CDC internship enhances DMU student’s insights on climate change’s health impact

Christelle Eliacin, D.O.’25, M.P.H., completed an eight-week virtual internship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from May 23 to July 15, 2022. She was selected to participate in this internship as part of the DMU 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.

Below is Christelle’s reflection on her internship experience.

Working with the climate and health program at the CDC gave me the opportunity to obtain a deeper understanding of the effects of climate change on national and global health.

Christelle Eliacin, D.O.’25, M.P.H.

The project I chose was a story map on the built environment and climate change, and how they affect population health. I wanted to show how our built environment is involved in the worsening effects of climate change and what we can do to mitigate those effects. Most of my time during the internship was put toward researching the different aspects of the built environment and how it relates to the concerns of climate change. Our built environment plays a role in the negative health impacts of climate change and can also be used to improve health against climate change impacts. Additionally, I had a chance to research what is being done to improve population health, prevent worsening health due to climate change, and how the built environment is being used to accomplish these things.

Another small assignment I worked on was an informal investigation on the power outage in Ohio. At the end of June 2022, a power outage left people without electricity during a heatwave. My role was to look through news articles, social media and any other reports that were put out by government officials or health organizations regarding the compounding effects of the situation in Ohio: power outage, heatwave and ways that was affecting health. What I saw through my investigation was how quickly government officials and health organizations responded to the news of the significant power outage by trying to reassure the public and offer guidance regarding the immediate situation. Multiple outlets were used to reach the population to provide tips on what to do during the heatwave and how to stay cool during the power outage.

I found that having my own project that I was responsible for to be an important part of the internship. It provided a wonderful opportunity to do more research on my topic of interest with additional resources only available through the CDC. I also appreciated the autonomy of working on a topic that I’m interested in. I learned a tremendous amount of information on the different aspects of climate change and the built environment, and how the two together influence population health. In addition to working on the story map, I was given the opportunity to network with others in the climate and health program and within the CDC. This was another valuable aspect of the internship because I could speak one-on-one with other officials and hear firsthand experiences about various projects to improve health.

One challenge I had during the internship was getting in contact with people from the climate and health group or other divisions of the CDC. I believe this challenge came from the fact that it was an online internship, and I couldn’t physically be in the office. I mostly had to rely on my person of contact to set up meetings with others I was interested in speaking with. However, I understand that being online was for safety reasons. I hope those who participate in the internship in the future get a chance to physically be in the office to observe the day-to-day practice and be closer to people who can help with their projects.

Overall, I had a great experience with the climate and health program while learning about their projects and roles in health, and how they collaborate with other state organizations and groups to improve climate change. This is a topic I plan to incorporate in my practice in the future.

Are you a DMU student interested in the internship at the CDC, the U.S. Global Change Research Program or the Pan American Health Organization? The application for the Distinguished Global Health internships for summer 2023 will open on Nov. 11, 2022. 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

We also invite you to join us via Zoom for the Office of Research’s Friday Research Seminar on Nov. 11 at noon where the 2022 global health interns will present the research from their internships. Register for the seminar here.

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