Skip to content

College of Humanities & Sciences

Psychology Department

2021-2022 Fellows

For the 2021-2022 year, VCU welcomes twelve fellows from Bhutan, Cameroon, China, Ethiopia, Georgia, India, Iraq, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, and Zambia.

 

[View Image]


deptofstate [View Image]

This is a program of the US Department of State, administered by the Institute for International Education.

 

 

Yakob Ahmed standing in White House garden [View Image]

Mr. Yakob Ahmed

Ababa, Ethiopia

Mr. Yakob Ahmed, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, received a bachelor’s degree in public health in 2008 from Gondar University. After graduating, he worked as a primary health care expert for the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. In 2012, he earned a master’s degree in public health from Addis Ababa University. After completing his master’s degree, he worked as the vice director for medical services for two years and was later promoted to CEO of St. Peter’s Specialized Hospital. In 2019, Mr. Ahmed earned a master’s degree in business administration from the International Leadership Institute in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and he is currently working on his PhD dissertation in public health from the University of South Africa. In 2019, he was appointed director general for medical services at the Ministry of Health. His responsibilities include ensuring access to specialty and subspecialty care, designing policies to improve the quality of health care delivery, establishing a resilient emergency response and critical care service, and developing a transparent medical equipment and drug procurement and distribution system. For the past two years, Mr. Ahmed has been an active member of the national health executive team which is responsible for developing Ethiopia’s health policies. During his fellowship, Mr. Ahmed aspires to focus on improving his public health policy and management skills, supported by evidence generation and resource mobilization abilities.

Aliyu Baba standing in White House garden [View Image]

Aliyu Mohammed Baba

Kware State, Nigeria

Aliyu Mohammed Baba, from Kwara State, Nigeria, obtained a bachelor’s degree in human physiology in 2006 from University of Ilorin. After graduating, he worked at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as an assistant superintendent of narcotics. In 2015, he completed a criminal investigation course organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Subsequently, in 2019, Mr. Baba was trained on the Universal Prevention Curriculum for substance use disorders organized by Global Initiative on Substance Abuse (GISA) in collaboration with the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Program. His current job responsibilities include database management, along with counseling, treating, and rehabilitating drug-dependent persons. More recently, he’s been actively involved in exploring and designing effective evidence-based prevention strategies for NDLEA. A member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP), Mr. Baba plans on using the fellowship to acquire skills in project management, conducting public health campaigns, and writing grant applications. He also is interested in learning how to develop and implement effective evidence-based programs and to translate research into policy as well as enhancing his leadership skills.

Fara de Avila standing in White House garden [View Image]

Ms. Fara de Avila

Montevideo, Uruguay

Fara de Avila, from Montevideo, Uruguay, received her bachelor's degree in psychology in 2004 from the University of the Republic of Uruguay. In 2009, she obtained a diploma on drug treatment and social reintegration of juvenile offenders from The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. And, in 2015, she received a master´s degree in clinical psychology from the Republic University of Uruguay. Ms. De Avila has more than 10 years of experience working with offenders. From 2008 to 2010, she worked as a clinical psychologist in a multidisciplinary drug treatment program for juvenile offenders in Chile. Since 2010, she has worked at the National Rehabilitation Institute in several positions, beginning with her work as a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme. Following this position, Ms. de Avila worked as a prison unit technical subdirector and, concurrently, as the national coordinator of penitentiary treatment, being responsible for the processes of adaptation, design, implementation and evaluation of treatment programs addressing the risk factors directly associated with delinquent behaviors. During her fellowship, Ms. De Avila plans to adapt or design a low-cost, evidence-based drug treatment for prison inmates with substance use disorders, which she hopes to implement after her return to Uruguay. In addition, she intends to increase her skills in project management and program monitoring and evaluation. Finally, she is interested in conducting research in her country on drug use among prisoners and its relationship to the risk of recidivism.

Prachi Ghildyal standing in White House garden [View Image]

Dr. Prachi Ghildyal

Allahabad, India

Prachi Ghildyal, from Allahabad, India earned her doctorate in psychology from the University of Allahabad, India, in 2005. The following year she worked as a research officer on evaluation and education projects at the G.B. Pant Social Science Institute. She is currently an assistant professor and education coordinator at the Shillong Institute of Education, under the National Council of Educational Research and Training. Dr. Ghildyal’s focus is on adolescent education. Her role includes teaching a bachelor of education course, training educational functionaries, and conducting research. A former member of the National Resource Group for teacher training, she has coordinated diploma and certificate courses in counseling and early childhood care and education. Additionally, she has conducted training on psychological testing, identification of children’s emotional problems, stress management, counseling skills, and peace education. During the fellowship year, Dr. Ghildyal plans to enhance her skills in counseling for adolescents and children, and to learn about community mobilization, crisis intervention, test development, and data analysis. She is interested in initiating a research project on socio-cultural contributions to mental health, and would like to explore partnerships with organizations like WHO and UNICEF for research-based interventions. She hopes to initiate teacher training and community interventions for substance abuse and other mental health issues once she returns home.

