Doctoral student selected as RWJF Health Policy Research Scholar

September 26, 2017

Mya Roberson

Mya Roberson

Mya Roberson, doctoral student in epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, was one of 40 graduate students selected from across the U.S. to participate in the Health Policy Research Scholars program.

The program, led by George Washington University, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), prepares the next generation of public health leaders to tackle persistent health challenges by creating innovative solutions through their research.

During the four-year program, Roberson will conduct research on spatial and temporal patterns in breast cancer disparities in the state of North Carolina. She also will develop high-level leadership skills through professional coaching, mentoring, networking and an advanced leadership curriculum.

While participating in the program, Roberson will continue full-time study and will be applying new knowledge and leadership skills at the Gillings School in ways that continue to advance the School’s Culture of Health—one that places well-being at the center of every aspect of life.

“I appreciate the commitment of the Health Policy Research Scholars program to fostering a cadre of researchers from groups most affected by health disparities,” Roberson said, “and I am most looking forward to collaborating with my peers across the nation to create healthier, more equitable communities. I am grateful for the mentorship that I have received from wonderful Gillings School faculty members, including Dr. Whitney Robinson and Dr. Jo Anne Earp, who have encouraged my development as a civic scientist.”

Dr. Whitney Robinson said that she was pleased that Roberson had been awarded the fellowship.

“Mya is a tenacious, gifted and ethically grounded student – traits that are a perfect fit for the program,” Robinson said. “Much of the training is conducted remotely, which will work well for someone as self-directed as Mya is. The program is also interdisciplinary, training students to use their diverse skills to translate their research into policy impact for health equity. I expect that Mya will bring these translational skills back to our department, enriching the experience of all our students and faculty who want our research to have policy impacts.”

Additional partners providing training and coaching to scholars include AcademyHealth, Mayo Clinic, University of California at Los Angeles and University of Michigan.

Health Policy Research Scholars is one of a number of leadership development programs supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These programs continue RWJF’s legacy of supporting the development and diversity of leaders. Initially focused on health and health care, the programs were expanded, with the recognition that building a Culture of Health requires people in every sector, profession and discipline to collaborate.

The next application period for many of these programs will open in early 2018. Additional information is available at


Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or