While attending the University of Michigan, I worked in a laboratory that explored the interaction between contraception and the vaginal microbiome, where I became interested in the social determinants of different groups of vaginal bacterial communities. Through a combination of class work in international studies and global health, and a serendipitous confluence of events in the lab, I had the opportunity to spend a summer in an Ethiopia examining what motivated patients to chose their selected contraceptive method for my honors thesis. These experiences inspired me to apply to MD/PhD programs, with the hope of gaining an understanding of the complex dynamics that connect basic science, patient care, and societal health with the longer-term goal of improving public health outcomes.
I was immediately impressed after interviewing at Vanderbilt. The individualized attention that the Epidemiology program provides to each student was particularly appealing. I was further impressed after meeting the folks at the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health — both by their commitment to bilateral international partnerships and their excitement about engaging with students. I am looking forward to working with my advisor, Dr. Carolyn Audet, to learn about the social factors that influence adherence to treatment and clinical outcomes among women living with HIV in Mozambique.