Meet Alllison Goldberg, AAUW Fellow at the Columbia School of Public Health

Allison Goldberg

Allison Goldberg is pursuing her PhD at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. This year she received a 2011-2012 AAUW American Fellowship.

Why Mothers Decide To Vaccinate Or Not 

The primary objective of her research is to explain why some mothers decide to vaccinate their children against preventable diseases and others don’t.  The results from this study will have important implications for understanding the social barriers that mothers face in vaccinating their children. Knowledge about these barriers will illuminate better methods of vaccination promotion and new ways to increase demand for this life-saving prevention strategy.  Ultimately, she hopes to develop a model which can be replicated globally to help women overcome the social barriers to accessing critical health services.

Her dissertation is a first analysis of the complex and numerous social network data that she collected from 565 mothers and 126 community leaders in northern Nigeria. Given that few researchers are studying immunization use from a social networks perspective, she believes that her research will uniquely position her to become an expert on this topic. Ultimately, she believes that her research allow her to make advancements towards her goal of becoming a leader in the field of maternal and child health.

Allison’s primary objective during this fiscal year is to complete the analysis and writing of her dissertation.  Since she received the American fellowship, she has successfully prepared her data for analysis. She has also conducted preliminary analyses of the data.  She plans to finish all analyses by January 2013 and spend the remaining months of the fellowship to write and defend her dissertation.

The AAUW American Fellowship has provided her with time to complete her dissertation.  Her dissertation uses primary social network data, which is both complex and numerous. Without support from the AAUW fellowship, she would not be able to analyze these data and write her thesis within the intended time frame.

 Allison’s Goals

In the next 3-5 years, Allison would like to have a career that straddles the academic and policy worlds.  That way, she can teach and contribute to academic discourse on how social factors shape maternal and child health, while at the same time, play a role in both designing and putting productive policies and programs into action.  She believes that her training in social science-informed public health, eight years of public health consulting experience, and rigorous dissertation work, provided her with the tools to accomplish her goal.

 How Allison Found AAUW

 Allison’s good friend/peer at Columbia University was also awarded a 2011-2012 AAUW American Fellowship, told her about AAUW. She shared details about AAUW’s mission, community-engagement activities, and sources of research support and funding. Allison was excited about the possibility of being a member of AAUW – an organization that aligned well with her research interests and goals and had opportunities for engagement in her own community.

 Allison plans to have an ongoing relationship with AAUW. She hopes to actively participate in her local branch in New York City. She also plans to encourage other students/individuals who she believes are strong candidates for AAUW fellowships to apply to them.  She has already encouraged two PhD candidates at Columbia University to apply to the American fellowship – they will be submitting applications for the 2013-2014 application period.