Alumni Spotlight: Kate Robb, DrPH ’19

Kate Robb, DrPH ’19

With 87 graduates since its inception in 2014, the DrPH Program has developed an illustrious, talented group of public health professionals who have taken their DrPH degree and have become public health leaders.

We recently reached out to Kate Robb, DrPH ’19, to find out where her public health career has taken her and the current work she is doing!

  • Where are you currently located?

Kate: Boston, MA

  • Where are you currently working and a brief description of your job?

Kate: I am a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. My work focuses on improving environmental health in cities through applied research and public sector innovation.  I lead studies on housing and health and how cities can leverage data and resources to be more effective, efficient, and equitable in response to public health problems. Right now, I’m using housing data and patient records to examine the impact of housing conditions on COVID-19 risk in Chelsea, MA. I’m also studying the impact of a place-based intervention to reduce blight, crime, and improve wellbeing in distressed neighborhoods in Buffalo, NY.  

  • The 4 pillars of the DrPH Program are leadership, management, communication, and innovative thinking. Which of the pillars (if any) do you use most in your new position and how did the program prepare you for it?

Kate: Innovative-thinking! My DELTA (now known as Doctoral Project) was an action-research project in which I got to practice turning innovative-thinking on housing quality and social problems into a real-world program to address these issues. The novel program equips housing inspectors with the ability to connect residents with social services that address underlying causes of unsafe housing.

  • If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?

Kate: The path I took through the DrPH Program is one I never could have predicted. When I entered the program, I planned on continuing my career focused on research on global water and sanitation challenges. However, after trying and not succeeding to build a DELTA project in dozens of subject areas across many countries, I decided to take a summer fellowship as an Innovation Fellow at Chelsea City Hall, just outside of Boston. My work in Chelsea, supported by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Innovation Field Lab, became the foundation for my DELTA project, postdoc, and current position. I’m really happy with where I am now.

  • Is there any work/document/article that you are currently working on that you’d like to promote? Our current students would love to find out what our alumni are currently working on. 

Kate: Yes! I have several recent academic articles and practitioner summaries that build on the work I started during my DELTA. The first describes the impact of the social service referral program in Chelsea, MA that I began during my DELTA. The second describes the work my team and I did using integrated city data and machine learning to identify and intervene early on housing-related public health problems. At the end of both summaries are links to the associated academic articles and other posts.

If you would like to connect with Kate, please visit her LinkedIn profile here.