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Agents of Change

January 02, 2020

Students participating in Women’s Health Research at Yale’s Undergraduate Fellowship gain hands-on experience and are mentored by Yale faculty who are helping us to transform medical research and practice.

Our goal is to teach students now about how understanding sex-and-gender differences in health benefits everyone so that they carry out their future careers in medicine, scientific research, and beyond in an informed manner, serving as examples for a new inclusive era in health care.

The members of our 2019-2020 class of fellows are:


Suyeon Hong (Second Year in Our Fellowship)

Class: 2020

Residential College: Pauli Murray

Major: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

WHRY Mentor: Dr. Njeri Thande, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology)

Fellowship: In Hong’s first year, she worked with our communications team to take ownership of the center’s blog, “Why Didn’t I Know This,” featuring her research, personal insights, and hand-drawn illustrations on health topics important to women. This year, she is working with Dr. Thande and Yale School of Medicine’s administration to integrate a focus on sex and gender into the school’s curriculum. Their goal is for medical students to learn the latest findings concerning sex and gender across the different disciplines, leading to more efficient medical care with better outcomes for patients.

Interests: Hong has conducted research for Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., with Dr. Andrew Adesman, Chief of the center’s Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, and helped develop a curriculum to teach English as a Second Language in a New Haven elementary school. She has served as a board member of Yale Queer + Asian, Secretary of the LGBTQ Student Cooperative, and Policy Co-Chair of Yale Medical Professions Outreach.


Nardos Kebede

Class: 2020

Residential College: Benjamin Franklin

Major: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology; Sociology

WHRY Mentor: Dr. Nii Addy, Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Fellowship: Kebede is working with her mentor to develop a focus on sex-and-gender differences in a behavioral neuroscience lab studying the neurobiological mechanisms of depression and addiction processes.

Interests: Alongside the field of neurobiology and mental health, Kebede is interested in how women’s and men’s bodies are treated differently by the scientific community and by health policies. Kebede serves as a first-year counselor in her residential college, works as a web assistant for Yale School of Medicine’s Office of Communications, and dances with the K-pop and Urban dance team, Yale Movement. She has previously worked as an assistant fellow and instructor for the Yale Young African Scholars program, organized a health fair with Yale United Against Inequities in Disease (UAID), and helped conduct research on access and satisfaction with menstrual products in New Haven.


Hannah Lee

Class: 2020

Residential College: Ezra Stiles

Major: Anthropology; Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

WHRY Mentor: Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology; Professor of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology

Fellowship: Lee is working in a lab focused on understanding how viruses that endanger the health of women are recognized by the body’s innate immune system and how that information is used to generate protective adaptive immunity. Her project aims to understand the different pathways in which the activation of maternal immunity affects the neural development of fetuses, the molecular differences in the developmental stages among fetuses of different genetic backgrounds and those exposed to different immune reactions, and the influence of sex on observable fetal characteristics.

Interests: Lee has worked in the lab of Dr. Samuel Katz, Associate Professor of Pathology, on a protein involved in the natural, programmed death of ovarian cells. She plans and oversees research in Ecuador and Nicaragua for Student Partnerships for Global Health and founded a Yale chapter of Girls in Science, an organization to introduce elementary school students to scientific experimentation.


Natalie Schoen

Class: 2020

Residential College: Saybrook

Major: History of Science, Medicine and Public Health; Global Health Scholar; Pre-Med

WHRY Mentor: Dr. Megan Smith, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, in the Child Study Center, and in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the Yale School of Public Health; founder and Director of the Mental health Outreach for MotherS (MOMS) Partnership

Fellowship: Schoen is conducting qualitative research to help prepare a paper for publication on diaper need and maternal depression with low-income, recently postpartum mothers in New Haven through the MOMS Partnership

Interests: Schoen has explored her interest in global and maternal health through research on neonatal hypothermia in rural Rwanda in addition to her work in New Haven with MOMS. She works in the pediatric infectious diseases lab of Dr. Elijah Paintsil on how HIV treatment drugs affect mitochondrial functions. In addition, Schoen is a First Year Counselor for Saybrook College and has served as a Mental Health Group Head for Community Health Educators.


Sita Strother

Class: 2020

Residential College: Morse

Major: Medical Anthropology

WHRY Mentor: Dr. Lisa Freed, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine (Cardiology), Director of Yale New Haven Hospital’s Women’s Heart and Vascular Program

Fellowship: Strother is shadowing a highly experienced cardiologist in an active clinical environment while participating in gender-based research on adherence to medical advice regarding statin medications.

Interests: Strother wrote and edited health education curricula for New Haven public high school students as an advisor, teacher, and group leader for Community Health Educators. She has conducted qualitative data analysis for the Centers for Disease Control’s Democratic Republic of the Congo Ebola Response Team, serves on the Global Health Scholars Governing Board, and sings with Yale's senior women's a cappella group, Whim 'n Rhythm.


Anjali Walia

Class: 2021

Residential College: Saybrook

Major: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

WHRY Mentors: Dr. Carolyn Mazure, the Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor in Women's Health Research and Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at Yale School of Medicine; Director, Women’s Health Research at Yale; and Rick Harrison, Communications Officer at WHRY

Fellowship: Walia is working with the WHRY communications staff to enhance its student-led blog, “Why Didn’t I Know This,” including a personal perspective on the latest in women’s health and the long history that continues to unfold in advancing policies and practices to fully study women and sex-and-gender differences.

Interests: As a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Erica Herzog, Walia helps investigate the mechanisms behind a highly destructive lung disease. She served as Treasurer and Events Planner for the Reproductive Justice Action League at Yale (RALY) and created a report on policies to combat the opioid crisis in New Haven for the Yale Roosevelt Institute Public Health Center.

Submitted by Rick Harrison on December 12, 2019