School of Public Health - International Health
Malaria Transmission and the Impact of Control Efforts in Southern and Central Africa (Macha)
The student will assist with an initiative to accelerate malaria control in Southern Africa through an NIH-funded International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research. Our goal is to make substantial contributions to regional malaria control in Zambia and Zimbabwe through state-of-the-art research on malaria epidemiology, vector biology and the genetics of the malaria parasite in three different epidemiological settings, representing regions of effective malaria control (Choma District, Zambia), ineffective malaria control (Nchelenge District, Zambia) and resurgent malaria (Mutasa District, Zimbabwe).
PI Mentor: William Moss
When I decided to pursue a graduate degree, Johns Hopkins distinguished itself from other institutions for a multitude of reasons. Notable among these was the Global Health Established Field Placement, a formalized mechanism for connecting students with meaningful research opportunities in low- and middle-income countries. There is undoubtedly value in the knowledge that is gained within the classroom; however, it was important to me that my learning extended beyond Bloomberg School of Public Health. So it was with great eagerness, a smidge of apprehension, and an abundance of excitement that I arrived in Macha, Zambia to spend eight weeks as part of the vibrant community at Macha Research Trust.
Macha Research Trust offers the unique opportunity to work at the intersection of malaria epidemiology, vector biology, and parasite genetics. I found this to be an incredibly valuable vantage point, as I gained exposure to different facets of malaria research and saw how the ongoing studies intertwined to advance toward a common goal – malaria elimination.
While there was no shortage of ways to get involved, most of my time was dedicated to data collection and analysis. Some days you would find me in the field visiting households that were enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study. Some days were spent analyzing surveillance data, helping to answer questions surrounding rapid diagnostic test (RDT) wastage in a country with high malaria heterogeneity. Others days I would visit the rural health center in neighboring Mapanza to extract data from the RDT registry, data that would ultimately be fed into a visualization tool for rapid response. As someone who is continuing to define how I want my international health career to take shape, contributing to multiple different projects proved to be beneficial. It helped me to identify which areas I was more interested in and which topics I may wish to gravitate toward in the future.
While the projects differed, there was a common thread that wove throughout them all. I was consistently surrounded by a group of kind, passionate, fun individuals. I am so grateful that my colleagues at Macha Research Trust were welcoming, that they were always eager to exchange knowledge, that they never failed to make me laugh. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, the people I’m with tend to have the greatest impact.
The two months that I called Macha “home” were perhaps the most rewarding of my time in graduate school. Working at Macha Research Trust alongside local colleagues, immersed within a culture different from my own, allowed me to better understand the context within which I hope to apply my discipline. I learned from local collaborators, engaged with the local community, and gained exposure to the setting of rural Zambia. I assisted with data collection, refined my data analysis skills, and cultivated a desire to continue working in the field of malaria. Zambia truly delivered what I was seeking to gain.