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Get to Know Our Graduate Students!

Get to Know Our Graduate Students!


NCIPH regularly draws on the talents and expertise of faculty and students in our work, and this year has been no exception. In projects ranging from our statewide training needs assessment to consulting on data and metrics for the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, we have an awesome student team this year.

We always enjoy getting to know the extraordinary people who pass through Gillings in their public health careers, and we think you will, too!


Leah Sadinski

MSPH/PhD Student
Department of Epidemiology

Why public health? I am drawn to epidemiology’s application of social and mathematical sciences to understand risk factors for and the distribution of health outcomes within communities and populations. I have gained a deeper understanding of substance use at the community level and working with various public data sources. I enjoy working with a multi-disciplinary team where each member contributes a unique perspective on moving projects forward.

What are you learning? My work with NCIPH has provided the opportunity to apply and practice methods I learned in my first year of coursework to have a meaningful impact in my new home of North Carolina.

What’s next? After completing my program, I aspire to lead population-level research on the intersection of substance use and infectious disease transmission and outcomes.


Natalie Browne

MPH Student
Department of Public Health Leadership

Why public health? I am a native North Carolinian who has lived and worked in rural communities in both eastern and western North Carolina. During and after my undergraduate studies, I worked at a free, charitable clinic and a Federally Qualified Health Center in the western part of the state. Most of these patients came from a poor rural, mountain community and faced many unique barriers in accessing quality healthcare. Interacting with these patients and hearing their stories gave me a better understanding of the struggles individuals in my community faced regarding the non-medical aspects of their health. These patients faced housing insecurities, food insecurities, income insecurities, unstable family relationships and language barriers, all of which affected their access to quality healthcare. It was this experience that sparked my interest to pursue a Master’s in public health.

What are you learning? I like working with NCIPH because its mission and values align with my goals as a future public health leader. Because NCIPH is housed within the Gillings School of Global Public Health, I believe it serves as a bridge between the school and community partners it serves. I believe this allows for optimal collaboration between the school and the community and helps translate what I am learning in the classroom into public health practice.

Fun fact: In April 2019, I, along with three other health professional students, traveled to the University of Minnesota to present at the CLARION National Interprofessional Case Competition, winning second place for our program to address homelessness and health in Hennepin County, MN.

What’s next? After obtaining my master’s degree I hope to enter into medical school to become a primary care physician. Rural communities in North Carolina face many unique barriers, one being provider shortages. I hope to combine both my MPH degree and MD degree to not only provide culturally competent and holistic care but also facilitate large scale changes at a community level.


Emily Newman

MPH Student
Department of Public Health Behavior

Why public health? My work with NCIPH has elevated my understanding of survey development and data analytics. Learning in the classroom is a great start, but later seeing the methods used in real-world scenarios is where the magic happens.

Fun fact: Prior to my work in public health, I was a TV producer making shows for Food Network, MTV and Travel Channel.

What’s next? I’m working to put my background and experience in communications and media to work towards social change and health equity through visualizing public health. That means I will continue my work in creating visual content and storytelling, but now with a focus on public health and health communications.


Summer Debnam

MPH Student
Department of Maternal and Child Health

Why public health? I became interested in public health after taking an elective course in Global Health as an undergrad. Originally an education major, throughout this class I learned that children often bear the brunt of public health crises and that without addressing health issues first, education is not possible. My current interests are in adolescent and rural health.

What are you learning? Working with NCIPH, I have gained a better understanding of the health issues in rural counties across N.C. as well as the ways that community partners are working to develop initiatives to meet the needs of individuals in these areas. I like working with NCIPH, because it has allowed me to work on a variety of projects and work first-hand with communities through qualitative data collection.

Fun fact: I am a high school cheerleading coach and choreographer. Last year, my team won a state championship.


Kate LeMasters, MPH

PhD Student
Department of Epidemiology

What are you learning? ? I’ve really enjoyed having a more applied experience that forces me to grapple with how epidemiologic methods actually work (and don’t work) in the real world and how what I am learning in the classroom both is and is not applicable on the ground to communities. It’s made me want to think much more critically and creatively about the public health methods I am learning, my substantive areas of interest and how I can use my training in the classroom to be a better fit to communities and health departments doing the work on the ground.

What’s next? I hope to pursue a career at the intersection of reproductive and social epidemiology, integrating principles of social justice, health equity and knowledge of peoples’ sociocultural environments for the improvement of their reproductive health. In my career, I hope to conduct studies based in community-based participatory research to understand peoples’ contextual environment and to design and conduct interventions rooted in this understanding to achieve health equity. I plan to conceptualize the intersection of social context and health inequities, to design and conduct rigorous epidemiologic studies to understand and reduce such inequities, and to interpret and scale-up such studies for the benefit of marginalized populations.

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