|Mr. John Pothen is a graduate student at the College of William & Mary, Virginia majoring in chemistry. His current research interests include social networks, intersections of spatial and social means of analysis, and the potential of cell phones as tools to promote collective action strategies in marginalized communities. As an undergraduate, he performed research in physical chemistry and molecular biology before deciding to focus on community capacity building from an interdisciplinary perspective. As a member of the Student Organization for Medical Outreach and Sustainability (SOMOS), Mr. Pothen made seven research trips to a small, peri-urban community in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to use systematic research to inform efforts to foster collective community action with a goal of sustainably improving health and healthcare. This work afforded him several opportunities to present research, most notably at the Pathways to Civic Engagement (PACE) conference at Elon University in fall 2008. Mr. Pothen performed similar research in support of a public policy graduate project assessing the potential benefit of adding a new community health center in Petersburg, Virginia and by performing a health needs assessment for a migrant Hispanic farmworker population on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. When not conducting research, he served as a member of William & Mary's Undergraduate Honor Council, serving as Chief Justice during his final term. He was also an active brother of the Zeta Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He is currently in the process of submitting his work as an undergraduate for publication and applying to medical school for a joint M.D. Ph.D. program. He intends to purse a Ph.D. in sociology and continue performing research as a physician-scientist.
More than just units of population, communities are powerful resources for improving health. As a Fulbright-Nehru scholar Mr. Pother will use socio-spatial network analysis, an approach drawing on social network and geospatial research techniques, to study a community in the Jamkhed region of Maharashtra, India. His Fulbright-Nehru research is titled "Utilizing Community Capacity to Sustainably Identify and Address Health Concerns." His research will begin by systematically identifying a sociologically and culturally meaningful community through a series of interviews and GPS data. The next step in his research will be to characterize community social networks and identify the geographic locations critical to information exchange within them. These data will inform efforts to foster and mobilize community capacity to sustainably improve health and healthcare.