Public Health Awards

Honoring exceptional graduates, alumni and public health leaders.

Our students endeavor to uphold the highest standards of scholarship here at Brown. We honor outstanding graduating students with special awards for their academic excellence, public health impact and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In addition, we honor alumni and practitioners that have dedicated their lives' work to advancing the field of public health.

Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis

This award recognizes at least one graduating public health senior who has demonstrated excellence in the conduct of their honors thesis research.

Grace Jordan ’24

AB, Public Health | Honors


Jordan is graduating with an AB in Public Health Honors and Education Studies. She is interested in the links between education and health, mental health and substance use.

After working as a research assistant on two projects focused on helping adolescents struggling with alcohol use, she decided to complete a systematic review focusing on technology-based interventions for prevention of adolescent substance use for her thesis project.

Next year she will be begin her journey toward her Master's in Public Health at George Washington University in the Health Communication and Marketing Program.

Academic Excellence in Public Health

This award recognizes graduating public health students who have demonstrated exemplary academic performance in their coursework in the concentration.

Evelyn Lai ’24

AB, Public Health | Honors


Lai, an undergraduate senior in the 5-year UG/MPH program, studies public health and epidemiology. She is broadly interested in substance use epidemiology, harm reduction and mental health. Lai's undergraduate research experience has culminated in a thesis entitled "Characteristics Associated with Forced Treatment Discontinuation Among People Who Use Drugs in Rhode Island." Lai is thrilled to continue her public health education at Brown for another year, culminating in earning her MPH in epidemiology in 2025.

Parisa Afsharian ’23 MPH ’24

Maternal and Child Health Concentration


Afsharian is graduating through the 5-Year UG/MPH program, where she received her AB in Health and Human Biology and is receiving her MPH in Maternal and Child Health.

She has worked with the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute since 2021, researching mental health and food insecurity for children and culminating with her thesis studying the association of food insecurity with immigrant status in low-income mothers.

After graduating, she will be starting medical school at Harvard this August. As an aspiring pediatrician, she will use her MPH to become a physician-advocate aiming to ensure health justice for children and immigrant families. 

Public Health Impact Awards

Recognizes exceptional graduating students for the impact they have made in scholarship—through research and academic performance—and in professional contributions, through teaching, research assistantships, fieldwork, internship and other professional activities.

Chilsea Wang ’24

AB, Public Health | Honors


In pursuit of a BA with Public Health honors, Wang created a body of work to break down barriers to health care access. Some of her favorite projects include: a door-to-door transportation service for health-related appointments (Wellness Wagon), a peer resource network for harm reduction (BEMS Buddy) deployed at Spring Weekend for the past two years, and her honors thesis spotlighting Clinica Esperanza Hope Clinic as a bilingual, interpreter-available community clinic where she has volunteered for four years.

Wang has served on the Undergraduate Studies Committee, and is an honors student. Throughout her time at Brown, she he has worked closely with Professor Erica Walker, in addition to being a research assistant. Wang is also an EMT and is passionate about reducing disparities in health care access and our lived environments. Central to her work is engaging community members by listening to, and uplifting, their voices.

Leaving Brown, Wang will work in Sacramento to strengthen local capacity for chronic care management, in a value-based implementation of remote patient monitoring which she hopes will further population medicine.

Imran Dharamsi ’24

AB, Public Health | Honors


An honors student, Dharamsi supported the Brown community during his time as an undergraduate through his work with SoBear, planning weekly substance-free events and a spring retreat for over 200 members. He invited numerous speakers to campus for deeper conversations about harm reduction and recovery. He has also been involved in multiple research teams addressing substance use and health policy.

In Spring of 2023, Dharamsi used his passion for harm reduction policy to bring together researchers at the School of Public Health with leaders from a local non-profit harm reduction agency, Project Weber/Renew, who are tasked with opening the first Overdose Prevention Site in Providence in the fall of 2024. This program educated Brown and Providence community members in how this intervention helps to save lives and improve the well-being of people who use drugs. 

All of these programs have required community involvement and collaborative leadership, and Dharamsi worked with the many stakeholders and systems of Brown to make these critical events happen.

