinary research, projects that demonstrate equitable leadership with international partners, and projects that aim to build new or broaden existing international partnerships.

Application Instructions

Application Instructions

Faculty who will serve as mentors are asked to prepare a proposal that consists of a single document and includes the following components:

  1. Name of Faculty Applicant, Title, Department/Unit, College
  2. Name and location of research project
  3. Anticipated duration of the project and source(s) of funding supporting it.
  4. Brief description of the study and current synergy with CGHSR priorities and activities.
  5. Describe the stage of research this project is currently in (ie: funded but not yet collecting data; ongoing data collection; etc).
  6. Describe the proposed role the student will have in this project, expected duration of involvement, and proposed start date for student role.
  7. Indicate if you've identified a student for this project.
    • If a student has been identified, please state the student’s name, institution, academic program and level of study, and briefly describe any goals the student has expressed for their involvement in your study (ie: field experience, capstone project, etc).
    • If a student has not been identified, describe how you plan to recruit a student.