Brian Maila standing in White House garden [View Image]

Dr. Brian Malla

Lusaka, Zambia

Brian Maila, from Lusaka, Zambia, received bachelor’s degrees in human biology and in medicine and surgery from the University of Zambia. After graduating, he began working as a junior resident medical officer for the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Zambia. In 2019, he obtained a certificate in mental health care from Queensland University of Technology. In 2021, he earned a master’s of medicine in psychiatry from the University of Zambia. He currently is serving as a psychiatrist at the Chainama Hills College Hospital. His current role includes managing and overseeing patients requiring specialist treatment and teaching junior medical staff to ensure the provision of efficient, effective, and quality patient care. In recent years, Dr. Maila has been actively involved in advancing alcohol, substance, and mental health awareness through community outreach programs and the media. During his fellowship, Dr. Maila plans to focus on improving his skills in conducting needs assessments, surveys, and systematic reviews. He hopes to learn more about medication-assisted treatment and other evidence-based interventions for adolescents, women, and healthcare workers with substance use disorders. Additionally, he will enhance his skills related to project management, public speaking, and public health intervention development, implementation, and evaluation.

Giorgi Minsovi standing in White House garden [View Image]

Mr. Giorgi Minasovi

Tblisi, Georgia

Giorgi Minasovi from Tbilisi, Georgia received a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Tbilisi State University. After graduating, he served as an EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteer for people with disabilities in Estonia. Since 2014 he has been working as a Clinical Social Worker in different institutions. Mr. Minasovi worked as a Human Rights Trainer at the “Council of Europe Georgian Office.” In 2018 he received an international diploma in “Mental Health, Human Rights and Law” organized by WHO and Indian Low Society. Since 2016 Mr. Minasovi has been working as a Clinical Social Worker at Medical Center “Uranti.” His responsibilities include conducting a bio-psycho-social treatment intervention for inpatient care users. In 2019 Mr. Minasovi created an NGO in order to work with people who have substance abuse and underlined mental health issues. He has collaborated with organizations such as WARP (World Association of Psycho-Social Rehabilitation) Norway and World Psychiatric Association in order to develop proper treatment interventions for people with co-occurring disorders. During his fellowship, Mr. Minasovi plans to focus on improving his public health policy management skills. He hopes to learn more about the American healthcare policy and first-hand treatment interventions for people who have co-occurring disorders. He would like to enhance his skills in conducting a public health campaign, grant writing, conducting a research and public health program development and evaluation.

Amanda Ferreira standing in White House garden [View Image]

Ms. Amanda Moses Ferreira

Trinidad and Tobago

Ms. Amanda Moses Ferreira, from Trinidad and Tobago received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2005 from the St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago campus of the University of the West Indies. In 2009, she earned a master’s degree in forensic science with a specialization in chemistry and controlled substances from King's College London. Ms. Moses Ferreira also earned a bachelor’s of law degree from the University of London in 2013 and has a legal practicing certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad. She currently holds the position of scientific officer in the chemistry department at the Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Center. Her responsibilities include examination and analysis of drugs, corrosives, explosives, paint analysis, fire scene examination, and serial number restoration, preparation of analytical reports, and expert testimony. She has collaborated with organizations such as UNODC in their Early Warning System and has been actively involved in promoting evidence-based drug policies. Ms. Moses Ferreira plans to increase her technical skills in the identification of new psychoactive substances and to help in dismantling clandestine laboratories. She hopes to enhance her skills related to project management, public health interventions, and training other stakeholders in the Caribbean as it relates to the opioid crisis and the changing drug abuse landscape.

Rukhshona Musaeva standing in White House garden [View Image]

Dr. Rukhshona Musaeva

Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Dr. Rukhshona Musaeva, from Bukhara, Uzbekistan, received her medical degree in 2009 from Bukhara State Medical Institute, Uzbekistan. After graduation, she joined a residency program in cardiology and obtained a specialty degree in 2013 at Tashkent State Medical Institute. From 2011-2018 she worked as a general practitioner. In 2021, she completed her doctorate in cardiology. Since 2018, Dr. Musaeva has been a practicing cardiologist at Bukhara Multidisciplinary Regional Medical Center. She also is an assistant at Bukhara State Medical Institute, where she teaches medical students and residents. Dr. Musaeva is involved in several programs organized by UNICEF and WHO. She also volunteers her time working with children who have cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, and autism. During her fellowship program, Dr. Musaeva plans to enhance her knowledge of early diagnosis, treatment, social adaptation, and rehabilitation of patients with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and autism. She plans to improve her knowledge and skills in the early prevention of cerebral palsy and explore issues of inclusive learning.

