Hi! My name is David and I’m a first year student in the International Health track in the Department of Epidemiology – it sounds fancy, but just means that I’d like to apply basic epidemiologic concepts and techniques to health problems in developing countries. I took a more roundabout journey than usual to public health. Ever since reading The Hot Zone (at far too young an age) I’ve had a bit of a thing for microbiology, and this interest led me to microbial ecology, where I worked with extremophiles (bacteria/archaea that thrive in odd conditions, like boiling acid) during my undergraduate studies. After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked in a German lab for a year before deciding that I’d like to use my interest in microbiology to improve people’s health, and after looking into epidemiology I decided that it was the right program for me.
While pursuing my MPH here at UM, I’d like to research the link between infectious disease and chronic disease – there’s a lot of exciting work in the field right now, with the recent HPV vaccine as the most publicized example. HIV/AIDS is another example of this phenomenon – an infectious agent (the HIV virus) causes a chronic condition (AIDS), and the more that researchers look into the field, the more connections they find.
There are some amazing opportunities here at the UM SPH, but one of my big concerns is the weather – I’ve never lived north of the Mason-Dixon line, so it’ll be interesting to see how I adjust to this whole “winter” thing. Although I’m from Tennessee (at least most recently…) I went to Pomona College in Southern California for my undergraduate degree, so I’m looking forward to getting to know the Midwest.
One of the main reasons that I came to UM SPH was their international internship program. As part of my degree, I’m required to complete an internship performing epidemiological research in a developing country, and right now I’m still very much in the planning stages – but I’ll be sharing my thoughts (and frustrations…) as I progress through developing my project and choosing an internship site. Since I’m also a bit of a science dork, I’ll blog about the conferences and seminars hosted at UM SPH and some epidemiology that makes it into the news.