Recovery Funding Provides Summer Jobs for Students Interested in Global Health

August 2009

PHOTO: A young woman in a lab coat extracts DNA in a laboratory

Sofia Gearty, 18, extracts DNA in a laboratory
at Yale University as part of her duties as a
summer student supported by the Recovery Act.
Gearty, who will be starting as a freshman at
Yale this fall, will work on the same Fogarty-
funded project next summer.

Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enabled Fogarty grantees to provide research-related summer jobs for several recent high school graduates and college students.

For example, 18-year-old Sofia Gearty spent her summer working on a Fogarty-supported study designed to examine reading disabilities in Zambian children. Ms. Gearty, who will be starting as a freshman at Yale University this fall, was involved in both "dry" lab work, such as psychology and linguistics, and "wet" lab procedures such as extracting and analyzing DNA. "It's been an amazing time for both of us," said Dr. Elena Grigorenko, the principal investigator of the study and Ms. Gearty's mentor. "It has been an honor having a person like her - she has been so much more than an extra pair of hands."

Ms. Gearty says she's become interested in majoring in pre-med as a result of her experience and plans to work on the same project next summer. "I really enjoy being an active part of the scientific research process and have always been interested in biology and linguistics," she said. "I'm excited for the next four years and think the lab experience will help me decide which direction to go."

Dori Cross, 20, is another student supported by the new funding. A junior at the University of North Carolina's School of Public Health, Ms. Cross has been working on a Fogarty-funded study at Duke University that focuses on the political economy of tobacco control in Southeast Asia. Her involvement in the study, which is now in its third year, has exposed her to a wide range of public health issues including economics and policy analysis. "I've become very interested in the management and economics side of health services," she said.

Most recently, she has been heavily involved in a conference on illicit tobacco production that took place this July in Putrajaya, Indonesia, and even traveled to the conference to participate in it. "It's been a very busy summer," said Ms. Cross. "The amount of things you can learn in a day is dizzying."

Fogarty received over $17 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Center has awarded some of its ARRA funding in administrative supplements that have preserved and created positions such as the summer jobs mentioned. The funding has also gone toward research project grants that were previously deemed meritorious in peer review but were not funded due to lack of resources.

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