Mentorship Program

The Bixby Research Team Project

The Bixby Research Team Project is an opportunity for FSPH graduate students to gain hands-on research experience by working as a team on a research activity led by the Bixby Program Director.  Members of the team are involved in all aspects of a research activity, including: obtaining IRB approval, developing and testing instruments or other materials, analyzing data, developing a conceptual framework, recruiting study participants, interviewing key informants, moderating focus group discussion, preparing results for publication and developing presentation materials.

Read about the Research Team Projects

Team Project: “Current Access and Availability of Female-Empowered Birth Control Methods”

Together with a team of UCLA FSPH graduate students, the Bixby Center is conducting a study to evaluate access to and availability of over-the-counter female-controlled birth control to adolescents in the southwestern region of the United States. This study aims to identify the barriers young people face in accessing birth control in randomly-selected pharmacies in four states, each of which has a different regulatory regime.

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Team Project: “Building and Testing a Monitoring and Feedback Mechanism for the New California Healthy Youth Act”

With support from the Dean’s Community Partnership Grant program, we are developing a model to monitor and provide feedback to California high schools on their compliance with the new sexual health education provisions of the new California Healthy Youth Act. As with many progressive laws, enforcement is difficult to achieve and requires creativity in the face of limited resources. While Comprehensive Sex Ed Networks are emerging to assist schools to become compliant, there are no equivalent resources for monitoring. Our idea is to pilot test a potentially sustainable method to achieve greater enforcement via active monitoring of the Act’s implementation by high school students, coupled with a mechanism to feed the information back to schools and to rank schools on their levels of compliance (e.g., with a “report card” and commentary). We believe that the monitoring of compliance with this Act would best be done by high school students themselves since they would know what is actually being taught to them and how it is delivered. Moreover, it would be empowering for youth to be involved in this “action research” process, and that they could take pride in helping to achieve enforcement of the new Act. Student evaluations of teachers, where they exist, are not sufficiently systematic and standardized to be considered a monitoring tool.

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Bixby Postdoctoral Research Mentorhsip Program

The Bixby Program in Population and Reproductive Health provides Bixby Research Mentorship opportunities to FSPH students for two quarters.  Mentees work 8-10 hours per week on research projects of the postdoctoral fellow.

This opportunity is available only for 2nd year MPH or MS students at FSPH.  Students in joint programs (such as MSW-MPH) may also apply, so long as they have completed one year of coursework at FSPH.  Students from any department are eligible.  No previous research experience is necessary.  Students must be enrolled at FSPH in Winter and Spring to be eligible.  Students should be committed to doing the research mentorship for both quarters.

Read about Mentorships

Mentor: Anne Ferenbacher, Ph.D., MPH, who is a postdoctoral fellow, UCLA Global Center for Children & Families.

Mentee: Whitney Akabike, MPH 2019, Department of Community Health Sciences

My experience while working for the Bixby Center on Population and Reproductive Health has been insightful. Prior to this experience, I was not aware of the social, economic and political barriers that directly impact the health and well-being of the LGBTQ community. However, through tasks, such as writing literature reviews, conducting statistical analysis and interpreting findings it has made me more knowledgeable of the disparities that exist and the importance of research in this area in order to improve the health outcomes among the LGBTQ population.

Bixby Doctoral Students Research Mentorship Program

(Not being offered this academic year)

The Bixby Doctoral Students Research Mentorship Program offers FSPH second year master’s students wanting to gain hands-on research experience an opportunity to be mentored by FSPH doctoral students/postdocs. Some specific research tasks that a masters student would assist in include: obtaining IRB approval, developing and testing instruments or other materials, analyzing data, developing a conceptual framework, recruiting study participants, interviewing key informants, moderating focus group discussion, developing presentation materials, etc. Each masters student selected by the Bixby Center would receive a stipend per quarter to serve as a mentee to a doctoral student, who would also receive a stipend.

