Current News and Events

We anticipate many exciting and inspiring news from MDP students, alumni, faculty, and friends in the coming months: in the meantime enjoy reading our 2023 News!

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APRIL 10, 2024

Francis Albright (MDP 2025) was elected President of the university-wide Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) with nearly two thirds of the votes. Though only a first year Master's student, Francis is selected to represent over 7,000 graduate students, the first MDP student and the first from Africa to fill this role. Originally from northern Ghana, Francis was also active in student government at the University of Witwatersrand, where he received a MSc in Epidemiology. Francis' agenda builds on previous GSGA accomplishments, such as creating a graduate students’ union. He also plans to bring together various student associations to address food insecurity and barriers to transportation and mental healthcare. In doing so, Francis will draw upon his recent experience as  Founding Executive Secretary of the Pest and Vector Control Association of Ghanawhich leveraged stakeholders' collaboration to lead the country's Covid-19 response. In addition to his MSc, Francis received specialized public health training from the universities of Tokyo, Melbourne, and Harvard. Prior to joining MDP, he served with the Ghana Health Service and with international public health initiatives. We are proud of Francis' vision, commitment, and leadership!


APRIL 10, 2024

We are proud of Ingrid Lustig (MDP 2024) who placed 2nd in this year’s LGS Three Minutes Thesis (3MT) competition! In this contest, graduate students showcase their ability to present research findings in concise and compelling way to a non-specialist audience. For the first time ever, master’s student were included in this year's event: there were two of them among 40+ contenders, both MDPers (Ingrid Lustig and Wabei Saboi) and they showed that they can hold their own against doctoral students. Ingrid was among 12 finalists who were evaluated by a panel of judges for delivery style, clarity of presentation, quality of visuals, and audience engagement. Ingrid’s presentation focused on her summer field practicum, which she conducted with RSPH Prof. Bethany Caruso’s research team and World Vision International in Zimbabwe (see February 28 post). Ingrid spoke passionately about the challenges African women face in securing water for domestic and economic activities and described how the research finding are informing World Vision’s programs to support women’s empowerment in Zimbabwe. Congratulations to Ingrid for impressive research and communication skills!


MARCH 20, 2024

Over Spring Break, Annie O’Neill (MDP 2025) traveled to Guatemala with a team led by Prof. Peter Roberts of the Goizueta Business School. The field trip was supporting Grounds For Empowerment (GFE) a social impact project that engages women coffee farmers in Central America, providing them with business training and direct access to profitable specialty coffee markets. Annie, who is fluent in Spanish, worked remotely with those farmers over this academic year, to learn about their experiences and perspectives, ensuring that the marketing narrative reflects them accurately and respectfully. During the trip, the GFE team visited ANACAFÉ, the Guatemala National Coffee Association, a partner in the USDA-funded Food for Progress project: this summer, Annie plans to return to Guatemala to work with ANACAFE on that project for her MDP field practicum. She will put to good use her research skills that she honed over the current academic year by supporting another USDA-funded project, directed by MDP Associate Director Dr. Hilary King and focused on the role of farmers markets in smallholders’ economic viability and quality of life. We are proud of you Annie! 


MARCH 8, 2024

Cassange (Cass) Bitère (MDP 2024) exemplifies the long-term engagement in practical learning experiences that has been so beneficial to MDP students and partners. He recently traveled to Kenya to assist with training CARE USA’s local partners in preparation of implementation of a project funded by the Gates Foundation and led by CARE USA and the University of California San Diego. The initiative addresses harmful social norms affecting adolescent girls and young women in Nigeria and Kenya, particularly those that perpetuate child marriage, normalize gender-based violence, and hinder economic participation and access to and use of family planning services. Cass contributed to developing training materials, facilitating a week-long training, and piloting research instruments. Cass begun working with CARE USA in his first semester in MDP, supporting monitoring and evaluation activities in Mali and Niger for the Tipping Point program, an initiative that combats child marriage and supports the rights and agency of adolescent girls. Having spent last summer working on gender empowerment projects with CARE Côte d’Ivoire, he is now looking forward to returning there next summer for his second field practicum. Good work, Cass!


