The Arthur Quern Fellowship

The Quern Endowment awards fellowships to first-year GPHAP students to support summer field work, internships, or independent projects aimed at developing students’ leadership skills in the field of health policy and management. Such projects or internships are designed and initiated by individual students and must be independent of any formal field work assignment, internship, or summer job arranged by one of the professional schools. Innovative projects or new initiatives based in the Chicago area, or those involving some collaboration of the public and private sectors, are especially encouraged, though projects can be conducted outside the Chicago area as well. The objective of the Quern Fellowship is to foster innovative thinking and leadership in GPHAP students who wish to pursue creative and self-initiated health related projects over the summer between their first and second years. GPHAP students who are in good academic standing and up to date on their GPHAP requirements are eligible to apply. Proposed projects must be student-initiated and not part of a pre-established or existing internship.

2023 Quern Fellows

  • Diego Mendoza-Martinez, Harris
  • Qiuyu Wang , Crown

2022 Quern Fellows

  • Ashley Aguilar, Harris
  • Arunima Bhattacharjee, Crown
  • Cindy Turner, Harris
  • Franklin Joseph, Harris

2021 Quern Fellow

  • Melissa Kuriloff, Pritzker

2020 Quern Fellows

  • Aubrey Biga, Crown
  • Tania Escobedo, Crown
  • John Hojek, Crown
  • Allison Mobley, Pritzker

HIV prevention technology and behavioral formative research on infant nutrition in Kenya, Uganda, and Mozambique- Diego Mendoza Martinez, Harris, MSCAPP

Health policy is context specific. Community perceptions, social structures, norms, and individual beliefs are crucial to design effective policies and social programs. Through the Arthur Quern Fellowship, Diego had the opportunity to improve and conduct qualitative studies in Kenya, Uganda, and Mozambique to inform integrated social and behavior change strategies for the regions. In Kenya and Uganda, Diego coded a digital system and directed its implementation to facilitate the uptake of an HIV prevention program by automating the sampling strategy, recruitment and tracking of participants (i.e., female sex workers and young women). In Mozambique, he conducted a qualitative study on Infant Nutrition (under 2 years old), Exclusive Breastfeeding and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to identify barriers and facilitators to the adoption and maintenance of specific behaviors at different life stages.

Agencies Serving Children with Disabilities in Rural China – Qiuyu Wang, Crown

The goal of this project was to assess the evolving dynamics within child protection, with a specific emphasis on local organizations dedicated to supporting children with disabilities residing in rural regions of China. Qiuyu conducted semi-structured interviews with professionals and social workers from a diverse array of agencies across China. These interviews were aimed at gaining insights into their operational methodologies, personal experiences, and the challenges they encountered. The subsequent analysis presented the operational models employed by these agencies and highlighted the potential resources needed. In the end, the project presented several case studies that illustrated the real-life challenges faced by children with disabilities and their families.

Religion and Human Flourishing in the Southside of Chicago: A Qualitative Research Study – Ashley Aguilar, Harris

This Quern Project explored the concept of human flourishing and the Human Flourishing Index by Tyler Vanderweele. What does it mean to live a good life? How can we leverage policy to ensure vulnerable populations can attain flourishing? In this project, Ashley expanded Dr. Vanderweele’s Human Flourishing Index into an interview guide integrated with eight questions centered around religion. She conducted qualitative interviews in the community of Harvey, IL. The objective was to better understand the role of religion in the promotion of human flourishing and how it functions as a protective factor against hardships.

Mental health interventions for refugees and asylum-seekers who have been victims of sexual assault and sexual violence – Arunima Bhattacharjee, Crown

With civil unrest, war, climate change and poverty, the number of refugees and asylum seekers are increasing in the world every day. Their journey from their home country to the country where they seek refuge can be traumatizing in a variety of ways and some people can be vulnerable to sexual violence. To understand what kind of mental health intervention is used to support the survivors of sexual violence during and post migration, this research project interviewed over 25 professionals who were social workers, psychiatrists, therapists, researchers, professors, and case managers from various academic institutions and international humanitarian organizations from four continents. The research found that various mental health interventions are used to work with survivors of sexual violence but there are systematic and structural barriers in place that prevent the mental health providers from supporting survivors. In addition, the mental health intervention to be effective and culturally inclusive needs to account for age, religious affiliations, gender, sexuality, culture of the individual. The findings further suggest that there is a lack of resources for culturally appropriate mental health providers to meet the needs of the growing population of refugee and asylum seekers in the world.

Policy Research on Maternal Mental Health for NAMI Chicago – Cindy Turner, Harris

In the past decade, policymakers and advocates have made significant strides in addressing maternal mortality and morbidity in Illinois. However, an important but often overlooked piece of maternal health is maternal mental health. In collaboration with the policy team at NAMI Chicago, Cindy conducted research to formulate policy solutions to address maternal mental health in Illinois. She researched the scope and impact of maternal mental health on Illinoisans and systemic barriers to improving maternal mental health outcomes. She conducted a comprehensive literature review and informal, qualitative interviews with mental health providers, obstetricians, and maternal health advocates to gain a multi-disciplinary perspective on maternal mental health and potential policy solutions.

