Perspectives Issue 1 (June 2021)

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Perspectives Issue 1 Spring 2021

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Cover Art “Masks I” Patrick Tyczynski, MPH Student

Artist’s Statement

“While the underlying need of the mask during the pandemic is concrete, various methods were required in order for people to understand and adopt the measures. Inspired by Warhol, the variants that we have seen the mask through will become as notable in fifty years as his art is today.”


Letter from the Editor-in-Chief Dear Readers, It is such a pleasure to welcome you to our first issue of Perspectives Magazine, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health student-run magazine. As public health experts, as many of you are or will become, we have an affinity for analytical methods. However, we may miss equally important aspects of humanistic perspectives, such as the feelings and aspirations of the populations we are trying to support. My team and I hope that as you immerse yourselves in these pages, you will develop an appreciation for the arts and humanities in amplifying the voices in public health. I understand that the past year has been exceedingly difficult for students, faculty members, and every human across the globe. We may feel terrified and alone, but sometimes a photograph, a painting, a poem, can remind us there are others out there who share our thoughts and experiences. I hope these reflective contents, created by our very own JHSPH students, will facilitate empathy and collaboration in public health. You may find yourself exposed to a world of thought you never knew about, as I have with the essay about smoking prevention via dental care. You may find a picture that resonates with your own experiences, as I have with the painting about female sexuality. Whatever it may be, let us all nurture open-mindedness and learn from each other.

Carpe diem!

Heather Jianbo Zhao Editor-in-Chief, Perspectives Magazine


Table of

Contents Written Work, Page 7

Written pieces, paired with works of art.

Photography, Page 21

Photography and the pandemic.

Artwork, Page 31

Art submissions: Paint and Mixed Media

Artwork Featured in Written Work, Page 37

Artist statements from work featured with written pieces

Contributors, Page 48

List of contributors of submissions

Perspectives Magazine Team, Page 49




Written Work


Immigrants, They Get The Job Done: Meeting the Inventor of the N95 Mask by Gloria Marino, PhD Candidate During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, many words previously only found in scientific spaces have made their way into the public vocabulary. “Viral load,” “PPE,” “mRNA” and notably “N95”—referring, of course, to the famed N95 mask that is considered the holy grail of mask safety against the coronavirus. It is not an exaggeration to say that the N95’s immense efficacy against the spread of COVID-19 likely saved millions of lives globally over the course of this past year. But whose face is behind the invention of this mask? Dr. Peter Tsai is a Taiwanese immigrant who grew up on his family farm in this Qingshui District of Taichung, Taiwan. After completing his undergraduate engineering degree in Taiwan, he emigrated to the United States in pursuit of his doctorate. He enrolled in the Materials Science department at the University of Kansas in 1981. Throughout his doctoral studies, he Graduate students at the University of Kansas need 90 course credits to graduate, but Dr. Tsai completed 500 by the time he got his doctorate. His successful graduate career landed him a professorship at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where he began the research that would eventually become the N95 mask. Historically, most filters worked by weaving very dense fibers together to physically trap small particles. However, it is difficult to make a filter that is dense enough to trap microscopic organisms, but still loose enough to allow easy air passage. For example, a vacuum bag is very effective at trapping dust and dirt but would be extremely difficult to wear as a mask and breathe through easily. During World War I and II the gold standard for highly effective respirators were gas masks fitted with fiberglass filters, but as one can imagine these didn’t represent a safe or comfortable long-term mask solution. Beginning in 1992, the Tsai laboratory worked on developing materials that filtered particles in a new and improved way. Dr. Tsai looked to develop a filter that was made of electrostatically charged fibers. Rather than relying on particles getting physically stuck on a meshwork of fibers, particles are actually attracted to the fibers themselves—the same way that you can stick a balloon to your hair during winter. Now when particles encounter the filter, 95% of them are immediately stuck to the fibers and cannot get out. Because the fibers are so effective at trapping particles, they do not need to be as dense so more pure air can get through without compromising on filter quality. He patented the technique in 1995, envisioning his technology being used in home air filter systems across the country. Ironically, or perhaps astutely, this technique for electrostatically charging fibers was coined “corona charging.” Cyndi Trang, MAS Student


