What originally sparked your passion in global sexual and reproductive health?
I was originally interested in child welfare issues and realized how closely related that is with women’s ability to realize their reproductive intentions.
Have you had any mentorship opportunities that brought you to where you are today?
I didn’t get into SRH work until after my PhD, while working at FHI 360. I can’t say there was one particular mentor—more like a committed environment of like-minded individuals dedicated to social and reproductive justice issues.
Do you have any guiding principles that keep you on track?
I’m an applied researcher. At the end of day, I have to see how any project I’m working on will impact practice or policy—not “someday” but within a tangible time period. That usually means very close collaborations with my research partners endure past the end of the funding.
Do you have any advice for students intending to follow the same professional pathway?
If you’re interested in global SRH, know the countries/regions you are working in—don’t just study public health, but also area studies (languages, history, political science, anthropology—they are all just as important—you have to understand context)
Dr. Baumgartner is a director of the DGHI Lab at Duke University. She earned a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a PhD in Maternal and Child Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed an NIMH T32 postdoctoral fellowship in Psychiatric Epidemiology at Columbia University with a focus in global mental health.
Her work takes a focus on low-and-middle-income countries to strengthen the delivery of HIV, reproductive health, maternal and child health, and mental health services. Previously, Dr. Baumgartner worked on family psychoeducation for adults with psychotic disorders in Tanzania, integrating HIV testing and counseling into adolescent healthcare in Kenya, and evaluating SRH interventions in Ghana, Kenya, and Cameroon.