Summer is by far our busiest intern/fellows season here at PHRII. School’s out and ambitious students are eager to apply their training to the real world of evidence-based community-driven public health interventions. Every year we have interns working on projects ranging from biochemistry to anthropology. Meet some of the students and heed some advice they have for incoming professionals.

-Dr. Purnima Madhivanan


“Caitlyn Placek is a Ph.D. candidate in the Anthropology Department at Washington State University. She was at PHRII working on her dissertation, in which she examined dietary shifts in pregnancy among women residing in the rural and urban areas in  Mysore. Specifically, she wanted to learn about how they acquire dietary knowledge and the  environmental factors that influence what they prefer to eat. In the 2 months she was at PHRII, Caitlyn completed her project and plans to continue collaborating with PHRII in the future. While in Mysore Caitlyn immersed herself in the local culture and also learning all about the famous Mysore-style yoga. Her advice for future interns?  Remain open and flexible, view obstacles as learning experiences, and try as many new things as you can”.

“Noah Kojima is a medical student at UCLA. He was at PHRII studying the pathogenesis of bacterial vaginosis using molecular methods. “I thought my project went well, but we are still analyzing samples.  We cannot draw any conclusions until that portion finishes,” he said. Noah was able to successfully complete the goals for his summer in terms of the original project and was also able to help on other PHRII projects. Even though he got sick for about a week Noah thinks that everyone should try Mysore’s street food - apparently it’s well worth the risk”!

“Annie Yau is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. She was at PHRII trying to identify markers for gestational diabetes at one of Mysore’s biggest and busiest hospitals. Annie was quite arguably the most adventurous of the bunch - in that she always said yes! Chole Bhatura? Yes. Midnight Movie? Yes. Eat an entire paper dosa? If she’s hungry enough, yes! This positivity and openness to absorbing the culture while working on an engaging project makes for a great summer experience”.

“Tirajeh Zohourian is a medical student in Miami, Florida. She was at PHRII working alongside Annie on the gestational diabetes project. She also had the opportunity to immerse herself in community-based healthcare delivery. After having worked alongside Dr. Madhivanan as a research for more than two years, Tirajeh was dying to learn about the work on the ground, not behind a computer screen or coded in an excel document. It was an experience well worth a trip halfway across the world, one she surely would have regretted not making”.

“Roshan Nebhrajani, a journalist and aspiring physician. I interned for one month, documenting the many dimensions of PHRII with my notepad and camera in hand. I was fascinated by the HQ, a refurbished bungalow designed to serve as an office building, intern hostel and event space all in one. I was amazed by the morning hustle and bustle -- around 10 a.m.three teams would assemble: the Mobile Medical Team, Prerana Reproductive Health Team and finally the Admin team. From there I’d take my pick. If I felt like going into Mysore’s most remote, tribal regions and shadow health care delivery at the raw, community level I’d jump in the van. If instead I wanted to see how PHRII does its routine care and procedures, I’d hop in a rickshaw and head to the free clinic to learn about consultations, cervical cancer screenings and pap smears. If I needed to bang out some computer content, I’d stay at the bungalow and work with the admin team to upload pictures online, build out the website or edit some great shots I had taken earlier that week. My advice? Make a game plan then throw it in the garbage. Just being present and absorbing the experience day to day will expose you to experiences that are far richer than any checklist you can draft”.