The N95 filter was originally licensed by 3M to make the first N95 masks designed with construction workers in mind, who work in intensely dusty and sometimes toxic environments. However, the masks quickly gained popularity and were evaluated by the CDC in 1996 to test their efficacy against airborne viruses. Like dust particles, the fibers of the N95 attract and trap viruses, preventing them from escape. The filters were combined with existing medical mask designs and created a mask now considered to be the industry standard for healthcare personnel around the world. Although ubiquitous, the N95 received little fanfare over the decade or so it has been in use. Dr. Tsai retired from his professorship in 2018 at the age of 66 but was quickly called out of retirement when the pandemic hit in 2020. Researchers and industry leaders alike were calling Tsai asking him how to (1) scale up N95 filter production, and (2) how best to decontaminate masks for re-use while supply was scarce. Dr. Tsai got to work, quickly making a makeshift laboratory in his home and pulling 20-hour days to test various cheap but effective decontamination methods for the N95. On April 16 th, less than one month after U.S. shutdown, he published his findings in an emergency report which were quickly validated by the NIH. Heating masks to 158°F for 60 minutes using dry heat (like a conventional oven) effectively decontaminates the mask without sacrificing filter efficacy. He didn’t stop there. He kept experimenting, sharing any new, effective method he found with the public, and worked hard to spread the word about what materials make the most effective masks. He worked as a consultant for N95DECON, a collaborative group of volunteer scientists working across the U.S. on methods of N95 decontamination and reuse. Dr. Tsai also met with the team at Oak Ridge National Lab who was trying to find ways to scale up production of N95 masks. The lab hoped to convert itself from one that processes carbon filters to one that produced the electrostatic filters. Dr. Tsai came to the lab and instructed the team about how to design, build, and scale a charging system from their existing technology. Lab members were quoted as saying that Dr. Tsai “shaved off several months to a year of time” that would have been spent optimizing and troubleshooting the system. Instead, the lab reached its target production in just a few weeks. The laboratory shares its technology with industry partners to scale up their facilities, such that they can produce N95 material for up to 1 million masks per day. Dr. Tsai has refused compensation for any of the tireless efforts he has put forth during the course of the pandemic. His humility and candor have endeared him to his colleagues throughout his life. In all, Tsai has 12 U.S. patents and over 20 commercial license agreements. Despite his “retirement,” Dr. Tsai has never stopped trying to improve his technology, and recently has described a method of filtration twice as effective as the N95. Disturbingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has coincided with a 150% rise in attacks and harassment against Asian Americans during 2020. Largely these attacks center around xenophobic rhetoric conflating the COVID-19 pandemic with Asian-Americans. Asian Americans are not at fault, and their stories deserve to be told. Dr. Tsai has reflected on the racism he experienced throughout his life and understands that despite his accomplishments to a stranger on the street he is just an Asian-American man. But Dr. Tsai keeps a hopeful and admirable attitude. “My technology is good for all humans, no matter how they treat me.”




Reasons for Extension by Maisie Conrad, Masters Student Hi Professor, 1. I have been learning about public health for almost 8 months. I have written about the academic misuse of genetic material from the Havasupai Tribe; I have written about the high mortality rates among Black MSM in Michigan; I have written about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in the Great Plains. Despite the pages upon pages of reports and reviews and observations on my shelves and in my brain and on my Google Drive, I feel like I don’t know anything. I don’t know how to write about a tragedy I’m living through. 2. The last evidence that I once lived a normal life is tucked away in the ‘Memories’ tab of my phone’s photo reel. A flight to Tasmania becomes a sold-out singer-songwriter concert becomes a mint lemon martini becomes standing in place for 13 months straight. I have a month left until the last photo my boyfriend (Australian) and I (American) took together in-person joins the ‘One year ago’ tab. I can feel it hurting already.

