“Picture a bridge over a river with a hole in the middle,” said Dahianna Lopez, a Ph.D. student in health policy at Harvard. “When people cross it, some are going to fall through the hole and into the water below. There will be people on the river bank who will jump in and pull them out one by one — those are the doctors. But the public health professionals will ask, ‘Hold on a second, why is there a hole in the bridge? How many people are falling through? How can we fix it?’”
Lopez is asking similar questions in her own research, as she works to shine a light on the factors that make it more likely for cyclists and pedestrians to be involved in a crash on the streets of Boston. She is earning her doctoral degree in health policy, with a concentration in evaluative science and statistics, through a University-wide interdisciplinary program offered through Harvard School of Public Health and five other Schools, and expects to graduate in 2016. She has received financial support for her work from the Boston Area Research Initiative at the Radcliffe Institute and the Rappaport Institute at the Kennedy School.
For the past year, Lopez has worked with Boston’s Police Department, Department of Transportation, and Mayor’s Office on an assessment of bicyclist injuries in the city.