Lott worked with a team to translate the Cervical Cancer Awareness Measure questionnaire, created in the United Kingdom, into local languages Amharic and Afan Oromo. She found it interesting how different parts of the world describe cervical cancer risk factors.  

For example, Lott said the U.K. version cited a risk of “having a sexual partner with multiple sexual partners” but the Ethiopian version used “polygamy marriage” instead.

“These culturally relevant terms could be important to include in provider training and any future iterations of a cervical cancer awareness measure for the Ethiopian context,” Lott said. 

Setting the stage for a global health career

Lott is now completing her doctorate at another prestigious university, but she noted several special experiences from her undergraduate program at ASU.

“I had two particular experiences that were really informative for me,” Lott said. “I was able to study abroad, and I was involved in several research projects as an undergrad.” 

As a requirement of the global health major, Lott completed a six-week internship at a biology lab in Paraguay.

“That was the first time I was outside the U.S. for an extended period of time and I just fell in love with it,” Lott said. “It was a great opportunity to interact with people who were different from me, and the biology lab experience supplemented everything I was learning in my global health classes.”  

Another foundational experience was participating in active research projects.

“I had the opportunity to be involved in several projects as an undergrad, and at the time I didn’t understand how unique that was,” Lott said. “Now, having gone through a master's and doctorate program, where you’re kind of starved for research opportunities, I look back and realize that was something really amazing that (the School of Human Evolution and Social Change) was able to offer for undergraduates.” 

As an undergraduate student, Lott collected and entered data for the school’s long-running global ethnohydrology study. She, alongside other students and ASU researchers Alissa Ruth and Melissa Beresford, worked with local children, asking them to draw pictures of their environments now and again in 100 years. The research team then used qualitative coding to analyze the drawings, determining what kids think about water security in Phoenix. 

Lott also studied diabetes in Guatemala with Associate Professor Jonathan Maupin and worked with a graduate student studying tuberculosis in Paraguay. “It was a really enriching experience for me,” Lott said. 

What’s next 

Lott expects to complete her doctorate in health sciences promotion next May with the support of the PEO Scholar Award. It is given to women in doctoral programs to supplement costs associated with research. For the academic year 2020-21, there were 900 nominations and 100 awards given.

In the future, Lott hopes to continue global health and cancer research, either in an academic setting or at a government institution like the National Cancer Institute. She sees the need for increased access to women’s health care, not just in Ethiopia, but in surrounding African countries as well.

“Sub-Saharan Africa as a region experiences disproportionate cervical cancer burden,” Lott said. “I'm especially interested in studying HPV self-sampling as a community-based strategy as I continue my own research agenda in the future since it can reduce some environmental and access issues that prevent women from screening.”

Taylor Woods

Communications program coordinator, School of Human Evolution and Social Change