Rebecca Graff is currently a fifth year doctoral candidate in cancer epidemiology focusing on molecular subtypes of prostate cancer. She discovered her interest in epidemiology through her quantitative background. After working in market research, she decided to apply her interest in statistics to an area that she found more interesting, and started the doctoral program in epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). As a doctoral candidate she has enjoyed the epidemiology methods curriculum, the Infections and Cancer course taught by Jennifer Rider, ScD, and the Advanced Cancer Epidemiology Seminar taught by Rulla Tamimi, ScD. Not only has she enjoyed the engaging academic coursework at HSPH, but she has also appreciated her interactions with fellow students. It’s this collaboration that helped her get through the challenging experience of the written exam.
As advice for new students, Rebecca noted the importance of finding a good study group where you feel comfortable to ask questions and less anxious about the exam. In addition to her positive experiences with classmates, Rebecca has also enjoyed the support and guidance she has received from researchers at HSPH. For new students, she stressed the value of having an open, communicative relationship with their advisor, and the benefit of learning from the expertise of faculty members. For example, she noted the utility in finding a helpful committee for the oral exam that can transition to your thesis committee. After graduation Rebecca will be a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF where her research will focus on cancer genetics.
Interview by Erin E. Onstad, MPH (ScD candidate in the Epi Dept.)