Julia Gallini wins 2019 Charles C. Shepard Award

May 23, 2019
Best theses 2019 Rollins School of Public Health
Rollins MPH and MSPH students were celebrated for their outstanding theses. Julia Gallini, third from left in the back row, was the 2019 Charles C. Shepard Award winner.

Earlier this month, master’s students from each department were celebrated for their theses during the annual Shepard Graduate Symposium. Presented annually since 1986, the Charles C. Shepard Award is given to the graduating master's student who is deemed by the faculty to have prepared the most scholarly research paper. The award honors the work and memory of Dr. Charles C. Shepard, an outstanding scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who made important advances in the field of public health.  

Julia Gallini’s thesis, which centered around the cost efficiency of various sampling methods for trachoma surveillance, was a standout and earned her the 2019 Charles C. Shepard Award. Given her previous experience working at The Carter Center with the trachoma control program team, the blindness-causing bacterial infection was top of mind.

“The motivation for this thesis was the suspicion that the current sampling design could be inefficient and waste funding,” says Gallini. “We found that the 30 by 30 sampling design is indeed cost inefficient, and that other designs should be considered in the fight against trachoma.”

After working on the project, Gallini uncovered multiple recommendations for those embarking on trachoma surveillance in the future. In particular, she recommends:

  • utilizing previous data on trachoma prevalence in an area to inform sampling scheme decisions; and
  • sampling 15 villages of 20–30 households for areas with a suspected moderate or high prevalence and 20 villages of 20–30 households for suspected low prevalence areas.

“In the battle against neglected tropical diseases (NTD), it is necessary to continually evaluate and adjust surveillance efforts to maximize efficiences, particularly costs, to allow programs to focus funding more efficiently for greater impact against these diseases,” Gallini says.

She adds, “Winning the Shepard Award motivates me to publish the work from this project so that the methods and ideas from this thesis are accessible to all researchers. The more awareness we can bring to NTDs, the more quickly we will be able to eliminate them as public health problems.”

Gallini graduated from Rollins with her MSPH in biostatistics May 13, 2019. She will soon begin working as a biostatistician at the VA Medical Center in Atlanta.