Author Archives: Duncan Mahood

RSGA Epi Reps: Michelle McKinlay & Nathan Quan

Category : #IamEmoryEPI

For this week’s #IamEmoryEPI, we caught up with your Rollins Student Government (RSGA) department representatives: Michelle McKinlay and Nathan Quan! 

Tell us about your research interests:

Michelle: My primary research interest is in social epidemiology, specifically focusing on the social determinants of health in vulnerable populations.

Nathan: I am interested in social epidemiology and the social determinants of health, specifically racial and ethnic discrimination and segregation.

What were you up to this summer?

Michelle: I spent my summer in Southern California working for Project Horseshoe Farm, a community health nonprofit organization, establishing the nonprofit’s pilot expansion site in Pomona, CA. My projects consisted of building community partnerships, developing the structure for a gap-year fellowship, and creating a protocol for future data collection, all in preparation for me to serve as the Site Director after graduation.

Nathan: As a Region IV Public Health Training Center Pathways to Practice Scholar based at the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, I partnered with the Louisville Health Advisory Board (LHAB) to expand community-wide efforts to target efforts for suicide prevention using local suicide data. I presented my findings to LHAB, expressed a clear vision for the future research in Louisville regarding suicide prevention at a population health level, and laid groundwork to develop a suicide fatality review by the end of 2019 to elucidate intervention strategies unique to Louisville.

Tell us about your role as Epi Reps?

We really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know students and staff in the department better. Perhaps more importantly, we took pride in acting as the liaison for the Epi student body to the administration. This led to various improvements in the department and to Rollins as a whole!

What are your priorities as Epi Reps this year?

One priority this year is to increase student and staff engagement at our Epi events. Another is to help bridge the gap between the EPI and GH departments for our GLEPI students. We really want to help implement new ideas that our fellow students have – please reach out to us if you have any!

When are elections for the new Epi Reps?

RSGA elections for departmental representatives will be held in early November (keep an eye out for more information in October!). Students who want to be more involved not only in the department but at Rollins as a whole, who care about bringing students and staff together, who enjoy planning and putting on events, and students with creative new ideas should run for Epi Rep! As elections approach, we will be holding informal “Coffee Chats” with students who are interested in learning more about the role!

FRONTLINE Documentary: Flint’s Deadly Water

Category : News/Events

Frontline contacted Drs. Zach Binney, Kristin Nelson, and Allison Chamberlain to help them with an investigation into a Legionnaires’ outbreak during the Flint water crisis. They asked them to use local pneumonia deaths during the outbreak to assess whether it’s possible cases had been systematically underreported. Drs. Binney and Nelson are interviewed in the piece, which airs this Tuesday, September 10th at 10/9c on PBS & online.

Learn more here

Watch the trailer and the full episode on Tuesday here

New EPI Social Media Team: Haley Adrian & Jazib Gohar

Category : #IamEmoryEPI

The Confounder is excited to announce our new Social Media Team: 2nd year students Haley Adrian (Instagram: @rollinsepilife) and Jazib Gohar (Twitter: @EmoryEPI)!

This week, we sat down with the new team to learn about their interest in epidemiology, social media, and much more! 

What makes you interested in social media and how does epidemiology fit into that interest?

  • Haley: I am thrilled to be representing the Department of Epidemiology on Instagram. I have always had an interest in using social media as a platform for general communication, information sharing, and media creation. On top of running a few personal Instagram accounts, I also played a role in content creation for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. Program, which I was a Health Communication and Program Evaluation Assistant.
  • Jazib: I am so excited to be representing the Epidemiology Department on Twitter. I’ve always loved using Twitter for so many different reasons, spanning from news or current events, to sports scores and updates, to academic dialogue and conversation. I think Twitter has so much untapped potential with peers of our age group, particularly in scholarly engagement. I’m excited to explore academic Twitter and engage my peers with our the @EmoryEPI account!

Tell us about your research interests and career goals.