Erin Russell, DrPH Student, Implementation Science

Victoria Kamilar, ScM Student, Epidemiology

3. I volunteer writing summaries of scientific articles concerning COVID-19 and what that means for maternal and child health. Summary one, this week, is for a case study on a pregnant woman infected with SARS-CoV-2 who delivered an infant with no complications. Summary two is for a case study on a pregnant woman infected with SARS-CoV-2 who died a few hours after doctors lost her fetus’s heartbeat. Summary three, a study out of Sweden, finds that the pandemic is increasing stress among new mothers. Summary four, out of Japan, finds no change in stress. Summary five is a letter warning that expedited publishing of non-peer reviewed studies to spread findings on COVID-19 could be spreading misinformation. It would be too overwhelming to contemplate what that letter implies for my job. Instead, I move onto summary six. 4. Sometimes I feel like if I stretched out long enough, and another person was reaching out to me, our fingertips could brush against each other even across six feet of space. Only if the other person was trying just as hard to make that connection. I don’t have a ruler long enough to measure my arms. I’m going to get one.



Reasons for Extension, Continued 5. I’m not shy, but I can feel my social skills and confidence withering away. The other day some guy asked me where the nearest post box was, and I told him it was just three blocks west on East Baltimore, but I couldn’t remember the name of the intersecting street. I struggled. He nodded and thanked me. I hadn’t had a conversation in-person with a stranger for months that didn’t involve one of us buying something. I thought about the way I gave him directions for the rest of the afternoon and all through the next day. 6. I got my first shot of the Moderna vaccine, and my arm hurt so badly when I went to bed that I was surprised it was still attached to my shoulder in the morning. I have the second shot scheduled in a month, which people warn is worse. I can only wonder what I will feel like in a month. Millions of people got sick and millions died, but not me. Not my friends, not my family. I lost my job, but I didn’t go broke. I went to school, I baked bread, and I didn’t go insane. Soon, I’ll have my full vaccination card, and the quiet guilt that it all wasn’t so bad for me. I was so very, very lucky. Does this cement myself as someone who moves forward in public health working with the people that disease happens to?

Heather Zhao, ScM Student, Epidemiology

Cyndi Trang, MAS Student

7. My cohort and I are going to be graduating in 2022. My cohort and I want to be a force of good in the world. It feels like the world was not prepared for what happened in the last year. I’ve read more than one article that claims COVID-19 is just the first in a string of pandemics that will occur during my lifetime. I look at my cohort and wonder if we are prepared for what public health may become. I got a B in my epidemiology class, and I can’t help but feel like that’s not going to be enough. Maybe I could message the Whatsapp group chat and ask those other students to tell me that I’m not alone. “Give me a sense of belonging. You all need to look me in the eyes and brush fingertips with me as we walk into the uncertain future together.” And it would be that text over a picture of sad Ben Affleck smoking or something. All this to say: it’s been a rough week, and I would appreciate it if you consider my request for a few days’ extension to turn in my research protocol assignment. Have a good weekend!



