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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

Maryland: Student Projects Supporting LGBTQ Youth, Vaccinations Earn Gold Public Health Innovation Award

The University of Maryland School of Public Health congratulates the winners of the 2019 Gold Public Health Innovation Award!

Family science doctoral student Ms. Natasha Williams received $2,500 for Q Chat Space, an online platform that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth with access to an affirming online community moderated by trained facilitators. Ms. Williams, who is advised by assistant professor Dr. Jessica Fish, partnered with CenterLink, a community of LGBTQ centers, Planned Parenthood, and PFLAG (previously, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) on the project. She has already piloted Q Chat Space and plans to roll it out nationwide.

Biological sciences and public health science major Mr. Veeraj Shah and computer science major Mr. Neil Johnson received $2,500 for ChatHealth, a chatbot that can answer student questions about vaccines using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Their goal is to address vaccine misinformation and increase the numbers of college students taking vaccines for preventable diseases like influenza  and human papillomavirus (HPV). Working with the University Health Center, the Student Health Advisory Committee and the UMD Help Center, Mr. Shah and Mr. Johnson hope to roll out ChatHealth on campus by Spring 2020 and envision deploying it at other universities.

Established with a gift from SPH founding Dean Robert Gold and his wife, Barbara, the Gold Public Health Innovation award sparks public health innovation, design thinking and solutions to the world’s most complex public health issues.

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