Register now for the Fulbright Intensive Workshop on Jan. 25

Would you like to teach English, study, or do research or creative work abroad for an academic year at no cost? (U.S. citizens only)

Fulbright 7th Annual U.S. Student Program Intensive Workshop
Friday, January 25, 2019
8:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
IMU, Iowa Theater Room 166

Register now:

The session will include:

  • Information session with UI Fulbright Program Advisor Karen Wachsmuth featuring current and former UI grantees
  • Advice from Fulbright Faculty Mentors on finding the right type of grant for you, how to seek recommendations, and essay writing
  • A Q & A session with successful Fulbright student and faculty grantees

If you are:

  • a junior, senior, or recent B.A.-level graduate looking for international opportunities
  • a graduate student (master’s or Ph.D.-level), or
  • a recent graduate with a master’s degree

You can apply for a Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarship! (underclassmen are welcome to attend, however)

  • Students from all disciplines can apply, including arts, humanities, business, social sciences, and STEM fields
  • Opportunities available in more than 140 countries

Learn more about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program at

For more information, please contact Karen Wachsmuth, associate director, international fellowships, International Programs,

Study looks at impact of water, sanitation, and social conditions on birth outcomes in India

photo of a woman collecting water in plastic potsA new study by researchers in the University of Iowa College of Public Health examines the complex relationships between water and sanitation access and social conditions on birth outcomes among women in India.

Globally, preterm birth (PTB) and low infant birth weight (LBW) are leading causes of maternal and child illnesses and death. In low-income countries, the challenges women face to meet their basic water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) needs may be a major contributor to adverse health outcomes.

“Many homes in low-income countries have no private drinking water source. Women and girls are tasked with fetching water from outside the home, which can be physically stressful,” says Kelly Baker, assistant professor of occupational and environmental health, who co-authored the study. “In addition, homes often lack private toilet facilities, meaning women must use shared or public latrines or manage their sanitation needs in open spaces.”

A portrait of Kelly Baker, professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
Kelly Baker

The lack of water and sanitation in the home forces women to navigate challenging, and sometimes personally threatening, social and environmental public conditions to collect water and to find a safe, private place to defecate, bathe, or manage menstruation, leading to psychosocial stress.

“Determining whether WASH-related stress—both physical and psychosocial—affects birth outcomes for women in low- and middle-income countries is critical for understanding whether the global prevalence of preterm birth and low infant birth weight could be reduced by improving the social and environmental conditions in which pregnant women seek clean water and proper sanitation,” says study co-author William Story, assistant professor of community and behavioral health.

For the study, which was published online Oct. 8, 2018, in PLOS ONE, the researchers used data from the India Human Development Survey . The survey asked women about their drinking water source, walking time to that source, time spent fetching water, sanitation (toilet) access, harassment of women and girls, local crime, whether community problems are solved collectively or individually, the amount of conflict within the community, as well as education, household wealth, and other characteristics.

portrait of William Story
William Story

The researchers examined the effect of pre-birth WASH and social conditions on self-reported PTB status and LBW status for 7,926 women who gave birth between 2004/2005 and 2011/2012. Of these women, 14.9 percent experienced premature birth and 15.5 percent delivered a low birth weight baby.

The study found that increased time daily spent fetching household water increased women’s risk of delivering a low birth weight baby. Open defecation and using a shared latrine within a woman’s building or compound were also associated with higher odds of low birth weight and preterm birth, respectively, compared to having a private household toilet.

Harassment of women and girls in the community also was associated with both low birth weight and preterm birth. The data also showed a possible association of local crime with low birth weight.

“This study contributes to the limited evidence related to environmental causes of PTB and LBW by demonstrating that lack of household WASH infrastructure and social factors, like crime and harassment of women and girls, are risk factors for adverse birth outcomes in women in low- and middle-income countries,” the researchers write. “Additionally, the findings suggest that gender norms that sanction harassment of women and girls and place the burden of household water fetching on women are key determinants of vulnerability to PTB and LBW among Indian women.”

Interventions that reduce domestic responsibilities related to water and sanitation and that change social norms related to gender-based harassment may reduce rates of PTB and LBW in India, the authors note.

Additional contributors to the study include Evan Walser-Kuntz and Bridget Zimmerman from the UI Department of Biostatistics. The paper is available online at

The study was funded by a pilot grant from the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Funding for the original IHDS study was provided to the University of Maryland and the National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi, by the National Institutes of Health.

Global visiting scholar will discuss HIV risk in Kenya Oct. 15

Global Visiting Scholar Nema Aluku poster

Cultural and Religious Influences on the Risk of HIV Infection among Women in Western Kenya

Global Visiting Scholar Nema Aluku

Monday, Oct. 15
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Lunch will be provided.

