New podcast, ‘Public Health Behind the Scenes,’ launched this fall

November 9, 2015

podcast logo_public health behind the scenesThe Gillings Global Gateway™ and the N.C. Institute for Public Health (NCIPH), both housed in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, have collaborated to launch a new podcast called “Public Health Behind the Scenes.”

“’Public Health Behind the Scenes’ offers a front-row seat into the exciting field of public health,” said Anna Schenck, PhD, director of NCIPH and of the Gillings School’s Public Health Leadership Program and associate dean for public health practice at the School. “Public health stories often go untold, but this podcast offers listeners the opportunity to meet public health heroes and learn how they are making a difference in the world.”

The podcast was the inspiration of Naya Villarreal, MPH, program coordinator for the Gillings Global Gateway, and Jessica Southwell, MPH, research associate at NCIPH. Their units are collaborating on the production of the series.

“People don’t always understand what public health is and how much a part of everyone’s daily life it is,” said Villarreal. “The podcast is a way of introducing the discipline through storytelling.”

Southwell agrees.

Naya Villarreal (left) and Jessica Southwell are co-producers of the new 'Public Health Behind the Scenes' podcast.

Naya Villarreal (left) and Jessica Southwell are co-producers of the new ‘Public Health Behind the Scenes’ podcast.

“We don’t tend to really notice the importance and impact of public health until something big occurs – like an outbreak or other public health emergency,” she said. “We’re hoping this podcast can take listeners into the work of our students, faculty staff and partners by telling the untold stories of how public health affects us all, in ways both big and small.”

Natalie Smith, a master’s student in biostatistics at the Gillings School, jumped at the chance to be involved in the project.

“I love podcasts,” Smith said. “On this first one, I transcribed the interviews and helped with the marketing, and I hope to do more on upcoming ones. I’ll definitely stay engaged with the project. I think it’s a wonderful way to make public health issues accessible to everyone – those directly engaged in public health work and those who aren’t.”

The first installment, called “The Moment,” features interviews with students and members of the Gillings School faculty and staff who describe how they came to be interested in public health careers. From Gillings School Dean Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, to alumni and students currently enrolled in degree programs, interviewees talk about sometimes circuitous routes that brought them to public health and about the ways they want to make a difference, locally and globally, in people’s health and well-being.

Villarreal and Southwell envision a regular 10- to 12-minute monthly podcast for now, with shorter interviews available as time and content allow.

The next two planned episodes will examine the European refugee crisis, describing the plight of the migrants and the work of public health professionals working behind the scenes.

“Hearing is indeed seeing with the mind’s eye,” said Jim Herrington, PhD, executive director of the Gillings Global Gateway. “These stories help us ‘see’ the impact being made on important issues not only by our colleagues at the Gillings School, but also by partners across disciplines as we work together to make a difference in this field. I look forward to ‘seeing’ upcoming podcasts!”

Listeners are invited to submit ideas for future productions at (“Feedback” tab).

Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or

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