Announcing the Data Science & SGM Health Equity Paper Competition Winners

ISGMH is dedicated to fostering innovative, multidisciplinary research to improve sexual and gender minority (SGM) health and wellbeing. This summer, ISGMH’s CONNECT Research Program launched the Data Science & SGM Health Equity Paper Competition to stimulate student research at the intersection of data science and SGM health equity. Undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows were invited to submit papers for the competition. The submissions were carefully evaluated across a rubric that considered innovation, strength of the argument and analysis, writing quality, and the overall potential impact of the paper on the fields of data science and SGM health.

We are delighted to announce the competition winners below:

William Goedel
PhD candidate in Epidemiology, Brown University’s School of Public Health

Paper title: “Predictors of User Engagement with Facebook Posts Generated by a National Sample of LGBTQ Community Centers in the United States”

In his paper, William focuses on predictors for user engagement with Facebook posts by LGBT community centers across the United States. “As a social epidemiologist in training, I’m very much interested in how people connect with one another and what influence that has on their health, so I thought it would be interesting to see how physical spaces like LGBTQ community centers are leveraging digital platforms like Facebook to connect individuals to the resources and services that they offer offline,” William explains. William’s study found that posts with multimedia content, as well as those that related to salient issues such as mental health, stigma, and politics, received higher levels of engagement. Commenting on the applicability of the study, William shared that “I think the work sheds light on what kinds of messages these centers are communicating and what kinds of messages users are most responsive to so we can better use Facebook as a platform to promote health and resilience among sexual and gender minority individuals — regardless of whether or not they have access to offline resources and spaces.”

Austin Eklund
PhD candidate in Counseling Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York

Paper title: “Individual and Structural Predictors of HIV Testing among Latinx MSM: Substance Use as a Moderating Factor”

Austin’s study aims to understand the relationship between substance abuse and HIV testing among Latinx men who have sex with men (LMSM). LMSM have the second highest HIV incidence rate of any ethnic group in the US, and it continues to rise. The findings of Austin’s timely study have the potential to inform and improve HIV prevention programming tailored to this specific group. Reflecting on the topic’s importance, Austin shared: “I have worked in applied psychology and public health for several years. I always welcome opportunities to shed light on communities at increased risk for health problems—risk that is largely due to marginalization and the countless inequities in our system. My hope is that my work, and opportunities to share that work through institutions like ISGMH, will both inspire and outrage people enough that these disparities can be fully and finally addressed.”

Andrew Young Choi, PhD candidate in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Article title: “Syndemic Behavioral Risk among Bisexual Adolescents: A Latent Class Analysis”

Drawing on data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Andrew’s article aims to understand syndemic – interconnected and inextricably co-occurring – factors that contribute to health disparities experienced by bisexual youth, and whether there is a predictable pattern to how these risks co-occur. Bisexuals face significant health disparities in comparison to monosexuals, including higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicidality, and poorer physical health. “Understanding granular within-group diversity can help professionals to accurately distinguish among vulnerable and normative subgroups, and to inform policy and clinical practices that are more sensitive and responsive to nuances in social identities and psychological needs that exist in heterogenous form in the larger population. My hope is to apply this research via training to help future mental health professionals to develop a more holistic perspective in working with the constituents they seek to serve and empower,” Andrew shared.

We would like to extend our warmest congratulations to William, Austin and Andrew, and a special thank you to them and to all of the contestants who participated! Our winners will be presenting their work at a future ISGMH event; more details will be shared closer to the date.