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Elijah W

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Northwestern University


Public health, human biology, medical anthropology, epidemiology, human gut microbiome, mental health, maternal and child health, global health, environmental health


I am a PhD in Biological Anthropology (Human Biology) and MPH in Epidemiology student at Northwestern University. I have an interdisciplinary background in human biology, medical anthropology, and social epidemiology. My current research 1) examines socioeconomic disparities in epigenetic aging using data from the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey in the Philippines and 2) maps spatial disparities in COVID-19 exposure and outcomes in Chicago, Illinois. As a first-generation college student from the mountains of rural North Carolina, I am passionate about mentoring high school students through the research process. I am particularly interested in projects that ask how social processes "get under the skin" to impact the health of communities.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Water Insecurity in the United States

Global warming and climate change are fundamentally changing the ways that humans interact with water. In the western United States, historic droughts and wildfires threaten the water supply for drinking, household, and agricultural use. In the eastern United States, historic floods and hurricanes have destroyed homes and taken lives. Even the COVID-19 pandemic threatens access to water, with the City of Orlando, Florida urging residents to reduce water consumption as they divert liquid oxygen meant for public water purification to hospitals facing the summer 2021 surge of COVID cases. While the stress and health impacts of food insecurity have been studied by scientists for decades, there has been much less research on water insecurity until recently. That means the field of water insecurity studies is wide open! From literature reviews of ecological and health impacts, to case studies of policies or industry practices, to op-eds, to proposed solutions—we need research projects from diverse perspectives to tackle issues related to water insecurity.

Exploring Social Epidemiology

You've probably became very familiar with the term "epidemiologist" over the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, did you know that there are many different types of epidemiologists, not just those that study infectious diseases? Social epidemiologists study the effects of social and structural factors on the health of populations. This field considers "exposures" at the individual level (e.g., education level), the community level (e.g., housing segregation or income inequality), and the policy level (e.g., policies that provide nutritional supplementation for low-income families). If this interests you, we can design a project where you learn about a social issue, review the research about how it shapes human health, and create a product showcasing the importance of reducing that social inequity to improve population health.

Coding skills


Teaching experience

Laboratory Mentorship: I have created and taught microbiome statistical analysis tutorials for a methods workshop in my department, in addition to mentoring students through the fellowship and scholarship application process.


Work experience

Carolina Population Center (2018 - 2019)
Research Intern
Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, South Africa (2017 - 2017)
Refugee Employment Access Programme Intern


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
BA Bachelor of Arts (2019)
Northwestern University
MPH Master of Public Health candidate
Northwestern University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Human Biology

Completed Projects

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