In The Quest to Help Smokers Quit, Dentists Overlook Victims of Secondhand Smoke by Omotayo Francis Fagbule, Graduate Student in Global Tobacco Control Nonsmokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) is a global public health issue. Generally, over 50% of nonsmokers are exposed to tobacco smoke worldwide, and it is reported to be as high as 97% in some countries. This exposure results in over 800,000 deaths annually across the globe, disproportionately affecting women and children. Apart from the role of SHS in respiratory illnesses, exposure to SHS can cause smoking-like health effects, including periodontal diseases and dental caries. The role of dentists in helping smokers quit has been emphasized in numerous studies. Thus, dentists have the unique opportunity to address this public health issue by identifying and assisting those affected by SHS during their dental consultations. Secondhand smoke exposure, or passive smoking, occurs when a nonsmoker inhales smoke from the burning end of a tobacco product and the smoke exhaled by an active smoker. Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, such as tobacco-specific nitrosamines, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, and ammonia. These chemicals are toxic and cause similar health problems to both active and passive smokers. Tobacco use causes numerous oral health diseases like periodontal diseases, tooth loss, oral cancer, and leukoplakia. The World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommends that the major role dentists can play in reducing the effects of tobacco is by identifying current smokers and advising them to quit. When dentists successfully advise, assist, and follow-up with their patients, studies have shown that these patients are more likely to successfully quit smoking. However, dentists who ask about tobacco use alone exclude critical, often vulnerable groups of people, such as nonsmoking children and adolescents, who are exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke. Thus, the current WHO guidelines are insufficient as they do not include protocols for identifying those patients who do not use tobacco but are exposed to equally harmful tobacco smoke. Therefore, while dentists must continue asking and assisting active smokers in quitting, they should also establish if their nonsmoking patients are exposed to SHS. Dentists need to educate their patients about the dangers of exposure to SHS and teach them the required skills to avoid such exposure. For example, they should be informed of the prevailing regulations on smoke-free public places in their countries and how to calmly but firmly request that offenders desist. Apart from directly counseling victims of SHS exposure, dentists should consider utilizing non-smoking patients as change agents to convince smokers around them to quit. For example, the potential harm of children from exposure to SHS is one of the biggest motivations for parents quitting tobacco smoking. Furthermore, dentists may try speaking directly to smoking parents who accompany their nonsmoking children about the harm to the child. In all, dentists have a unique opportunity to intercede on behalf of their patients who are exposed to SHS. By identifying these vulnerable groups, and by counseling them and their guardians against the dangers of SHS, dentists will be able to broaden their impact in the battle against tobacco use.

Dentists have the unique opportunity to address this public health issue by identifying and assisting those affected by SHS during their dental consultations.

Heather Zhao, ScM Student, Epidemiology



The Persistence of Memory by Cyndi Trang, MAS Student The surrealism painting depicts a disturbingly quiet, desert-like landscape inhabited by a limp carcass of an indecipherable animal, three melting clocks, and an ant-infested stopwatch. Stagnant blue water and a setting sun serves as the backdrop. This 1931 painting, The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dali is one of my favorite pieces of art. As a young child, I would climb on the brown boxes in the study room’s closet to reach the treasured top shelf and take one of the books from the set of leather-bound 1994 World Book encyclopedias. I loved looking at the pictures in the encyclopedia. This was where I had first seen Dali’s painting; it persisted in my memory like red paint on a fire hydrant. The striking painting’s message can be interpreted to mean that time has no meaning and permanence is nonexistent: only memory can persist. This message is ominously relevant in 2020 and 2021. As the world faces a global pandemic together, time seems to have no meaning. Things that we thought were permanent—job security, health, human connection—have been disrupted. In these difficult times, the painting reminds us that instead of focusing on time, we should build valuable memories that can persist.