The journey towards economic self-sufficiency and mental health: employment accommodations for brain injury survivors – Franklin Joseph, Harris

When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, it was hailed as a major step forward for the disability rights movement. However, in the following thirty-three years, its desired impact on employment rates for individuals with disabilities has not materialized. In fact, the disability employment gap has actually widened since that time. In order to understand what could be done to help ameliorate this issue, Franklin wrote a report that took a cross-country comparative approach to find the most relevant policy solutions for reducing the disability employment gap in the United States. This includes amending the EEO-1 to collect demographic data on disabilities and requested accommodations, expanding access to healthcare, strengthening unions and general employment protection legislation, targeting early intervention for vocational rehabilitation, and experience rating SSDI. He also wrote about unanswered questions and gaps in the research that should be addressed moving forward.

Preliminary Work Towards a Culturally-Responsive Lactation Support Program at UChicago MedicineMelissa Kurlikoff, Pritzker

Breastfeeding is important for the long-term health of birth parents and their offspring, but breastfeeding rates at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) are lower than national targets, and are predicted to be lower among the low-income, Black-identifying population receiving perinatal care at UCMC Medicaid clinics. The goal of this project was to design a baseline needs assessment and establish community partnerships to inform the implementation of targeted, culturally-responsive interventions addressing breastfeeding disparities at UCMC. As part of this work, Melissa designed a research protocol, including 2 surveys: (1) a patient survey characterizing parents’ experiences with breastfeeding counseling and support, infant feeding choices and intentions, and barriers to breastfeeding initiation and continuation, and (2) a provider survey for pediatric and obstetric care providers assessing their breastfeeding knowledge, attitudes, and clinical support practices. Furthermore, Melissa worked to forge a partnership with the community organization HealthConnect One, which selected her to represent UCMC in the National First Food Equity Cohort #2. As part of a formal agreement, HealthConnect One will collaborate with UCMC to provide technical support and expertise on the baseline needs assessment, establishment, and evaluation of a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program over an 18-month project period.

“The Annual Physical as a Source of Value for Direct Primary Care Patients: a Retrospective Data Analysis” — Aubrey Biga, Crown

Over the last decade, Direct Primary Care (DPC) has increased exponentially as an alternative care model for many Americans. Patients who seek out direct primary care participation sign up for an independent practice and pay a monthly membership fee. Optimal direct primary practice efficiency depends on a high retention rate and accounting for an attrition rate. There has been an increasing need for outcomes analysis and the development of best practices. This project studied the reasons patients terminate their membership in an effort to determine how to increase the value of care for patients. The study found that that patients were less likely to terminate their membership when they received an annual physical. Annual physicals are a part of good medical care, in addition to increasing patient engagement leading to retention. There was attention also to the several obstacles to getting a physical. Among those obstacles: a lack of patient reminder, and patients facilitating their own online scheduling rather than being scheduled before leaving the office. For low income patients there are factors related to resources and transportation, etc. It was recommended that provision of annual physicals be included as a quality measure for assessing the performance of Direct Primary Care practices.

“ENHANCE-3—Care Coordination for CJI-BMSM.” — Tania Escobedo, Crown

The BARS Study is evaluating the impact of criminal justice involved-induced shocks on the social networks of Black men who have sex with men (BMSM). The study’s geographical scope encompasses counties of Los Angeles CA, Cook IL, and Harris TX. It aims to better support structural interventions for HIV Prevention and substance abuse for criminal justice-involved Black men who have sex with men (CJI-BMSM). It uses an agent-based model (ABM) that pinpoints what makes certain interventions successful for CJI-BMSM, without the cost of implementing pilot studies that measure interventions one at a time. To inform potential new models of care coordination for CJI-BMSM in Chicago that is specific to HIV prevention and HIV Care Continuum disruption, this scale-up intervention was designed using preliminary data and survey variables from the BARS study that were already available. The intervention, ENHANCE-3, focuses on promoting intersectional social support and connecting CJI-BMSM to resources across health care navigation and community social support tools.

“Environmental Scan and Virtual Delivery of Mental Health Resources to Deported U.S. Military Veterans in Tijuana, Mexico during the Covid-19 Pandemic” — John Hojek, Crown

This project involved advocating and serving deported U.S. military veterans. Deportation is a reality for many veterans who had served in the U.S. military but did not receive their citizenship. The UNIFIED U.S. Deported Veteran Resource Center was the organization where this work was done. Part of the Fellowship involved assisting the deported veterans with accessing resources for their mental health. Because of the pandemic, the project had to adapt and overcome the challenge of delivering care across international borders during a pandemic. The project started with hopes of being in Tijuana, Mexico but evolved into working with deported veterans virtually. There is strong and promising work being done with telehealth in the V.A. for veterans.  Adapting to the needs of deported veterans was the concern in delivering telehealth and to that end, two iPads were sent for this project. The iPad’s were successful, The project also involved advocacy for deported veterans until they all are allowed the option to return to the country they were willing to sacrifice all for.

