#InsideAPE: Michaela Bonnett and the Emory Autism Center

#InsideAPE: Michaela Bonnett and the Emory Autism Center

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Meet Michaela Bonnett! She is a second-year MPH Candidate in Global Epidemiology with a research interest in developmental disabilities and delays in lower- and middle-income countries and underserved populations. Michaela takes us inside her APE to share her experience working with the Emory Autism Center.

Tell us about your academic history/where you went to school.

I got my Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.


What are your primary research interests?

I am interested in developmental disabilities and delays, particularly autism. I especially want to focus on the detection and healthcare infrastructure associated with these concerns in low- and middle-income countries and underserved populations.


Tell us about your APE project.

I designed and conducted a brief study, which I submitted for IRB approval, focused on identifying sources of disparity in accessing and utilizing autism diagnostic and supportive services among children in Metro Atlanta. The study centered around a series of qualitative expert interviews with experienced daycare directors representing Atlanta’s diverse regions and population. My APE will culminate with a report of our findings that will be used as groundwork for more extensive future studies with the Emory Autism Center.


How did you find your APE project?

I conducted a series of informational interviews with Emory faculty, describing my research interests and goals. A very helpful professor put me in contact with the director of Emory Autism Center, and I worked together with him to design my APE from the ground up.


When did you start looking for an APE? When did you start working for your APE organization?

I started looking for my APE in December, at the end of my first semester. I started designing my APE with the Emory Autism Center in March of my second semester.


Are you pursuing/interested in any certificates? If so, was it difficult to meet your APE requirements?

I’m not pursuing a certificate; however, finding an APE that met my interests while meeting the global health requirement was challenging. I was lucky enough to discover that focusing on an underserved domestic population is also a way to meet the global health requirement that the EPI department has for GLEPI students.


What has the experience been like so far?

It has been great having hands-on research experience that has let me connect with the community. Still, I also get the unique experience of being a primary investigator on a study from start to finish. There have been frustrating moments, and I’ve had multiple setbacks, but I’ve also gained some really valuable mentors. Encompassing everything, the experience has been worth it!


Any advice for people looking for an APE?

It’s never too early to start looking but don’t panic if you don’t find something even after you’ve been looking for a while. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box if you want to do something really unique.


What are three fun facts you want people to know about you?
  1. I’ve lived on 3 continents, and I hope to get that number even higher.
  2. I love baking, especially desserts. I always make enough to share!
  3. I’m a Nebraskan, and I somehow miss the Midwest.


Thanks for sharing your APE experience with us, Michaela! Come back next week to see the next student who we feature!

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