Salvador Dalí The Persistence of Memory 1931

Dali, Salvador. “The Persistence of Memory.” MoMA, 1931,



Genetic Privacy and the Ethical Challenges of Genetic Testing by Jayati Sharma, ScM Student, Epidemiology Gregor Mendel, the now-famous Austrian monk and father of modern genetics, would have likely never considered the scale to which his simple discovery of heritability would change the face of medicine for centuries to come. Since his death in 1884, humans have gone from identifying the famed double-helix structure to sequencing the entire human genome to creating clinically useful disease prediction models using genetics. With Gregor Mendel’s seminal discoveries, we have changed our understanding of the human body forever. The exponential growth of Genetics since Mendel's era has given scientists the ability to use DNA to understand both broad patterns and specific details in disease etiology. The recent advent and popularization of highly powered genome-wide scans using genetic data of hundreds of thousands of individuals has, notably, enabled the discovery of important disease-related genes. Further, understanding these genes has lessened chronic disease burden, accelerated the development of life-saving genetic therapies, and significantly improved our understanding of human health. These benefits, however valuable, must not be gained in exchange for individual loss of data privacy. The issue of genetic privacy has been well-documented in recent years, especially in the 2013 study that demonstrated the ability for researchers to identify individual genomes by inferring individuals’ last names from their Y-chromosome haplotypes and using other publicly available records. 1 The infamous Golden State killer was identified using genetic genealogy in public databases and family relatedness, which raised concerns on the ethics of police use of genetic data, especially in lower-level criminal proceedings. 2 The use of genetic data, especially at the population level, is therefore challenged by the need to maintain respect for participants' autonomy while still contributing to greater social good (e.g. research, identification of dangerous criminals, and therapeutic development). The principle of proportionality seeks to address some of these important concerns. Proportionality aims to balance the level of beneficial and harmful outcomes of an ethical decision to achieve the most optimal outcome, and is especially relevant in situations of two overlapping and competing interests. 2 How then must genetics as a field incorporate proportionality into its modus operandi? Currently, few providers of direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTCGT) are governed by laws that require equitable and clearly specified use of consumer-provided genetic data. In fact, the fine print of many DTCGT providers notes explicitly the (albeit unlikely) possibility that one's identity can be uncovered using your provided genetic data. Given the unclear boundaries of data ownership, and with many providers selling consumers' genetic information to insurance companies, the ethical responsibilities of DTCGT seem both pressing and yet, unaccounted for on the broad scale.


Heather Zhao, ScM Student, Epidemiology

Genetic Privacy, Continued Federal and state legislatures must match the pace of genetics' scientific progress by creating legal duties and ramifications for DTCGT companies if they hope to actively prevent data misuse. The implementation of clear, participant-focused privacy agreements, controlled access barriers, and state/federal regulations surrounding the use of genetic data in a socially responsible and ethical way is imperative. In doing so, we will gain the valuable trust of individuals participating in genetic studies and purchasing genetic services. Such barriers against data misuse have great potential to uphold important ethical principles while ensuring societal benefit through scientific progress. It is undoubtedly true that both public and private genetic databases have an immense potential for societal benefit. The discovery of the genetic basis of many diseases remains limited by the "low" sample sizes of many current study cohorts. As more people participate in genetic studies and share their genetic data, researchers will be better able to understand the genetic bases of disease, and how to subsequently cure and prevent life-threatening conditions. As a field that arose from many scientists' eugenicist leanings, genetics as a field still requires introspection and analysis to prevent the threat of data misuse. Incorporating and enforcing bold transparency and legal checks in the system surrounding population-based genetic studies and genetic testing will be paramount to ensure genetic research maintains a clear and obvious benefit to research participants, DTCGT customers, and the broader public.

References: 1

Gymrek M, McGuire AL, Golan D, Halperin E, Erlich Y. Identifying personal genomes by surname inference. Science. 2013;339(6117):321-324. doi:10.1126/science.1229566 2

Wickenheiser RA. Forensic genealogy, bioethics and the Golden State Killer case. Forensic Sci Int. 2019;1:114-125. Published 2019 Jul 12. doi:10.1016/j.fsisyn.2019.07.003



Haikus for Three Seasons by Dawn Carson, MPH Student All Images by Vimal Konduri, MPH Student, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Concentration

Winter 2020 Uncanny. In days. Hospitals rise through the dark Of distant China.


Summer 2020 Death has gone viral. Burning crowds march wearing masks Which scream “I can’t breathe.”

Spring 2021 #OurBestShot brings life. Shots kill in Minnesota. Hope, marred and tainted.