“A Decennial Real-Time Evaluation of YWAM MS’s Ophthalmic Work in Papua New Guinea”Allison Mobley, Pritzker

As the ophthalmic work of YWAM Medical Ships – Australia & Papua New Guinea (YWAM MS) reaches its 10th years of operation in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a real-time evaluation of this program was undertaken with a nested focus on gender equity. After a literature review was performed, this mixed methods study consisted of in-depth interviews and focus groups with internal key stakeholders and quantitative analysis of aggregated, de-identified patient data from the optometry and ophthalmology clinics. Statistical analysis for difference in service received by gender were performed. Thematic transcript analysis revealed the specific goals of this operation, addressed challenges to care provision, provided insight to the cultural landscape of YWAM MS’s work, and emphasized the importance of partnerships in their operation. Using data from 2017-2019, 700 ophthalmic surgical procedures were performed in some of the remotest regions of PNG. During this period, the optometry clinic serviced an equal number of men and women of their 22,000+ patients. However, starting at the referral stage in optometry and progressing through surgery, a gender split of 40% female and 60% male was revealed. A need for further detailed investigation in cataract surgery outcomes and monitoring processes was noted.

2019 Quern Fellows from left to right: Samantha Steinmetz, Indira Imantayeva, Allie Collins, and Ani Ajith. Full project descriptions are below. 

Predictive Analytics for HIV Response in Malawi GPHAP Student – Allison Collins, Harris, MSCAPP 2020

HIV remains a challenge in Malawi, where an estimated 1M people are living with the disease at ~10% of the population. As part of the effort to reduce new infections and get treatment to those who are HIV-positive, there is an ongoing project to foster the use of data in service delivery: the Kuunika Project. Through the Quern fellowship, Allison conducted an independent piece of research regarding use of electronic medical records to predict patient default on taking antiretroviral drugs. The aim of this analysis was to enable the delivery of more tailored care, by analyzing success of various treatments against patients’ characteristics to inform the Malawi Ministry of Health’s development of a new HIV strategic plan.

Suicide Prevention in Kazakhstan  Indira Imantayeva, Crown

The goal of this project was to analyze the current situation regarding the high suicide rate in Kazakhstan and identify gaps in the availability of mental health services in the health care system of the country. A literature review and qualitative interviews were conducted. The literature review involved research on suicide rates, risk factors for suicidal ideation among different age groups, prevalence of depression in the population and current national preventive initiatives. Semi-structured interviews with health and education professionals were conducted to obtain a deeper understanding of the implementation of the youth suicide prevention program and the possible challenges on the micro and macro levels. The gaps and barriers identified in the provision of mental health services and general recommendations were described.

NGOrganize Health – Strategic Planning & Market Discovery – Ani Ajith, Harris/Booth

In conjunction with Houston-based startup NGOrganize, Ani developed a digital project management and social impact assessment tool for nonprofit healthcare organizations. The NGOrganize Health tool allows organizations to manage programs, monitor risks to success, analyze results in real-time, and easily communicate success and social impact. As part of this work, he curated a list of healthcare-related metrics for organizations to use in the platform. Leveraging GPHAP and University connections, he also engaged with UChicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative to explore a potential pilot program.

Mental Health Policy Affecting American Indian Communities in Chicago and on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota – Samantha Steinmetz, Crown

Samantha’s Quern research paper compares how American Indians who are part of a federally recognized tribe, living on a reservation in a rural, politically conservative state, differs from residing in a large liberal city, without an official border for the community, or state recognition. It examines federal health policies that uniquely affect these two communities, featuring access to Medicaid and Indian Health Services. It compares state policies regarding mental health access and highlights local leaders’ experiences with implementation of policy at each level.

2018 Quern Fellows (from left to right):

  • Desire Bernard, Crown
  • Alicia Ozier, Crown
  • Evan Braithwaite, Pritzker
  • Jason Semprini, Harris
  • James Lott, Harris



2017 Quern Fellows

  • Michael Dunn, Crown
  • Shaniqua Ford, Crown

2016 Quern Fellows

  • Dylan Cowart, Law
  • Karen Guo, Harris
  • Ariel Masche, Crown
  • Ellen Richman, Pritzker
  • Olga Sinyavskaya, Pritzker

2015 Quern Fellows:

  • Go Wun “Gonnie” Park, Harris
  • Emily Perish, Harris
  • Leila Pree, Harris
  • Nathan Maxwell, Law

2014 Quern Fellows:

  • Kara Ingelhart, Law
  • Kimberley Mbayiwa, Crown
  • Fallon McGraw, Booth/Harris
  • Tonie Sadler, Crown

2013 Quern Fellows

  • Johanna Barry, Crown
  • Keri Raichert Lintz, Harris
  • Felisha Liu, Booth
  • Lauren Wagner, Crown

2012 Quern Fellows

  • Christopher Buckle, Booth
  • Erica Skatvold, Harris

2011 Quern Fellows

  • Angela Aifah, Crown
  • Simone Santiago, Harris/Booth