Explore UAB

Each year the Sparkman Center for Global Health awards mutiple Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarships to assist students in completing an international research or internship opportunity. In the spring of 2016, UAB Sparkman Center Fellow, Marissa Swanson, was awarded the Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarship to assist with her research interests regarding improving child supervision to reduce the risk of childhood injury in rural Uganda. Here Marissa reports on her experience:

"I received the Moses Sinkala Travel Grant at a particularly crucial stage of my career, ensuring that this award will continue to benefit my research and career long after this project is completed. At the time of the award, I was a first year graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham dually-enrolled in the Medical/Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program and the Master's of Science in Public Health in Outcomes Research program. The outcome data collected from the Super Siblings program will serve as the topic of my master's thesis in psychology, and the outcome data collected from the Careful Cubs program will serve as the topic of my master's thesis in public health..."

"...This initial grant allowed me to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting psychosocial research with a remote and underserved population in rural Uganda, and the need for interventions to improve child supervision in this community. Future data analyses will determine whether the Careful Cubs and Super Siblings programs may be effective and low-cost means of improving child supervision and safety to reduce the risk of childhood injury. As I apply for dissertation funding to extend this work to a controlled trial in additional communities, this project will serve as evidence to funding agencies that I have developed the required competencies to work in cross-cultural and remote settings to develop, implement, and evaluate cost-effective community-based psychosocial interventions.

Successfully conducting multiple community-based interventions during my graduate career will prepare me to work in the international humanitarian sector after earning my doctorate degree. In this capacity, it is my intention to continue advocating for the health and well-being of children in underserved populations using evidence-based methods drawn from both psychology and public health. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity that this award has provided to develop the competencies I will be utilizing for the rest of my career. Additionally, I appreciate the training opportunity this award helped to foster for the numerous Ugandan staff who worked on the project. This was the first applied research experience for all of our Ugandan research assistants and served as an excellent internship opportunity in a setting where students often struggle to obtain research experience, particularly in psychology. In many cases, the research assistants were introduced to psychological science for the first time, and enjoyed learning about experimental design, data collection, and research ethics. Training opportunities such as these are integral to supporting the development of local researchers who will go on to benefit their communities further with their own careers. A photo of the research team for this project is included above."

 -Author: Marissa Swanson

Sparkman Fellow 2016-2017