  • Haley: Primarily, my career interest lies in healthcare consulting. I had the privilege of working as a Healthcare Finance Intern with Dixon Hughes Goodman (DHG) this summer, and plan to pursue a career with the firm during the school year and after graduation. Throughout this summer, I was responsible for senior living clients’ market research, penetration rate databases for independent living and assisted living communities, and our actuarial study database. Tangibles produced during my internship included client market area analyses used for our feasibility studies, a regional graphic of the United States showing penetration rate distribution among of clients’ communities, a cleaned and revamped actuarial study database used for internal purposes, and a capstone presentation summarizing both my experience for the firm and Risk Capability (a firm industry point-of-view). My experience with DHG confirmed my interest in the industry, as well as my career plan.
  • Jazib: My career interests revolve around Cancer Epidemiology, specifically in the field of Social Epigenomics. I am interested in understanding the role that social factors, such as race, socioeconomic status, and diet, play in cancer outcomes by studying their association with DNA methylation in malignant tumor tissue. I hope to pursue my PhD in Epidemiology after my time at Rollins.

What do you like to do outside of epidemiology?

  • Haley: My personal interests include working out, spending time with my friends and family, and playing with my dog. I love to be outside, travel, and try new foods. 
  • Jazib: Outside of academic interests, I love sports and music. I’m an avid Chicago and Northwestern sports fan, and I often try to attend concerts whenever I have the time! I also enjoy craft beer, and always try to sample flights at local breweries.

Follow Jazib on Twitter @EmoryEPI and Haley on Instagram @rollinsepilife

#EpiTwitter: Professional engagement in the 21st century

Category : PROspective

from Dr. Cecile Janssens:

If your dream job comes available, you want the recruiters to consider you. For that, they need to know you. Networking is key for career opportunities. In the past, there only was the old boys network, these days there are alternatives. LinkedIn is a good place to post your profile and connect, but you might also want to consider Twitter.

There are many reasons why you, as a student, might benefit from Twitter, and many websites that tell how to get started. Let me share why I use Twitter.

My interest in Twitter didn’t happen overnight. I signed up as part of a public scholarship program but was a ‘listener’ for several years. I followed colleagues in epidemiology, public health, and genetics. I retweeted what I found worth sharing and only responded to tweets that were comfortably within my expertise.

It was worth it though. There are many epidemiologists and statisticians on Twitter. They share their knowledge and thoughts, post what keeps them busy, what catches their attention, what worries them, and what they find important, value, and like. Twitter is also a place where many new studies and developments are discussed. Needless to say, I learned a lot.

Over time, I connected with many people who have similar interests but who I would never have met in person because we attend different conferences. Physicians, statisticians, policy experts, patient advocates, and journalists. Slowly but steadily, I expanded my network across disciplines. Twitter is now my favorite ‘annual’ conference, every day.  

My engagement on Twitter took a turn in 2018, when I was asked to comment on a new paper in my field. I posted a thread of tweets that led to a lot of discussion and to a steady increase in followers that still goes on today. The thread caught the interest of an editor, which is how it got published as a commentary. My co-author and I know each other from Twitter, we’ve never met in person.

Writing that commentary was also the first time that I asked experts on Twitter to check whether we had correctly described a new and complex statistical method. I have since solicited peer review several times for entire manuscripts and paragraphs.

My most ‘viral’ contribution is another thread of tweets in which I explain—would you believe—the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, a statistical metric that many people use but few really understand. That ‘tweetorial’ is now also a manuscript under revision.

If you use Twitter wisely by following people you find worth following and by posting more sense than nonsense (use other social media for the fun stuff), then you too can learn, ask, share, and entertain, all while expanding your network. Give it a try.  

New to Twitter? Here’s how to get started:


  • #Epitwitter: The epidemiology community on Twitter is centered around the hashtag #epitwitter. You can search twitter for all tweets with the #epitwitter hashtag to get an insight into what is trending now. You can (and should) also follow @epi_twit – an account that retweets popular #epitwitter tweets. Other great hashtags include: #statstwitter, #medtwitter, #phdchat, #AcademicTwitter, #rstats, #EpiJournalClub, #EpiWritingChallenge


  • Follow influencers in the field:
    • Several notable influencers are faculty right here in the Emory Epidemiology Department: @TimothyLash, @cecilejanssens, @LCLindquist, @alonso_epi, @Jlguest, @EpiPenny, @mkramer_atl, @SamuelJenness, @ATChambs, @ShakiraSuglia, @pssinatl, @B_Lopman, @DrDaynaAJohnson, @KancherlaVijaya, @jebjones_epi, @kmvnarayan14, @audreyjane4, @TravisEpi, @CareyDrews, @AcebaldAnne, @RachelPatzerPhD, @zbinney_NFLinj, @rabednarczyk
    • Make sure to check out influencers throughout the greater  Epidemiology/Statistics/PublicHealth twitter community: @sandrogalea, @_MiguelHernan, @f2harrell, @yudapearl, @CarlosdelRio7, @ProfMattFox, @EpiEllie, @malco_barrett, @MaartenvSmeden, @jaimiegradus, @ebbrickley, @kjhealy, @LaurenAnneWise, @BaileyDeBarmore, @MariaGlymour, @ken_rothman, @BillMiller_Epi


