2023-2024 Medical Humanities Research Fellows

Bilquisu Abdullah (CAS’25)

Inquiry into Student Health Advocacy and Activism on Georgetown’s Campus and Beyond

Personal Bio: Bilquisu (she/hers) is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Women and Gender Studies with a concentration in Globalization and Poverty. She minors in Medical Humanities and participates in community organizing for reproductive justice. In her free time, she loves to read, write, and crochet.

Personal Description: My project will hone in on college student health advocacy efforts This stems from interest in Georgetown’s influx of tangible change for those who have not been able to attain the healthcare they need on campus. I am curious to know the differences and similarities in conversation, dialogue and policy on other college campuses in the United States. I ask the question: Does Georgetown University’s deep Jesuit roots impact the healthcare access and activism of its students? I’m not looking for a definitive answer, but rather a spectrum of responses that demonstrate the pulse of student organizing, wellness and health.

Dhruvi Banerjee (CAS’25)

Improving outcomes for Chronic Neurological Disease through addressing Personal and Cultural Identities

Personal Bio: Dhruvi Banerjee (he/him) is a current junior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Anthropology and Minoring in Science, Technology, and International Affairs with a concentration in Global Health and Biotechnology.

He is deeply interested in the intersections of medical anthropology and global health and hopes to pursue a career in medicine molded by these interests. Dhruvi currently works as an EMT instructor and provider for Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Services as well as a Clinical Research Assistant for the Georgetown Medstar Neurology Department.

Personal Description: This study aims to understand the illness experience of patients experiencing chronic neurological illness through qualitative interviews within the Georgetown Medstar Neurology Department. Additionally, the project also incorporates the provider experience in caring for those caring for such illnesses, both during and post patient treatment. In order to achieve this, the social, cultural, and personal identities of patients and physicians will be explored to better understand the advantages and disadvantages each identity may pose for the individual. Furthermore, the qualitative patient interviews will be recorded for both a quality assurance project for patients with ALS and for upload to medical charts for provider reference.

Lilly Berry (CAS’24)

Healing Art: The Impact of Artwork on Individual Well-being in a Hospital Environment

Personal Bio: Lilly Berry is a current senior in Georgetown College majoring in Psychology and minoring in Medical Humanities on the Pre-Med track. She plans to continue her studies at McDonough School of Business in the Master in Management program to combine her interest in healthcare studies with the administrative component. In her free time, she loves to travel and revel in various cultural experiences.

Personal Description: This study is dedicated to exploring the impact of artwork in hospital spaces on the well-being by analyzing questionnare results from the patients and staff on the fifth floor outpatient psychiatric unit at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. It aims to identify effective artistic components and themes, culminating in an academic thesis emphasizing the role of medical humanities in fostering well-being through art. We hope that our research can inspire more healthcare institutions to create healing environments through the strategic use of art in order to prioritize the well-being of individuals.

Francisco Céntola (PhD Candidate)

Grain, Rats, and Plague: Global Commodity Flows and the Transoceanic Spread of Y. Pestis, 1894-1904

Personal Bio: Francisco Céntola joined the History PhD program in 2020. His dissertation project examines how the adoption of new forms of transportation shaped the material life of human societies. It focuses on California between the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, but seeks to identify structural features that can potentially be extrapolated to other parts of the world and other periods of history.

Personal Description: Starting in 1894, bubonic plague spread swiftly from China to all inhabited continents. Various scholars have pointed out that this pandemic was directly related to the impact of steam-powered ships, which thanks to their unprecedented speed were able to break the “time-filter factor” that had previously hindered long-distance plague transmission. This project will focus on another causal variable: the global circulation of agricultural commodities, especially of grains such as wheat, maize, and rice. Drawing upon scientific research on “stored-grain ecosystems,” I argue that the development of an interlinked network of grain storage facilities and transportation lines created ecologically advantageous conditions for the spread of plague vectors, namely rats (e.g., Rattus norvegicus and Rattus rattus) and rat fleas (typically Xenopsylla cheopis, the oriental rat flea). I will analyze the cases of Bombay (India), Rosario (Argentina), and Port Elizabeth (South Africa).

