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Arnold School of Public Health

Three Arnold School students named 2015 Breakthrough Graduate Scholars

January 21, 2015 | Erin Bluvas, 

Graduate students from the Arnold School of Public Health received three of only seven 2015 Breakthrough Graduate Scholar awards. Armed with nominations from graduate program directors across the university, each year the Office of the VP for Research selects just a few exceptional students who demonstrate excellence in the classroom, actively contribute to research and scholarship in their fields and exhibit potential for future success. Samuel Antwi (Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics), Caroline Bergeron (Department of Health, Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB)) and Suvarthi Das (Department of Environmental Health Sciences) earned Breakthrough Scholar awards through superior performance in their programs and achievements too extensive to exhaustively list.

Antwi came to the Arnold School after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Universities of Ghana and Kentucky, respectively. He completed his doctorate in epidemiology in just three years, gaining invaluable experience as a graduate assistant for Associate Professor Susan Steck and building expertise in prostate cancer research. Antwi graduated in December 2014 with four scholarly publications co-authored with Steck and five more dissertation-related manuscripts in preparation for submission to high-impact journals. With the knowledge and skills he developed at the Arnold School, he is primed to succeed as a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Genetic Epidemiology Training Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. -- one of three prestigious postdoctoral fellowships he was offered.

Originally from Canada, Bergeron has a background in communications and experience working with various public health and government agencies. She chose the Arnold School for the comprehensive yet flexible career preparation that the DrPH in HPEB offers. During her time at USC, Bergeron has co-authored 12 peer-reviewed publications and established a strong record of health promotion research with older adults as well as advocacy work in healthy aging. She also reviews abstracts and manuscripts for scholarly journals and academic conferences. Inspired by her dissertation committee chair, Associate Professor Daniela Friedman, Bergeron mentors undergraduate students on their thesis projects as well.

Das felt that the biomedical and environmental health sciences research taking place at the internationally diverse Arnold School aligned well with the interests she developed while studying botany in India. Under the stewardship of Assistant Professor Saurabh Chatterjee, Das now has nine publications in scholarly journals and numerous honors, such as the SPARC award. She finds motivation in Chatterjee’s enthusiastic coaching to view research “not as a part of life, but as a way of life.” Consequently, Das recently joined a special interest group in the Society of Toxicology and aims to raise awareness among undergraduate students on how the built environment impacts public health. After graduation, Das will pursue a postdoctoral position in an immunology or toxicology lab to further diversify her research skills and build on her credentials.

The 2015 Breakthrough Graduate Scholar award recipients will be featured in a special supplement of Breakthrough magazine and honored at the Breakthrough Graduate Scholars Luncheon in the spring.


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