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Arnold School of Public Health
University of South Carolina
800 Sumter St., Room 216
Columbia, SC 29208

Phone: 803-777-7096
Fax: 803-777-6290


Research In Practice

Karla Buru completed her HPEB practicum in May 2012 at the University of Petroşani, Romania. Karla received a Fulbright research grant to Romania for the 2011-2012 academic school year, which enhanced her MPH/MSW graduate studies.  Her research is entitled “Exploring cross-cultural social work and public health collaborations in the Jiu Valley.” The final part of her Fulbright grant was co-organizing an international conference entitled “International Social Work: Working Together for Success” which was held on May 24 – 25, 2012. The conference was hosted by the University of Petroşani, Romania, Faculty of Sciences, Socio-Human Department, Social Work Specialization in partnership with the University of South Carolina College of Social Work and the Eastern European Sub Regional Association of Schools of Social Work.

The conference had over 70 participants, representing six different countries. This conference was designed to bring together people in academia (professors, students, researchers) and professionals (practitioners, international and national volunteers) to learn more about collaborating in the fields of social work and public health. It facilitated cultural exchange and promoted mutual understanding, which are necessary for any cross-cultural collaboration to succeed. Participants learned about a variety of topics ranging from “Volunteerism Worldwide” to “Recognizing parallels and differences in International Social Work” to “Using Social Media for NGO (non-governmental organization) promotion.” During the conference, Karla held opening remarks and co-moderated a workshop on “Public Health in Romania.” Additional activities included visits to local NGOs and a Romanian culture night.


During Spring 2010, Purni Abeysekara completed her practicum at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Sustainable Management Development Branch (SMDP) (see http://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/). Located under the Center for Global Health, SMDP aims to strengthen health systems by improving public health leadership and management. SMDP engages, manages, and supports health leaders and managers in developing countries by building country capacity to achieve health improvements, developing strong partnership and providing strategic leadership, and advancing the science base through applied research and evaluation. SMDP holds training of the trainer courses (Management for International Public Health), hosts leadership forums and conferences, and provides ongoing support for graduates in order to sustain public health management practices. 

Purni's main task while at SMDP was to help evaluate the impact of a management training course held at the University of Ghana School of Public Health. The training course, Improving Management for PUblic Health Interventions (IMPHI) is based on SMDP's MIPH course and was institutionalized at the School of Public Health by past graduates of the  MIPH course. CDC staff initially travelled to Ghana earlier this year to conduct interviews of the first cohort of the IMPHI course for the evaluation. Upon their return, Purni helped with listening to the interviews, coding and analyzing these interviews, and writing the evaluation report. Finally, Purni also created a promotional video for potential participants of the course from the Sub-Saharan Africa Region. 

Further tasks she completed at SMDP include reviewing training curriculum in process improvement and contributing to the planning of the 1st Leadership Forum that will be held in Atlanta in November 2010. 


Mayan women rely on weaving to generate essential income for their families. Their traditional weaving method results in beautiful cloth, but has the disadvantage of causing back injuries, negatively impacting their health and productivity. Research and development by Dr. Karen Piegorsch, an HPEB alumna, has resulted in designing the Backstrap Weaver's Ergonomic Bench and developing an educational program to help Mayan women use this technology to improve their economic well-being and quality of life. For this work, Dr. Piegorsch has received the prestigious Tech Museum Award, honoring individuals globally who apply technology to improve quality of life, and Dr. Piegorsch's ergonomics consulting firm, Synergo, was named a Laureate for the Accenture Economic Development Award.

Video of Synergo Invention