UPD PhD student selected for prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy grant

December 12, 2018
UPD PhD student Jocelyn Poe

By Sarah Fisher

Jocelyn Poe, an Urban Planning and Development PhD student at USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, has been awarded a prestigious Health Policy Research Scholars (HPRS) grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Poe will use the $120,000 grant to complete her PhD degree by 2020 and work toward her career aspirations.

“Reflecting my passion for creating knowledge and tools that contribute to a better quality of life for underserved communities, my career goal is to produce innovative and liberating research that inspires community residents, professionals and students to think about community development holistically and to design plans and policies that build equity and distribute power justly,” Poe said. “This goal aligns with the Health Policy Research Scholars program, as we share a desire to cultivate a culture of health for everyone and especially for populations who have been historically oppressed.”

“Like the HPRS program, I believe that achieving a healthy community involves understanding how many different factors impact the quality of health,” she said. “It is out of this understanding that we can significantly and positively change the culture.”

The Health Policy Research Scholars grant helps researchers from all fields apply their work to policies that advance equity and health while building a diverse field of leaders who reflect changing national demographics. This leadership development program is designed to equip leaders across the country — in every sector and field — with the skills to collaborate, break down silos, and use their influence to make communities healthier and more equitable.

Poe credits the support she received from USC Price faculty in her application for the grant.

“The support I have received from my Price faculty and administration has been invaluable,” she said. “My mentor and co-mentor, Professor David Sloane and Professor LaVonna Lewis, wrote glowing recommendation letters, and both faculty and administration have helped me navigate the bureaucratic process of receiving a national fellowship.”

Sloane noted that the grant gives Poe a remarkable opportunity to have an impact in her field.

“Her experience, intellectual capabilities, and strong desire to make a difference helped her get the fellowship, and they will allow her to use the fellowship to develop research that confronts the realities and oppressions she has seen too often in her earlier work,” Sloane said. “We are very proud of her!”

Lewis praised Poe’s ability to balance the expertise she has amassed in academia with the expertise she has developed as a practitioner.

“This combination will allow her to have the authenticity and credibility to expand the frontiers of knowledge in the field of urban planning and improve the lives of community residents, here and abroad,” Lewis said.

Poe, of Jackson, Mississippi, earned a master’s degree in community planning from Auburn University and a bachelor of architecture degree from Tuskegee University.