Tiffany

GS:       Where are you from?

TC:       Birmingham, AL

GS:       What degree will you receive and when?

TC:       I will receive a PhD in Epidemiology some time later this year…

GS:       How long have you been at UAB?

TC:       I’ve been at UAB since 2003. I completed my MPH here in 2005 and began working as a research study coordinator. I began the doctoral program in 2007.

GS:       What is your research? 

TC:       I am interested in cultural and psychosocial determinants of weight-related behaviors in women. Specifically, my dissertation is examining the association between weight and quality of life in women.

GS:       Why did you choose UAB for your graduate studies?

TC:       It was really a no-brainer for me. Birmingham is home and UAB’s SOPH is one of the best. Further, there were several faculty members at UAB working on things that were interesting to me.

GS:       Have you received any awards or honors?

TC:       I was recently notified that I was selected for the Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellowship from National Institutes of Health, which is a great honor for me.  I was also selected for Golden Key International Honor Society and Who’s Who in America in 2009.

GS:       What has been your most rewarding experience at UAB?

TC:       It’s hard to pinpoint a particular experience because the experience overall has been rewarding.  Having the guidance and support of so many neat people at every level—faculty, students and staff—has been truly great. During my time here, I have learned about many different cultures and I have also learned a lot about myself. It has truly been a time of personal and spiritual growth for me.   

GS:       Who was your greatest influence here at UAB and why?

TC:       That is a hard question because I have really had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people. However, if I must choose one it is Dr. Jamy Ard, associate professor in the School of Health Professions. He was the first person who gave me a chance when I was a fledgling intern finishing up my master’s degree. He mentored me and taught me how to apply what I learned in the classroom to the real world of research. He showed me that a person like me could be a successful researcher and that my area of interest was important. He strongly encouraged me to go back for my PhD, was the first person to start calling me Dr. Cox, and was even ready to press send on my application when I was hesitant about doing it. I can truly say that had I not had the intern experience with Dr. Ard, my education and career path would have probably turned out very differently.

GS:       What is your motivation in your academics/research?

TC:       I think I am motivated because I truly love what I do. It is who I am. I am very passionate about my area of research because it is something I truly want to understand at a deeper level so that I can help improve public health. I interact with a lot of study participants and I see how much they really want help so they certainly motivate me to keep moving forward. Finally, I have worked with a lot of successful people who have invested a lot time and resources into me, including my current mentors/employers Dr. Olivia Affuso and Dr. David Allison. Seeing the success of these people and seeing their belief in me motivates me to continue to strive for excellence.

GS:       What are your plans after graduating and for the future?

TC:       I plan to continue training and research in academia.

Tiffany’s advice for other graduate students:

 The best advice that I can give to any graduate student is to work hard and align yourself with the right people—those who have similar research interests and a desire to help students. With a little hard work and the support of the right people, good things will happen for you.

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