Naseem Ramadhan standing in White House garden [View Image]

Dr. Naseem Ramadhan

Baghdad, Iraq

Dr. Naseem Ramadhan, from Baghdad, Iraq, received two bachelors’ degrees in internal medicine and surgery in 2009 from Mosul University. After graduating, he joined a residency program in psychiatry during which he worked in several different hospitals in the Republic of Iraq. In 2014, he became engaged in humanitarian work by serving in different international non-governmental organizations as a mental health and psychosocial technical advisor. His responsibilities include building the capacity of governmental and community-based organizations through developing training curricula, technical tools, and policy and implementation guidelines to support national mental health services. He contributes to the development plans and strategies to ensure that mental health-related issues are addressed in accordance with current policies. In recent years, Dr. Ramadhan has been actively involved in conducting national need assessments and studies related to the barriers to accessing mental health services and the stigma that can lead to discrimination, particularly focusing on vulnerable communities (e.g., cities targeted by armed conflicts). These studies were conducted in collaboration with UN agencies and Iraq’s health ministry, and they were funded by the US government and the European Commission. During his fellowship, Dr. Ramadhan plans to focus on improving his project management skills, running public health campaigns to reduce stigma, and learning more about the US health system’s structure and funding.

Helen Taku standing in White House garden [View Image]

Ms. Helen Taku

Southwest Cameroon

Ms. Helen Taku, from southwest Cameroon, received a bachelor’s degree in medical anthropology in 2014 from the University of Yaoundé. She currently works as a project coordinator for the Poor and Needy Philanthropic NGO in Cameroon. In 2015, she completed a training with the University of Geneva and the Association for Public Health Action in mental health with a focus on working with adolescent mothers. Additionally, Ms. Taku received a training certificate on human rights monitoring and protection from the United Nations Protection Cluster for humanitarian and human rights in the southwest region of Cameroon. In 2020, she was awarded a certificate on gender-based violence case management from the United Nations Population Fund and a certificate of achievement from Queensland University of Technology on teaching students who have suffered complex trauma. Ms.Taku has been actively working in crisis zones in the southwest region of Cameroon addressing issues associated with substance use such as sexual violence on young girls and women, teenage pregnancies, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections. She hopes to learn more about effective community-based approaches to preventing substance misuse, and treatment of substance use and dependence, especially with adolescents.

Sonam Tobgay standing in White House garden [View Image]

Dr. Sonam Tobgay

Bhutan

Dr. Sonam Tobgay, from Bhutan, earned both his medical and psychiatry degrees from the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune India, in 2004 and 2014 respectively. He is also an International Certified Addiction Professional by the International Society of Substance Use Professionals. Dr. Tobgay has seventeen years of experience providing clinical care to patients. He is currently the head of the psychiatry department at the Military Hospital Thimphu and was the first psychiatrist in the military. In 2015, he was part of the national team that developed the “Bhutan Mental Health Strategy and Action Plan.” During the same year, Dr. Tobgay was instrumental in introducing opioid substitution therapy with buprenorphine in the country. Later, he was part of the multi-sectoral task force that conducted nationwide advocacy campaigns on mental health and substance use issues for high school students. He played a role amending the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances, and Substance Abuse Act of Bhutan. Currently, he is part of the COVID-19 National Mental Health Response Team. During his fellowship, Dr. Tobgay plans to learn about innovative approaches to substance abuse treatment and prevention. He would also like to acquire knowledge and skills for building training programs and workforce development, conduct surveys, and improve the psychological assessment of military in his country.

Dongmei Yan standing in White House garden [View Image]

Dr. Dongmei Yan

Chengdu, China

Dr. Dongmei Yan, from Chengdu, China, received her medical degree in 2009 from the Third Military Medical University. In 2012, she obtained a master's degree in medicine from Sichuan University. Since then, she has been working at the Infectious Disease Hospital of Chengdu as an attending doctor with a specialization in the field of HIV/AIDS. Her role includes clinical care, medical consultation, and training. In 2014, Dr. Yan completed the Good Clinical Practice course with the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network and has been actively involved in national and global clinical trials. She was the site-principal investigator (PI) for the national technologies research and design program, and is now the site PI for a global Phase III Clinical Trial by Gilead, in Chengdu. Admitted to the Chinese National Bar in 2009,. she has participated in NGO and CDC programs in the fields of HIV/AIDS. During her fellowship, Dr. Yan plans to develop and enhance her leadership skills in communication and project management, and to conduct research in young patients with HIV/AIDS to examine the disease impact on their health and economic well-being.

View graphic versionView graphic versionView graphic version