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Arnold School of Public Health

HPEB doctoral candidate Deeonna Farr selected as American Fellow by AAUW

August 15, 2016 | Erin Bluvas, 

Now entering the final stages of her Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program with the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB), Deeonna Farr has just received an added boost to her research as she wraps up her program. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has selected Farr as a 2016-2017 American Fellow.

One of the world’s oldest and most prestigious fellowship programs exclusively for women, AAUW has provided more than $100 million in fellowships and grants to over 12,000 women in 140 countries since 1888. These awards help recipients achieve their educational and professional goals, particularly in fields where women are traditionally underrepresented and may experience barriers. Through the awardees’ efforts, the program also makes an impact in the communities and applications that these projects target.

“We have a long and proud history of supporting exceptional women scholars through our American Fellowship program,” said Gloria Blackwell, AAUW vice president of fellowships, grants, and global programs in a press release. “This year’s group includes women who are leaders in their institutions and their fields working on issues related to sexual violence, race, and other topics of importance to women and girls. They aren’t just brilliant, they are agents of change.”

For the 2016-2017 academic year, more than 230 women and community projects received $3.7 million in funding. Farr was one of just four recipients to be highlighted on AAUW’s website.

Farr’s research examines the factors that affect inequities in cancer research participation and screening for breast cancer and colorectal cancer in black communities. The AAUW Fellowship will provide salary support during Farr’s last year of dissertation research and writing. Her project looks at how mammography facilities and providers as well as patient characteristics influence black women’s breast cancer screening experiences. The goal of the American Fellow award is to provide funds so that Fellows can focus on completing their dissertations and not have to take on additional work to meet financial obligations.

“Not only am I extremely honored but grateful to receive one of the AAUW’s 2016-2017 American Dissertation Fellowships. Alumnae of the American Fellowship program have developed research and programming to benefit women across the globe, and now I am member of this group of highly accomplished women,” says Farr, who is also a Presidential Fellow. “My dissertation research is the first step in larger research program devoted to reducing the burden of cancer among Black women. The support provided by this award affords me the time necessary to manage a complex yet important research project and publish manuscripts to further my dream of becoming an academic researcher.”

Originally from New York City, Farr came to the Arnold School for the rich mentorship environment and the community-based research expertise and partnerships. During her program, she has focused on practical applications within her research program and taken advantage of the numerous collaborations she has developed both as a mentee of accomplished researchers and practitioners and as a mentor of undergraduate students. Though she has found several mentors at Carolina, her primary advisor is HPEB Associate Professor Heather Brandt.

“It is a pleasure to serve as one of Deeonna’s mentors,” says Brandt. “The AAUW funding will provide her with critical support during the final year of her dissertation research. As a doctoral candidate, she is already an accomplished researcher. She is poised to make tremendous contributions to cancer-related health disparities research.”

Farr has received funding from external sources such as the National Cancer Institute, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and several university sources, including the Institute for African American Research, the Center for Colon Cancer Research, and the SPARC Graduate Research Program to support her research endeavors. The rising star has already been recognized as a leader and exemplary student by being chosen by the University of South Carolina as one of only two students (the other was exercise science student Kitty Tryon) to speak to congressional staff members about graduate school experiences at Carolina.

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