Furtado wins Dean’s Medal for Research Without Walls

Public Health; Research; Students

Karishma Furtado, MPH ’15, won this year’s Research Without Walls Dean’s Medal for her project: “Is 1+1<2? Exploring Disinhibition and Malaria Prevention Interventions in Angola.” The poster also won the Outstanding Internationally Focused Poster Award, as well as the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health Award. It will be featured at this year’s APHA conference – Delta Omega Poster Session in Chicago.

Karishma studied the intersection of people’s knowledge about malaria and their willingness to take steps to prevent it.  She said the results were surprising, and have implications for the way we craft, deploy, and communicate malaria-prevention strategies.

Her study found that as knowledge about malaria increased, the likelihood of sleeping under a bednet decreased among those whose walls had been sprayed with insecticide.

“My findings suggested that, for some reason, those with the highest levels of knowledge are more susceptible to disinhibition,” she said.

She said her findings “raise the questions of whether we’re being wise stewards of limited resources when we invest time, energy, and money in an intervention we know is likely to be disregarded by some. Perhaps our strategies should be more customized to the knowledge of communities. Certainly it seems like communicating recommendations to individuals should take into account their information environment and their baseline knowledge.”

“I also think that this shows that there is a place for health behavior, psychology, and behavioral economics in epidemiology alongside traditional elements like environmental and demographic risk factors.”

Karishma is looking forward to finding more ways to use that synergy as a PhD student in public health sciences at the Brown School, where she’ll be studying health communication and dissemination with Ross Brownson, Bernard Becker Professor; and Matthew Kreuter, Kahn Family Professor of Public Health and Associate Dean for Public Health. 

Originally from Wentzville, Karishma got her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago.  At Brown, she specialized in Epi-Biostats and was the recipient of the Health Communication scholarship.

“Epidemiology has helped me to learn how to ask the right questions that yield the right data. Biostats is the natural partner that allows me to make meaning from the numbers,” she said. “The MPH definitely left me armed with a fantastic set of skills on which to build.”