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The college has been able to respond rapidly to an immediate need for evidence-based research thanks in part to graduate student fellowships.

Brenda Barrett-Rivera

By Laura Pizzo

The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the importance of family and community relationships – and the inequalities at the intersections of families, work, child care and policies. 

There is an immediate need for evidence-based research to help policymakers make informed decisions about these issues and to educate families and communities about solutions. The college has been able to respond rapidly thanks in part to graduate student fellowships. 

Brenda Barrett-Rivera, the Cheryl J. Lutz Family Policy Fellow at the Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, worked with fellow graduate student Asia Thogmartin and Assistant Professor of Practice Megan Pratt to quickly develop a policy brief titled “Oregon COVID-19 child care policy changes and family well-being.” It will be used as researchers and policymakers wrestle with the effects of the pandemic on Oregon’s children and families. 

She also worked closely with Associate Professor David Rothwell on a grant application that received $500,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a five-year project to study Oregon’s new paid family and medical leave policy. 

“Return on investment has never been greater, and fellowships are investments that pay dividends for years to come, supporting all three parts of OSU’s teaching, research and outreach mission and making a remarkable difference on society’s most pressing issues,” says CPHHS Dean F. Javier Nieto

In addition to fellowships, scholarships are needed to support student retention and success, including Ecampus and transfer students.  

“This support helps ensure that students are able to work alongside researchers and that they are ready to join the workforce,” Javier says. “It also helps the college recruit, retain and graduate purpose-driven students, especially those who are first-generation or who demonstrate financial need.” 

Endowed faculty positions support the researchers themselves. Endowments help faculty think big and pursue game-changing research into some of society’s most critical issues affecting health and well-being, particularly in the areas of community health, mental health, integrated health and global health. 

“It’s important to understand that you can make a difference and be part of our vital work at this historic time,” Javier says. “Everyone has a role to play in making the world a healthier place for all.”  

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