The opportunities to get involved, contribute to cutting-edge research, and partake in practice-based learning are nearly endless for Colorado School of Public Health students at Colorado State University. This abundance of opportunity contributes to the distinctive and immersive master’s experience in public health at CSU. Not only do students learn from their professors in class, but also by applying their public health skills to current issues and research projects.

Dr. Kaigang Li, who is a professor in the Health and Exercise Science Department and the director for the Assessment and Promotion of Physical Activity lab, has hired three MPH students since 2016 as graduate assistants, and is looking to hire another one for 2020-2021.

“MPH students bring skills and expertise which are different from the students in my department. My focus is on health behavior and research in health promotion, so MPH students are a great fit. I have enjoyed working with MPH students and benefited from them a lot” he said.

GRA Haley Moss

Dr. Li’s three previous MPH GRAs, Haley Moss, Elizabeth Ochoa, and Selam Tewahade, have published peer-reviewed articles as 1st authors, presented abstracts at national conferences, and presented at the CSU Graduate Student Showcase.

GRA Selam Tewahade

Another CSU ColoradoSPH professor, Dr. Sheryl Magzamen from the Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences Department, has had a GRA every year since 2014.

“I have had such fantastic experiences working with MPH GRAs on several different research projects. Our students are smart, motivated, and eager to apply their knowledge and training to public health research problems. MPH GRAs have been incredibly helpful – their outside perspective and interests help us see new possibilities in our data” she said.

Dr. Magzamen’s current GRA, Kat Kowalski, has learned many new skills in this role and always appreciates the support she gets from Dr. Magzamen and other students and post-docs in her lab group.

“It is helpful and inspiring to have such an experienced and knowledgeable group to learn from and get advice from. It is definitely one of the more rewarding and memorable experiences thus far in my MPH journey” said Kat.

GRA Kat Kowalski and Dr. Sheryl Magzamen

Dr. Magzamen and Kat, along with previous MPH GRAs, have worked on a joint NIH project funded with CU Anschutz called Environmental Influences in Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). The team’s role has been to provide environmental assessments so they can determine how exposures like air pollution and other chemical pollution impact women during their pregnancy, as well as the impact on the health of their children once they are born.

Finally, Dr. Samantha Brown in the School of Social Work, is leading a federally funded study that addresses key questions related to child maltreatment etiology and prevention, and she will be hiring a GRA for the first time in 2020-2021.

Dr. Brown’s study presents an optimal opportunity for her to mentor a graduate student with intersecting interests since this study involves data collection in family homes, coding of biological and behavioral data, and the translation of research findings to broad audiences. Dr. Brown herself is interdisciplinary, which is why she wanted to join the ColoradoSPH faculty and is excited to work with an MPH student.

“The MPH GRA will be a key asset to move this work forward and will bring unique and valuable expertise as well as gain skills and knowledge in data collection, analysis, and dissemination” she said.

The MPH GRA positions benefit students as well as faculty and are one of the many ways the ColoradoSPH encourages practice-based learning. And with affiliated faculty from so many different departments across campus, students have a wide range of projects and topics to choose from. GRA positions, practicum experiences and capstone projects are just some of the ways that ColoradoSPH at CSU students can set themselves apart when they are applying for jobs after graduation.

Written by Megan Jansson