By: Jamie Schenk
2nd-year MPH student (Environmental Health)
Hi (SORT) World!
My name is Jamie Schenk, and I am a 1st year member in SORT but a 2nd year student at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. I am from Laguna Niguel, CA and graduated from UCLA in 2013 with a B.S. in Human Biology and Society, an interdisciplinary major that combines the basic science core with bioethics, genetics, law, and public health, among other fantastic academic disciplines! While I was at UCLA, I gained some hands-on public health experience through my involvement in the National Children’s Study, the UCLA Sports Medicine Internship Program and starting a food co-operative called the UCLA Student Food Collective.
Through my undergraduate studies at UCLA, I became fascinated by gene environment interaction. While my education gave me a fantastic foundation on genetics, I was lacking substantial knowledge on the environmental component. I then applied to MPH programs in environmental health. I chose to come to Emory because it is in a public health hub, Atlanta, which is home to the CDC, American Cancer Society, and a regional office of the EPA, among other influential health agencies. I also wanted to work with Dr. Dana Barr, an analytical chemist who is an international expert on biomarkers. It was also time for me to get out of my California bubble for a little bit and experience life in another region of the country.
At Emory, I have had phenomenal experiences gaining more public health knowledge inside and outside of the classroom. I worked in the analytical chemistry and exposure lab of Dr. Barr during my first year, working on studies involving gene environment interaction. This summer, I completed my practicum at the US EPA Office of Children’s Health Protection in the Regulatory Support and Science Policy Division in Washington, DC doing risk assessment and translational science work. I currently work at the Division of Reproductive Health at the CDC and as a Teaching Assistant for the introductory environmental course offered at the Rollins School of Public Health.
As a second year student in the Environmental Health department, I felt it was important to be able to apply my knowledge of exposure science beyond what I had experienced in my studies. I wanted to expand my scope of knowledge to be able to apply my interests to outbreak scenarios. Having knowledge of exposure science to help inform epidemiologic efforts in an outbreak response seems to foster important public health collaborations, and I wanted to have that experience before I graduated.
I am very much looking forward to this upcoming year as a SORT member learning from some of the leading authoritarians in outbreak response!