Category Archives: #WeAreEmoryEPI

Jena Black: ADAP Extraordinaire

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

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 : #WeAreEmoryEPI GLEPI

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 : #WeAreEmoryEPI GLEPI

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 : #WeAreEmoryEPI GLEPI

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. 


Inside APE: Christopher Elmlinger & Tennessee Department of Health

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

This week for #InsideAPE, we sat down with Christopher Elmlinger, rising 2nd year GLEPI MPH student to talk about his work this summer with the Office of Health Policy at the Tennessee Department of Health in Nashville, TN.

Tell us about your APE project.

The new Governor of Tennessee’s first executive order requested a “Statement of Rural Impact and Recommendations for Better Serving Rural Tennesseans.” (Not so fun fact-Tennessee currently has the highest rate of hospital closures per capita in the country). The County Health Assessments aim to identify the needs and assets of rural communities in coordination with county health councils and local stakeholders.

My role has primarily been researching and updating the state’s 12 Vital Signs and the associated intervention strategies and policy recommendations that local health councils can pursue. Tennessee’s Vital Signs are a set of 12 metrics selected to measure the pulse of health in Tennessee (examples include preventable hospitalizations, infant mortality, youth obesity, and access to parks and greenways). I finished a memo on Telehealth for the Governor’s office this week and am currently learning REDCap in order to build out an evaluation for the CHA process.

How did you find your APE project?

My APE is part of the Region IV Public Health Training Center: Pathways to Practice Scholar Field Placement Program, which I found at the Emory career fair in February. I love career fairs and always make a point of talking to every table and collecting every interesting flyer. I enjoyed my conversation with the Region IV representatives and I applied for this opening that evening. The career fair definitely gave me a head start since the position did not go out to the Rollins list serve until a week or two later. My advice to incoming students would be to start looking for APE’s early and to be sure to take maximum advantage of the career fair as there are many paid APE’s advertised there in addition to full-time jobs for graduating second-year students.

What has the experience been like so far?

As an EPI student I have been very focused on math, so I was surprised by the amount of research and writing I have had to do in this position.

One thing that I love about this position: I frequently get pulled into different projects, presentations, conferences, or events. Last Friday, I got called into my supervisor’s office and he sent me to a nearby studio to shoot a commercial on the state’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic. I don’t know how much I will actually be featured in the commercial after all of the edits and cuts, but it was really exciting just to participate.

One thing that’s difficult: getting used to a desk job again. At Rollins we are so used to multi-tasking and running around to classes, events, presentations, and our REAL jobs that we forget how hard it can be to sit at a desk and focus on just one task or project for most of the day (even those of us who have already been in the workforce).


Christopher Elmlinger is a rising 2nd year GLEPI MPH student and a member of the Certificate in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies (CHE). His research interests at Rollins include infectious disease (particularly HIV, TB, and NTDs) and Emergency Preparedness & Response.


Inside APE – Summer #IamEmoryEPI highlights

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

We are excited to introduce our summer #IamEmoryEPI segment “Inside APE” where we will be sharing highlights from students’ current APE projects taking place around the world! After just 1 year of coursework and internships, our students are on the front lines researching and combating public health problems, gaining experience and, in many cases, laying the groundwork for their thesis projects. We are excited to share their amazing work with the Confounder community this summer!

Let us know what you think!


Inside APE: Christina Chandra & TREAT Asia/amfAR

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI GLEPI

For our inaugural Inside APE segment, we sat down with Christina Chandra, rising 2nd year GLEPI MPH student to talk about her work this summer with TREAT Asia/amfAR in Bangkok, Thailand.

Tell us about your APE project.

My project is called “Assessing Barriers and Facilitators to Integrating Mental Health Services and Related Guidelines into HIV Clinical Care among HIV Providers in Bangkok, Thailand” and I am working with TREAT Asia/amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research in – you guessed it – Bangkok, Thailand.

