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Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Adolescent Medicine
Bio Shivani is a postdoctoral research scholar in the Halpern-Felsher Lab in Adolescent Medicine. Shivani uses mixed-methods experimental and implementation research to develop and evaluate real-world public health education programs and methodologies that lead to healthy behaviors. Her current research focuses on three key areas:
(1) Assessing youth patterns of use and perceptions about electronic cigarettes, new tobacco products and other substances;
(2) Understanding why youth use e-cigarettes vapes as a means to cope with stress and manage mental health problems, such as depression; and
(3) Evaluating school-based educational interventions to reduce e-cigarette use.
In addition to research, Shivani enjoys teaching research methods and mentoring high school and college students.
Through her Ph.D., Shivani developed and evaluated an arts-based educational program to reduce mental-health-related stigma in India. The program had a large, significant and positive effect on participants - they desired greater social proximity to people living with mental health problems. During this time, she also became interested in the intersection between mental health and substance use, a common theme in her interactions with youth. She also refined her skills in statistical analysis, study design and project management. Her interdisciplinary Ph.D. research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was supported by the PHFI-UKC Wellcome Trust Capacity Strengthening Award (2014-18). In 2017, she received the LSHTM Public Engagement Small Grant to strengthen school teachers’ understanding of mental health problems, which resulted in a monthly column in a popular educational magazine, reaching approximately 40,000 Indian teachers every month.
Previously, Shivani designed, implemented and evaluated health communication and behavior change initiatives at the Public Health Foundation of India from 2008-2014. She is especially passionate about designing educational public health programs to break silences around contentious public health issues, using participatory media and entertainment-education. At PHFI, she spearheaded health communication and community engagement programs aimed at changing behavior related to healthy lifestyles, sexual and reproductive health, maternal and neonatal care, menstrual hygiene, avoidable blindness and mental health. In partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and community-based organizations, she led three educational interventions: a community awareness campaign, which improved treatment-seeking behavior for mental disorders in underserved areas; a website targeting young people to improve their lifestyle; and entertainment-education-based participatory action research to improve sexual and reproductive health.