Student profile: Sandra Pirela SD ’15

Q: Why did you choose Harvard School of Public Health?

A: The decision to attend the Harvard School of Public Health was not a hard one. The state of the art research facilities and expertise of the faculty combined with the positive experiences I heard from current students at the Open House back in 2010 were important aspects that helped me decide that HSPH was a good option for me. However, the cost of attending this prestigious institution was an object of concern. Thanks to the National Institutes of Health’s Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity Graduate Study Award, my tuition and fees were covered in full. Without it, I would not have been able to afford an education at Harvard and would have attended another institution.

Q: What are you working on during your time at HSPH?

A: My doctoral thesis project is focused on the physicochemical, morphological and toxicological characterization of engineered nanomaterials emitted from photocopiers and laser printers. As for extracurricular activities, I am the current president of the student organization “Students in Latino Public Health (SLAP)”, which focuses mainly on activities that give back to the Latino community while partnering with the Brazilian and Mexican consulates, as well as other Harvard schools and student organizations.

Q: How do you plan to use your education after graduation?

A: I would like to work in the realm of risk and exposure assessment for occupational contaminants/chemicals. While I understand the elimination of risk may not be possible, I plan to use my knowledge in toxicology to reduce occupational exposures through creation or reinforcement of policies setting limits of exposure for a particular occupational pollutant.

Q: What is your favorite memory of HSPH so far?

A: The celebration of the Centennial of HSPH. It gathered every person who makes the School of Public Health the excellent institution it is, including, of course, Dean Frenk. It was overwhelming and humbling to be a part of such an incredible moment for the HSPH community, but it also served as a confirmation that I was in the right place if I wanted my research to make a difference in public health.

David Rogers

Reposted from the HSPH Alumni Community