Juhi Purswani, Class of 2014
College of Human Ecology
Major: Biology and Society
Minor: Global Health


Juhi M. Purswani

As a Hunter R. Rawlings Presidential Research Scholar at Cornell University, I joined the Mehta Research Group (MRG) as one of it’s first undergraduate research students in 2012. My interests broadly focused on the intersection between micronutrients and pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorders. One of the highlights working with the MRG was traveling to South India (Summer 2013) to design primary data collection tools and screening case-report forms for a randomized control trial of vitamin D supplementation among adult patients with Tuberculosis and HIV. Upon graduation, this experience inspired me to work as a full-time clinical research coordinator in Medical and Radiation Oncology so that I could expand upon my experience designing and conducting innovative clinical trials within resource-limited settings. 

I am now a first-year medical student at New York University School of Medicine, Class of 2019, with an accepted residency position at NYU in the field of Radiation Oncology. I hope to build upon my experience working with the MRG as a leader in clinical research focusing now on the intersection between nutritional status and cancer outcomes in resource-limited settings.  

MRG Publication:
1.    Purswani J, Gala P, Dwarkanath P, Larkin M, Kurpad A, Mehta S. The Role of Vitamin D in Pre-Eclampsia: A Structured Literature Review. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth (Manuscript Under Review). 



Sundus Ahmed, Class of 2015
College of Arts and Sciences
Major: Biological Sciences (Molecular and Cell) 
Minors: Global Health, Near Eastern Studies 


Sundus Ahmed

I joined the Mehta Research Group in my sophomore year at Cornell (2012). My research interests within the group focused on nutrition and infectious disease, specifically the interplay between micronutrients and a variety of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including dengue and Chagas disease. Major highlights during my time with this group were spending a summer in Machala, Ecuador (2014) collecting data for the dengue surveillance study as well as publishing a first-authored manuscript on micronutrients and dengue infection. These experiences inspired me to pursue my Masters in Public Health upon graduating from Cornell, which I recently completed at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. During my MPH, I expanded upon my background in infectious disease research from the MRG by conducting a study on malaria control in Zanzibar, Tanzania. I hope to expand on this even further by attending medical school and, with my public health background, be able to work on both the prevention and treatment of diseases in resource-limited settings in my future career. 

MRG Publications:
1.     Ahmed S, Finkelstein JL, Stewart AM, Kenneth J, Polhemus ME, et al. Micronutrients and dengue. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2014 Nov;91(5):1049-56. PubMed PMID: 25200269; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4228873.


Madeleine Wood, Class of 2016
College of Human Ecology
Human Biology, Health & Society
Biomedical Science Minor


Blake Barr, Class of 2016
College of Human Ecology
Major: Human Biology, Health, and Society 


Postdoctoral Fellow
Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University


Postdoctoral Fellow
Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University

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Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University

Madeleine R. Wood

I joined the Mehta Research Group (MRG) in the Spring of 2014 and was interested in the role of both micronutrient status and the human microbiome in immunity and infectious diseases. As a member of the MRG, I had the opportunity to travel to South India (Summer 2015) and participate in an ongoing study focused on vitamin D status in adults with Tuberculosis (TB). Additionally, I participated in designing a protocol for a case-control study to examine the relationship between the microbiome and TB status. Upon graduation, these experiences influenced me to work as a full-time research assistant in the Tuberculosis Research Unit at Weill Cornell Medicine, focusing on the development of novel therapeutics to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. I intend to pursue an MD-PhD in the future. 

MRG Publications:
1.     The human microbiome in the fight against tuberculosis. Madeleine R. Wood, Elaine A. Yu, M.P.H., Saurabh Mehta, M.B.B.S., Sc.D. (Manuscript Under Review) 

Blake A. Barr

I joined the MRG in the Fall of 2013 as a sophomore and continued throughout my time at Cornell.  I focused on both infectious disease and maternal and child health within the MRG. Specifically, I worked in South India the summer after my sophomore year on the Vitamin D and TB clinical trial where I helped with questionnaire design and study preparation.  During my final two years, I primarily did data analysis using SAS where I looked at maternal anthropometry and birth outcomes. I got to present the findings of this analysis at a conference during my junior year, which was an awesome learning experience. I was also a Hunter R. Rawlings Presidential Research Scholar, joining the program in my junior year with Dr. Mehta as my advisor. 

Now, I am working as a research assistant in economics at the Harvard Kennedy School. The MRG was very influential on where I am today as it got me very interested in research and gave me the tools, specifically data analysis, to succeed in my current job.

MRG Poster Presentation:
1.     Barr, Natamba, Sumba et al. “Maternal Weight Loss Increases Preterm Birth in Kenya” Oral presentation and Poster att Experimental Biology 2015 Conference

Sudha Venkatramanan, Ph.D. 

Sudha received her Doctoral degree in Human Nutrition from McGill University, Canada. She has extensive research experience in conducting feeding trials in resource limited settings. Currently she is involved in the implementation of the bio-fortified pearl millet trial in young children from the urban slums of Mumbai. Her research experience and interests includes dietary interventions, maternal and child nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, fortification, bio- fortification, biomarkers, and cognitive functions

Jinsu Kim, Ph. D.

Jinsu received his Doctoral degree in Chemical Engineering from University of Houston. He has experience with development of Point-of-Care diagnostics for infections and diseases. Currently, his research focuses on developing a filed-portable lateral flow immunoassay to detect Malaria for epidemiological study in Ecuador.


Yvon Serge Ongagna Yhombi

Serge’s research project spans two departments (Nutritional Sciences and Mechanical Engineering, Cornell University) and focuses on the development of a rapid diagnostic platform (also known as Fever Phone) for Point-Of-Care (POC) detection of pathogens responsible of Acute Febrile Illnesses (AFIs) in humans. His previous research work at New York University focused on the development of rapid tests for POC detection of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Ebola, and other infectious diseases