Public health doctoral students head to Chile for minority health and health disparities research training | FIU News | #education | #technology | #training


Osmari Beatriz Novoa and Gemma Galvez — public health doctoral students at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work — are in Santiago, Chile, participating in the Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Training (MHRT) program—a program funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and coordinated by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

The MHRT program offers research training opportunities in domestic and international settings for students from underrepresented backgrounds in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, or social sciences.

The students—enrolled in the Health Promotion & Disease Prevention (HPDP) doctoral program—are conducting research out of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology at the University of Chile (Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos de la Universidad de Chile).

“HPDP sees this as a wonderful example of our university living up its name through international, as well as national collaboration,” said Susan Biersteker, graduate program director for the Department of HPDP. “We are thrilled that Gemma and Osmari are taking advantage of this impactful training opportunity and are very much looking forward to having them return with lessons learned.”

Learn more about what they are up to below.

About the MHRT Scholars

Gemma Galvez (left) with Osmari Beatriz Novoa (right) at the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology at the University of Chile

Gemma Galvez, M.Ed/Ed.S 

Program/Major: Public Health / Ph.D. in Public Health – Health Promotion & Disease Prevention

Research Interests: My main research interests include health education, health literacy, health policy, and emergency management. 

What I’m working on: I am working on a secondary data analysis project that investigates COVID-19 danger perception and the use of food warning labels (a law implemented in Chile in 2016 which mandates front-of-package warning labels) before and during the pandemic, and the sociodemographic characteristics related to their use. 

I am also working on a mixed-methods experimental project regarding the co-occurrence of green, environmental, and sustainability claims on food warning labels, and the perception of healthiness by Chilean consumers. 

Osmari Beatriz Novoa, MPH

Program/Major: Public Health / Ph.D. in Public Health – Health Promotion & Disease Prevention with a concentration in Health Disparities

Research Interests: My primary research interest is to look at adverse childhood experiences and how it impacts obesity and diabetes among the Afro-Latinx population.

What I’m working on: I am working on a secondary data analysis research project, using data from two longitudinal studies through the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology at the University of Chile. Childhood obesity is a major public health issue in Chile; therefore, both of my projects surround this issue. I am looking at the association between family/household stress and its impact on Chilean children and adolescents’ weight change from pre- to post-pandemic. 

The second research project I am working on is a qualitative research project where I will conduct in-depth interviews to look at how Chilean adolescents may have used food as a coping mechanism during a highly stressful time–the COVID-19 pandemic.



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