#WeAreEmoryEPI: Meet Mike Mortillo

#WeAreEmoryEPI: Meet Mike Mortillo

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Meet Mike Mortillo! Mike is an alum of the Department of Epidemiology and graduated from Rollins School of Public Health in 2019. He is currently a third-year doctoral student in Emory’s Genetics and Molecular Biology program. In this feature, we’ll learn more about Mike, what he has gained from RSPH, and his advice for current master’s students. Read more below! 


What year did you graduate from Rollins School of Public Health?

I graduated from RSPH in 2019 with a degree in Epidemiology and a certificate in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology.


Where do you currently work and what is your role?

I am currently a 3rd year Ph.D. student in Emory’s Genetics and Molecular Biology program. I am in Dr. Carmen Marsit‘s lab, where I study placental epigenetics.


Are there any exciting projects that you are currently working on that you’d like to share with us? 

I am currently doing a study that looks at how a DNA modification called 5-hydroxymethylcytosine affects gene expression in the placenta. I am also doing a study looking at behavioral deficits in children and young adults who are afflicted with a rare chromosomal deletion called 3q29 deletion.


What advice do you have for current epidemiology students? 

My advice for current epidemiology students is don’t be afraid to reach out to professors (even ones you have never met) for advice. Some of the best guidance I got at Rollins was from professors I didn’t know all that well, but whose research interests aligned with mine. I would simply email them asking to meet to talk about their research, and it proved very beneficial. Don’t be afraid to take those chances to develop networking opportunities!


What is your favorite part about earning your degree at Rollins?

My favorite part about earning my degree at Rollins was all the lasting relationships I developed. I never once felt like another face in the crowd, and I still keep in touch with many faculty members who I know will be more than happy to help me at a moment’s notice. They want to see you succeed as a public health or health science professional, so I encourage you to keep in touch with many of them going forward.


What from the EPI program helps you in your current position?

A lot of the data analysis techniques that I learned in the EPI program have been super helpful in my current position in the lab. Being a fully computational scientist, I am constantly analyzing large datasets and performing genome-wide association studies as well as regression analyses, which are valuable skills I picked up as an EPI student.


If you currently live in Atlanta, what is one place that you would recommend people to visit?

I would highly recommend the Atlanta History Center. The graduate programs had a gala there in the pre-COVID times and it was so cool! There are so many amazing artifacts and exhibits, I honestly spent more time going through all of them than I did actually attending the party!


What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?
  1. I love baseball! I grew up in New Jersey, so I’m a huge Yankees fan.
  2. Aside from my research, I actually really enjoy teaching as well. I have been a TA for two classes in the graduate program, and recently won a teaching award!
  3. My dad’s side of the family has relatives in Sicily, Italy, and we have visited them before. It’s always funny to interact because we don’t speak any Italian and they don’t speak any English, but they make SO MUCH FOOD! I gain no less than 10 pounds whenever we go.



Thanks for sharing your story with us, Mike! Interested in sharing our experience with the Confounder community? Email us at confounder [at] emory [dot] edu for more information on how to be featured!

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