Latinx Voices: Life with COVID-19 Storytelling by Paulina Sosa, DrPH Student, Co-Authored by Samantha Meza There is power in our voice, in our story. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the voice of the Latinx community needed a platform to be heard. In an effort to listen to and highlight the voices of nuestra comunidad, our community, Latinx Voces launched the “Life with COVID-19” or “La Vida con COVID-19” storytelling platform. Latinx Voces is collaborating with Dia de la Mujer Latina and promotores* across Texas, California, Florida, among many other states to find and share stories of nuestra life with COVID-19. Through the stories that come from the community, we are able to learn more about how COVID-19 has impacted communities, families, small businesses, artists, promotores, and clinics across the country. We hear the stories from promotores about how families didn’t know what to do or where to turn, about how promotores had to help families navigate treatment, quarantine, and response to COVID-19. We learn how promotores hear that “there is a sense of relief and gratitude because their worries have been acknowledged and validated.” We hear how family members feel worried or confused about what’s next beyond COVID-19. The collective trauma and emotional rollercoaster of so many families are deeply seen and felt through the stories that are shared. The trauma of not being able to see family or loved ones. The emotion that came from losing a job, or not having access to proper PPE. The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath has been a huge burden for families to carry. “I was very emotional because my immediate family circle are very close, and not being able to see them was very sad to me.” The reality is that these emotions have also led to a huge increase in mental health issues and concerns, including depression and anxiety. Latinx Voces serves as a safe space and platform to voice these important concerns. Additionally, we hear stories that talk about the huge impact of misinformation. “I remember all the different pieces of information we were getting this time last year. It was overwhelming and anxiety-inducing.” Misinformation led to confusion, frustration, and overburden especially while nuestras comunidades didn’t know ways to protect themselves at the workplace or in our homes. It has been a true eye-opener for the Latinx Voces collaboration to hear directly from la comunidad on the stories and voices of familias. The power of being heard, being given a safe space to share openly, and connecting with others that share our emotions has helped create a strong sense of comunidad. Latinx Voces looks forward to continuing to empower the community through storytelling, embracing the heroes and promotores in our community, and featuring the creative and innovative ways that familias have come together to uplift each other through the pandemic. Together we are stronger. Juntos somos más fuertes. ¡Si se puede! *Editor’s note: promotores are Hispanic/Latinx community health workers



“Touching, rubbing, scratching our eyes, nose, mouth, and other parts of our faces are a normal and frequent habit for many, if not all, of us. We might be doing it consciously or unconsciously. During this pandemic, these habits may be especially dangerous and can lead to detrimental outcomes. The virus spreads by droplets that land on surfaces. If we touch the infected surfaces then touch our faces, the virus can easily enter our body. The 3 pieces of art I drew regarding the nose, mouth, and eyes can act as reminders for individuals to become more aware of their conscious or unconscious habit of touching the features on their faces, no matter how enticing (or beautiful) they are.” -Venus Chiu, ScM Student, Epidemiology





“During COVID, we are all spending more and more time in our homes, focusing on our homework, work, and other projects. We are also spending more and more time on screens and the internet. Our mental health can suffer because of our overworked mind. Therefore, I believe it is important to get out of the house, breath in fresh air, and discover new sights. These were some pictures that I took when I was exploring my neighborhood a while ago. I hope these pieces encourage individuals to look at things (in life or when you are in nature) from a different angle or perspective. You might just find something cool! “

-Venus Chiu, ScM Student, Epidemiology



Cyndi Trang, MAS Student “I will always remember my first pandemic Christmas, when the true gift was having toilet paper and hand sanitizer.”



Xinyu Guo, ScM Student, Biostatistics “I planted this seed at the beginning of the epidemic, and it has sprouted recently, with the shell that has not retreated, looking forward to the arrival of the sunlight. The photo is taken during quarantine. Under the epidemic, everyone is brewing a rebirth.”




Cyndi Trang, MAS Student “As we were physically distancing during the pandemic, many were drawn closer to nature, including myself. Each day, I would strive to go outdoors at least once. Conway Robinson State Forest was one of my favorite places in 2020.”


Anonymous “I took a stroll around Audubon Park few weeks ago and saw this couple with their toddler doing a photoshoot and enjoying family time together while keep social distancing from others. Something I have not seen in quite a while, and it reminded me a lot of what life looked like before the pandemic. Hopefully we can all do our part and follow the COVID-19 guidelines so that our life can return to normal soon.”



Anupama Shah, ScM Student, Epidemiology “As the pandemic persists, I am trying to make a concerted effort to take more walks and get some fresh air every day to break up the monotony of sitting in the same room in the same position for hours. I’ve caught some beautiful sunsets (and sunrises when I can wake up early enough) this year!”



