Class Notes: Fall 2018

The latest news & updates from School of Public Health alumni

Morayo Akande

MPH ’17

MorayoMorayo Akande recently returned to the Brown School of Public Health as a project coordinator in the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. With a focus on research taking place in South Africa, Morayo works on studies that are creating novel behavioral economic programs to improve treatment for teenagers living with HIV, testing ways to integrate prevention of HIV with prevention of rape and sexual assault, as well as creating the South Africa Addiction Technology Transfer Center, a SAMHSA-funded center that provides training and technical assistance support to front-line addiction treatment providers. Morayo moderated a panel session at the Black Alumni Reunion in September.

Madeline Benz

ScM Behavioral and Social Health Sciences ’15

BenzMadeline is currently in her 3rd year of the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Clinically, she is assisting with substance use treatment at AdCare Hospital. She has also begun training for couples therapy. In the research domain, Madeline presented original research at the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science World Meeting 16 in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Her first presentation, What does it mean to consider yourself an “addict”?: The impact of identity on treatment-seeking behaviors among individuals with substance use problems, explored how substance-related stigma may actually be a motivator to treatment-seeking in some cases. Her second presentation, Substance use and fear of stigma among gender and sexual minority individuals, examined how substance-related stigma may be more influential than stigma related to identifying as a gender/sexual minority when it comes to treatment seeking for substance use problems. Additionally, this past year she collaborated on a paper published in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice entitled, “The impact of trauma experiences on posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder symptom severity in a treatment-seeking sample.

Curt LaFrance, Jr.

MD, Residency ’01, Fellowship ’03, MPH ’07

LaFranceDr. LaFrance was promoted to Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Brown University. He received a Department of Defense grant to conduct a multi-site study of neuroimaging biomarkers for seizures and traumatic brain injury in Veterans and civilians. He is the Director of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurology at Rhode Island Hospital. He is the Clinical Lead for the VA National Telemental Health Center Tele-Seizures clinic, where he treats Veterans with seizures around the country, from the Providence VA Medical Center. His second and third books, Taking Control of Your Seizures: Workbook and Therapist Guide, from Oxford University Press (2015), were recently translated into French, and published by Presses Universitaires Francois-Rebelais, 2018. His fourth book, Gates and Rowan’s Nonepileptic Seizures, 4th Edition, was published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press.

Krystal Sarcone

MPH ’17

SarconeAfter graduating from the MPH degree Krystal didn’t go far. Not only did she not leave little Rhody, but she also decided to pursue a second master’s degree at Brown University. The 1-year MPA program was a perfect fit as public health doesn’t happen in a bubble and the context of public health work is very influenced by politics. Krystal wanted to better speak the language of decision-makers for the public health interventions she’d design. From early January through March, in fulfilling the MPA’s consultancy requirements, she partnered with a team of doctors and surgical care providers to help launch nonprofit work related to improving intraoperative surgical care and outcomes around the globe through collaborative training and a centralized educational platform.

Additionally, during this last year, Krystal has been actively involved on and off campus around the topic of diversity and inclusion, particularly in the realm of disability and entrepreneurship. She sits on the Campus Accessibility Advisory Committee and gave a TEDxBrown talk about her own experience with a hearing disability from a young age. Building off of her original MPH thesis research, Krystal launched a disruptive movement turned venture startup and brought on current students at RISD and Brown to help launch the company EveryWear. The e-commerce platform aggregates and curates niche apparel products for people with different disability and/or health or functional needs. EveryWear’s fashion-forward design mirrors what the industry is known for and not what marginalized consumers are accustomed to, which is more akin to shopping for clothing on a medical device website, only further perpetuating a pathologized and exclusive experience. In April Krystal designed a line of work-place appropriate apparel that is fashionable but also unsuspectingly functional for people with limited hand dexterity, and for people with diabetes needing to store an insulin pump and have abdominal access for tubing. This line was featured in Fashion@Brown’s 2018 Fashion Show. This summer, Krystal participated in the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship’s summer B-Lab incubator with RISD Student Tomiris Shyngyssova and presented at the Health Experience Design Conference in Boston. They also hosted a sold-out Inclusive Design Panel for DESIGNxRI’s Design Week. Krystal will also be leading a workshop for StartUp@Brown and EveryWear’s marketplace is set to launch soon. After years of concentrating on clinical research, Krystal is finally marrying her own personal experience with chronic illness, plus interest and expertise in apparel design, with her professional work with international medical nonprofits working with kids with spinal deformities, as well as her academic research around apparel consumption for people with disabilities—she’s translating her insight into real-world solutions. It’s an exciting time! This fall Krystal hopes to offer sewing lessons through the Brown Design Workshop and will be working with students to form a student organization around Inclusive Design.

Shawn Sunil Verma

AB ’13, MD ’18

Dr. Verma was excited to graduate from Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School Class of 2018 on the same weekend as his 5th Year undergraduate reunion, this past May! He looked forward to catching up with old friends and learning about all of their achievements and whereabouts. Shawn feels extremely grateful to have headed back home to upstate New York to begin his psychiatry clinical residency training. Outside of medicine, he stays interested in environmentalism, planetary health, and the proposed link between a greater mental orientation towards ecopsychology and novel psychedelic therapeutics. He has enjoyed pursuing good health through fitness, especially playing squash. He recently had the good fortune of spending five weeks in Hawaii this past winter doing an away medical school rotation at the Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu and in his free time exploring the wonders of living in Hawaii. He welcomes classmates and interested alumni to reach out to him and connect!