Nema Aluku, PhD, MPH, is a research associate at Tangaza University College in Nairobi, Kenya. Dr. Aluku’s research is focused on the influences of religion and culture on HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health outcomes. In addition to her work at Tangaza University College, Dr. Aluku continues to provide technical assistance to a variety of NGOs in East Africa related to gender, religion, and health. She previously worked with World Renew and served as their Health and HIV Program Manager for East and Southern Africa.

UI students contribute to research on Roma health disparities in Romania

Romania political map. Illustration.On the edge of the thriving city of Cluj, Romania, is the decidedly not thriving community of Pata Rât. Located at Cluj’s former city dump, it’s filled with ramshackle houses, little indoor plumbing, pollution, and dirt roads that quickly turn to mud.

The population is about 1,500 people and almost all of them are Roma, otherwise known by the pejorative term gypsies. They are scattered throughout Europe and are subject to discrimination wherever they live. Pata Rât is an example of this. Many of its residents, about 350 people, once lived in a residential neighborhood in Cluj until the government evicted them and forced them to move to a landfill.

Health Care Disparities

Far from jobs and schools in the city—the nearest bus stop is about a mile and a half away, on the other side of a rail yard—and forced to live in a literal dump of a neighborhood, the people of Pata Rât have suffered significant health issues as a result. This summer, a group of 13 University of Iowa students from across the campus traveled to Romania as part of the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Training Program (MHIRT), a research training internship program to encourage under-represented minorities to pursue health careers. Two of the students—Darian Thompson and Breanna Kramer—worked with the Roma population in Pata Rât, on projects led by mentors at the Cluj School of Public Health that quantifies what that impact has been and help improve the lives of the children who live there.

“They met with Roma and held focus groups to determine what the health care disparities are between the Roma and the general Romanian population,” says Rema Afifi, professor of community and behavioral health in the College of Public Health who coordinated the training grant. She notes that the Roma—who make up about 8 percent of Romania’s population—have much higher rates of poor health outcomes than the general population as a result of the social, economic, and environmental conditions that surround them.

The students spent ten weeks in Romania, guided and mentored by researchers at the Cluj School of Public Health at Babeș-Bolyai University who have been monitoring health issues among the Roma for many years. They performed field work gathering data, and computational work analyzing the data. What they found was a largely homogenous population of white, ethnic Romanians with little acceptance of minorities such as the Roma.

Discriminatory Attitudes

Darian Thompson, one of the students participating in the MHIRT research internship, points to surveys that show 56 percent of Romanians do not feel comfortable living near Roma and 38 percent would not agree to have a Roma as a friend. While Romania’s unemployment rate is 8 percent, among the Roma, it’s 34 percent, and most of those who are employed work in unskilled, low-wage jobs.

Thompson is an African-American and so he’s seen and felt racism in the United States. What he saw directed at the Roma in Romania less subtle and more abrasive than the discrimination directed against minorities in the U.S.

“I was surprised by how openly discriminatory the population was toward the Roma,” says Thompson, a junior pre-med major from Cedar Rapids. “I realized that while we still have a lot of issues to work out in the U.S., we’re still pretty accepting of minorities compared to people in other parts of the world.”

Thompson spent most of his ten weeks of the project analyzing data, comparing past statistics to newly gathered data while looking for changes and trends. Meanwhile, Breanna Kramer, a Master of Public Health student in the College of Public Health, was in the field, talking with the Pata Rât Roma about their health.

Helping Children Succeed

Kramer’s work was focused on measuring the effectiveness of a Cluj School of Public Health program that’s designed to help Roma children in Pata Rât succeed in school. Because of transportation difficulties and fear of discrimination, most Pata Rât parents keep their children in a local, segregated school in the community. But Kramer says the school is substandard and the language of instruction is their native Romani, instead of the Romanian they will need to learn to be successful.

The program helps the students by providing bus transportation to better quality schools, new clothing, access to showers, hot meals, and other assistance to better prepare them for learning. Kramer says that preliminary research suggests the program is working to fulfill family needs at a basic level.

“It’s taking that weight off their parents so the kids can go to school and get the education they need,” says Kramer, from Donnellson, Iowa. “But poverty and discrimination still exist, and for that to improve, large-scale institutional change needs to happen, which will take years.”

Afifi says funding for the training program came from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, a federal agency designed to lead scientific research that improves minority health and reduces health disparities through promotion and support of the training of a diverse research workforce. All 13 of the UI students who participated were from minorities underrepresented in the health sciences.

