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School of Public Health News February 26, 2024

Q: What universities have you attended, degrees earned, and graduation years?

  • 2014 – 2018: Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi – Bachelor of Engineering (Biotechnology)
  • 2019 – 2020: University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama – Master of Public Health (Health Care Organization and Policy)
  • 2023 – 2024 (IP): University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama – Master of Public Health certification (Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology)
  • 2020 – (IP): University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama – Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Health Sciences

Q: Which program within the Department of Environmental Health Sciences are you currently enrolled?

Environmental Health Sciences – Doctoral Program

Q: What is your anticipated graduation date from your current program?

Summer and Fall 2025.

Q: Tell me about yourself.

I am originally from Delhi, India, but I spent much of my life in Oman while spending my vacations in Delhi. I love traveling, and education has always been a core value in my family, so I was exposed to different cultures while traveling to different countries with my family.

During the final year of my undergrad program, I realized that I would love to work with people and help make changes on a population level, and I began to look for courses that would fit this idea. I learned about the MPH (Health Care Organization and Policy) program at UAB. I decided to apply for it and thus began my journey in Public health. The diverse community and acceptance helped me decide to continue my education at UAB. During my Master’s program, I met my current advisors, Dr. Maryam Karimi and Dr. Rouzbeh Nazari, who introduced me to the field of Environmental Health Sciences, and I was immediately interested in working with them and being part of community-oriented projects. I was also introduced to the concepts of environmental justice and community resiliency, which have become the core of my research work while using the knowledge of policy and project management skills that I learned during my master's.

Q: Why did you choose to study Environmental Health Sciences? And why at UAB?

The longer I lived in Birmingham, the more involved I got in listening to the community and started working on projects that focused on being part of this city’s development and progress. This interest, combined with the concept of health disparities and equity issues, I decided to work with Dr. Maryam Karimi and Dr. Rouzbeh Nazari at the Departments of Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) and Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering to pursue a Ph.D. program in this field while focusing on the city of Birmingham. Thus, my ongoing predoctoral research is focused on exploring health disparities and the disproportionate impact on communities in impacted by Air, Water, and Soil environmental factors and pollution in Birmingham, Alabama.

In addition, the climate change cluster in the ENH department provides me with the exposure needed to expand my research interests and use the resources available in this department. Also, looking at UAB's ability to collaborate and work with other universities and the strong reputation of the School of Public Health in research helped me decide to pursue my Ph.D. at UAB.

Q: Is there a faculty member who has made an impact on your academic journey during this program?

I would say that my advisors, Dr. Maryam Karimi and Dr. Rouzbeh Nazari, have helped me improve tremendously, push myself to participate in different projects and conferences, and learn as much as I can. Dr. Jessica Chambliss has also been part of my academic journey since I joined UAB and guided me in thinking about how to take my ideas and begin implementing them. (Late) Dr. Shauntice Allen also had a significant impact on my academic journey. I learned a lot from her while taking her course in environmental justice and serving as her TA for a year. Several other faculty members have been a part of my academic journey and have helped me whenever I have reached out to them. It is truly a great network to have and work with.

Q: Have you been involved in any interesting projects or organizations during your time here?

I have been fortunate enough to be involved with my advisors, Dr. Maryam Karimi and Dr. Rouzbeh Nazari, on several projects during my Ph.D. programs at the School of Public Health. During my PhD, I worked on the issue of flash flooding in Birmingham. As the project lead, I am working on the EPA funded project - Urban water pollution extent and impact on the Village Creek in Birmingham, AL – Analysis and Mitigation strategies (EPA -P3: 84058101-0). I was also part of the School of Public Health delegation and attended the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, where I got to learn a lot regarding global issues and localized solutions that have helped build community resiliency.

I expanded my work to air quality and served as the student coordinator on the project while working closely with COPD patients - An Innovative Real-Time Environmental Exposure and Respiratory Assessment, Connecting Patients and Health Care Providers. As part of the air quality work, I am working on - Examining the relationship between geographic proximity to toxic chemical release sites and COPD prevalence in vulnerable communities in Birmingham, Alabama. I also served as the Lead (2022) and Co-Entrepreneur lead (2021) in the Regional and National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program in Florida and New York. During this program, I learned about making a business plan and interacting with the different systems involved in providing care to COPD patients as a part of customer discovery. I am also part of the team working on the project focused on community food access and urban agriculture in Birmingham, Alabama- Catalyzing Local Value Chain Development through a Cross-functional Alliance and Economic Investment in Birmingham, Alabama.

I have also served as the President of the Green Thumb Organization at UAB since 2021 and recently joined the Phi Kappa Phi UAB society in 2023.

Q: What’s been your favorite class in the School of Public Health and why?

ENH 615 - Environmental Justice and HCO 600 Management and Policy PH systems were my favorite classes in the School of Public Health and had the most impact on shaping my interests and research work.

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