Student explores climate change’s effects on the pandemic

Krista Hoevemeyer, D.O.’21, M.P.H.’21, completed an eight-week virtual internship with United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) during June and July 2020. She was selected to participate in this internship as part of the Department of Global Health’s Distinguished Global Health Internships program. These internships are selective research opportunities that enable students to collaborate with researchers to explore global health research topics at various national organizations.

Krista Hoevemeyer, D.O.’21, M.P.H.’21

During her internship with USGCRP, Krista worked on two projects with direction from her preceptor and the co-chairs from the Interagency Crosscutting Group on Climate Change and Human Health (CCHHG). CCHHG coordinates, implements, evaluates and communicates federal research and scientific activities related to the human health impacts of global climate change. One project Krista worked on was a literature review on climatological factors affecting COVID-19. From this information, she created a poster on the descriptive statistics of the literature to present at the Climatological, Meteorological and Environmental Factors in the COVID-19 Pandemic Symposium hosted by the American Geophysical Union.

“For this project, I worked with my colleagues to create a database from 61 published articles on the health variables used, the environmental variables used, their data sources, location of the study, timeframe of the study, statistical analysis used, significant findings found, and control and confounding factors used or mentioned,” Krista explained. “We then used this information to create pivot tables to describe what people are currently using to determine the link between climate and the pandemic.”

Her second project was collecting a list of capacity-building programs implemented or funded by development agencies around the world regarding climate and health.

“This project was harder because of the lack of information that was available,” Krista commented. “I was also able to write an article for the Veterinary Public Health One Health newsletter, which was a great opportunity to dive into one of my passions.” The article was titled “How Our Changing Climate Has Downstream Effect on Our Immunity.”

Krista learned many valuable things during her internship, including about the dynamics of interagency work and about the difficulty of doing climate work in a government with a climate-unfriendly administration. “You have to devise what topics you are going to work on and how to talk about them to make sure you do not turn people off right away. We must learn how to convey the science without using the ‘trigger’ words. You have to make the effects personal, so people hear you and respond,” she explained further.

Completing the internship during the COVID-19 pandemic provided Krista with additional lessons and valuable takeaways. She learned about the incredible struggle of trying to research climate and weather effects on a burgeoning pandemic. 

“There was so much unknown about COVID-19, so people were ready to jump on the chance to complete a study, but much of the science was rushed and therefore did not give valuable information,” Krista described.

“I greatly enjoyed this internship and thought it was a valuable experience,” she summarized. “I was able to have some independence on my projects but also worked with multiple people to finish the projects. I did not have the clearest goal for a product at the beginning, but it pushed me to start and mold it to the group’s collective goals. My environmental factors and COVID-19 project changed multiple times during the internship, which gave me the opportunity to adapt and change my strategy with the new information.”

Are you a DMU student interested in the internship at USGCRP or the Pan American Health Organization? The application for the Distinguished Global Health internships for Summer 2021 will open on Nov. 6, 2020. For more information and how to apply, please visit the Department of Global Health’s Pulse Page. If you have any questions, please contact the department at

Disclaimer: This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Sondra Schreiber

Director of Global Health

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