About

Here is a link to my CV:  Shields_CV_9.2.17

I am a Ph.D. student and a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism pre-doctoral trainee at Brandeis’ Heller School for Social Policy and Management. I research quality of inpatient psychiatric facilities, the consumer experience, and effective accountability mechanisms. I have led research teams focused on quality of inpatient psychiatric care and actively try to translate my work into meaningful reform. I received my Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Kent State University, Honors College, in 2014, and my Master of Science in public health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2016.

I am a proud 2008-2009 AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) alum, during which I served on projects in Texas, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Mississippi. As an undergraduate, I worked as a Research Assistant in two clinical psychology laboratories focused on neuropsychology and emotion regulation and also worked in the psychology clinic. In 2013, I was awarded a National Science Foundation REU to work under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where I completed a research project focused on the non-conscious processing of positive emotional stimuli. My undergraduate honors thesis (advised by Dr. Karin Coifman) examined the relationship between physical activity, heart-rate-variability, executive functioning, and contextually appropriate emotion regulation during simulated peer rejection as evidenced by micro facial expressions and self-report.

Having always been interested in the quality of inpatient psychiatric care and behavioral healthcare in general, I pivoted away from the exciting world of neuropsychological research to focus efforts on systems-level research. I started a graduate program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health immediately following my undergraduate graduation.

As soon as I arrived at Harvard, I began preparations for an independent research project focused on understanding the consumer and staff experience within inpatient psychiatric facilities. I raised money via crowdsourcing, received several small grants totaling about $10,000, and formed a solid mentorship team. This team included a professor of health policy, Dr. Sara Singer, a psychiatrist, Dr. Nhi-Ha Trinh, and a psychiatric epidemiologist, Dr. Christina Borba. The project involved interviewing former consumers and staff of inpatient psychiatric facilities to explore both positive and negative experiences as well as organizational culture and climate. Findings from this work have been published in Psychiatric Services, with other manuscripts currently under review and in preparation.  In addition to this project, my mentor, Dr. Meredith Rosenthal, and I published a paper assessing variation in national quality metrics of inpatient psychiatric facilities. We found that VA psychiatric facilities were low-performing outliers, which led to us receiving a phone call from the Deputy Secretary for Organizational Excellence at the Veteran’s Health Administration to tell us that our paper inspired internal quality improvement efforts.

Through the Harvard Kennedy School Rappaport Doctoral Public Policy Fellowship, I worked in the office of Representative Kay Khan this past summer (2017). I advised Rep. Khan on mental healthcare legislation and wrote a 52-page report on the quality of inpatient psychiatric facilities within Massachusetts. This report has been shared with state leadership and has already led to a planned intervention for psychiatric facilities within Massachusetts. I’ve been consulting with State leadership on the details of the intervention and have been invited to continue my involvement and help brainstorm on related initiatives. Further, both my fellowship and report are serving as a foundation for the planning of a state-level forum focused on improving our behavioral healthcare system (the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum).

I am also passionate about diversity and inclusion work and am the Founder and former Director of the Peer Mentor Program, which was used as a model for Peer Mentor Programs throughout the College of Arts and Sciences at Kent State University and the Different Lenses, One Vision  (dLOV) conference, which focuses on the shared experience of “otherness” and took place over several years at both Kent State and Harvard.

I am grateful to have received excellent mentorship from a variety of professors and professionals and to have had rich opportunities to develop my line of research, career, and constant changing understanding of the world.

 

 

 

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