PhD candidate, Clinical and Translational Sciences (Psychiatric, Behavioral, and Statistical Genetics)
Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2016
MPH, Social and Behavioral Health Sciences,
Department of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences,
Virginia Commonwealth University, 2012
BA, Foreign Affairs,
College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, 2010
Research Interests/Current Projects:
Preterm birth outcomes, substance use and substance abuse disorders (specifically: nicotine and nicotine dependence), adolescent health related to influences of peers and family environment, health disparities
What brought you to VCU and/or Public Health:
After graduating from college, I wasn't really sure what route my life would tak
e. I had taken pre-med classes and was trained to think analytically about polit
ical systems, the economy, power and people, but had little idea of what I wanted to do other than help people. I had to do some research about potential career paths, when it occurred to me that the natural intersection between these seemingly different worlds was public health.
I was admitted into the MPH program at VCU and began my training in public health. It was during that time that I discovered my passion and learned to apply what I had learned in the classroom to the field, as a part-time research assistant for two different projects. From these projects, I developed an interest in identifying environmental risk factors for disease and ways to mitigate these risk factors through interventions and education.
However, I still wondered why it might be the case that even though individuals are exposed to similar environments, outcomes across individuals might vary widely. This might be explained by how genes and the environment interact with one another to determine a health outcome, which is why I have come to study how genetic and environmental factors affect substance use across adolescence and young adulthood at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at VCU. I’m now in my third year as a PhD student there.
Hobbies or an interesting factoid:
Outside of work and school, I enjoy reading (historical) fiction novels and autobiographies, watching comedies and crime dramas on television, and watching documentaries on Netflix. When I’m not doing those things, I’m venturing around the diverse pockets in Richmond, searching for good eats, or trying out new recipes on foodnetwork.com.