The study aims are:

  1. Understand how mental health services are or are not integrated into HIV care settings
  2. Assess the facilitators and barriers to the integration of mental health services in HIV care settings in Bangkok

As the principal investigator, I am responsible for everything from study design, IRB compliance, data collection, and data analysis. My co-investigators and colleagues at TREAT Asia provide guidance on all aspects of the study, translate study tools, support with participant recruitment, and more.

How did you find your APE project?

One of my former colleagues at amfAR connected me with my current field advisor, Dr. Annette Sohn, at TREAT Asia. After a few Skype discussions with the TREAT Asia/amfAR team and brainstorming sessions with my faculty mentor, Dr. Kristin Wall, we conceptualized this project.

What has the experience been like so far?

Data collection has not started, but I have already gained some insights from a few key informant interviews. For example, clinic staff seem to like simple, questionnaire screening tools for depression and anxiety, but when routine screening leads to the detection of more potential cases, it can burden referral systems to psychiatric care. Therefore, making diagnosis and treatment of common mental health conditions available in HIV clinics may be preferable but more difficult to implement than screening.

My APE has been an incredible learning experience so far, and I have also had the opportunity to meet with other public health professionals to learn about their HIV-related research in Bangkok.


Christina Chandra is a rising 2nd year GLEPI MPH student. Her research interests at Rollins include HIV and co-infections, aging, and mental health. The featured image includes (from left to right) Dr. Annette Sohn (VP, amfAR; Director, TREAT Asia), Christina Chandra, Tor Petersen (Project Manager), and Dr. Jeremy Ross (Director of Research).


Outstanding Teaching Assistant – Katie Labgold

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Katie Labgold is a 2nd year Epi PhD student with Dr. Michael Kramer and was this year’s winner of the 2nd Annual Epidemiology Program Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award! Over half of the students in Katie’s lab section of Epi 591U (Applications of Epi Concepts) took the time to write about their appreciation for her efforts as their TA and to explain why she is deserving of this award.  Her name will be added to a plaque that will be hung in the Epidemiology Department, and each year a new name will be added.

We sat down with Katie this week to chat about her experience at Rollins:

Q: What are your research interests?

A: I’m interested in all things social, spatial, and reproductive epi! My current research interests include the application of epidemiological theory and methods to explore the socio-political determinants of family planning access and reproductive health outcomes. I am an incoming doctoral fellow with the Center for Reproductive Health Research in the Southeast (RISE) at Emory.

Q: What is it like to be a Teaching Assistant?

A: One of the best aspects of TAing 591U is that it is a two-way learning experience. I had a great set of students who were very engaged during our lab section. This allowed us to work through the concepts they found challenging, and in the process I gained a deeper understanding of the material. I think these concepts are critical to becoming a better epidemiologist (we didn’t have this class in my program), so it was a great experience to help facilitate our Emory epi students’ engagement with these topics.

Q: Are you going to TA again anytime soon?

I’ll be TAing spatial epidemiology with Michael in the fall, and I am very excited to TA this course for so many reasons, I don’t think I can list them all here! An exciting aspect of this course is the combination of spatial epidemiology thinking/theory with hands-on analysis in R – I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

Katie studied Archaeology and Chemistry during her undergrad at the University of Virginia, followed by an MPH in Population Health Research at UVa.


CONGRATULATIONS EMORY EPIs!

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Congratulations to our Emory EPI graduates! We are so proud of your hard work and success throughout your time at RSPH and are excited to see the great contributions you will make to public health. Make sure to keep in touch– we’ll still see you each Monday with our Alumni Confounder! Congratulations on a job well done!


Thesis Spotlight: Ramya Ramaraju, EPI MPH 2019

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Ramya Ramaraju, EPI MPH 2019

Thesis: Assessing the Unexpected Impacts of Rotavirus Vaccination on Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) in the United States

Advisor: Dr. Ben Lopman

My Experience: “I worked with Dr. Lopman and used the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters Database to assess whether there are any existing associations between Rotavirus Vaccination and ITP.

What’s next: “I’ll be completing the one year MBA at Emory’s Goizueta Business School.”