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Navy blue background has diamonds and starbursts. A spotlight icon shines on a circular image of Abhigna Rao. A label reads "In the spotlight." Below the label is the text "Abhigna Rao."

Students contribute unique perspectives to projects and teams. At CHER, it’s a joy to hire and mentor them. 

One of our newest team members is studying health behavior at Gillings. And working with us. And working with Lineberger. That’s a lot of ways to support health equity! 

Abhigna (uh-BIG-naa) Rao (rhymes with “now”) shared her impressions of CHER so far. She also has kind words about CHER for other students. 

Get to know Abhigna and help us welcome her to CHER.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you study? 

I am a rising 2nd-year MPH student in the Gillings School of Global Public Health studying Health Behavior and pursuing a Certificate in Innovation for the Public Good (CIPG). 

I have several interests, including women’s health, cross-cultural health disparities and health education. In addition to my role at Abacus, I currently serve as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center studying health inequities in cancer care accessibility among aging populations. 

At a high level, I am passionate about program development, implementation and evaluation, and I see myself applying these to a range of subject areas. 

Tell us about your role at CHER.

I serve as a Student Research Assistant with Abacus Evaluation. 

Right now, I am working on the Public Health Infrastructure Grant (PHIG) project team for NNPHI. 

I hope to expand my role over the next year and look forward to working with more leaders at CHER. 

What’s the most important thing for people to understand about what you do?

I tend to have a jack-of-all-trades mindset when it comes to my work ethic. Whether it’s software I haven’t used before, a new evaluation approach, or a novel surveying technique – if there is something that isn’t within my skillset, I probably want to learn it! 

While I do specialize in and enjoy qualitative methods and program design the most, I highly value being a versatile researcher and fulfilling a variety of roles across different project scopes.  

What are your plans going forward? How is working at CHER tying into them?

As I work part-time with CHER/Abacus and progress through the final year in my Master of Public Health program at Gillings, I am so excited at the prospect of expanding my knowledge base in a number of ways. 

For one, I am really interested in achieving proficiency with an array of data analysis softwares, as well as gaining skills in data visualization and mixed methods research. 

I also find writing and sharing research incredibly rewarding, and I am always seeking opportunities to co-author papers and participate in conferences. 

The project leads and supervisors at CHER truly care about the professional development and growth of their trainees, student researchers and full-time staff. Working here is actively getting me connected with people, trainings, and initiatives that will fill my knowledge and experience gaps, and in turn, make me a better public health professional. 

What might other students want to know about CHER?

Even though I have only been with CHER for a short time, and working remotely, the positive and supportive culture really stands out. 

It is so apparent that everyone genuinely loves working with one another, which fosters a very authentic workplace environment – something that I will strive to make a top priority as I think about future opportunities. 

What’s a fun fact about you?

English is not my first language! My parents immigrated from Bangalore, Karnataka, and I only spoke our native language, Kannada, for the first 2-3 years of my life.


Abhignālannu swaagatisalu namage sahāya māi! (That’s “help us welcome Abhigna” in Kannada.)