Danielle Lagana has always been drawn to public health. She majored in environmental studies as an undergraduate and worked with the National Park Service for two years before going to veterinary school and becoming a small animal veterinarian. During her time with the National Park Service she assisted wildlife veterinarians on wildlife health projects, including projects involving zoonotic diseases, which contributed to her growing interest in public health. As a vet student, she enjoyed the classes on preventative medicine and emerging infectious disease, which eventually led her to study epidemiology in the ColoradoSPH at CSU

Danielle at work as small animal vet

“I found that effective communication was the most important skill that I had during my time as a small animal vet. I thought that a career in public health would join my interests in infectious disease and health communication” she said.

Currently, Danielle is completing her practicum with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). She is working on creating educational materials on lice, scabies, and bedbugs for Colorado Infection Prevention Specialists. Additionally, she is working with the Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence (CoE), who partners with CDPHE. This work involves conducting enteric disease interviews for the state of Colorado and Wyoming and conducting a qualitative study to understand antimicrobial stewardship needs in companion animal medicine.

“This is an exciting project for me because I get to use the skills that I am learning in my MPH and also tap into my experience as a small animal veterinarian. It’s been awesome to connect with and work with other veterinarians on a project that is working towards solutions to a One Health problem. Antimicrobial resistance impacts human, animal, and environmental health” she said.

Danielle says she is applying the qualitative research methods that she learned in Applied Behavior Change and also using the skills and knowledge that she learned in her epidemiology courses, including the Outbreak Investigations course.

Linda Kim, who is also in the Epidemiology concentration, is doing her practicum with the Greely-Evans School District this semester. She is analyzing data from pre and post program surveys that students complete when participating in the Culinary Student Wellness program. The program is designed to introduce culinary skills, nutrition education, and healthy eating habits to students. Each class includes a short nutritional education piece and a culinary demonstration with taste testing. Linda is bringing many skills she learned in her classes to her practicum and feels like she was well-prepared when starting her practicum.

“I am applying statistical tests that I have learned from my biostatistics courses. I am also using R programming to create reports for this program”

Linda’s goal is to evaluate if and how the program impacted student’s attitudes about food and cooking.

“I hope to create a report that the wellness team can easily obtain without knowing much about R programming” she said.

Both Danielle and Linda are learning how to translate data into easy to understand formats for different audiences, and connecting dots in knowledge. Through the practicum experience, they are doing important work benefitting their communities and are getting an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to present day public health issues.

Written by Megan Jansson