Department EDIB Programs

Group photos from the 2019 Summer Program, left standing in front of Kresge building sign and right, on a Duck boat tour
Participants from the 2019 Summer Program in Epidemiology. (Left) In front of the Kresge building entrance. (Right) On a Duck Boat tour.

The Summer Program in Epidemiology

The Epidemiology Department has undertaken a number of initiatives to promote diversity within the department. The Summer Program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics  provides opportunities for talented undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to gain exposure to the field of public health through coursework, lectures, and research projects. The participating students spend six weeks during the summer at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Participants are paid an NIH level stipend and provided funding for travel and housing in Boston Dorms.

A Report from the 2022 Summer Program

The Department of Epidemiology’s summer program, which acts as a pipeline for our graduate programs, was recognized by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) for its efforts and highlighted as a key area to further develop and promote. The program began in 2012 and has continued to run each summer through 2022 despite challenges resulting from COVID-19. Each year, the department has accepted eight students, referred to as “interns,” from historically underrepresented backgrounds to participate. On average, we have seen between two to four interns from each cohort being admitted into a master’s program at the School, often with accompanying robust financial-aid packages. More importantly, tracking data shows 100% of the program alumni pursue graduate education at some point in their respective careers.

2021 has been the program’s biggest success in terms of student pursuit of higher education beyond their undergraduate degree thus far. Seven of the eleven students in the cohort applied to a master’s program at the Harvard Chan School and a total of six were accepted. Also, five of the six will be enrolled in a Harvard Chan School master’s program and one will be joining the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences’ PhD program this fall!

Following on the summer program’s past success, during the summer of 2022 the department welcomed five undergraduate interns from historically marginalized groups to participate in a six-week virtual intensive research program. The bulk of the program consisted of Introduction to Epidemiology and Biostatistics courses taught by postdoctoral fellow Nazleen Khan (epidemiology) and PhD candidate Jemar Bather (biostatistics). To supplement learning, the interns also participated in weekly faculty roundtables, writing-intensive courses, R boot camp, and ODI workshops. To give the interns more touchpoints, four summer-program alumni joined as student mentors to guide the current interns through their journey. The interns worked with faculty and postdocs on research projects during their six weeks. At the end of the program, all five interns presented their impressive research projects to faculty, staff, current students, and fellow interns. We expect several members of the 2022 cohort will apply to programs at the School and advanced degrees at other universities.