Ph.D. Student Focused on Maternal and Child Health Earns Prestigious Fellowship

March 8, 2022 | News, Student Success, UToday, Alumni, Health and Human Services
By Tyrel Linkhorn

A two-time graduate of The University of Toledo, Dorian Mundy had carved out a successful career in her hometown of Cincinnati working to reduce infant mortality in at-risk families.

But rather than just steer women toward resources that could help them overcome structural barriers to healthy pregnancies, Mundy increasingly wanted to do work that could help tear those barriers down.


“We were doing a great job of calling out what was wrong and making sure women have access to prenatal care,” she said. “But I felt like I needed to do research and focus more on the political and structural factors that prevent people from getting the healthcare they need in the first place.”

Mundy returned to UToledo in 2019 to pursue her doctorate in public health with a key interest in improving infant and maternal health, particularly among racial minorities.

Last year, she was selected as an American Public Health Association Maternal and Child Health Section Student Fellow, a prestigious program that provides mentorship and development for future leaders in the maternal and child health space.

Dr. Erica Czaja, an assistant professor in the UToledo College of Health and Human Services, said Mundy’s unwavering commitment to eliminating injustices in maternal and infant health is always readily apparent.

“Her dissertation research is centered on the lived experiences of Black women and illuminating the effects of American racism in its many forms on the health of Black mothers and babies,” said Czaja, one of Mundy’s mentors. “Dorian aims to contribute to the growing scientific evidence base on these factors in order to ensure they are appropriately addressed through changes in policy and practice.”

As one of 12 section fellows, Mundy had the opportunity to attend the APHA national conference in Denver last fall, where she was able to network with leading researchers and advocates in maternal and child health.

“It was a great surprise, and I was very happy to be selected for the fellowship,” she said. “I’m hoping the exposure in the program and the opportunities I’ll get to have conversations with other maternal and child health leaders will help me figure out the dynamics of the field and where I fit, whether it be in academia, nonprofits or government agencies.”

Mundy came to UToledo as an undergraduate on the strength and reputation of its pharmacy program and the competitive financial aid package the University offered her.

She soon realized pharmacy school wasn’t right for her and began to explore UToledo’s other health-related programs. After a brief stint as a nursing student, she found her fit in public health.

Mundy went on to earn a bachelor’s in public health and then immediately enrolled in the University’s Master’s in Public Health Program, which she completed in 2015.

“The University has been very supportive. That’s one of the reasons I felt comfortable coming back,” she said. “I left a full-time job that I was very happy with. I was making a great salary for the field, but I wasn’t fulfilled.”

One of Mundy’s key areas of interest is the racial disparity in infant and maternal mortality.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Black babies are nearly twice as likely as white babies to die before their first birthday, and Black mothers are more than twice as likely to die of maternal causes than white mothers — a gap that widened significantly in 2020.

“I want to do research that influences policy decisions and speaks more to structural barriers that shape our society and the way that our country actually contributes to health inequity,” Mundy said. “Not so much what women themselves can do to protect their pregnancy.”

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