A common question that we often get asked is what research and opportunities current students are involved with. Through this series, we hope to highlight different research and internship opportunities that students are involved with.
By Andrea Torres, MPH’23 in Epidemiology
Name: Andrea Torres
Department: Department of Epidemiology
Program: MPH in Epidemiology
Certificate Program: Infectious Disease
What organization is your project with?
The Emerging Infectious Disease Program at the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) Department of Enteric Diseases
What did you do for this project?
The focus was investigating the relationship between cryptosporidium cases and the environmental exposures per case such as recreational water usage, drinking water sources, animal exposures, and sexual contact. Cryptosporidium is a type of intestinal parasite that is acquired through contaminated water.
I also performed an analysis of all water exposure among Cryptosporidium cases and sent the monthly incidence to district epidemiologists throughout Georgia to analyze the spread. By the end of this year, I will be in charge of presenting our Cryptosporidium case rate and sources of exposure to a panel of supervisors from Epidemiology and Environmental Departments in local health departments.
How does this project align with your career goals, research interests, etc.?
After graduation, I aim to be an investigative epidemiologist in the field of infectious diseases. I aim to represent, include, and accurately report data from minorities through research or public health communications. This project allows me to communicate effectively with Spanish speaking communities to obtain data that is otherwise missing due to language barrier. This will increase the chances of presenting accurate data to public health agencies like the CDC as well as to the public via infographics. The project also allowed me to investigate infectious disease exposures such as different waterborne cryptosporidium infections throughout the state of Georgia. It allows for my development as a professional epidemiologist to investigate, compile, and present data to communities or public health committees.
How did you get this opportunity?
I found this opportunity through 12twenty, which is a hiring platform where employers can post job opportunities for current students. I saw it was published in late April and I decided to apply on the GDPH main website. They offered me a position through the summer as well as during the semesters to come. If anyone is interested in an internship opportunity that can lead to a job opportunity, 12twenty is a great place to check!
What deliverables have you been able to do with your project?
• Analyze all potential water exposures among Cryptosporidium cases from June to October as an EIP and present data to committee
• Conduct investigative interview analysis on communicable enteric diseases in the state of Georgia.
• Analyze and clean data from compiled and confirmed enteric disease cases (Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, STEC, cyclosporidium)
• Obtain data from Spanish speaking cases to guarantee all cases and data is collected to reflect accuracy
• Communicate infectious disease protocol to diverse communities (Hispanic/ Spanish speaking)
What have you gotten out of this opportunity?
This project allowed me to communicate effectively with Spanish speaking communities to obtain data that is otherwise missing due to language barrier. It also allowed me to educate the Hispanic community on these enteric diseases, their cause, and their severity. I communicate proper ways to prevent these infections (washing hands before and after cooking, wash fruits and veggies, avoid raw meats, etc.). As a Hispanic woman, it is my passion and goal to engage, include, and represent Spanish speaking minorities in public health.
Having done this project, has anything changed for you in terms of research interests, career goals, etc.?
This project enforced my passion of inclusion and effective education and communication with Spanish speaking communities. I wish to continue focusing on my community and closing all research gaps with Spanish speaking communities and disease surveillance.