Research Mentor: Wei Zheng, M.D. Ph.D.
Thesis Topic: Association of Physical Activity/BMI/WHR and Estrogen Metabolite Concentration and Breast Cancer Risk
Originally from Fishers, Indiana, I completed my BA in Biochemistry and my MA in Bioethics both in 2017 from Case Western Reserve University. During undergrad, I was doing research on drug discovery for infections of Acinetobacter baumannii. Additionally at the same time for my MA, I was doing clinical rotations which exposed me to ethical dilemmas surrounding health care that families were facing, and this made me more interested in the health care system and population health. Both of these factors led me to pursue my MPH in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Cornell University. During my MPH, I had the opportunity to complete my practicum at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and School of Medicine where I studied the association of cancer mutations and clinical characteristics on breast cancer. This is where I became very interested in cancer epidemiology and the lifestyle factors that can affect cancer disease progression. I graduated a semester early from Cornell and went back to Boston to continue my research in the same lab as well as also researched in Harvard’s Department of Bioethics and MIT’s Media Lab looking at the implications of brain organoid development. My main research interests include evaluating genetic biomarkers with nutritional and lifestyle factors to better understand the epidemiology of cancer. Currently as I continue my education, I have the pleasure of working with Dr. Wei Zheng to learn about lifestyle factors in relation to disease mortality and also lifestyle factors associated with estrogen metabolizing patterns among breast cancer patients and their controls.
I chose Vanderbilt to pursue my PhD training because of its curriculum design and its emphasis on statistical analysis. I was also drawn to how the curriculum matches its students with a research team right from the beginning and allows us to implement our research work with our course work, helping strengthen our foundation and understanding of how epidemiological methods are intertwined with research. Lastly right from the on-campus interview, it was evident that the faculty and administration were there to help you succeed in every way possible and help you accomplish your goals. I believe all these factors together will help me become a strong epidemiologist in the future.