May 9, 2022

Jessica Lapham, a fourth-year PhD student at the UW School of Social Work, was awarded a 2022-2023 Magnuson Scholarship. The scholarship program, named after the late U.S. Senator Warren G. Magnuson, annually honors one outstanding scholar from each of the six UW health sciences schools, nominated for exceptional academic performance and potential contributions to research to improve the health of vulnerable communities.

Lapham, a first-generation college student, focuses her research on examining how social structures and policy contexts protect or degrade health, particularly for economically disadvantaged groups. Her interest in pursuing social welfare research to promote health equity aligns with Sen. Magnuson’s legacy of healthcare policy reform.

In 2020, Lapham was awarded a prestigious CSDE/Population Health Applied Research Fellowship where she worked with a multidisciplinary team of students, researchers and policy practitioners at Public Health – Seattle & King County. During her fellowship term, she spent time working with King County’s demographer and its Assessment, Policy Development and Evaluation Unit to provide population projections and insights into how King County may change demographically over the next few decades.

Being able to anticipate population changes is an important tool for policymakers who want to make sure that residents have access to the resources and services they need. Lapham also worked on a project examining cross-national differences in cardio-metabolic inequalities among millennials in the U.S. and England with a focus on inequalities in diabetes risk.

Melissa Martinson, an associate professor at the School, praised Lapham’s work ethic and commitment, calling her “an exceptionally thoughtful and adept researcher who does not shy away from asking hard questions related to social justice and health. Jessica is uniquely positioned to integrate her work on social policy and cardio-metabolic health based on her research interests in solving health inequities as well as her previous interdisciplinary research experiences at the UW.”

Before joining the UW School of Social Work, Lapham received a BA in communications from the University of Southern California in 2008 and an MSW from the University of Denver in 2015.