Barrison Conducts Research During Semester in Mexico

OCTOBER 9, 2013 - During her semester in Mexico, international health major Lauren Barrison (NHS’14) has participated in a variety of academic and cultural experiences.

As part of the Department of International Health’s practical experience abroad program, Barrison is conducting research at the Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) in Chiapas.

“In short,” she says, “I love it here.”

Academic Research

So far at ECOSUR, Barrison has brushed up on her research methods through a workshop that reinforced the skills she had learned at Georgetown in her epidemiology and research methodology courses – especially study design and evaluative methods.

She has developed a sample proposal to look at fertility rates among indigenous women and attended a master’s-level course focusing on systems and the politics of health.

“The class went over health financing, health system organization, and evaluation of health systems,” she says.  “Highlights of the month-long class were the site visits to local hospitals and health centers.”

Dengue Fever

In addition to class, Barrison is also developing a research proposal on Dengue fever – an infectious tropical disease.

“I have been working on a health systems paper analyzing Mexico’s dengue prevention, surveillance, and control program,” she says.  “Now that the master’s course is finished, I will have more time to develop my research proposal.”

She plans to conduct a quantitative study through a survey of knowledge, attitudes, and practices.

Cultural Immersion

Barrison says she is also using her time in Mexico to practice her Spanish, as well as to take salsa lessons and learn how to make authentic Mexican cuisine.

“We took salsa lessons and have been putting our skills to the test every so often by going salsa dancing in town,” she says. “I am determined to master salsa by the end of my time here.”

‘Georgetown Experience’

At Georgetown, Barrison has been involved as the director of marketing and customer relations at Vital Vittles and served as a peer advisor and on the student-led NHS Academic Council.

She is also a member of the school’s chapter of the American Public Health Association and participated for three years in Reventón Latino, Georgetown’s student-run Latin American dance performance group.

Barrison says the major has given her the foundation for her current experience in Chiapas and the future.

“The reason I came to Georgetown in the first place was distinctly for the International Health Program,” she says.  “The international health major has shaped my Georgetown experience both in providing me with a career passion that I hope to pursue for the rest of my life and close friends through our major’s small, tight-knit family.”

By Bill Cessato