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Public Health Summer Immersion: Day 3 Highlights

  • This week, we welcomed high school students to our Boston campus for our Public Health Summer Immersion program, which was specially designed to give rising juniors and seniors a front-row seat to the exciting world of public health. The program was led by Dr. Keri Griffin, PhD, MPH, MPA, MCHES, Director of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health Program and Assistant Professor of Public Health.

    Day three of the program was filled with activities, group work, and breakout sessions led by faculty from a number of departments.

    Dr. Keri Griffin walked teams of students through an epidemiological case study. Equipped with charts, supplemental materials, and graphing paper, Dr. Griffin walked the students through a contact tracing exercise where they had to analyze the symptoms, timing, and population-types affected by a mystery disease.

    Dr. Griffin’s session, titled “Epidemiological Contact Training: How in the World Did You Catch the YUCK?!?,” allowed the students to gain hands-on experience through team work.

    Dr. Martha Gardner, PhD, Associate Professor of History and Social Sciences, led a session in which students experienced an in-depth look at anti-smoking public health campaigns.

    Dr. Gardner walked students through a case study of three ads, including video and print, and asked students to share what they felt was effective. For many of the students, the campaigns that utilized statistics, especially surrounding deaths related to tobacco use, were the most effective, and the campaigns which took a more psychological approach fell flat.

    Dr. Gardner shared that the students were spot on in their assessment, and that the data shows that a psychologically-dependent campaign is more successful with parents, and less successful with children.

    During “Food Deserts: Consequences of Inequalities and Guerrilla Gardening Solutions,” Professor Lindsay Tallon, MSPH, CPH, Instructor of Public Health shared insight into the issues surrounding the access and availability of affordable, good-quality fresh food in urban centers.

    As part of her talk, she stressed the importance of identifying the availability of solutions, including taking advantage of creative ideas, determining the affordability of those ideas, and relying on the community itself for solutions.

    Professor Tallon explained that solutions developed within a community are oftentimes more sustainable than ideas from outside the community.

    “It’s all about grassroots solutions,” shared Professor Tallon during the session.

    During her session, Professor Sarah McCord, MLIS, AHIP, MPH, Research Data and Informatics Librarian and Associate Professor, introduced the exciting and ever-evolving field of public health bioinformatics to the students.

    During a session titled “Everything (Public Health Informatics) is Awesome! Modeling Public Health Information Exchange and Reporting Using LEGO Bricks,” students experienced an introduction to the basics of public health informatics through a hands-on activity. Students gave examples of metadata, the set of data that describes and gives information about other data, which related to the LEGOS they were working with, including shape, color, and height.

    “The point of informatics is to convey the necessary data for decision making in such a way that the people who need it can use it,” said Professor McCord.

    With the field of bioinformatics still in its infancy, the career options continue to grow.

    “In informatics, we’re still figuring things out,” shared Professor McCord during her talk. “There will be 15 new jobs by the time you graduate, because they haven’t even been invented yet.”

    At the conclusion of the program, Assistant Director of Admission Allie Lombardi shared insight into the admission process and gave tips on how students can strengthen their applications.

    Specially designed for high school students, the Public Health Summer Immersion program at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) is designed to give high school students a front-row seat to the exciting field of public health. Interested in hearing about future immersion programs? Email us at