My Morning Commute to Work*

Robert DeGrazia, MD, General Internal Medicine Fellow “Embodies the walk from my bedroom in my loft apartment to the computer desk I’ve been working on for the past year including starting a new fellowship, attending conferences and obtaining my masters.” *“This is a digital photograph taken with my iPhone 12 Pro Max.”



Anonymous “At first glance, it is a mere tree trunk. But at closer glance, I learned to appreciate the intricate networks that supports its structure. Just like our healthcare system.”






Ariel Balaban, MHS Student “This digital art piece was created using Adobe Illustrator, and conveys how harm reduction is a form of radical love, and there should be nothing temporary about it. The lipstick and tattoos serve as a juxtaposition of symbols of temporary and indelible effects of harm reduction interventions in public health. The tattoos provide another double-layered meaning: normalization of the use of clean needles and the use of Narcan (which can counteract the effects of potentially fatal overdoses). These factors are critical when addressing addiction and overdose, which are both major public health issues in Baltimore.”




Shubhra Bardhar, MPH Student

“My Acrylic painting depicts the role of meditation in improving mental health. Once Buddha was asked, “What have you gained from meditation?” He replied, “Nothing!”, “However, let me tell you what I have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, and insecurity”. The buddha in my painting has his eyes closed and has a calm and serene look on his face indicating that he is in a state of meditation. In the background of my painting, there is a lotus which is a symbol of enlightenment, self-regeneration, and rebirth signifying Buddhas inner feeling of rejuvenation. In today’s era of the Covid-19 pandemic, stress, anxiety, and depression are becoming major public health issues around the globe. Meditation can help to recuperate the mental state of people. There have been many studies that have indicated the positive impact of meditation in relieving stress, reducing anxiety and depression.My painting describes the same.”


Salma Abou Hussein, MAS Student, Humanitarian Health “This painting aims to unravel as provoke the importance of discussions and dialogue around sexuality, female bodily perceptions and sex education in more conservative societies such as that of the rural Egyptian society where such matters are considered taboo, which is why a female Egyptian peasant is depicted in the painting half naked.”




Venus Chiu, ScM Student, Epidemiology

“I made this piece of art to bring more awareness to the pollution in our ocean. Although the impact may seem distal (i.e., in marine organisms), the toxins in the wildlife can enter the food chain and, ultimately, threaten human health. To make the pieces, I placed nails, screws, and bolts in water until they rusted. Then, I glued them into the body of painted and drawn jellyfish. The mix of mediums (i.e., 3D objects and paint) are meant to showcase the mix of natural (e.g., wildlife) and unnatural elements (e.g., waste, man-made objects) that are present in our ocean.”



Art: Featured in Written Work


Heather Zhao, ScM Student, Epidemiology “We can find symbols of public health in our own bodies. A print of interconnected neurons- shaping each other just like how our social circle can shape our understanding of one another.”



Cyndi Trang, MAS Student “With the first arrival of snow in northern Virginia, I could not resist making a safety first, socially distanced snowperson.”



Victoria Kamilar, ScM Student, Epidemiology “The first snow day of Baltimore's COVID-19 winter. Families and friends gathered at Patterson Park for boogie boarding and a day of joy and laughter. Those isolated by the pandemic just watched. The birds, the snow, the happiness. Even in the midst of flurries, civilization seemed more than a pond away. - This photo aims to represent the effects of isolation within the rising mental health crisis.”


Erin Russell, DrPH Student, Implementation Science “My maternal grandmother was pregnant for 10 years, during which she gave birth to 7 children. As a child, I was always aware of her round belly that seemed to never recover. It’s what her hugs were made of. I’d wrap my tiny arms around her and lay my head on the top; and as I grew taller, I would have to lean over her belly to reach her cheek with a kiss. Our family matriarch was surrounded by her children and many grandchildren when she passed away in January 2020. I have since been consumed with an appreciation of the role motherhood has played in my family, particularly its bearing on our mental and physical health. A fierce, but often stoic strength served as the backbone of the environment in which I was nurtured and raised. With oil and galklyd on canvas I celebrate a pregnant form against a backdrop of soft color and vibrant light.”