Explore Global Public Health Week Sept. 17-21

global public health logoDiscover new opportunities and ideas during CPH Global Public Health Week! Learn about international research and practice, attend a study abroad fair, hear from expert speakers, and more!

Spotlight Series: Public Health Research and Practice in Georgia and Moldova
Sept. 17
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Learn more about the current state of public health research and practice in the countries of Moldova and Georgia, as well as a sampling of their most pressing issues. Lunch provided. Presented by current Fogarty scholars:

  • Eka Burkadze | Tbilisi, Georgia | Tbilisi State University
  • Elena Gurghis | Chisinau, Moldova | Nicolae Testamitanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy

Mobile Crisis Food Pantry Drive
Sept. 17-21

This year, the Global Public Health Week food drive will benefit the Mobile Crisis Food Pantry. Donations can be dropped in the bins available in the CPHB Atrium and the Interdisciplinary Studies office in the Communications Center any time during the week. See a list of suggested food items.

Study Abroad Fair
Sept. 18
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
University Capitol Centre, 2nd Floor

Don’t miss your chance to learn about over 200 study abroad opportunities! Whether you’re interested in studying abroad, doing research, or participating in an international internship there is something for you at the fair. You will be able to talk to study abroad advisors, faculty program directors, and even former student participants. All fair attendees will be entered to win a $500 scholarship to study abroad!

Meet-and-greet with Rick Johnston, Technical Office for World Health Organization Joint Monitoring Programme
Sept. 18
3:00 PM – 3:45 PM
S162 (Dean’s Suite Conference Room) CPHB

Open to students, faculty, and staff. Rick Johnston leads the WHO half of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene. Before joining WHO in 2013 he worked at Eawag: the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, and at UNICEF. He has over 25 years of experience on WASH in low- and middle-income countries, with a focus on monitoring and drinking water quality. He graduated from Grinnell College and holds degrees in environmental engineering from the Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in the Sustainable Development Goals: Current Status and New Directions with Rick Johnston
Sept. 18
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
3655 Seamans Center

Rick Johnston leads the WHO half of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene. Before joining WHO in 2013 he worked at Eawag: the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, and at UNICEF. He has over 25 years of experience on WASH in low- and middle-income countries, with a focus on monitoring and drinking water quality. He graduated from Grinnell College and holds degrees in environmental engineering from the Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This guest lecture is presented by the College of Engineering Sustainable Water Development Program in conjunction with the College of Public Health Global Public Health Initiative.

Global Public Health Keynote Lunch
Sept. 19
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
College of Public Health Building, 1st Floor Atrium

Join College of Public Health faculty, staff, and students for a luncheon with keynote speaker Amy Maxmen prior to her Global Public Health Week keynote lecture. Lunch provided.

Spotlight Series: Harnessing Data in a Global Health Crisis with Amy Maxmen
Sept. 19
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Global Public Health Week keynote speaker Amy Maxmen will discuss her work in global health crises and the struggle many aid organization face to track, analyze and respond to information fast enough to provide help. Ms. Maxmen is a senior reporter at Nature. Her science writing has been featured in Wired, National Geographic, the New York Times, Newsweek and other publications. She is a fellow at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, a partner of the University of Iowa. Selected works can be found at

Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellowship Information Session
Sept. 19
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Learn more about the 2019 summer reporting fellowship with the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. As a member of the Pulitzer Center’s Campus Consortium, the University of Iowa College of Public Health and School of Journalism and Mass Communication partner to offer a summer global travel grant (fellowship) to a qualified student. The fellowships are open to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in the College of Public Health (CPH) or the School of Journalism. Two fellowships are available for the 2019 summer term with a placement reserved for a student from each discipline. This information session is open to students in the UI College of Public Health and UI Adler School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Global Health Information Fair
Sept. 20
11:00 AM – 1:30 PM
College of Public Health Building, 1st Floor Atrium

Visit with representatives from a variety of disciplines about opportunities to study abroad, opportunities for international experiential learning, and international fellowship and funding options within public health and the health sciences.

Global Poster Session
Sept. 20
11:00 AM – 1:30 PM
College of Public Health Building, 1st Floor Atrium

Learn more about global and international research projects going on in public health and across campus.

MHIRT Program Information Session
Sept. 20
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
S162 (Dean’s Suite Conference Room) CPHB

Learn more about the MHIRT International Research Internship program. Open to both undergraduate and graduate students, this program offers internship placements in public health and the health sciences for students in Romania and Armenia. All placements are full-funded and off a living stipend for eligible students. Learn more at


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Sophie Switzer in advance at 319-384-4136 or