Eiligibility Requirements

To serve as a doctoral mentor, one would need to meet these eligibility requirements:

• Be a current FSPH doctoral student who has advanced to candidacy;
• Reside in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area;
• Be conducting research in the general area of sexual and reproductive health (including AIDS, family planning, STDs, abortion, adolescence, etc.); and
• Have some specific research tasks that a Masters student could assist you with (such as obtaining IRB approval, developing and testing instruments or other materials, analyzing data, developing a conceptual framework, recruiting study participants, interviewing key informants, moderating focus group discussion, developing presentation materials, etc.)

Each doctoral student mentor selected by the Bixby Center would receive $750 per quarter to serve as a mentor to one master student, who would receive a similar stipend and would be expected to provide 4-6 hours per week in helping the doctoral student with his/her research. Note that the research mentee cannot assist in the actual writing of the dissertation. It is expected that the mentorship arrangement lasts two-quarters.

If you meet the eligibility requirements and might be interested in participating, please send to Ruth Hsu <> by 5 PM on Thursday, November 12th the following:

• Your name,
• FSPH department,
• Dissertation topic area,
• And the kinds of activities you would want a mentee to assist you with

Read about the Mentors and Mentees

Mentee: Terre Pring – MPH 2015, Department of Community Health Science

Pring_Terre1During the Winter and Spring quarters of 2015, I had the opportunity to work with Goleen Samari to work on a manuscript for publication. This publication was focused on looking at women in Egypt and their contraceptive use, autonomy, and power. Under Goleen’s mentorship, I conducted an extensive literature review to ensure that our paper included the newest publications and assisted her in editing the manuscript. This mentorship opportunity advanced my skills regarding literature reviews, summarizing vast amounts of information, and writing and editing manuscripts. In addition, Goleen was invaluable in teaching me about the publication process, and helping me to prepare for graduation and looking for work in my field. The mentorship was also useful in showing me what the life of a PhD candidate is like, and allowing me to see if it is right for me. Goleen was an excellent mentor, and I am a better researcher and writer because of her, in addition to being better prepared for the workforce, and having a deeper understanding of what will be expected of me as a PhD student, should I chose to pursue that route.

Mentor: Goleen Samari – PhD 2015, Department of Community Health Sciences

Samari_Goleen1During the Winter and Spring of 2015, I was fortunate to have Terre Pring, a second year MPH student, as my mentee. Our primary focus was one aspect of my dissertation work, which looked at women’s autonomy and contraceptive use in Egypt before and after the time period surrounding the Arab Spring. My goal was to help Terre acquire some additional social science research skills like conducting literature reviews, data analysis, and writing papers for publication. She helped find and review articles and organize some literature. She also learned some basic coding and data analysis in STATA. She contributed various efforts to my dissertation research, and I am thankful to the Bixby Center for the opportunity to have had a mentee.

Mentee: Melissa Papp-Green – MPH 2015, Department of Community Health Sciences

Papp-Green_Melissa1During the Winter and Spring of 2015, I had the opportunity to work with epidemiology doctoral student, Dvora Davey, on her dissertation proposal on effects of alcohol use, fertility desire and sexual practices on the HIV transmission among serodiscordant couples in Zambia. I supported the development of her National Institute of Health funding proposal by conducting a literature review on the effects of alcohol use, fertility desire and sexual practices on HIV transmission among serodiscordant couples in Zambia. I also analyzed feedback from the reviewers and discussed strategies for improvement, putting the skills I was learning in CHS 485 Resource Development into practice. Additionally, I reviewed data and secondary research from a longitudinal HIV study of serodiscordant couples in Zambia and aided with hypothesis generation and refinement of the proposed study. Finally, I assisted with the descriptive analysis of 200+ couples using SAS. I am grateful to the Bixby Center for this opportunity.

