Student Stories


Every summer, the Summer Program in Epidemiology hosts undergraduate students from all over the U.S. to provide them with an understanding of the skills and processes necessary to pursue a career in public health.

Learn more about the students who participated this past summer.

Chrystal Barnes is a non-­traditional student who grew up in Washington state. She left to pursue an education in health after working in the health and fitness industry and seeing how complex and poor many people’s health was, something she witnessed in her own family too. She recently graduated from Portland Community College (PCC) with an A.S. in Health Studies. She also left PCC having run multiple student organizations and projects related to health. She is now finishing her bachelors at Portland State University, majoring in Public Health, while working at the Student Health Center and a research lab. Her long term goals include graduate school, research, teaching, and community work. Chrystal is passionate about health equity and the social determinates of health in relation to chronic disease.

Shae Gantt is a 3rd year student at the University of South Carolina Beaufort in Bluffton, SC where she majors in mathematics and computational science. From the Epidemiology Summer Program she learned about the research process, graduate school, and also took classes in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Shae had the opportunity to work with her mentor Dr. Carmen Messerlian, whose research looks at how paternal smoking impacts the child’s neurological behavior and learned about the ins and outs of conducting research. This work showed her how she can use her math and computational science skills in public health research while also teaching her new skills like how to write impactful abstracts and effectively present data.

Cammie Lam is a NIH–BUILD research scholar pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and a double minor in Sociology and Japanese at California State University, Long Beach. During her time in the 2019 Summer Program in Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Cammie gained epidemiological research experience and participated in courses and training for R, epidemiology and biostatistics. Under the mentorship of Lorelei Mucci, Claire Pernar, and Benjamin Fu, she was involved in a study examining pre-­diagnostic levels of metabolite HMDB05396 and risks of advanced prostate cancer.

Chinelo Njubigbo is a junior at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, studying Public Health with a minor in Global Studies. Chinelo’s research interests focus on health disparities in maternal and infant health, reproductive health, and environmental health. As a National Institutes of Health BUILD Scholar, she has had the opportunity to engage in research projects that work on public health interventions in Detroit, MI, during her undergraduate years. Through the Summer Program in Epidemiology, Chinelo has learned new public health methods and strategies that will help her in her future career.

Carson Peters is a senior at Grinnell College, where she was awarded a full-tuition scholarship, and majors in the biology of global health. She recently studied abroad in Brazil, India and South Africa, in an honors global health program, and focused on infectious diseases including TB, HIV/AIDS and Zika. Her experiences abroad inspired her to conduct her senior thesis on cancer as a global health disparity with a special focus on breast and cervical cancers. During the Summer Program in Epidemiology at Harvard, Carson conducted research related to fertility intentions among transgender patients in the context of surgical transition as well as analyzed factors and barriers related to fertility preservation. Her experiences this summer have concretized her desire to pursue a Ph.D. in epidemiology.