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Mids Tackle Global Health Issues with Ivy Leagues

Posted on: May 07, 2013 08:00 EDT by Lt. Henry Qui

A group of Naval Academy midshipmen recently competed against 23 universities from across the country in a global health competition hosted by Emory University’s Global Health Institute.  

The team was led by Midshipman 1st Class Joshua Kotler, a chemistry major and future Navy medical officer, and mentored by Dr. Christopher Kinter, a professor from the academy’s chemistry department.  

Each year the competition focuses on a public health issue and its global influence. The topic for this year was to propose a plan to the Chinese government on how they can invest in global sanitation in the year 2020 and how this investment can contribute to the country's prosperity.

The team, composed of midshipmen with different academic backgrounds ranging from chemistry, computer science to English, and physics, used their unique set of knowledge and made their presentation a cross-discipline endeavor. The students with a science background worked on understanding public health issues related to sanitation. They also came up with parameters for forecasting models, some of which included disease control, investment in infrastructure and access to materials.

The students who studied computer science or information technology worked on designing, coding and implementing forecasting models. This type of work is often referred to as in silicon, where any given issue can be modeled based on certain predefined parameters. In this case, students took the parameters provided by other members of the team and postulated possible outcomes. 

Since one of the criteria of this competition was to market the team's proposal as a public policy, the students who had a keen interest in public policies took the helm and packaged the proposal into a well-defined and easily understood document that provided both clarity and depth. 

It was a tough competition, which included many well-known universities such as Yale and Harvard. The midshipmen were the only undergraduate team, and they competed with teams that had students with advanced studies or firsthand work experiences on some of these issues.

The midshipmen worked very hard for this competition since January, with support from the chemistry department and the Navy medical community. Cmdr. David Blazes from Bethesda helped to guide the midshipmen in understanding not just public health issues, but also the intricacy of public policies on a global scale.

Team Navy was the runner up for the Innovation Award and came in 6th place overall. Their efforts and determination demonstrated that in the face of tough competition our midshipmen can hold their own.

In this competition, the midshipmen relied on their academy training including team work, working under stress and deadline, time management and academic rigors. They realized the Naval Academy has prepared them well not just academically but also professionally.  Everyone on the team agreed that Team Navy should go back next year and take home the top prize.

Global Health Conference

Team Navy members:

  • Midshipman 1st Class Joshua Kotler
  • Midshipman 1st Class Dean Zettler
  • Midshipman 1st Class Kevin Martin
  • Midshipman 1st Class Erica Leinmiller
  • Midshipman 1st Class Michael Delong
  • Midshipman 2nd Class Kevin Wilson

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