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WHRY's Undergraduate Fellows: Tomorrow’s Researchers, Clinicians, and Teachers

January 01, 2022

Changing medical research and practice to better serve everyone takes time, effort, and partners. Women’s Health Research at Yale’s many collaborators understand the importance of studying the health of women and the influence of sex and gender on health.

To make sure this effort succeeds and endures, WHRY prepares our future collaborators, mentoring graduate students and rising junior faculty members. Starting six years ago, the center began mentoring undergraduate students as well, offering hands-on training with faculty members across disciplines to learn the latest approaches to the science of women’s health.

Today, our former students are in medical schools and PhD programs. They embrace the knowledge they gained with WHRY and apply it to their current work, putting lessons into practice and influencing their peers.

This year, we are proud to introduce three new students from our Undergraduate Fellowship.

Gillian Clouser

Class: 2023

Majors: Molecular, cellular, and developmental biology; anthropology

WHRY Mentors: Dr. Carolyn M. 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: Gillian is partnering with WHRY fellow Margaret Hankins to enhance WHRY’s student-led blog, “Why Didn’t I Know This?” Drawing from personal experience, research, observation, and contemporary news events, Gillian offers regular insights into subjects affecting the health of women, illustrated through prose and images of her own design.

Interests: Gillian hopes to become an obstetrician-gynecologist specializing in fertility. She works as a peer tutor for the introductory biology course series through Yale’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, where she has weekly office hours for students to discuss content, reviews homework questions, and holds preparation sessions for quizzes and exams. She also works for a public health foundation back home in California and as an assistant researching male infertility and contraception in Dr. Jean-Ju Chung’s cellular and molecular physiology lab.

From her blog: “Research from the last two decades has revealed that women are as much as 33 percent more likely to visit their primary care providers or other physicians, even when excluding visits related to pregnancy and obstetrical care. But this tendency may not translate well to virtual appointments. In a large study published last year, the authors reported that women are less likely to use video when utilizing telehealth services, opting instead to use phone services.

Margaret Hankins

Class: 2024

Major: Molecular biophysics and biochemistry

WHRY Mentors: Dr. Carolyn M. Mazure and Rick Harrison

Fellowship: As an author of our blog, “Why Didn’t I Know This?,” Margaret is also providing her unique perspective on issues facing the health of women. Margaret brings readers along on her journey of discovery, as she examines timely topics of import with a particular emphasis on how intersecting aspects of identity influence health and disease. She is also creating illustrations in her own style to attract new readers and explain complex subjects.

Interests: A resident of Washington, D.C., Margaret has volunteered at the National Museum of Natural History, engaging with visitors as they learn about concepts such as climate change and evolution. She has won awards in citywide science competitions, organized events for her city’s public library, and led focus groups to learn about teen cellphone use.

From her blog:One in three adults in the United States has low health literacy, meaning difficulty obtaining, processing, and understanding information needed to make health decisions and access health services. This problem disproportionately affects marginalized groups, such as people with less formal education, people with fewer economic resources, and non-native English speakers. As patients, such individuals are less likely to ask questions about health services, less likely to request additional services, and less likely to seek new information. They receive fewer screenings for diseases, have higher hospitalization rates, and have a higher mortality rate. Importantly, a patient’s gender can present an additional barrier in a doctor-patient relationship, with significant implications for health outcomes.”

Michelle Osagie

Class: 2022

Major: Molecular, cellular, and developmental biology

WHRY Mentors: Dr. Kelsey Martin, assistant professor of clinical medicine (hematology)

Fellowship: Michelle is working with Dr. Martin to ensure that future health care providers and researchers are equipped with contemporary data on the health of women and on how sex and gender influence health and well-being. Her efforts include identifying pertinent research papers on sex and gender from which new content can be drawn and incorporated into Yale School of Medicine courses. Importantly, Michelle will be working with Dr. Martin to partner with course directors and lecturers to incorporate these data into lectures within the curriculum. This ongoing work will create a model for other institutions as well, so that students are taught essential findings and can then apply these lessons to better care for their patients.

Interests: Michelle is a research assistant studying cyanide detoxification in the laboratory of Dr. Ronald Breaker, Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry. She has pioneered university-wide programs to increase access to hospital services, led student orientation for a New Haven community services organization, and promotes equality in health care professions through the Afro-American Cultural Center.

Submitted by Rick Harrison on December 14, 2021