Usher Institute

Congratulations to John Last prize winners

This year's John Last prize for contributions to public health/academic community by online MPH students has been awarded to Kirsten Duggan and Abdulhamid Yaro Saidu.

photo of John Last

John Last Award

The John Last Award is an annual prize given to students on the online Master of Public Health (MPH) programme at the Usher Institute. It is given to the student(s) considered to have made an excellent contribution to the public health and/or academic community.

The funds for the prize have been donated by the late eminent epidemiologist and public health advocate, Dr John Last - who died in 2019. 

Read John Last's obituary from the Royal College of Physicians of Canada

Read more about the MPH online programme

2023 winners

There were many excellent nominations this year - our congratulations to all who were nominated. We are delighted to announce that our 2023 joint winners are Kirsten Duggan and Abdulhamid Yaro Saidu. Kirsten was nominated for her contributions as a student rep, Usher Masters Alumni (UMA) network and UNCOVER as well as her excellent academic performance throughout the MPH. Abdulhamid was nominated for his exceptional drive and perseverance in conducting his dissertation under very challenging circumstances in Nigeria.

Congratulations Kirsten and Abdulhamid!

Abdulhamid Yaro Saidu

photo of Abdulhamid Yaro Saidu

Abdulhamid is a medical doctor with an MBBS degree from Bayero University Kano. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Community Medicine at the College of Health Sciences, Federal University Dutse, Nigeria. With five years of experience, his expertise spans clinical medicine, public health, monitoring and evaluation, implementation, and research. He has worked with government and non-governmental organizations, focusing on infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases, and maternal and child health.

It is with immense gratitude that I accept this honor. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my supportive MPH 23 class, my supervisors and the entire MPH team for recognizing my efforts. All these wouldn’t have been possible without the Commonwealth Service Commission for providing me with the Distance Learning Scholarship to study at the University of Edinburgh.

My MPH experience has significantly enhanced my understanding of public health principles, epidemiology, health systems management, and health policy. This has strengthened my ability to effectively address public health challenges and contribute meaningfully to improving population health outcomes, increasing my productivity in day-to-day activities. I am grateful for the academic and moral support of my newfound family, the entire MPH 23 class, and my supervisors over the last three years. I appreciate and cherish you all.

I am deeply touched by the recognition of my work and the challenges I faced during my dissertation project in Nigeria. It was a demanding journey, but I persevered with determination and a strong drive to make a positive impact in the community. The fact that my work is seen as a valuable contribution means the world to me. Nigeria holds a special place in my heart, and I am committed to continuing my efforts to bring about positive change. This award serves as a powerful motivation for me to explore the potential of my ideas further and work towards their realization.

Abdulhamid Yaro Saidu

Kirsten Duggan

photo of Kirsten Duggan

Kirsten completed her Master of Public Health from Germany, where she has worked with the local public health authority in Frankfurt on the Cool Spaces Project - an online map of public places where people can go if the heat gets too much for them, and accompanying paper maps for different parts of the city. During her time on the MPH programme Kirsten has worked with UNCOVER - a team who carry out rapid and rigorous evidence reviews to answer decision-makers' questions about real-world challenges here at the Usher Institute.

I started the online MPH programme in 2020 with a degree of trepidation, considering how long I had been out of formal education and with no idea how an online course would work. However, I felt immediately welcome and was amazed how involved and engaged the staff and large parts of the student community were. Of course things sometimes  became stressful, but I loved how the students supported each other whenever we came across any stumbling blocks and believe we have been able to create long-lasting friendships. Somehow it then seemed like a natural extension of this feeling of being involved to sign up as student representative – I enjoyed being the link between staff and students and I was impressed by how responsive the staff  were to student queries. I hope to have done justice to the role and I would like to thank both staff and students for their trust in me!

Then, I came across the UNCOVER conference which was right up my street as I was interested in everything Covid-related, and I couldn’t believe it when they announced that students were welcome to join! Of course I signed up and it has been great to be allowed to work with and learn from such experienced researchers. With the focus of UNCOVER’s work now changing I am hoping to be able to stay involved and contribute even more. As there was overlap with my dissertation topic of climate change adaptation and UNCOVER’s work, I certainly also profited from that connection and can only recommend to everyone to try and see if there are any opportunities within the University to get involved with in their own areas of interest. I can also say with certainty that I benefited from the additional workshops and offers by the University and UNCOVER when it came to personal development, study habits etc.

I am utterly delighted and truly humbled to have won the John Last Award and I would like to thank everyone for their unbelievably kind nominations, it was a joy and an honour to work with everyone and I am hoping to be able to stay involved with Edinburgh University and the Usher Institute (everyone, join UMA, the Usher alumni!) for a long time and I know I have made friends for life.

Last but not least – big congratulations also to Abdulhamid, you’re a great person to be sharing this award with!

Kirsten Duggan

Read Kirsten's blog about her experiences of presenting at a national conference in Germany

Find out more about UNCOVER