Student Information

Global Health Case Competition

Presented by Rutgers Global Health Institute, the Global Health Case Competition is a new, semester-long experience in which Rutgers students team up to design community-centered solutions to global health problems.

The 2021 case competition, which ran from January 26 through April 6, focused on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable communities in New Jersey.

For this inaugural competition, 48 undergraduate and graduate students formed eight interdisciplinary teams. The diverse group of participants represented many different programs of study throughout the university. Students pursuing degrees in a wide range of health-related fields were grouped with those enrolled in programs such as communications and information, finance, history, planning and public policy, and social work.

Each of these teams, under the guidance of a faculty mentor, constructed a community-based solution that directly addressed one of four broad categories in the assigned case. These categories were health care access and delivery, housing and food insecurity, COVID-19 health communication, and pediatric mental health.

At a concluding event on April 6, the teams presented their solutions and competed for $1,000, $500, and $250 prizes as well as support from Rutgers Global Health Institute to explore implementing their solutions in the community.

Watch a video of the final event:

Final proposals by this year’s teams

Team 1 – Social Work Student at Unity Square to Address Housing Insecurity

Proposal: To help the city’s low-income residents navigate circumstances related to housing insecurity, this proposal includes partnering with Rutgers to place a social work master’s student at Unity Square Community Center to bolster existing efforts to provide housing resources and related services.

Team members: Hannah Baker, Caitlyn Garcia, Wael Kanj, Yejin Lee, Gad Raganas, Wiktoria Staromiejska, and faculty mentor Charles Senteio


Team 2 – Recovery Squared

Proposal: This initiative would source and refurbish donated computers, tablets, and smartphones; install pediatric mental health and telehealth resources on the devices; and provide them to school-age children throughout the city who otherwise may not have access.

Team members: Danica Cordon, Madeline DePrimo, Ogechukwu Erechukwu, Cathryn Garcia, Julia Ullman, Andy Yang, and faculty mentor Stephan Schwander


Team 3 – Breaking Bread

Proposal: This program would address food insecurity by establishing mobile food pantries that deliver food to locations throughout the city, a smartphone app that serves to communicate with residents and collect data to inform operations, and an aquaponics system to grow produce for distribution throughout the community.

Team members: Nohely Alanya, Julia Forman, Girish Ganesan, Natale Mazzaferro, Nivashini Muthuvel, Sitwat Syed, Julianna Wisniewski, and faculty mentor Umer Hassan


Team 4 – A.S.Í. Salud

Proposal: To improve health care access and awareness of resources among vulnerable community members, this initiative would launch a database, hotline, and follow-up services designed to expand access to preventive care and chronic disease management while also addressing language and cultural barriers.

Team members: Minseon Han, Hanson Ky, Kate Lubina, Krishna Patel, Nila Uthirasamy, Joyce Xu, and faculty mentor Mark Einstein


Team 5 – Kinetic

Proposal: Improving the daily lives and health outcomes of people experiencing homelessness is the focus of this proposal, which would create mobile hygiene resources, flexible transportation services, and social support networks as well as promote their availability to those in need.

Team members: Sarah Chaudhry, Nathaniel Hansen, Mariam Khan, Meera Krishnan, Nina Paranjpe, Sandhya Shankar, and faculty mentor Sunita Kramer


Team 6 – Addressing Pediatric Mental Health in New Brunswick High School (Third Place)

Proposal: This initiative centers around creating a software app that would be installed on students’ school-issued Chromebook computers to provide greater access to mental health screening, prevention, and intervention resources.

Team members: Meha Aggarwal, Abiola Biriowo, Ryan Downey, Krupali Shah, Matt Slavin, and faculty mentor Vicente Gracias


Team 7 – Partnering With Religious Organizations for Preventative Screening (PROPS) (Second Place)

Proposal: The PROPS initiative would provide training, equipment, and educational materials to community-based religious organizations, enabling them to offer preventative health screenings, such as blood pressure and weight monitoring, to their members at their worship locations.

Team members: Maria Galkin, Jerry Kong, Katie Lynch, Nidhi Mittal, Nazia Shaheed, Kirsten Spichiger, and faculty mentor Gloria Bachmann


Team 8 – ZipPea Pantry (First Place)

Proposal: Designed to support New Brunswick’s existing food security network, ZipPea Pantry is a service that would deliver food, sourced from the city’s established food banks and community kitchens, to residents who are not able to access these services for reasons that include transportation, work schedules, domestic responsibilities, and physical abilities.

Team members: Julia Bland, David Chapinski, Douglas Colbert, Judy Lam, Jessie Sullivan, Clairisse Whang, and faculty mentor Shauna Downs



The 2021 Global Health Case Competition was funded by an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Advocacy (IDEA) Innovation Grant from Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

The case competition had been in development for more than a year and was brought to fruition by:

  • Rutgers Global Health Institute staff
  • Rutgers Global Health Institute Student Council, including the eight-member student planning team: Giovanna Mele, Rohit Mukherjee, Aparna Ragupathi, Shahyan Rehman, Hajar Shirley, Deven Singh, Adrienne Wartawan, Claire Wolfe
  • Rutgers faculty and community leaders, who served as advisors, mentors, and judges: Gloria Bachmann, Manuel Castañeda, Shauna Downs, Mark Einstein, Vicente Gracias, Umer Hassan, Eric Jahn, Sunita Kramer, Karen Lin, Kevin Lyons, Richard Marlink, Mariam Merced, Kelly Moore, Gregory Peck, Nancy Pontes, Mark Robson, Bruce Ruck, Stephan Schwander, Charles Senteio, Harsh Sule, Michelle Wilson
  • Community partners: Center for Psychological Services at Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Community Health Promotion Programs at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital–New Brunswick, Elijah’s Promise, New Brunswick Tomorrow, Office of Community Health at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Shool, Office of Drug Information Services and Professional Education at New Jersey Poison Control Center


Learn more

For more information about the Global Health Case Competition, contact Angela Senger-Mersich, senior program coordinator, at