BSPH in Environmental Health Sciences Ambassadors 2018

Below are the current student ambassadors for the BSPH program in Environmental Health Sciences. These students are happy to answer questions you may have about the application process, the program, or student life in the Gillings School of Global Public Health – please feel free to get in touch with them.

Name

Level and Interests

Level and Interests

Junior; marine conservation, contaminant transport

Name

Grace Nipp

Level and Interests

Senior; aerosol and atmospheric chemistry

Level and Interests

Senior; atmospheric aerosol modeling

Level and Interests

Senior; environmental exposures and toxicity

Level and Interests

Senior; environmental risk assessment

Level and Interests

Junior, developmental biology and exposure

Eliza Harrison

Eliza Harrison

Eliza Harrison

I have become increasingly interested in the opportunity to use macroalgae as strategy for marine conservation and sustainable food production. In an effort to learn more about the emerging field, I have spent the last nine months working for Ocean Rainforest – the largest macroalgae harvesting and processing organization in the Western Hemisphere. In addition to my work with Ocean Rainforest, two other students from UNC and I have spent the past year designing a new model for macroalgae cultivation in temperate ocean water. Ideally, the project will demonstrate the viability of macroalgae cultivation in warm water conditions, which will support the aquaculture industry and supplement world food stocks.

In the fall of 2017, I founded and served as the President of Carolina Conservation Technology – a student organization that seeks to identify critical environmental issues and hotspots of the present time that can be addressed by novel innovative technologies that the club will help develop and implement. The club will seek out ways to address the issues in appropriate ways. Through competitions and challenges, the organization will create a space where environmentalists and engineers can come together to address relevant environmental issues.

Within the School of Public Health, I also serve as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Casey Miller in the Environmental Science and Engineering Department in the Gillings School of Public Health. Under the guidance of senior Ph.D. student, Timothy Weigand, I research functions that describe density flow and transport in coarse and medium grain sand. With active support from my colleagues, I am helping to develop a model that can be used to confirm and improve scientific understanding as to the relative impacts of boundary conditions, species activity, and other characteristics of molecular compounds on solute transport.

Sanam Kovari

I am interested in developmental biology and how development can be regulated by environmental factors. I am particularly interested in using stem cells as a model for embryonic development and as a model for prenatal environmental exposure. My current research is in the Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Lab at the NIEHS under the supervision of Drs. Traci Hall and Kat McCann. We study the RNA modification pseudouridine and its potential as a regulator of stem cell homeostasis. I will also be spending my summer doing research into stem cells as a potential cancer therapeutic at Harvard Medical School in order to further my understanding of stem cells and their potential uses.

I aim to continue into a career in research after I graduate from the BSPH by spending a year in a post-baccalaureate research position, hopefully still focused in stem cell biology. After this I hope to pursue either a PhD or MD/PhD program in developmental biology, toxicology, or environmental health. Right now, I think I am going to pursue a career in translational biomedical research.

In addition to the BSPH in environmental health, I have minors in chemistry and medical anthropology. Outside of research and class, I am the coordinator of UNC’s Persian Dance Team and like to hike and run in my free time.

Grace Nipp

Grace Nipp

Grace Nipp

I am interested in aerosol and atmospheric air chemistry, especially as it pertains to human and public health. I am pursuing a plus one MS at Gillings. After the plus one, I will either attend medical school, pursue a PhD, or just begin working, most likely at a government agency such as the EPA.

I work with Dr. Jason Surratt in his aerosol chemistry lab. I currently am attempting to chemically characterize the aerosol produced by E-cigarettes as well as assess the aerosol’s oxidative stress potential.

I volunteer at SHAC as a Mandarin interpreter.

Ryan Schmedding

Ryan Schmedding

Ryan Schmedding

I will be staying at in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering for an additional year after I graduate to get my Master’s of Science. After that I would like to work for a governmental agency such as the US-EPA or NASA before eventually pursuing a PhD in Environmental Engineering and leading a research group of my own.

I worked on a field campaign this past semester in the Galapagos Islands to quantify and characterize the organic aerosols, also called particulate matter, found there. I currently am working on a project to improve the parameters for aerosol  formation and chemistry in a regional scale air quality model used by state and federal regulatory organizations to design and implement pollution policy and regulations. Aerosols are one of the 6 criteria pollutants regulated by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards through the US-EPA.

I will be interning this summer with NASA to work on atmospheric aerosol modeling. I volunteer locally with the Carolina Campus Community Garden to improve food security for UNC-CH employees that would otherwise be unable to access affordable organic produce.  I also volunteer with a local youth organization called KidsTri that encourages fitness and healthy lifestyle choices in children through participation in the sport of triathlon.

Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith

I am interested in environmental exposures, how people respond to them, and mechanisms of toxicity. Class and research interests include: genetics, epigenetics, omics approaches, interindividual variability, and susceptibility to environmental exposures.  I am currently interviewing at PhD programs in the areas of Environmental Health, Toxicology, and Biomedical Sciences.  I am not certain exactly where I will end up down the road, but I am currently interested in pursuing academic to become a professor and do research in a university. However, I do have some experience in government and am curious about industry jobs. Ultimately, it’s all about meeting people and following the doors that open. Slightly unrelated, but I am a Spanish minor and I enjoy hiking and rock climbing in my free time.

I work in an EPA lab on campus with Dr. Shaun McCullough. I study the effects of air pollutants, such as ozone and diesel exhaust, on airway epithelial cells. I use a variety of techniques to study how cells respond to these pollutants and the variety of responses that exist in a population.  I have attended 2 conferences and have given a talk and presented a few posters.

I do a lot of research… I spent a lot of time in the Campus Y and in the student organization Nourish-UNC. Some of our projects involved public health issues.

Sarah Zelasky

Sarah Zelasky

Sarah Zelasky

I am interested in environmental risk assessment of big-picture environmental problems. This includes spatial-temporal modeling of health risks, statistical analysis of exposure-outcome relationships, and informing the public/policy makers on how to best mitigate hazardous environmental risks. I’d like to work in both water and air with focuses on heavy metal toxins in water and PM2.5 in air. I hope to complete my master’s de

gree in Environmental Risk Assessment within the next 1-2 years and then enter the workforce as either an environmental consultant in private industry or a researcher for a non-profit research institute, preferably in Research Triangle Park.

In Spring 2016, I worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Mark Sobsey’s water microbiology lab testing raw and treated surface water samples for E. coli and Salmonella contamination. In Summer 2017, I was accepted into a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) internship program at Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science where I modeled the future health impacts and projected mortalities due to PM2.5 from wildfire smoke under the direction of Dr. Jeff Pierce. In Fall 2017, I worked with Dr. Andrew George of the UNC Institute of the Environment as part of a capstone project to analyze the correlations between socioeconomic factors and private well water contamination with arsenic, lead, and manganese in North Carolina. Now in Spring 2018, I am beginning work with Dr. Jackie MacDonald Gibson’s Lab to understand minority children’s exposure to lead via drinking water from private wells and determine how to best mitigate this exposure to improve health.

I am the Event Planner for the Gillings Student Government Association, Social Media Manager for Public Health Behinds the Scenes podcast series, and founder of a zero food waste composting program in coordination with Compost Now at Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority. I also love to stay socially active with my ESE peers by attending ENVRSO events.