Doctoral Candidate Highlight: Laura Drew
Maternal and Child Health Doctoral Candidate and Graduate Instructor Laura Drew has had an enriching experience at the School of Public Health. Ever since her application interview with faculty and students in the department, Drew knew that this was the right place to pursue her PhD. “It's a very supportive environment. The Family Science Department truly feels like a family,” Drew said.
With nearly every news story relating in some way to families, the family science department puts students in a unique position to examine changes in family structures and family experiences in ways that hopefully influence public health policy and practice. Before coming to the School of Public Health, Drew earned an MPH in epidemiology from Ohio State University, with an interdisciplinary specialization in global health, and a BS in zoology from Miami University.
Drew’s research interests include reproductive and obstetric outcomes, particularly in resource-limited settings, and human rights violations against women, including female genital cutting (FGC). As a doctoral candidate, Drew is currently writing her dissertation on FGC in Nigeria. She chose this topic because she is passionate about conducting research that identifies the health consequences of FGC, which is a deeply-rooted cultural and traditional practice that continues in many countries. She hopes to identify how FGC is associated with sexual and reproductive health outcomes among women.
Drew stated that she appreciates the many opportunities provided by her research and teaching assistantships at the School of Public Health. “Through my assistantships, I have gained skills in research methods and become familiar with national-level datasets. I also received training in teaching methods which enabled me to instruct an undergraduate course in global health for the past few years. I absolutely love teaching and mentoring undergraduate students in public health. Instructing an undergraduate course is a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding,” Drew explained.
Drew has been actively involved with the School's Public Health Without Borders since her first year. She describes the experience as “incredibly meaningful” because “it provided opportunities to work closely with a community in Sierra Leone and mentor undergraduate students in health education delivery.”
Drew has had two recent publications in collaboration with family science faculty. She is the first author of the study, "Intimate Partner Violence and Effectiveness Level of Contraceptive Selection Post-Abortion," published in the Journal of Women's Health and co-authored by Dr. Mona Mittal, Dr. Marie Thoma and Dr. Julia R. Steinberg. She is also a co-author on Dr. Marie Thoma’s article, ”Black-White Disparities in Preterm Birth: Geographic, Social, and Health Determinants,” published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, with Dr. Edmond Shenassa,
Drew is also the first editor of the forthcoming book for Springer Nature titled, “A Multidisciplinary Approach to Obstetric Fistula in Africa: Public Health, Anthropological, and Medical Perspectives.” Her interest in improving the lives of women who have suffered from obstetric fistula began during her MPH studies. The topic was the focus of her culminating project at Ohio State University and, subsequently, of her work at the Fistula Care Clinic in Lilongwe, Malawi, with the University of North Carolina’s UNC Project-Malawi.
After completing her PhD, Drew plans to pursue a career in academia, focusing on global maternal and child health issues in resource-limited settings. She aims to teach undergraduate and graduate students and implement rigorous research programs.