Public Health Student Weinronk Participating in South Africa Research

May 06 2013

Public Health major Hannah Weinronk was recently accepted into the Water, Society, and Health (WaSH) Scholars Program, a nationally recognized research program run through the University of Virginia.  WaSH is part of a multidisciplinary initiative to address water quality in Tshibvumo and Tshapasha, rural communities in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. Water contamination in these communities causes enteric disease, which is linked to malnutrition and often death, particularly among children under five years of age.  The program research is part of a larger initiative to create a sustainable solution to water quality issues in the region.  This includes the development of new technologies, the establishment of a local ceramic filter factory at the Mukondeni Pottery Cooperative in Ha-Mashamba, and hygiene education.

“When I began thinking about my summer plans, I had two goals in mind: to learn more about the field of public health, and to travel abroad.  I was excited to hear about the WaSH Scholars Program because it would allow me to actively engage with community health in South Africa,” says Weinronk.  

Weinronk will travel to South Africa for eight weeks over the summer and work with students and faculty from the US and the University of Venda in South Africa to test a new type of filter paper that can kill bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens in water using silver and copper nanotechnology.  

“I [will] also be able to better understand the research process, to explore the meaning of true community partnerships in an international context, and to learn about the ways different disciplines can support each other in achieving the goals of public health,” she adds.

Weinronk will be in South Africa for eight weeks, working in the lab, visiting WaSH projects, and spending time with students from the University of Venda and their community partners.

“I am excited to gain perspective on the challenges facing communities across the world and how I can make an impact using the tools of Public Health,” she says.