Leonardo G. Arriola Carnicelli MPH ’24

Interdisciplinary Concentration


Arriola Carnicelli brings a community-informed and community engaged lens to his public health practice and research. In the summer of 2023 he completed his MPH Practicum with the Pawtucket Central Falls Health Equity Zone, which is backed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation Rhode Island. He worked with the HEZ to develop an assets and needs assessment of the food and nutrition resources in the Pawtucket and Central Falls communities. He facilitated focus group discussions with community members to better understand the identified resources, as well as the needs that local community members wanted to address. Arriola Carnicelli made sure to connect with mentors and workshops that would inform and prepare his approach, and he continues to ground his research in community-originated questions and perspectives.

Arriola Carnicelli also recently received additional recognition for his community ethos. He is the recipient of the Brown University Tow Award for individuals that show great promise to continue their development as an outstanding citizen as evidenced by past or current community service activities and/or academic work.

Michael Thompson MPH ’24

Health Services Concentration


Michael Thompson is a Health Equity Scholar graduating with his Master's in Public Health with a concentration in Health Services. His research focuses on the relationship between mass incarceration and mental health. For this he received an inaugural Royce Graduate Student Research Award from Brown University's Swearer Center. This prestigious award, modeled after the Royce Fellowship for undergraduates at Brown and established through the generosity of Charles Royce ’61, funds community-centered research projects by Brown University graduate students. 

This work brought him to Norway, where he studied the country's prison system, which has a recidivism rate of 20%. This number stands in stark contrast to the recidivism rate in the U.S., which is roughly between 40% and 60%, depending on the state. “Norway’s model seems to prioritize building interpersonal skills and humanizing the individuals undergoing reform,” Thompson said. “They tend to focus on rehabilitation, viewing former prisoners as future neighbors. To achieve effective rehabilitation, they emphasize humanizing the experience.”

In addition to his Royce-funded project, Michael was involved in a research assistantship at the Rhode Island Training School, a residential facility for court-adjudicated teens. There, he worked with 18-year-olds who are reentering society, aiding in their rehabilitation and working to prevent recidivism.

Following graduation, Michael will join the Kresge Foundation in Detroit as a Health Fellow, focusing on advancing health equity for underserved communities.

Batool Behnam MPH ’24

Global Health Concentration


A global health concentrator and native of Kabul, Afghanistan, Behnam's passion lies in the field of global mental health policy and research. During her time at Brown, she conducted research focused on culturally sensitive mental health care for Afghan refugees in the U.S. She took her work as an SPH Student Ambassador seriously, helping prospective students navigate their journey. You could often find Batool at in-person meetings, Zoom advising sessions, panels and other events helping to create a more welcoming environment at the School of Public Health. During her time at Brown she also contributed her talents as a graduate student worker for the Swearer Center.

Driven by a desire to make a tangible difference, after graduation she is hoping to leverage her skills to address mental health disparities among refugees. She aspires to contribute significantly to research and policy initiatives aimed to contribute toward more culturally sensitive mental health services and advocating for the well-being of vulnerable populations. 

Şenay Gökçebel MPH ’24

Epidemiology Concentration


Gökçebel is interested in infectious disease, pharmacoepidemiology and health economics. During her time at Brown, she researched the economic impacts of long COVID on the individual level.

A founding co-chair of Brown’s Public Health Consulting Club, Gökçebel helped grow the organization to 40 members, collecting and creating a number of case-studies and examples of case-interviews to provide peer-led professional development and improve SPH student support. She is a leader amongst her peers, advocating for students and development opportunities.

Following graduation, Gökçebel is joining IQVIA's market access and strategy division, in hopes of contributing to the improvement of access to healthcare resources.

Jorge Ledesma Ph.D. ’24



While at Brown, Ledesma researched the role of real-time response policies, health system resilience and pandemic preparedness during the COVID-19 crisis. He hopes to build a body of work that improves the performance and resilience of health systems.

He started the student organization Students for Latinos/Latinx in Public Health during his time at Brown.

After graduation, he will be starting a post-doctoral fellowship at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, where he will help develop and implement innovative interventions for improving patient care.

Community Engagement Award

Recognizes an exceptional graduating master’s or doctoral student who has demonstrated a commitment to building community across Brown University and the City of Providence.

Rosemelly R. Jimenez Medal MPH ’24

Health Equity Scholar | Epidemiology Concentration


Jimenez Medal's father has worked as a short-haul trucker for over 25 years, and she noticed that he was struggling to hear conversations. Jimenez Medal teamed up with her father and Community Noise Lab director Erica Walker, RGSS Assistant Professor of Epidemiology to conduct hearing screenings on short-term truckers in California.

