Internship takes DMU student to DC to study climate/health issues

Aubrey Massmann, D.O.’21, M.P.H.’23, completed an eight-week internship at the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) in Washington, DC, during July and August 2019.  She was selected to participate in this internship as part of the Department of Global Health’s Distinguished Global Health Internships program. These internships enable select students to collaborate with researchers to explore global health research topics at various national organizations.

DMU student Aubrey Massmann conducted research at the USGCRP in summer 2019 during a Distinguished Global Health Internship.

Aubrey worked primarily on two projects while at USGCRP. The first was the Climate and Health Monitoring Outlook (CHMO). The goal of this project is to provide health-related projections to pair with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) seasonal and sub-seasonal weather forecasts to create mitigation strategies for public health workers. Aubrey helped to build a bibliography that future users of the modeling system can reference when seeking an evidence base for health-related projects. This involved systematic review and data extraction regarding predictive modeling of vector-borne diseases as they relate to seasonal weather parameters. The formal manuscript is still in process; she hopes it will be completed by the end of the fall term.

The second project Aubrey worked on during her internship was the Health Indicators Catalogue. USGCRP had been planning to create its own suite of health indicators for some time. Aubrey provided a synthesis of existing climate indicators as they relate to health outcomes. From there, she created a catalogue of existing indicators and is currently writing an analysis of the challenges of creating indicators, including recommendations for how to proceed with that process. She hopes to complete this manuscript by the end of October.

Aubrey found her experience at USGCRP to be very rewarding. “The projects were interesting, those whom I worked with were incredibly welcoming and wonderfully helpful throughout my time there, and I was able to connect with a network of important climate and health scientists that I know I can draw on down the line in my career. I could not speak more highly of those working for USGCRP and those involved in the projects that I picked up while I was in DC,” she says.

Aubrey also shared some advice for future DMU students interested in this internship: “This internship absolutely requires the ability to work independently, creatively problem solve and not rely too heavily on instructors. It also requires self-advocacy; everyone would happily help me, but I needed to ask first. I think these were good lessons, especially coming from the rigorously structured D.O. program.”

Aubrey would highly recommend this internship. “I have always known that my career as a physician would be supplemented with work in the environmental sector, and this internship provided me with unique clarity that I know is going to guide the next years of my life,” she says.  “It was the perfect thing for me.”

Are you a DMU student interested in an internship at the USGCRP or one of the other Distinguished Global Health Internships? The application for the Distinguished Global Health internships for 2020 will open on Nov. 4, 2019. For more information and how to apply, please visit the Department of Global Health’s website. If you have any questions, please contact the department at globalhealth@dmu.edu.

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