FEBRUARY 28, 2024

Ingrid Lustig (MDP 2024) presented findings from formative research she conducted as a graduate research assistant for Strong Women, Strong World, a new World Vision International program being implemented in four countries: Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. During her 2023 summer field practicum, Ingrid worked with local data collection team, Datalyst Africa to collect qualitative data in the field, and has continued to work with the project during the subsequent academic year. Led by Dr Bethany Caruso of the Rollins School of Public Health, the study tests the hypothesis that increasing women's access to water will lead to their greater ability to engage in income-generation activities, thus demonstrating the need to integrate WASH and economic empowerment programming. The meeting in Honduras enabled Ingrid to observe collaborative learning in real time, as each country team compared research findings and lessons learned to identify the barriers to water access and economic engagement that women face in different contexts. Ingrid will return to Zimbabwe for her second summer field practicum to conduct a process evaluation of the project. Her dedication to mixed-method, community-based research and evidence-based programming exemplifies the spirit of the Emory MDP. Well done, Ingrid and team!   

FEBRUARY 16, 2024

Kudos to Tsewang Rigzin (MDP 2015) for completing his PhD in Social Work at Columbia University in 2023 and for his article in the interdisciplinary Journal of International Migration and Integration!  Rigzin’s research is extremely timely as immigrants’ access to public benefits takes the center stage in political debates during this election year. It presents robust evidence that Medicaid expansion does not lead to large added costs resulting from an influx of low-income immigrants. Rigzin is Senior Research Associate in the New York City Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. He previously served as Deputy Director of the Tibet Fund, managing projects aimed to promote the economic empowerment and cultural preservation of the Tibetan community in South Asia. He has often written and presented on these issues, including this recent piece published by the Migration Policy Institute on South Asia’s Tibetan Refugee Community. Rigzin’s MDP studies prepared him well for these roles, including two summer field practicums with the Federation of Tibetan Cooperatives in India (2014) and the Tibet Policy Institute (2015) in Dharamsala, India, which led to the publication of a book on the Tibetan community in exile

FEBRUARY 5, 2024

The Emory MDP program has received official STEM designation! The recognition affirms the program’s holistic approach that balances theoretical and contextual understandings of development challenges with a commitment to evidence-based solutions. The MDP curriculum, equips students with solid cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral training through coursework and practicums with leading development and humanitarian organizations. These formative experiences enable MDP students to learn how to design  implementation and evaluation studies, identify and operationalize variables, analyze and represent data, and distill programmatically relevant findings. For the duration of the program, MDP students are also paired with mentors, many of whom are experts in data analytics, spatial mapping, network analysis, modeling, etc. STEM designated degrees are considered particularly rigorous and beneficial, expanding access to government scholarships and employment and enabling international students to work in the US for up to three years after graduation without need for sponsorship. We are grateful to all of our mentors, instructors, and partners who made this achievement possible.   

JANUARY 25, 2024

We are proud of Kayla Bellman (MDP 2020) who was featured on the popular Atlanta NPR podcast Closer Look with award-winning journalist Rose Scott. The program interviewed local entrepreneurs and city officials on the success and challenges of small businesses located along the Atlanta BeltLine, and Kayla seized the opportunity to advocate for more support for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC business owners. After graduating from MDP in the midst of COVID, Kayla Bellman channeled her passion for social and environmental justice into the founding of Finca to Filter, a specialty coffee company that partners with Central American farmers and roasters. Kayla's interest in coffee culture as as space for equity and inclusion was kindled while working with coffee farmers for Habitat for Humanity International in Guatemala. During her time with MDP, Kayla also spent a summer in Peru, working with Conservation International on programs aimed to integrate the economic empowerment of coffee farmers with conservation of the Alto Mayo Protected Forest. Congratulations Kayla Bellman for “brewing new grounds” on what MDP graduates can do! Hear the broadcast here; see a previous MDP story here.