Spotlight on Caroline Whidden: Muso’s Research Coordinator
Caroline with her mentor and Muso's Director of Research, Dr. Kassoum Kayentao
Every year Muso invites experienced researchers and dynamic young professionals alike to apply to our Fellowship program. In a small but rapidly growing organization, each fellowship position has the potential to impact Muso’s strategic development, as we research and design solutions to our world’s greatest health injustices. Caroline Whidden has spent the past year as Muso’s Research Fellow, a role which draws to a close this month. Happily, Muso will still benefit from Caroline’s talents and enthusiasm as she transitions into a new staff position, as the team’s Research Coordinator.
Since the beginning of Caroline’s academic career, she has been interested in the intersection of biomedical sciences with the social factors that influence, or are influenced by, health outcomes and policy decisions. Armed with a BSc in Biochemistry and a BA in International Relations, and dual Masters in Global Health Science and Public Policy, Caroline arrived with qualifications that allowed her to jump right in at Muso.
[As a Fellow] I was granted a lot of space to challenge and apply myself professionally… pursuing important public health research questions—questions that I believe the world needs answering—and translating that new knowledge into evidence-based policy and practice. — Caroline Whidden, Muso's Research coordinator.
A large part of Caroline’s fellowship experience involved developing research protocols for Muso’s largest study, a randomized controlled trial in Bankass, which will measure the impact of our proactive community health model on child mortality. Her work helps translate Muso’s operational research knowledge into evidence-based decision-making tools at the national level, through our close partnership with the Malian Ministry of Health. “Continuing to pursue this research with Muso felt like the right next step in my career, and something I was not prepared to move away from.”
Before coming to Muso as a Research Fellow, Caroline participated in a student-led global health organization in Honduras and the national anti-malaria campaign in Sri Lanka. Through these experiences, Caroline saw first hand the fundamental role communities can play in guiding their own health and development. Then, working with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Caroline was able to help inform mental health financing recommendations in low- and middle-income countries through her policy research. The Muso Fellowship experience offered Caroline an opportunity to tie these two interests together.
As Caroline moves into her new role as Research Coordinator, she looks forward to playing a leadership role in Muso’s research and impact, from conception to publication and dissemination of our results and lessons learned, on a global scale.
I have incredible mentorship, and I am part of a team made up of global leaders in the field.
During her first year in Bamako, Caroline lived with the family of Tata Koné, who is one of Muso’s community development agents that works with vulnerable women’s groups to help combat malnutrition in their homes. Through Tata, Caroline was able to step out of the consuming details of research design to connect with the families that Muso’s work impacts.
Luckily Mali’s infamous heat and red dusty skies don’t deter Caroline, who hails from the breezy Nova Scotia coast, from pursuing the social justice and policy work she’s so passionate about. When Caroline is not working, it’s not uncommon to spot her braving the evening traffic and heat to catch the occasional yoga or dance class in the city. We’re glad to have her in our Bamako office, and as a member of our community.