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BSCD Summer Public Health Research Fellowship - 2021

BSCD Undergraduate Summer Fellowship in Public Health Research

Please bear in mind that while BSCD Summer Fellowships are currently scheduled to proceed these opportunities may have to be modified or cancelled if the situation warrants. 

The University of Chicago Department of Public Health Sciences seeks to engage college students in mentored research projects in public health. The Department of Public Health Sciences is the home in the Biological Sciences Division for the core quantitative research fields in public health: biostatistics, epidemiology and health services research. Our faculty both lead research projects in these fields and participate in interdisciplinary teams with faculty in other departments to address complex problems in health and healthcare, in our communities and around the globe.

A primary objective of the BSCD Undergraduate Summer Fellowship is to provide undergraduate students an immersive research experience through close interactions with faculty, research teams and research projects. Projects will focus on interdisciplinary topics that bring biostatistical and quantitative methods to improve understanding of complex problems in population health and develop new solutions.

The Fellowship covers a $5000 stipend, plus the $350 Student Life fee for the summer research period. 

Duties and Responsibilities 
Fellowships will be 10 weeks in duration and based in Chicago. Fellows will work with their faculty mentors on research projects. Project descriptions are provided below and applicants need to identify interest in working on one or more of the projects in their application. Projects typically involve data analysis using a computer except where noted.

Requirements vary based on project. Please see project descriptions. 

Class Level Eligibility 
Eligibility varies based on project. Please see project descriptions. 

Required Materials
Applications should include the following: 
·      Statement of Interest or Cover Letter: Approx. 250 words. Please state here the project (or multiple projects), to which you are applying (see Project Descriptions below for full list).
·      Resume or CV
·      Unofficial Transcript

Expiration Date
April 9th 2021

Please Note: If you are applying to multiple BSCD Fellowship Grants, please fill out the following BSCD Preference Form -

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by a faculty panel.

Project Descriptions
TOPIC 1: Really poor sleep among older adults
Most population research about sleep (as distinct from sleep laboratory studies with just a few participants) have relied on survey questions that ask study participants about their usual sleep quality and quantity. Objective sleep measures, using wrist actigraphy, have been added to epidemiological studies recently, and have revealed a number of associations between different aspects of sleep duration, timing and disruption and diverse health outcomes. However, almost all of these studies average sleep characteristics over several nights. When one examines the pattern of actigraphy by night over several nights, some older adults have highly inconsistent sleep, and experience almost no sleep on one or more nights. This is an exploratory study to characterize the frequency of such poor sleep and examine its correlates in a large nationally representative sample of older adults in the US. Undergraduate researchers can help with this research by participating in the following types of activities under faculty supervision:
·      Develop novel metrics to characterize very poor sleep using actigraphy and carry out descriptive statistics and regression analyses of how poor sleep relates to demographic, physical and mental health characteristics.
·      Conduct literature review of previous relevant studies
REQUIREMENTS: A strong foundation in statistics including regression analysis, such as Statistics 224 Applied Regression, and some experience with computer programming. Programming experience in Stata preferred, but R is also acceptable.
CLASS LEVEL ELIGIBILITY: UChicago undergraduate students at all levels are eligible as long as they have the statistics prerequisite
TOPIC 2: Breast Cancer Health Disparity
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy affecting women in the U.S. and the world. There is a gap in breast cancer mortality between African Americans and European Americans. We have an on ongoing program aimed at understanding the socioeconomic, biological, genomic, and health care delivery factors affecting racial disparity, and developing intervention to eliminate disparity and improve health outcomes of all breast cancer patients. Undergraduate researchers can help with this research by participating in the following types of activities under faculty supervision:
- Epidemiological questionnaire development, interview, and data entry;
- Conducting systematic reviews of the literature; and
- Data cleaning and analysis.
REQUIREMENTS: Experience manipulating datasets using a statistical package or programming language (e.g. R, Stata, SAS, Python) is preferred. 
CLASS LEVEL ELIGIBILITY: UChicago undergraduate students at all levels are eligible.
TOPIC 3: HIV Prevention 
HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a highly effective way to prevent HIV - if individuals take it when they are at risk; however continued use of PrEP is often low. We are trying to understand how people make decisions about when to start and stop using PrEP. To do this, we engaged a diverse group of patients at Howard Brown Health in an online survey and interviews. This is a mixed methods study with opportunities for both qualitative and quantitative experiences. We will also look at important differences by race, gender, and sexual orientation. Research activities may include:
·      Reviewing the scientific literature
·      Reviewing and coding transcripts
·      Data cleaning and analysis
REQUIREMENTS: Coursework in statistics and experience in coding (SAS, STATA or R) preferred. Interest in sexual and gender minority health.
CLASS LEVEL ELIGIBILITY: UChicago undergraduate students at all levels are eligible

TOPIC 4: Examining Bio-behavioral Mechanisms of Lung Cancer Disparities
Despite successful efforts to reduce smoking rates among adults over the past several decades, African Americans experience the highest rates of tobacco-related morbidity and mortality of all racial/ethnic groups. Cigarette smoking contributes to approximately 80-90% of lung cancer deaths; however it does not fully elucidate racial disparities in lung cancer development. Although African Americans smoke at similar or lower rates than non-Hispanic whites, their rates of lung cancer incidence and mortality are significantly higher. Specifically, African Americans experience significant disparities in lung cancer across the continuum, including lower screening rates and more advanced stages of cancer upon diagnosis. Our research program aims to examine bio-behavioral and psychosocial mechanisms that contribute to disparities in lung cancer development among African Americans with a history of tobacco exposure. Specific research projects include 1) examining race differences in obesity and inflammation change post smoking cessation and 2) characterizing lung cancer screening rates and identifying barriers to screening among a large cohort of African American adults. Undergraduate researchers can help with this epidemiologic and behavioral research by participating in the following activities under faculty supervision:
·      Conducting systematic reviews of the literature on the lung cancer disparities and tobacco-related disease morbidity among African Americans
·      Extracting data from publicly available data sources
·      Conducting statistical analyses of biological and behavioral correlates of inflammation change in ex-smokers
·      Conducting descriptive analyses on tobacco use (including electronic cigarette use) and lung cancer screening rates among African Americans with a history of tobacco use
REQUIREMENTS: Strong skills in manipulating datasets using statistical software (e.g. SAS, STATA, SPSS) is required. Prior coursework in statistics or epidemiology (introductory courses are acceptable) is required. Experience analyzing large datasets is preferred, but not necessary.
CLASS LEVEL ELIGIBILITY: UChicago undergraduate students at all levels are eligible

TOPIC 5: Reducing Traffic Injuries in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Road traffic injuries are the 8th leading cause of death and disability globally. Public Health Sciences has an on ongoing program aimed at improving estimates of the public health burden of traffic injuries in low- and middle- income countries, understanding the key risk factors, and developing and evaluating safety interventions. Undergraduate researchers can help with this research by participating in the following types of activities under faculty supervision:
·      Acquiring and extracting information from public data sources (household surveys, emergency room surveillance, police records) on the incidence and burden of road traffic injuries.
·      Conducting systematic reviews of the literature on the effectiveness of safety interventions
·      Developing tools for estimating the prevalence of risk factors (such as speeding behaviors, helmet use, unsafe infrastructure) from resources like Google Earth and Street View. 
REQUIREMENTS: Experience manipulating datasets using a statistical package (e.g. R, Stata, SAS) is required. A solid command of a programming language like Python will be preferred. 
CLASS LEVEL ELIGIBILITY: UChicago undergraduate students at all levels are eligible.