  • Follow institutions and journals:
    • @EmoryEPI is the Epidemiology Department’s twitter account – a must follow for all the Epi events, updates, and conversations going on at Rollins.
    • Some influential journals in the field include @epipubs (also see:
      @societyforepi), @EpidemiologyLWW, and @AmJEpi


How do YOU use twitter? Who are your favorite epidemiology/public health influencers? Tell us in the comments!

PROspective: New career blog in the Confounder

Category : PROspective

Starting this Fall, The Confounder is launching a brand new epidemiology career-focused section called PROspective: 

In epidemiology, prospective study designs are about understanding the path from exposure to outcome in the real world. PROspective, our new section of the Confounder, exposes epidemiologists-in-training to soft skills, career hacks, and pretty much everything else that you won’t find in the classroom. We’ll be inviting the PROs themselves – current epidemiologists in the workforce – to share their perspectives and advice on navigating the nuances and challenges inherent in epidemiology work and at public health organizations. PROspective is about sharing the tools and practices that will boost your career to the next level.

In the coming weeks, keep an eye out for our new section and let us know what you think! 

Thanks for your continued support!

The Confounder Team


Are you interested in contributing to PROspective? Fill out the form below!

Jena Black: ADAP Extraordinaire

Category : #IamEmoryEPI

To kick off the new semester, the Confounder Team wants to recognize someone at the heart of our work – someone, without whom, the Confounder (and so much more) would never have been possible.

No one encapsulates the slogan #IamEmoryEPI better than our longtime EPI ADAP – Jena Black. As Jena takes up a new position with the Admissions and Student Services Department next week, we wanted to show our appreciation for this tireless student advocate, strategic thinker, and unwavering optimist.

Behind the scenes, Jena has orchestrated countless events and brokered connections that have steadily influenced and improved the department’s academic mission, moving it towards becoming an inclusive, inspired, and engaged community – giving true meaning and purpose to the phrase #IamEmoryEPI.

Jena is living proof to the rest of us that true leadership can have an impact at any level of an organization. This impact is no secret – alumni of this program value Jena’s contributions decades after graduating: she is known for her poignant guidance and her ability to create connections to foster new and long-lasting collaborations. 


From all of us at The Confounder and the EPI Department, thank you Jena for everything you do. We will miss you in the department, and wish you well in your new school-wide role!

Inside APE: Alejandra Alvarez & World Water Relief

Category : #IamEmoryEPI

This week for #InsideAPE, we sat down with Alejandra Alvarez, rising 2nd year EPI MPH student to talk about her work this summer with San Rafael Verano Ocupado: Art and WASH Summer Camp at World Water Relief (WWR) in San Rafael de Barahona, Dominican Republic.

Tell us about your APE project.

The main goal of my APE is to implement a WASH themed summer camp for the youth in San Rafael.  I am in charge of making lesson plans which include the activities and discussion questions that will engage the youth in WASH topics that directly affect them. For example, one week we talked about pollution in the oceans and rivers and the effect on human health. They were able to discuss the types of pollution they see, how they imagine the pollution can be prevented, and how the pollution affects them because San Rafael sits right on the beach and a river.

WWR also does WASH education and monitoring throughout the school year in other communities in the southwestern region of the Dominican Republic. My other responsibility for the summer is to look through the logs and see how WASH behaviors and attitudes, such as how often school children wash their hands and whether or not a school bathroom has soap, changes throughout the school year.

How did you find your APE project?

I found WWR by looking through an interactive map on the APE website. I knew I wanted to complete a WASH APE and I wanted to work in a Latin American country so the map was very helpful in finding an organization where Rollins students previously completed their APEs. After reaching out to WWR and explaining my previous experience and learning objectives, my site supervisor and I agreed on a summer camp where the youth of the community can learn WASH concepts through fun activities and discussions while also doing art. Dr. Christine Moe also helped guide me through the GFEFA application and work through my objectives and methods.