Mentor: Dvora Davey – PhD Candidate, Department of Epidemiology

Davey_Dvora1During the Winter and Spring of 2015, I was a Bixby mentor to a UCLA MPH student, Melissa Papp-Green. Melissa helped me with the literature review and introduction for my dissertation on factors associated with seroconversion in Africa. Melissa also supported my grant submission to the NIH for a F-31 grant on the same topic. Melissa and I worked together on the descriptive analysis for my dissertation on serodiscordant couples in Zambia, using SAS to develop descriptive tables. I enjoyed sharing my work with Melissa, and really appreciate her assistance in dissertation preparation. I am grateful for UCLA’s Bixby Center for this opportunity to work with Melissa

Mentee: Zoë Baker – MPH 2015, Department of Epidemiology

Baker_Zoe1During the winter and spring quarters of 2015 I had the opportunity to work with a doctoral student, Patience Afulani, on her research on quality of maternal healthcare in Ghana. As a Master of Public Health student considering the transition to pursuing a PhD in epidemiology, working with Patience was a valuable experience in preparing me for my own future research projects. Through my work with Patience, I was able to increase my skills in data cleaning and analysis, performing literature searches, and designing posters for presentation. Since I plan to pursue reproductive health research in the future, working with Patience through the Bixby mentorship program enabled me to better understand the nature of the research process in this field. Now that I am a PhD student myself, I feel better prepared for my own independent work in reproductive health research having had the experience as Patience’s mentee during my MPH.

Mentor: Patience Afulani – PhD 2015, Department of Epidemiology

Afulani_Patience1It was a great opportunity to be part of the first cohort of the Bixby Doctoral Research Mentorship program in the winter and spring quarters of 2015. My mentee was Zoe Baker, a second-year MPH student in the Epidemiology department, and we worked on my project to understand disparities in quality of maternal healthcare in Ghana. Zoe expressed interest in increasing her quantitative research skills using STATA and in literature reviews, and so my goal was to help her achieve that.  I guided Zoe to code and run the preliminary analysis for my project using the 2011 UNICEF multiple indicator survey dataset for Ghana and to update my literature review. She also reviewed and edited my poster for presentation at a conference.  Zoe was a delight to work with and I believe participation in the mentorship program was mutually beneficial for us. I will definitely recommend this program to both doctoral and masters’ students.


Bixby Faculty Research Mentorship Program

(Not being offered this year)

The Bixby Faculty Research Mentorship Program gives Master’s students at the Fielding School of Public Health an opportunity to work with faculty on research projects related to population and reproductive health. Students receive a stipend based upon the hours worked on faculty research projects. Students can also obtain funding to attend conferences and workshops on reproductive health.  Eligibility is limited to 2nd year Masters students in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

Read about the Mentorships

Mentorships, 2013

Mentee: Erica Ciaraldi
Faculty Mentor: Jessica Gipson, Ph.D., MPH

During the Winter and Spring of 2013, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Jessica Gipson on several projects. My primary focus was assisting a team of researchers, associated with the University of California Global Health Institute Women’s Health and Empowerment Center of Expertise, on a revised methodical literature review for a manuscript on measures of women’s empowerment and their impact on various reproductive health outcomes. This extensive process involved meeting with librarians to learn how to construct comprehensive search strategies for various databases, pairing down articles to identify only those matching our search criteria, assisting with the abstracting of relevant articles, and working with the team to get the revised manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, I contributed various efforts to two of Dr. Gipson’s ongoing studies assessing fertility and family planning preferences in the Philippines and Tibet; I reviewed and abstracted articles, gained exposure to the Internal Review Board (IRB) process, and drafted Informed Consent documents. This was a wonderful opportunity to further explore my interest in social science research and I am thankful to the Bixby Center for this opportunity.

Mentee: Shahrzad Yavari
Faculty Mentors: Marjan Javanbakht, Ph.D., MPH and Peter Kerndt, MD, MPH

During the Winter and Spring quarters of 2013, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Marjan Javanbakht  and Dr. Peter Kerndt. I was involved in the process of an outbreak investigation at the Los Angeles County and I was able to be involved in some of the preparation tasks related to TB and HIV screening of the homeless population in Skid Row. I worked closely with Dr. Javanbakht on her current study which is to understand factors that place young people at increased risk for pharyngeal gonorrhea. I was involved in participant recruitment at the Central Health Clinic and I learned a lot from conducting research on the field. I practiced my data management skills by cleaning, coding and formatting variables related to the study by using SAS-programming. This process significantly improved my skill in understanding research in public health from on the field working with people to the data analysis portion. This mentorship provided me with an opportunity to develop my research skills and to learn from great mentors, epidemiologists and public health specialists on the field.

