Harvard Undergraduate Research Program in Planetary Health, Madagascar

Dr. Christopher Golden and Harvard undergraduates in Madagascar conducting Planetary Health research

Planetary health is an interdisciplinary field focused on understanding and quantifying the human health impacts of the accelerating transformation of most of Earth’s natural systems. We are excited to offer this fellowship opportunity sponsored by the Henry David Thoreau Foundation that will sponsor up to five scholars selected across a range of disciplines to 1) receive training in planetary health science; 2) travel to Madagascar to receive hands-on experience in planetary health research; and 3) learn how to create policy impact by preparing presentations, capstone reports, or policy briefs on the research undertaken in Madagascar. Our desire is that students from across the FAS campus engage in this fellowship program, including anthropology, African studies, computer science, ecology, environmental science, global health, economics, government, visual studies, medicine, and journalism. For a brief video synopsis of the work (and to see the beautiful area where you will be working!), please see National Geographic’s 3-minute video. For an introduction to the work of Madagascar Health and Environmental Research (MAHERY), and of our National Geographic blog series featuring an introduction to the program and the voices of our current fellows. Students must be 1st, 2nd or 3rd year students in FAS and be prepared for spring coursework and a summer research training program in Madagascar. Students will receive a $1,000 stipend for their trip to Madagascar, along with all of their travel, lodging, and food covered in country.

Dr. Christopher Golden said: “As an undergraduate at the College (’05), I yearned for a program that connected the dots between what I considered to be the two most important global challenges: rapidly accelerating environmental change and protecting the health of the world’s most vulnerable populations. I created this program to provide undergraduates with the opportunity to tie these topics together and to gain experience in research study design and results dissemination. It is my hope that these hands-on field experiences will offer students a life-changing experience and will offer local Malagasy communities research products that will benefit their lives.”

Harvard Undergraduate Sabrina Devereaux, who participated in the program also remarked: “The Planetary Health Undergraduate Scholars program has been one of the most eye-opening experiences of my time at Harvard. To be able to experience a culture as beautiful and unique as Madagascar’s is an incredible opportunity in itself. By traveling with Dr. Golden, I had the ability to see the country as a scholar, rather than a tourist. In meeting people and seeing places that so few in the world get to see, my understanding of the world has changed for the better.”

To apply: Please submit a 1 page cover letter and CV to Dr. Golden at golden@hsph.harvard.edu by October 20th at 5pm EST. The cover letter should include information about your disciplinary background, why you are interested in this fellowship, and how you hope to engage in planetary health science in the future.