What has the experience been like so far?

Since I am teaching and living in the small town of San Rafael, a big part of my time has been getting to know the community and seeing my students outside the classroom setting. I’ve had a lot of fun seeing the kids at the beach and river, having them come over and playing with my host family, and picking up trash with me at a community beach clean-up.  I look forward to seeing the youth in and outside the classroom for the rest of the summer.

One happy surprise that came about from the summer camp is that the girls wanted to be part of a group where we would talk about issues that deal with growing up. So far we have talked about the menstrual cycle and feminine hygiene. They are really enthusiastic about the group and gave suggestions for future topics such as how to support friends, healthy relationships, and intimate partner violence. While I enjoy the WASH component of this APE, I am most excited about what comes about from this girls group.

Alejandra Alvarez is a rising 2nd year EPI MPH student with research interests related to infectious disease and waterborne diseases. 

Inside APE: Madison Hayes & World Bank/CSIS

Category : #IamEmoryEPI

This week for #InsideAPE, we sat down with Madison Hayes, rising 2nd year GLEPI MPH student to talk about her work this summer as a Research Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Global Health Policy Center and Intern at the World Bank Group’s Health/Nutrition/Population division in Washington, DC.

Tell us about your APE project.

This summer, I am splitting time between two organizations, CSIS and the World Bank Group, where I research topics related to global health security. I contribute to the writing of new publications and multimedia through drafting and editing of products including topical analysis, reports, discussion papers, commentaries, and website content.

How did you find your APE project?

I am fortunate to have a supportive former supervisor who not only invited me back to CSIS for the summer but connected me with his colleagues at the World Bank Group. Given the relationship between the two organizations, I was able to negotiate part-time with each.

What has the experience been like so far?

The most interesting aspect of this summer has been the opportunity to work on global health security from two different organizational perspectives—think tank vs. multilateral. Additionally, I am learning an incredible amount on the topic of global financing for outbreak preparedness and response.

Madison Hayes is a rising 2nd year GLEPI MPH student with research interests related to global health security and noncommunicable diseases, under the umbrella of health systems strengthening and capacity building.

Inside APE: Cassie Kersten & CDC Pandemic Influenza Preparedness

Category : #IamEmoryEPI

This week for #InsideAPE, we sat down with Cassie Kersten, rising 2nd year GLEPI MPH student to talk about her work this summer as Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response ORISE Fellow at the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Community Interventions for Infection Control Unit in Atlanta.

Tell us about your APE project.

For my project, I am collaborating with the Division of Adolescent and School Health to examine the presence of policies and procedures in public school districts that would facilitate the implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in the case of a pandemic. By examining these factors in relation with geographic region, urbanicity, district enrollment size, and socioeconomic status indicators, we hope to identify opportunities for improving pandemic preparedness and response plans in school districts.

How did you find your APE project?

I was hired by this unit during my first year at Rollins as a REAL student to maintain an up-to-date database on school closures and to work on a social media project. Since it was going so well, I decided to talk with my supervisor about the summer and ask if they would be willing to let me continue– which they were!

What has the experience been like so far?

I’ve really enjoyed being at the CDC full-time and getting to experience all the inner workings of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine as a fellow public health professional. Recently, after there was an Ebola case in Uganda that spread from the DRC, I was able to listen in to a conference call where people on the ground were explaining the situation and all the plans they have ready for response and risk mitigation– which was really interesting! Another time, I was invited to share in “Rabies Cake” and mingle with people working in a few different CDC units to celebrate publication of the June Vital Signs report on rabies.

Cassie Kersten is a rising 2nd year GLEPI MPH student with research interests related to infectious disease epidemiology, health security, and emergency preparedness. She is co-president of the Student Outbreak and Response Team (SORT), through which she works directly with local boards of health and gets to further explore areas of potential research interest. 

Dr. Lauren McCullough receives the 2019 Brian MacMahon Early Career Award

Category : News/Events

Lauren E. McCullough, PhD, MSPH, Rollins Assistant Professor at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health, has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Brian MacMahon Early Career Award from the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER).

McCullough was selected for the national award in a two-step process that included nominations from numerous Emory faculty—compiled into a unified letter written by the Department of Epidemiology’s Chair Timothy L. Lash, DSc, MPH—and numerous external letters of support from epidemiologists at member institutions.

Read the full story here!