Mentorship, 2012

Mentee: Nicole Zagelbaum
Faculty Mentor: Elizabeth Yano

During the Winter and Spring of 2012, I worked with Dr. Elizabeth Yano at the office of Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) for the Department of Veterans Affairs. For one project working with pregnant female Veterans, I attended and contributed to the discussion at weekly work-group meetings, prepared and distributed minutes, participated in the team drafting and editing patient phone call scripts, performed scans of the literature to identify potential instruments (e.g., depression and tobacco screening instruments) and relevant topics, and I performed structured telephone interviews with community hospital administrators about their maternity services. In addition, I worked on Internal Review Board (IRB) protocols to support alignment of patient survey instrument with VA handbook priorities by researching and creating a crosswalk of items, measures, and handbook elements. I proofread and analyzed patient survey instrument for completeness of measures, standardization of items; suggest missing elements based on aims and handbook priorities. I also assisted with preparation of IRB submission and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance process documentation for the patient survey. This mentorship led to a strong passion in health services research as well as a job opportunity post-graduation with the VA. I am extremely grateful to Dr. Yano and the Bixby program for giving me this opportunity.

Mentorships, 2011

Mentee: Patience Afulani
Faculty Mentor: Gail Harrison

During the Winter and Spring quarters of 2011, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Gail Harrison to develop a research proposal that sought to establish a University-based grant to assess WIC impacts on periconceptional nutrition. UCLA was awarded the project and I am happy to have been a part of it. Prior to writing the proposal, I conducted an extensive literature review on preconception care and wrote up a summary of the findings. The process significantly improved my skill in literature reviews. I was involved in the whole process of developing the project and writing the proposal and had the opportunity to work with other members of the team – Dr. Michael Lu and Dr. Dena Herman. It was a very enlightening experience for me as I got to experience the nitty-gritties of developing research proposals. This mentorship did not just grant me the opportunity to develop my research skills; it also opened up other research opportunities for me.

Mentee: Teresa Chanlaw
Faculty Mentor: Marjan Javanbakht

During the winter and spring quarters of 2011, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Marjan Javanbakht with a cross-sectional analysis of secondary quantitative data from women attending public STD clinics in Los Angeles County over a 1-year period between July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010. I cleaned the dataset and performed univariate analysis to determine the prevalence and demographics of rectal STIs among women at the public STD clinics. I also investigated the relationships between substance use, drug use, condom use, and the number of sexual partners among women seen at the public STD clinics.

During this time, I also assisted Dr. Marjan Javanbakht with her ongoing research that aimed to determine whether women who report substance abuse use have differential risks for rectal STIs compared to women with no reported substance use. I carried out continuing review submissions and IRB addendums, as well as pilot tested and finalized an in-depth interview guide for the qualitative component of the study.

Mentorships, 2010

Mentee: Alanna Hirz
Faculty Mentor: Jessica Gipson

During both the winter and spring quarters, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Gipson analyzing qualitative data from her Philippines based study: Understanding Pregnancy Intention and Abortion Decision-making in Cebu, Philippines. Through my work with Dr. Gipson I became acquainted with qualitative research methodologies, including working in tandem with other researchers on a qualitative research team, coding data, and conducting in-depth analysis of study transcripts. Additionally, I worked with Dr. Gipson in the creation of two study-based manuscripts, which included extensive literature reviews. In April of this year, our research team was able to present a poster of the preliminary findings from our first manuscript at the Population Association of America Annual Meeting in Dallas Texas.

