Students from across Penn State compete in Global Health Case Competition

Teams create solutions for worldwide health issues

Team members Nirmal Ahuja, Mallory Hidinger, Madison Taylor, Alyssa Brandt and Bryan Caffrey, left to right, represented Penn State in the competition in Atlanta. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

HERSHEY, Pa. — Students from the Penn State College of Medicine, Dickinson Law and the University Park campus participated for the first time in the 2018 International Emory Global Health Case Competition, held March 16-17 in Atlanta. The international competition brought together groups from 24 universities to address worldwide health issues and develop innovative solutions for improving global health systems.

The team, comprised of both graduate and undergraduate students, included Nirmal Ahuja, Alyssa Brandt, Bryan Caffrey, Mallory Hidinger and Madison Taylor. Host Emory University won this year’s competition, which focused on containing a disease outbreak during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“These are exactly the type of global health problems I hope to be solving in my career someday,” said Taylor, a biology student at Penn State.

Kristin Sznajder, assistant professor of the Department of Public Health Sciences and associate director of International Initiatives, and Wenke Hwang, associate professor and director of the Master of Public Health program, mentored the team.

The hands-on competition proved to be a unique learning experience for students and granted them the opportunity to collaborate.

“This was the best learning experience I have had as a medical student,” said Brandt. “I was challenged by my teammates to expand my perspective on public health law, infrastructure and education.”

“I was able to practically apply the foundational framework I have learned throughout my time at Penn State,” added Hidinger, a master of public health student. “I was inspired by the work of my team and the innovation among the other emerging public health professionals.”

Because of the teammates’ diverse academic backgrounds, everyone contributed their expertise toward a comprehensive approach to problem-solving.

“My eyes have been open to a field that remains foreign to most law students,” said Caffrey, a student at Dickinson Law. “The support of the advisory faculty and working with my teammates contributed so much to making this an opportunity for tremendous personal growth.”

Hwang said it was a challenge to put together an inter-professional and geographically dispersed team across Penn State campuses. “These students made it all work,” he said. “They showed the highest level of commitment through hard work and professionalism.”

Last Updated March 27, 2018