Scholars showcase wide range of public health topics at research collaboration event
The second annual Undergraduate Public Health Research Collaboration was held at Elon on Friday, Sept. 23, and brought together students and faculty from Elon, Davidson College and Furman University.
By Sarah Mulnick '17
Elon University hosted the second annual Undergraduate Public Health Research Collaboration on Friday, Sept. 23. At the event, 23 undergraduate students shared their research to an audience of fellow students adn faculty from Elon, Davidson College and Furman University, along with local public health officials and the Elon Alamance Health Partners.
The fair was part of a concerted effort by the three schools to showcase the diversity of topics within the field of public health. The collaborative event shows how undergraduates can explore public health research and pursue interests in the field at institutions that may not have a dedicated school of public health.
“Public health is such a big field,” said Cynthia Fair, professor of human service studies at Elon. “There are a lot of things that fit under that umbrella.”
There’s a tendency to move away from the liberal arts and into preprofessional fields, according to Gabie Smith, dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences. To Fair, the presentations from the students revealed just how vibrant the field is, and the opportunities that it offers.
The research presentations showcased the variety of topics within in the field of public health, from students researching water births to students who studied how infectious diseases spread.
Among those undergraduates offering oral presentations on their research to the attendees on Friday morning was Michelle Rave ’17. Her research focuses on dengue fever, and how mathematical models can represent both its spread and the success of the potential cures that have been attempted.
The oral presentations were followed by two poster sessions, and a keynote speech by Bhibha Das, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at East Carolina University, who spoke about what it means to bring research into practice while engaging the local community.
For the students, this event provided an opportunity to put a spolight on their research as well as to network with other undergraduates and faculty who may offer a different insight into their line of inquiry. Many of the students presenting have made tentative plans for their future, from applying to medical school to planning work closely with high school students as a guidance counselor.
“One of the key ideas in public health is intersectionality,” said Nicky Kratzer ’17, an Elon senior whose research into the role of new student orientation programs has recently revealed significant results. “Everything impacts everything else in public health. By having this conference where we can learn about other people’s research, it’s helpful to see the factors that may impact your own research in ways we never thought of before.
“We learn about possible collaborations, and learn about the passions that our peers have, too.”
Elon followed Furman University in hosting this year's event, with Davidson College to host the event next year.