H2U: Global Health and Health Equity Research

This program introduces high school students to the world of research through global health and health equity projects led by University of Minnesota professors. Professors serve as mentors to help guide students and provide hands-on experiences with real-world research. 

All participants will take part in 5 online lectures, professional skill development by contributing to a research team, and research skill development tailored to a student’s goals and interests. The program will require students to dedicate approximately 4-5 hours per week during the summer program, and 2-3 hours per week during the academic year.

The program welcomes sophomores from underrepresented backgrounds to apply. Students should have an interest in health fields, science, problem-solving, and global health or health equity. 


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Jose Debes (Program Director)

Jose Debes (Program Director)

  • Hepatitis B awareness and prognosis in Africa (Ethiopia, Tanzania)
  • Liver cancer epidemiology in Africa
  • Liver cancer epidemiology in South America

Mahsa Abassi (Mentor)

Mahsa Abassi (Mentor)
Project: COVID prevalence study in BIPOC and marginalized populations in the Twin Cities.

David Boulware (Mentor)

David Boulware (Mentor)
Project: HIV and depression in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Jonathan Kirsch (Mentor)

Jonathan Kirsch (Mentor)
Project: Students will work on a mobile health initiative with Spanish speaking migrant farmworkers. An example of project activities may include collecting, distributing, sharing and monitoring views of popular education around covid vaccines for farmworkers. 

Cuong Pham (Mentor)

Cuong Pham (Mentor)
Project: Telemedicine in primary care for patients with opioid use disorder.

Hope Pogemiller (Mentor)

Hope Pogemiller (Mentor)
Project: Improving medical services for immigrant and refugee patients (working on informed consents in different languages, aiding in video-creation for translation examples, survey of interpreters).

Nasreen Quadri (Mentor)

Nasreen Quadri (Mentor)
Project: Contribute to the research on the history of faith-based services offered in hospitals in North America.

Radha Rajasingham (Mentor)

Radha Rajasingham (Mentor)

  • Diagnostic tests and treatments in Ugandan people with AIDS
  • Methods to prevent meningitis in people with HIV/AIDS
  • Interventions to prevent AIDS-related infections

Joshua Rhein (Mentor)

Joshua Rhein (Mentor)

  • Investigate immune responses to vaccination in Ugandans vs Americans receiving Yellow Fever vaccination
  • Investigate chronic inflammation in well-controlled HIV in Mexico

William Stauffer (Mentor)

William Stauffer (Mentor)

  • Studies on refugee Health and Tropical Medicine
  • Studies looking at drug cost and health disparities, and studies on COVID prevention and mitigation in refugees via NRC RIM

Irina Stepanov (Mentor)

Irina Stepanov (Mentor)
Project: Global cancer prevention research

What will the online learning sessions be like?

These will be hour-long sessions on Zoom covering a variety of topics, including those targeting skills to help navigate college applications, financial literacy, and key topics in global health.

Will I be required to travel to campus?

No, all students will participate in the program online. If it is deemed safe for students to visit campus in the coming year, transportation will be provided. Students will need to have internet access to participate in the program; if this is a challenge for an applicant, please indicate this in the application so we can find appropriate accommodations.

What kind of research will I work on?

In your application you can indicate your preferred field of study (there will be options to select from). Most mentors are experts in infectious disease, global health and health equity and will have a few projects that you can contribute to.

I don’t have any experience working with research and I don’t know much about it. Is this for me?

The best type of student for this program is one who is curious, enjoys learning from experience, and is interested in human health and equity. Students should also have a strong interest in going on to college after high school.

How you engage with the program will depend on the kinds of skills you bring, and the kinds of skills you want to develop. Students will work with their mentors to decide what kinds of activities and learning are best suited for them in the program. For example, if you are especially interested in lab experiences, you may be paired with a mentor and a lab staff member who will help you learn how to analyze findings from test results obtained in the lab. Other examples of skills you may bring or develop could include performing a literature review, preparing visual graphics for publications, posters or manuscripts, creating videos about the research for a website, participating in a presentation about the project with the research team.

What is a “student from an underrepresented background?”

This program is particularly interested in working with students who are currently underrepresented in health science fields (medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, for example) to encourage them to consider future careers in health sciences. This includes students who are African-American and African, Native American, first generation American, and Latinx. Learn more about how the National Institutes of Health defines this.

I was planning to get a job this summer… can I do both?

We recommend that you only participate in this program if you have the time available to commit 3-5 hours per week working with your mentor and their staff. This program provides a small stipend to participants. For students who are part of the summer program, they will receive approximately $675 and students in the year-long program will receive $1,125.

Molly McCoy

To apply, students must complete 3 components: 

  1. Online Application Form (required) 
  2. Teacher Recommendation Form (at least 1 required)
  3. Essay (1 page) or Video (1-2 minutes) (please submit one or the other, not both)

Whether you submit an essay or a video, you should respond to the following questions:

  1. How does participation in this program relate to your goals in life? 

  1. One of the goals of this program is to provide access and opportunities to underrepresented students in the health sciences. This includes students who are African-American, African, Native American, and Latinx. Briefly explain how you meet this criteria. 

  1. The best type of student for this program is one who is curious, enjoys learning from experience, and is interested in human health and equity. Students should also have a strong interest in going on to college after high school. What do you bring to this program through your personality, your experiences, and skills or abilities?

  1. Is there anything else you would like to share with us that you think that would make you a great candidate? 

Candidate Interviews

Only select applicants will be invited to interview for the program after applications are reviewed. If you are selected for an interview, you will be contacted via email in late April or early May to schedule a brief interview via Zoom. Please check your email regularly to ensure you respond promptly to the interview scheduling request. 



Application Due Date
April 22, 2022

Interviews with Select Students will be held in mid-May 2022.

Notification for Selected Students
June 10, 2022

Summer Program Dates
June 20 - August 31, 2022

Academic Year Program Dates
June 1, 2022 - May 31, 2023