#WeAreEmoryEPI: Meet Olivia Barnum

#WeAreEmoryEPI: Meet Olivia Barnum

Category : #WeAreEmoryEPI

Meet Olivia Barnum – a second-year Epidemiology MPH candidate with research interests in social determinants of health and addressing failtures in healthcare systems. In this feature, Olivia talks about why she chose Rollins, her favorite RSPH class so far, and a must-see business in Atlanta. Read more below!



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

I went to school in Richmond, Virginia where I attended University of Richmond, getting my B.S. in Biology. Go Spiders!


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

I’m currently assisting in the Plantinga Lab where I am creating validity reports for the APPEAL study, which is primarily focused on estimating functional impairment among lupus patients. I am also working at the CDC, as an ORISE fellow, assessing the output of their Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) unit.


When applying, what were you looking for in a public health school, and what factors drove you towards Rollins?

I wanted to go to school in a city that also matched my career goals and Atlanta is the best location for public health. I also wanted a welcoming, collaborative environment, which I was assured was present by current students.

What is your favorite part about earning your MPH at Emory?

The professors at Emory are truly invested in your betterment. Their patience, care, and support have given me a leg up on public health that I could not get anywhere else.


What advice do you have for 1st year MPH Students?

Don’t be afraid to reach out and speak to your professors (even if only to say hello!)


What is your favorite class you have taken so far at Emory and why?

So far, I’ve fallen in love with Geographic Information Systems (INFO 530) and am looking forward to taking the subsequent class in the fall. Our zip code is more important to our health than our genetic code! Being able to visually demonstrate the social determinants of health was a fun and eye-opening experience. I never expected to fall in love with maps, but there may be a place for me in spatial epidemiology.


How have you been navigating the work (& learn) from home experience during the COVID-19 outbreak?

I navigated it very well for all 8am classes and no required commute. Overall, with the help of my fellow students in the same position, we were able to conquer this sometimes difficult task. It has been a pleasure taking class to the kitchen with me.


How have you been spending your free time?

I started a small book club with my sister (which consisted of solely me and my sister) where we read whatever we fancied. I also have benefitted from the age of streaming as I watch more shows than I can handle. In my free time, I also harass my mother for pictures of my cats, which are back home in Maryland.


What are three fun facts that you want people to know about you?
  1. I had to get 6 wisdom teeth pulled during spring semester
  2. I’ve been to 10 countries
  3. I’ve pet a cat in each one (check my second fact)


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

It’s almost impossible to go wrong with the various food options here, so I’ll plug Bear and Honey – a small business candle store in Atlanta where you can learn how to make your own candle! Currently trying to copyright the secret aromatic combination of the candle that I created.



Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Olivia. Tune in every Monday for a new feature in #WeAreEmoryEPI!


Interested in being showcased on our blog? Email confounder [at] emory [dot] edu and express your interest in #WeAreEmoryEPI. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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