Global Health Ph.D. Student Directory


Laura Arntson, Ph.D., MPH

Laura Arntson's work in international health, development, and relief has included 9 years with USAID, and field-based work assignments in Mali, Liberia, Nigeria, Uganda, and Sudan, with short-term assignments in Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Malawi, Kenya, Angola, South Africa, Georgia, Montenegro, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, East Timor, Vietnam, Haiti, Jamaica, Eastern Caribbean, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Colombia, and Peru. The focus of her work has been in program monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and has included M&E plan development and implementation, training, data quality assessments, indicator development and reporting, formative research, needs assessments, cross-sectional knowledge-attitude-practice surveys, baseline and endline surveys, and evaluations using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Sectors covered include: psychosocial and protection programming (disaster response and displacement, civil strife, youth sex trafficking, child survival, food security and nutrition, HIV/AIDS, environmental compliance, the power sector, and general technical support and strategic planning.

Laura holds a PhD in Folklore/Ethnomusicology (Indiana University), an MPH in International Health & Development (Tulane School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine), and a Certificate in Field Epidemiology (University of North Carolina). Her dissertation and post-doc field research in West Africa focused on musical and verbal performance and narrative representations of history, social and kin relations, and situated identity. Her current research interests include community- and household-level resiliency, and the role of social capital and social networks in antiretroviral treatment adherence in an era of task-shifting in low-resource rural settings in sub-Saharan Africa.

Selected Publications
Arntson, L. (2008). Locating Sankaran, Locating the Conde. Mande Mansa; Essays in Honor of David C. Conrad. Berlin: Lit Verlag.
Arntson, L. (1998). Praise-Song Performance in Northern Sierra Leone: Definition of a West African Performance Genre. In R. Stone (Ed.), Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: Africa. New York: Garland Publishing.
Arntson, L. & Knudsen, C. (2004). Psychosocial Module of the Care & Protection of Children in Emergencies Field Guide. Washington, DC: Save the Children Federation, Inc.



Akash Gupta, MBA, MPH

Akash’s ingress into the field of global health was rather unorthodox, transplanting from six years of financial accounting and consulting in the private sector. With majority of his professional career rotating around managerial decision making and customer loyalty, Akash jumped at the opportunity to combine this experience with public health and social good at the recommendation of his mentor. He started off by procuring a Master of Public Health with a focus on Global Health from Oregon State University, which helped develop his current doctoral research interests of healthcare financing and management, corporate social responsibility, and making the business case of public health. Akash also holds a Master of Business Administration in International Business from the Thunderbird School of Global Management (pre-ASU) that continues to facilitate him in viewing issues from a broad global perspective as well as a culturally localized one.


Jackie Leung, JD, MS

Jackie holds a Juris Doctorate from Willamette University and a Masters in Community and Behavioral Health from University of Iowa. Before joining the PhD program in Public Health (Global Health) at OSU, she worked as a Community Organizer and Community Health Worker at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon Communities United Fund. Jackie's work is driven by her interest in health care access and utilization of health services. Starting January 2019, Jackie will serve as a City Councilor in the City of Salem. Her research interests include maternal child health affecting the Micronesian and Pacific Islander communities, the lingering impact of domestic violence on women and children, and the role that community health workers play in health outcomes.



Kindra McQuillan

Kindra McQuillan's interest in global health ignited at the University of Montana, where she studied intersections between culture, the environment, and health for her BA in cultural anthropology. Working as a journalist several years later, she rediscovered this interest while reporting on environmental justice and public health in rural and tribal Montana. This time, she followed her interest to OSU's Global Health PhD program, where she researches crossroads between economics, environmental change, and health in rural and indigenous America. Her interests also include attitudes about pain and grief in global health interventions, and governmentality in global health.

Old mines still plague Montana's Clark Fork



Susanna Park, MA

Susanna is from Colorado and earned her BA in International Studies with a specialization in Health & Development. She then earned her MA in International Relations with a certificate in Global Health Affairs. She has worked with Ministry of Health Fiji and the World Health Organization (WHO) to help collect data on nutritional programs across schools in rural and urban settings. During her MA career, Susanna was a research assistant at the Pardee Center for International Futures, where she learned how to use a forecasting modeling system to study issues on health and development. She was also a research assistant for the Humanitarian Assistance Applied Research Group as well as a program assistant for the Global Health Affairs program. Susanna has an interest in conflict and health and hopes to study mental health outcomes among Syrian refugee children who have been transitioned or born into the conflict.



Deeksha Vasanth Rao, MA

Deeksha Vasanth Rao holds a master's degree from American University (Washington DC) in International development with a specialization in Public Health. At Washington DC, she worked part time for an international political economy website “The Globalist” as editorial assistant where she collaborated with academics and journalists from several countries on analytical pieces for the website. She also worked for international non-profit organization Search for Common Ground with the Children & Youth Department for a summer where she helped with program evaluation. Her undergraduate degree was in Print Journalism in India after which she worked for an Indian national newspaper (The Hindu) for two years. Her research interests focus on use of mental and reproductive healthcare infrastructure among internally displaced migrant women in India.



Briana Rockler, MPH

Briana holds a Masters in Public Health with an emphasis in Nutrition from Kansas State University and a Bachelors degree in Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is from Boulder, Colorado. Before joining the Public Health PhD program at OSU, she was a Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent with Colorado State University.
Briana's work is driven by holistic community-engaged approaches to health. Her research interests are in local and regional food systems as they relate to culture and environment, food justice and policy, and nutrition literacy within these structures.



Kristen Pinchun Yang, MS

Kristen Pinchun Yang comes from Taiwan and received a Master’s degree in Nutrition from Fu Jen Catholic University (FJU) in 2016. She worked for four years as a research assistant in the Bone Center of Taipei Medical University (TMU). Her work focused on the prevention of osteoporosis and sarcopenia in aging populations. During the two years of the PhD program of Nutrition in FJU, she wrote a grant proposal in collaboration with the research supervisor in FJU to investigate the relationship between the nutritional status of trans-elements and osteoporosis in patients with bone fracture. The two-year grant was funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan and Kristen worked in collaboration with researchers and medical teams in TMU Hospital and the nutritional teams of FJU. Moreover, she managed the program of Ministry of Health and Welfare: National Food Guideline, Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), and the Exchange List of Food in Taiwan in 2017 and Kristen started to have interests in setting agenda and governance in state and global level. After she got the opportunity to transfer her doctoral program of Nutrition in FJU, Taiwan to the Global program in Oregon State University, USA, she will utilize nutritional perspectives to the study of Indian malnutrition in the future.