Together with Jimenez Medal's father, they engaged dozens of short-haul truckers in Southern California for the study. This community-based work led to important findings linking this demographic's noise exposure and occupational hearing loss.

Diversity & Inclusion Catalyst Awards

Recognizes graduating public health students who have made a notable impact to advance diversity, inclusion and equity within their program, the School of Public Health, Brown University or in our local or broader communities.

Nour Abaherah MPH ’24

Interdisciplinary Concentration


Abaherah created her own interdisciplinary concentration plan combining quality improvement and health equity. Abaherah is courageous, articulate and committed to collective liberation. She continues in the tradition of activists who risked everything to expand public health resources to socially stigmatized and disadvantaged groups.

In the past year, she co-founded the SPH4Palestine club at Brown, which centers the health care devastation in Gaza. She embodies the essence of diversity and inclusion values, inspiring and galvanizing the School of Public Health community and others to dismantle systems that stand in the way of true public health.

After graduation Abareh plans to volunteer overseas using the public health skills she learned at Brown.

Tyler Alexander MPH ’24

Health Equity Scholar | Interdisciplinary Concentration


Over her years at Brown, Alexander impressed faculty and peers with her engagement and research in the area of health equity. Through her scholarly research and programmatic experience, she focuses on addressing disparities to promote health equity within health care systems.

Through her thesis work, Alexander analyzed the role that skin color discrimination plays on access to reproductive and sexual health care, aiming at the stark racial disparities in reproductive and sexual health outcomes for women. She is unafraid to speak up about these important issues and pushing the envelope when needed.

Her internship at Hartford HealthCare addressing Black maternal health concerns and pathways for improving care are an example of her courage and commitment to holding herself and other practitioners accountable. During her time at the clinic, Alexander created and led the implementation of a guide for health care professionals aimed at improving quality of care for patients during the labor process. 

Rehan Aslam MPH ’24

Addictions Concentration


In every space at the School of Public Health that Aslam entered, he instantly made it feel inclusive, warm and safe. He is the kind of person that will invite someone into a circle if they are left out, give up his chair if he sees someone without a seat and offer a listening ear and a smile if he can sense someone is having a bad day.

In a seminar, Rehan shared the winding and obstacle-filled path he had taken to come to Brown, highlighting how facing addiction gave him a different outlook on substance use research. He was willing to be vulnerable and made it feel safe for others to share their own stories, reminding participants that all experiences and perspectives are deserving of taking up space. While this is just one instance of Aslam’s diversity and inclusion efforts, there hundreds more examples of this kind of demonstrable kindness throughout his two years at the School of Public Health. Our students, staff and faculty are better because of Aslam's presence at Brown.

Rachel Gaither Ph.D. ’24



Gaither's dissertation research focuses on chronic pain in women after physical trauma. She is broadly interested in pain research, gynecologic disorders and LGBT health, and while at Brown has contributed to projects on opioid use disorder treatment, sex hormone impacts on post traumatic pain, emergency care interventions and long-term effects of military burn pit exposure. 

Gaither was a co-chair in the Department of Epidemiology's Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan committee, representing Ph.D. students. She attended meetings and provided significant input on how to get feedback from the epidemiology community members—including students, faculty and staff—to improve the culture of the department.

Gaither foregrounded the needs and recommendations from a student perspective, while also aiming to find actionable steps that faculty could engage in to shape classroom environments.

Public Health Champion Award

The Public Health Champion Award, the highest honor bestowed by Brown University's School of Public Health, honors individuals whose work has demonstrated vision and leadership in public health, furthering health and health equity around the world.

champion award

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT

Congresswoman for Connecticut’s Third Congressional District


As the top Democrat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and the second woman to chair the Committee, Congresswoman DeLauro is a relentless advocate for working families and children. She has prioritized critical investments to support the strengthening of core public health capabilities at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including increased funding for CDC laboratories, public health data modernization and investments in our public health workforce.

A lifelong champion of paid family and medical leave, paid sick leave and improving women’s health care, DeLauro’s leadership was instrumental in the passage of the expanded and improved Child Tax Credit, which reached millions of families, reducing child poverty to the lowest recorded levels in history.

As an ovarian cancer survivor, she is an outspoken advocate for research and expanded access to care—particularly for women and underserved communities.

Alumni Impact Award

This competitive award recognizes one exceptional master’s or doctoral alumnus or alumna making a significant impact on their community and/or in their field.