Chandra Char (PhD)

The Sound of Silence: A Case Study of Social Engagement Activities Among Aging Adults with Hearing Loss in Washington DC

Personal Bio: Dr. Chandra Char (she/her) has a PhD in Public Health- Health Promotion and Health Behavior and a Master’s of Public Health. Her intersectional and interdisciplinary work crosses between disability, health services, health equity, and clinical and translational sciences. Dr. Char’s work influences clinical practice and policy. She is currently a health equity fellow in the Georgetown Medical Center Family Medicine Department.

Personal Description: This study was rooted in community-based participatory research methods. Qualitative data was collected through 5 focus groups with approximately 3 residents each and 7 one-on-one interviews (N=22). The purpose of this study is to evaluate how hearing loss among aging populations can impact social interactions, relationships, sense of community and healthcare utilization.

Mariamnny Contreras-Fernandez (PhD Candidate)

On the limits of ethics in the doctor-patient relationship and gynecological violence portrayed in the Peruvian novel “La Rosa Muerta” (1914) by Aurora Cáceres.

Personal Bio: Mariamnny Contreras Fernández (she-they), Ph.D. Student in Spanish Literature and Culture at Georgetown University. She is a sociologist who graduated from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and holds a Master of Arts in Iberian and Latin American Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests center on gender studies, performative-discursive practices in the Caribbean and Latin American and Medical Humanities.

Personal Description: This research proposes to prove that this novel is the first in Latin America that portrays the different types of gynecological medical violence in the early twentieth century, anticipating discussions that until decades later are given from bioethics. Aurora Caceres invites us to question the androcentric character of medicine, prioritizing women’s discourse from experience as a valid source of knowledge.

Aaron Gray (PhD Candidate)

The Continuous Personhood of People with Dementia, and the Possible Wrongs of Adhering to Advance Directives

Personal Bio: Aaron Gray (he/him) is a Georgetown Philosophy PhD candidate with a background as an Occupational Therapist. His work spans bioethics, social and political philosophy, social epistemology, and disability studies. His current research focuses on the relationship between various social norms (including moral and epistemic norms) and the features of material spaces, with an emphasis on disability, mental health, and clinical settings.

Personal Description: In my view, the dominant legalistic conceptions of personhood fail in grappling with the ethical demands of care delivery at the end of life for people with dementia. My proposed project aims to develop and defend a view of the personal identity of patients with dementia as being expressively and practically continuous throughout disease progression, before arguing that an implication of this view is that honouring advance directives to stop eating and drinking owing to the progression of dementia is morally impermissible: it amounts to starving a person with dementia to death on the basis of the symptoms of their disease.

Molly Kenney (CAS’25)

Ancient Practices, Modern Impacts: Exploring the Evolution of Veterinary Medicine in Greece and Rome

Personal Bio: Molly Kenney (she/they) is a current junior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Biology and minoring in Classical Studies, and Medical Humanities. She aims to pursue a career in veterinary medicine and is particularly interested in paleobiology as well as the portrayal of medical history through physical and dramatic arts.

Personal Description: Sources compiling the history of veterinary medicine are few and far between. Through the examination of ancient medical texts, archeological findings, and preserved works of art, I explore the historical development of veterinary medicine in ancient Greece and Rome. In addressing topics such as the civilizations’ conceptualization of the difference between man and animal, the connections between human and veterinary medicine, and religious influences on animal care, the contributions of these civilizations and their impact on modern veterinary practices can be determined.

Rachel Singer (PhD Candidate)

The Diseased Landscapes of Early Britain: Infection, Conquest, Migration, and Disability in the First Millennium, CE

Personal Bio: Rachel Singer is a second-year PhD student in the History Department. Her research focuses on infectious disease and climate change in early medieval Britain and gender in early medieval France.

Personal Description: My dissertation employs data from textual, archaeological, paleoecological, and palegenomic sources to craft an interdisciplinary environmental history of infectious disease in first-millennium Britain. It considers how infectious disease might fit into the historiography of this period, both in terms of how it might have affected the historical events that occurred (such as the migrations into malarial landscapes) and how the changing landscapes the events engendered could have impacted the prevalence of infectious disease.