Population Health

June 6, 2022

Winning papers announced for 2022 Population Health Library Research Awards

Image of Suzzallo Library's reading roomFour students have received awards from the Population Health Initiative for the 2022 Library Research Award for Undergraduates.

The quality of their writing, the innovativeness of their research hypothesis and how well they connected their work to the theme of population health were the factors considered in choosing award winners.

This award was created in 2017 in partnership with the UW Libraries and is open to undergraduates from all three campuses. The projects submitted were completed for either UW course credit or for the Undergraduate Research Program.

The following section describes the four awardees, the titles of their projects and summaries of their projects.

Aarti Vinod Tandon (Public Health – Global Health), "How do user characteristics inform or explain their interaction
with the ‘Pesticides Labels Now!’ application?"

“Healthy people, healthy planet…” Unfortunately, this is not the case for the agricultural community at large. The harsh reality is that agricultural worker and community exposure to pesticides has led to illness, as well as environmental contamination and crop damage. According to the National Center of Farmer Health, the majority (83%) of agricultural workers self-identify as Hispanic with 77% of these laborers reporting they are most comfortable understanding Spanish. The fundamental issue with the status quo is that pesticide labels, including health and safety information, are only required to be in English. Pesticide handlers, managers and supervisors are unable to understand this information and change behaviors accordingly thus putting them at critical risk to the detrimental effects of agricultural pesticides.

The ‘Pesticides Labels Now’ mobile application overcomes this language barrier by improving accessibility to pesticide labels and safety information in Spanish and English. Tandon’s research helps reduce the gaps in fair and equal access for marginalized peoples. While working on the ‘Bilingual Health and Safety Messaging’ app, Tandon has been able to stand at the crossroads of technology and human health. Using the tools of statistics and data visualization, Tandon has contributed to research translation and the improvement of human health, environmental resilience and social and economic equity. Additionally, climate change is expected to expand agricultural pest pressure and drive increased pesticide use in the coming decades. Adoption of tools like this app will continue to foster healthier communities and healthier people through climate resilience and adaptation.

Marcus Conde (Public Health – Global Health), "Covid-19 Booster Status and Comfort Level with High Risk Activities Among UW Undergraduate Students"

Through the School of Public Health’s Research Methods in Public Health course, Conde and his team studied Covid-19 booster shot status and comfort levels with high-risk social activities among UW Seattle undergraduate students. Marked by social distancing, face masks and the quick development of a vaccine, Covid-19 has touched everyone’s lives. Their research aligns with the theme of population health, by utilizing public health research methods to provide a deeper understanding of risk perception and why people chose to get a Covid-19 booster shot.

The social ecological model provides an overview to further understand and contextualize their study’s results. On the individual level, they saw that not everyone had equitable access to gaining a booster shot, and students’ opinions of vaccines greatly influenced their decision to be boosted. With relationships, people cited their desire to protect their family and friends as a reason for getting a booster shot and not performing high risk social activities. On the community level people who received the booster shot felt that avoiding high risk activities was important in protecting the community as a whole. Culture was depicted at the societal level, as people felt pressure to conform to the expectations of getting a booster shot. Their study’s findings illustrate the need for better accessibility to booster shots and that understanding people’s relationships is critical in influencing perceptions of social activities. These findings can guide public health and university officials to create more equitable and effective pandemic protective measures.

Gabriel Lau (Biochemistry), "The Emerging Field of Marine Plastics in Public Health"

Lau’s research explores the emerging field of marine plastics, which has many layers of understanding. The research submitted covers two important aspects of marine plastics. First, Lau’s surveys in marine plastics and well-being conducted in Ghana show how plastic waste affects communities’ health and well-being, economic livelihoods and cultural traditions. The second layer of analysis is within the current literature of nanoplastics analysis which examined the variety of instruments used to study nanoplastics and the types of polymers being tested. The nature of this research is interdisciplinary combing the fields of anthropology, marine ecosystems, public health, environmental and public policy in the Ghana survey development and the fields of analytical chemistry and public health in the nanoplastic literature meta-analysis.

Lau maintains that their research in marine plastics highlights all the major pillars of population health: human health, environmental resilience and social and economic equity. Marine plastics is a growing problem to human health and the surrounding ecosystems. Their degradation to microplastics and nanoplastics may have toxicological effects to humans and negatively impact the environment. Marine plastics is a global problem and scientists of the future must listen to all voices, especially underserved and overlooked populations. The research in Ghana was a team effort where Lau and his team worked with local partners in administering the surveys and interpreting responses. The survey respondents from Tema New Town and Elmina provided insightful responses to plastic effects and governance solutions. Without the input of these communities, the risk of creating policy solutions that foster unequitable solutions increases.

Jiachen Lin (Microbiology and Public Health – Global Health), "Affirmative & Inclusive Healthcare"

HIV/AIDS is a serious public health concern. Affirmative and inclusive care is critical to improving the accessibility of HIV/AIDS healthcare services to reduce disease burden. It helps to create mutual trust and respect, particularly for LGBTQ individuals who make up some of the key populations of people living with HIV/AIDS. However, in Singapore, there is a lack of relevant formal training and resources for healthcare providers. Thus, this project aims to address this gap by proposing a handbook on affirmative and inclusive language use in HIV/AIDS healthcare for healthcare providers.

The primary purpose of the handbook is to be a guide to improve understanding and communication competency and fluency between healthcare providers and LGBTQ patients in the setting of HIV/AIDS healthcare. The handbook consists of sections on clarifying HIV/AIDS myths, HIV stigma language use, common LGBTQ terminologies and addressing gender diverse individuals. Ultimately, the handbook aims to promote the use of language that is neutral and inclusive with an emphasis on humanity and empowering. This will hopefully contribute towards a more patient-centered environment where people with living with HIV/AIDS can feel more comfortable seeking treatment and testing. Increase in accessibility to HIV/AIDS healthcare services would translate to improved HIV/AIDS testing and treatment outcomes, and eventually, reduced HIV/AIDS transmission in Singapore. Moreover, the handbook could also be easily adapted for other healthcare services underutilized by the LGBTQ population in Singapore. Hence, the handbook can function as a general prototype for promoting affirmative care and reducing barriers to healthcare in general.

Please visit our funding page to learn more about these awards.