Alexandra Sundermann, M.D., Ph.D.

Research Mentor: Dr. Katherine Hartmann

Thesis Title: Examining Complex Relationships Between Alcohol Exposure and Miscarriage

Current Position: Resident, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center

Background:
I completed my undergraduate studies at Baylor University where I was introduced to a career path that would harmonize my interests in biomedical sciences and mathematics in epidemiology. At Baylor, I studied pregnancy outcome in relation to maternal body composition which ignited my research interest in reproductive epidemiology. During this time, I also had the privilege of engaging in research in rural Kenya through a program in which I met my loving husband. My experience overseas motivates me to eventually apply my training to the field of global health. I am a candidate in Vanderbilt's MD/PhD program, and I am deeply honored by the opportunity to be the first MSTP student in the Department of Epidemiology. With my joint degree, I aim to identify and ask the pertinent questions in medicine as informed by my clinical experience and to address them artfully with the skills I gain from my analytical training. During my time at Vanderbilt, I am delighted to be working with Dr. Hartmann's team in reproductive epidemiology, pregnancy health, and outcomes.

Why Vanderbilt?
Vanderbilt's program stood out to me amongst others for several reasons. First, I was very much attracted to the way the program pairs students with research preceptor teams from the beginning. I believe that this paradigm allows me to benefit by learning from professionals with varying expertise and through practicing the interpersonal skills necessary for conducting research in a collaborative setting. Secondly, I enjoy the program's decision to maintain small class sizes. Many of the graduate classes I had the opportunity to observe at other institutions were larger than those I had as an undergraduate. I appreciate Vanderbilt's commitment to small class sizes since this allows for more intimate interactions with faculty and classmates and allows students to practice analytics for coursework with real data. Finally, I chose Vanderbilt for the research opportunities. I am very excited to begin my work with Dr. Hartmann's team in reproductive epidemiology. As a future physician-scientist, I cannot think of a more ideal training situation than to study epidemiology under a mentor who has been successful both clinically and in the field of research for which I am passionate. Overall, I feel that Vanderbilt will best foster in me the critical thinking skills necessary to construct studies around relevant questions and equip me with the analytical tools I need to explore the intricacies of those questions.

Personal Quote
"Truth and reason are common to everyone, and no more belong to the man who first spoke them than to the man who says them later. The bees plunder the flowers here and there, but afterward they make of them honey which is all theirs; it is no longer thyme or marjoram." Michel de Montainge