Cyndi Trang, MAS Student “The pandemic period has been some of the most turbulent in public health history. But I have faith that our public health system will successfully guide us through these tough times.”


Heather Zhao, ScM Student, Epidemiology

“Art can remind us of the great contributions of our predecessors. Hippocrates, Edward Jenner, Edwin Chadwick, Sara Josephine Baker, Alfred Sommer, and Margaret Chan all contributed significantly to the ideologies of public health. This piece hopes to inspire viewers so we can continue their work and expand on their legacy.”

“This digital print encourages us to ponder whether we will allow genetic technologies to overcome the gap between the human body and the limitations of the human body.”



“This is a photo of Baltimore's historic Senator Theatre in March 2021. The theater's marquee notes that it is closed (as a result of the pandemic), and is eagerly awaiting the day when it can once again welcome moviegoers when it is safer to do so.”

-Vimal Konduri, MPH Student, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Concentration

4 4


“This is a photo of State Street in Downtown Madison, Wisconsin on April 6, 2020, less than two weeks after Wisconsin's Safer at Home Order went into effect at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. State Street is normally a busy hub of activity. A pedestrian mall that serves as Downtown Madison's main shopping street, State Street is very popular with students, faculty, and staff of the adjacent University of Wisconsin–Madison as well as those who work in state government (the State Capitol is visible at the center of this photo). However, because of the pandemic and Safer at Home Order, most of its shops and restaurants had to temporarily close or shift to carry-out- or delivery-only models and UW–Madison shifted to completely remote classes, leaving State Street nearly completely empty, a highly unusual sight for this normally bustling street.”

-Vimal Konduri, MPH Student, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Concentration




“This is a photo of State Street in Downtown Madison, Wisconsin, on October 20, 2019. This photo can complement the other photo of Madison's State Street on April 6, 2020 that I submitted. This photo of State Street in Downtown Madison, Wisconsin, on October 20, 2019 illustrates how busy and bustling the street normally is. The main commercial street of Downtown Madison, State Street's shops, restaurants, cafés, and bars normally draw many people from the adjacent University of Wisconsin–Madison campus and people who work in the state government (the State Capitol, visible here at center, is at one end of the street).”

-Vimal Konduri, MPH Student, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Concentration


Vimal Konduri, MPH Student “This is a photo from January 2021 of a historic statue of a dog listening to a phonograph, the former logo of the RCA Record Company, at the Maryland Center for History and Culture in Baltimore. The dog in the statue is wearing a mask, accompanied by a reminder to ‘Wash Your Paws!’, reminders of safety practices amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Contributors Ariel Balaban, MHS Student Shubhra Bardhar, MPH Student Dawn Carson, MPH Student Venus Chiu, ScM Student in Epidemiology Maisie Conrad, Masters Student Robert DeGrazia MD, General Internal Medicine Fellow Omotayo Francis Fagbule, Graduate Student in Global Tobacco Control Xinyu Guo, ScM Student, Biostatistics Salma Abou Hussein, MAS Student, Humanitarian Health Victoria Kamilar, ScM Student in Epidemiology Vimal Konduri, MPH Student Gloria Marino, PhD Candidate Erin Russell, DrPH Student, Implementation Science Anupama Shah, ScM Student, Epidemiology Jayati Sharma, ScM Student in Epidemiology Paulina Sosa, DrPH Student Cyndi Trang, MAS Student Patrick Tyczynski, MPH Student Heather Zhao, ScM Student, Epidemiology


Perspectives Magazine Team Editor-in-Chief Heather Jianbo Zhao

Editing Gloria Marino Jayati Sharma

Graphics Venus Chiu Christine Liang

Perspectives Magazine Issue No.1 Published June 2021 Perspectives aims to enlighten the JHU community on the significance of art and humanities in public health through storytelling and artforms.

Design & Layout Talia Loeb Mary Sears


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