Unlocking Potential: Jess Spitzer '22

To Jess Spitzer ’22, the attraction of her major was the ability to study a wide variety of community health issues in a wide variety of geographies. Both of those qualities have been prominent in her research projects at Denison, which have included studying malaria’s impact on pregnant women and children in Ghana, and found her this summer, as an Ashbrook Summer Scholar under the direction of Dr. Fareeda Griffith, researching the dynamics of mental health service accessibility and awareness in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, she discusses her spring research project, which focused on vaccine distribution in Nigeria.

Jess Spitzer '22

Why did you choose Nigeria and this topic?

I chose Nigeria because there has been an interesting evolution in their vaccine distribution system. I chose this topic, specifically related to COVID-19, because while we are seeing how vaccine distribution is occurring unevenly within our own country, we are also seeing the disparities in other countries, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa.

What was the main focus of this study?

I focused on the vaccine supply-chain structure and analyzing how different interventions can impact success rates. I also worked to understand appropriate ways to go into a lower- or middle-income country and try to help in communities that are different from our own. A large part of our focus is on the ethics behind interventions and making sure there is research-based community involvement in the process, because it would be a disservice to try to make changes that we think would help but aren’t actually beneficial. It’s about how to truly create better outcomes.

Published August 2021