Mentee: Cristina Rodriguez-Hart
Mentor: Peter Kerndt

I had the opportunity to work with Kerndt in analyzing and synthesizing the findings of qualitative data collected from a subsample of CLHNS young adults. This research mentorship provided an opportunity to further develop my research and methodological skills and to apply these experiences to the development of a peer-reviewed journal publication.

Mentorship, 2007

Mentee: Julia Dudek
Faculty Mentor: Martin Iguchi

During the winter quarter, I had the opportunity to assist with qualitative research about HIV transmission from bisexual men to heterosexual women in the African-American and Latino communities in Los Angeles. This was associated with a larger, multi-site study called the Sexual Acquisition and Transmission of HIV Cooperative Agreement Program (SATH-CAP). Dr. Iguchi is the Principal Investigator of the scientific coordinating center for this project. I helped organize focus groups for Phase I of the project and prepared the IRB submission for Phase II, which will consist of semi-structured interviews.

Mentorships, 2006

Mentee: Natasha Desai
Faculty Mentor: Martin Iguchi

I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Martin Iguchi on his research on HIV in Ukraine. Dr. Iguchi is currently writing a grant to perform field research on injection drug users and the transmission of HIV between the injection drug using population and the non-drug using population. The prevalence of HIV among the injection drug using population in Ukraine is high and understanding the transmissions patterns will be instrumental in developing HIV education and treatment programs. I performed background research for this grant by
completing a literature review and writing a summary paper to describe my findings.

Mentee: Maureen Dolan
Faculty Mentor: Angela Chen

During the 2006 Winter and Spring quarters, I worked with Angela Chen, MD, MPH, and the clinic staff at UCLAs Center for Reproductive Health Services to design a database and to create a data collection tool for examining miscarriage management, pregnancy termination, and post-abortion care. After a thorough literature review, we identified the variables to be culled from medical records, created a chart-auditing tool, and selected the most appropriate database management system. We have drafted an application to the IRB to create this living database, which hopefully will serve the clinic for several years.

Mentee: Jaimie Morse
Faculty Mentor: Susan Sorenson

I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Susan Sorenson on a study of IPV in Mexico. I was involved in all parts of the research study, including questionnaire development, pilot testing and questionnaire revision, as well as data analysis.

Mentorships, 2005

Mentee: Ingrid Dries-Daffner
Faculty Mentors: Angela Chen and Michael Lu

During my mentorship with Dr. Angela Chen and Dr. Michael Lu, we investigated national standards of care for post-abortion counseling. Currently, no national standards of care exist, as patient needs are highly dependent on specific circumstances surrounding their seeking abortion services. We identified a number of local post-abortion counseling services that will be referred as needed to patients of the UCLA Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Mentee: Rotrease Reagan-Yates
Faculty Mentor: Donald Morisky

Using data from Dr. Morisky’s Philippines Study of Sexual Behavior and STI/HIV Transmission, I helped to complete an analysis of the data in order to determine the specific types and clustering patterns of sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers in the Philippines. The study brought forth knowledge regarding factors associated with the type and transmission of sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers in different types of sex establishments. An abstract and manuscript were prepared from the results of the analyses for submission to an international journal.

Mentee: Sara Siebert
Faculty Mentor: Paula Tavrow
Director, Bixby Program in Population and Reproductive Health

I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Paula Tavrow to complete a literature review on abortion services in Africa. I also assisted her in completing the IRB application for a rare research opportunity to examine the records of a small post-abortion care clinic in East Africa. Data is scarce on abortion in much of Africa since it is legally restricted in most countries. However, it is generally regarded to account for a large percentage of maternal mortality in the region. Dr. Tavrow and I were able to prepare the necessary background information so that, when the IRB paperwork comes through, it will be easier for her to analyze the data and conduct this much-needed research.

Mentee: Anthony Wang
Faculty Mentor: Susan Sorenson

I participated in domestic violence-restraining order research with Dr. Sorenson. This included talking to local police officials, literature review of studies concerning domestic violence, preparation of graphs/tables for publications, and draft sections for a potential journal article.