Part of an international collaboration between the USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health, Operation Smile and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the annual Operation Smile Research Fellowship offers two scholars the opportunity to assist in researching the genetic and environmental factors in the etiology of oral clefts in children.

Selected fellows join a research team recruiting families from a number of low- and middle- income countries to conduct an extensive maternal and paternal risk factor questionnaire and collect saliva samples for genetic analysis. They assist in maintaining and developing the research study and are be given in-country funded travel opportunities.

Learn more about previous Operation Smile Research Fellows below:

2016-2017 Fellows

  • Chantel Aftab, Master of Public Health candidate
  • Ashkan Nasr, Master of Public Health candidate
  • Mahmoud Hamza, an undergraduate student majoring in health and human sciences

Learn more about the 2016-2017 Fellows in this Q&A!


2015-2016 Fellows

  • Meseret Alemu, undergraduate student majoring in health promotion and disease prevention and minoring in natural sciences and health care studies.
  • Benjamin Brekke, Master of Public Health student majoring in biostatistics and epidemiology. He interned with Dr. Wipfli’s team at the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva and is a member of the USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute lab.

2014-2015 Fellows

  • Grace Jang, Master of Public Health student
  • Emily Zolfaghari, undergraduate student majoring in health promotion and disease prevention

The inaugural Operation Smile Student Practicum Fellows traveled to the Philippines, Vietnam and Morocco to conduct research for the International Family Study. Learn more about their fellowship in Emily’s blog post.

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