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The curriculum in Global Studies and the UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases was pleased to continue the Heels in the Field program with Spring 2013’s Global Health Discussion Series. The speaker series sought to explore the critical issues, controversies and innovative solutions in global health by inviting UNC experts to discuss their research at brown-bag lunches over the course of the semester. We were thrilled by the conversations among undergraduates, graduates and faculty and the connections participants made.

Climate Change, Food Security And Global Health

With Dr. Colin West

Colin discussed research on population health at the intersection of climate change and food security, particularly in the region of Burkina Faso.

colin westColin is an ecological anthropologist who investigates human-environment interactions. He has been working among Mossi smallholder farmers in northern Burkina Faso for over a decade. His research focuses on how Mossi households adapt to changing climatic, social and economic conditions given the challenges of the Sahelian environment. Colin specializes in integrating his ethnographic approach with innovative new techniques such as agent-based modeling (ABM), geographic information systems GIS, and remote sensing (RS). This allows him to ground the perspectives of individuals within larger analyses of regional climate change, vegetation trends, and population growth. He has begun to incorporate global health issues into his fieldwork and turned his attention to studying improvements in household food security in a region synonymous with famine, hunger and poverty.


A Right To Health: HIV Drugs And Clean Water

With Dr. Benjamin Mason Meier

Benjamin brought to life human rights laws relating to health— in particular, access to HIV drugs and clean water— with a special focus on how countries interpret and apply the United Nation’s  Millenium Goals.

right to healthBenjamin Mason Meier is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Meier’s interdisciplinary research—at the intersection of international law, public policy, and global health—examines rights-based approaches to health. Working collaboratively across UNC’s Department of Public Policy and Gillings School of Global Public Health, Dr. Meier has written and presented extensively on the development, evolution, and application of human rights in global health.  As a contributor to the development of global health policy, Dr. Meier serves additionally as a Scholar at Georgetown Law School’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and as a consultant to international organizations, national governments, and nongovernmental organizations. Dr. Meier received his Ph.D. in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University, his J.D. and LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from Cornell Law School, and his B.A. in Biochemistry from Cornell University.


Cervical Cancer And HPV

With Dr. Jennifer Smith

The final speaker of the semester semester began a conversation on cervical cancer and HPV prevention through drug treatment and self-testing in high risk communities.

jennifer smithJennifer S. Smith is a Research Associate Professor within the Department of Epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Dr. Smith has conducted research on HPV infection and associated cervical neoplasia since 1995. Her current research focuses on epidemiological studies of human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer worldwide (primarily in China, Kenya and South Africa), with a focus on prevention via HPV self-screening and prophylactic vaccines. She is the current principal investigator of a study examining the effect of male circumcision on the natural history of penile HPV infections among men in Kenya, and of a self-screening demonstration project of HPV infection among high-risk women in Mombasa, Kenya and rural North Carolina. Dr. Smith is the principal investigator of the Cervical Cancer-Free Coalition (, a project aimed at preventing cervical cancer through vaccination against HPV and effective screening for early signs of cervical cancer in the United States and expanding globally.  Dr. Smith has published over 150 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, of which over 110 are related to HPV infection and HPV-associated diseases, including cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar and penile cancers. She is a mentor for the Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholar program for cancer epidemiology in Beijing, China, and for the UNC Cancer Control Education Program. She is an Associate Editor ofSexually Transmitted Infections and on the editorial board of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.