In the summer of 2017, Denison University student Jayla Johnson ‘19 was investigating children in India — while she was doing research in Baltimore. Johnson, anthropology/sociology and women’s and gender studies major, was conducting research at Johns Hopkins University about the immunization coverage of children in India.
“I was thrilled to be selected for the Diversity Summer Internship at Johns Hopkins University,” said Johnson. “While I was there I conducted a systematic review on vaccine coverages of children in India under the age of five by reviewing published studies. I read a lot of literature and eventually narrowed my focus to eight pieces that really matched my subject.”
“I examined links between mothers’ education and their children’s immunization status. My findings suggest that higher maternal education leads to an increase of fully immunized children,” she said. “This information could advocate for more educational opportunities for women in India.”
Johnson has a deep understanding of best practices in research. Last year, she worked with Denison Assistant Professor Karen Powell Sears on a semester-long project that addressed gendered health inequities in Newark, Ohio, and she was an intern with the city’s Department of Health.
“Through her research, Jayla developed a program to address food access needs among low-income women. She conducted qualitative research for the project, working with local residents and social service agencies,” said Sears. “Jayla’s previous experience, working as an intern for the Department of Health, provided her with public health experiences that were really valuable for her work on this project.”
“The work I do in my majors provides a foundation for understanding society’s influence on people’s actions and behaviors that I was able to apply to my research.”
“These projects taught me how to do some really meaningful research, both in the field and quantitatively through data analysis. I learned things through both methods that can be applied to the work I want to do.”
She learned some things about herself, as well.
“I’ve done a lot of presentations in my classroom at Denison,” she said. “Those experiences really prepared me when I presented my work at Johns Hopkins. And I’ve learned that it’s important to advocate for yourself, even with your advisors,” she added. “Other people’s ideas are good, but mine are important too.”
Next year, Johnson hopes to do research either with Denison’s Summer Scholars program or at Columbia. After graduation, she wants to work in public health, doing research or social work to help women and families.
“I learned so much through both of these projects,” she said. “The work I do in my majors provides a foundation for understanding society’s influence on people’s actions and behaviors that I was able to apply to my research, and I look forward to future opportunities with projects that integrate research with public and social awareness.”