Research Description

The Gardner Fellowship requires an independent research project with a faculty mentor in the spring semester. The fellowship year ends in an annual Policy Conference during the reading days in May. We have breakfast and lunch together and the Fellows generate poster presentations to summarize their research for fellows, alumni, faculty mentors, family, and other friends of the Gardner program.

Assessing the Effects of Insurance from the ACA on Primary Health Outcomes in the United States

The Affordable Care Act has reportedly helped to bring increased rates of insurance to low-income populations and provide more affordable insurance options to those struggling to afford it. Primarily, this is achieved through funding state programs to support the health of low-income communities, expanding pre-existing Medicaid eligibility to give more direct federal aid to low-income families, and through availing those ineligible for Medicaid with discounted rates for private health insurance through the healthcare exchanges. However, state responses to the funding received from the ACA differ drastically, leading to inconsistent outcomes. Moreover, literature suggests this population is still underinsured and that health outcomes continue to suffer. Using the National Health Interview Survey from years 2015-2019, this paper attempts to correlate the various types of insurance to various indicators of primary health. These include incidences of chronic illness and access to primary healthcare, as lower indices are generally indicative of poor and worsening health outcomes over time. Primarily analyzed in this paper are the differences in health outcomes between populations that are covered under private health insurance, Medicaid, and marketplace-based (exchange) insurance. In doing so, this paper aims to assess the state of the Medicaid program and the average efficiency of exchange based plans across the United States in promoting the general wellness of such populations.

“Future-Proofing Our Cities” Assessing Current Methods to Equitably Promote Sustainability in Urban America

Sustainability is a concept that is thrown around often in the modern era without much specificity on what can be done to truly achieve this goal. This is especially the case in developed nations like the United States, who in many ways disproportionately contribute to the overall problem of climate change on a global level. In an increasingly urbanized world, urban population centers present complicated relationships between human beings and the environment that affect millions of people on a daily basis. This paper examines the relationship between cities and climate change by analyzing the impact of sustainability programs that have been enacted in the New York City and Houston metropolitan regions. Using these two urban centers as case studies, sustainability is assessed in both its holistic success and the level of equity in outcomes produced from these programs and their impact on people. Not only do both of these cities have significant history with climate disasters and the worst effects of the climate crisis, but also have made significant efforts to improve not only their resiliency for present day environmental situations, but also the future that climate issues have provided us. This paper provides a qualitative analysis of these programs in order to extrapolate knowledge that can not only significantly change how urban citizens interact with the greater environment, but also help us understand how to make future sustainability projects be more equitable in providing for citizens throughout a cities’ population no matter their characteristics.

Access to Reproductive Justice through the Indian Health Service:  Contraceptives and Colonialism

The Indian Health Service (IHS)–a federal agency obligated by treaty to provide healthcare to Indigenous people in the US–has a history of colonialist practices and reproductive abuse that is continued by its promotion of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), denying Indigenous patients fully informed consent and, as a result, access to reproductive justice. I analyzed the IHS “2021 Formulary Brief: LARC” and IHS “2016 Formulary Brief: Contraception” and compared the directives given to clinicians with the language of the Center for Disease Controls and the Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. I compared the information IHS offers for each contraceptive method in these formulary briefs with their respective FDA warning labels. I analyzed and coded results for “birth control” on the IHS website search engine to determine what information patients could find about contraceptives and whether contraceptives were promoted, omitting extraneous results. I found that IHS clinicians are encouraged to “Engage in shared decision making to select the most appropriate contraceptive for each individual patient,” unlike similar government agencies, and are offered information that asserts the superiority of LARCs and contradicts FDA warning labels. I found 50% of the search results for “birth control” yield information that promotes LARCs.

Ayodhya Temple Construction and Religious Relations in India: A Computational Perspective

Conversations on social media can cover a variety of sensitive topics, including religious relations. Nowadays, discourse on social media gives an intimate view of what everyone from politicians to ordinary people think about the state of religious relations in diverse democracies like India. The algorithms behind social media platforms also pave a path for conversations to turn dangerous and hateful. The Supreme Court ruling and the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ayodhya temple sparked discussions on Twitter about secularism, nationalism, and Hindi-Muslim relations in modern-day India. Tweets covered topics from casual chatter about the ceremony to hateful speech against both religions. This paper aims to gain insight into religious hate speech to understand religious movements in India by performing a computational analysis on tweets about the Ayodhya temple during August 2020. Understanding the themes of the national conversation and the characteristics of religious hate speech about this event is critical to creating a more secure society in India. Through this experimentation, I reveal the complexity of Hindu-Muslim relations regarding the Ayodhya temple construction.