Cultivating an atmosphere for interdisciplinary collaboration and pushing personal boundaries


Written by Lyndsey Armes, BS Candidate at University of Kentucky and participant in the 2019 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public & Global Health Track

WOW—I cannot believe that my time here in St. Louis is coming to a close. This summer has been fast-paced, exciting, and informative to say the least. Participating in the IPH Summer Research Program—Public and Global Health Track has broadened my research and critical thinking skills, as well as increased my general understanding of the public health field. I have been honored to experience this program alongside my fellow interns, whom I now consider to be friends.

One of the most impressive things about this internship is that it cultivates an atmosphere for interdisciplinary collaboration and pushing personal boundaries. The seminars that take place throughout the program are led by passionate university leaders and community partners that truly care about educating the next generation. Whether or not the topic was directly related to my specific public health interests, I have always walked away from these discussions feeling like I had learned something that will benefit my future research career. As the program has progressed, I have come to appreciate how interconnected the numerous facets of public health truly are. You cannot view public health issues from a single angle; they are complex and require multidisciplinary action.

Lyndsey Armes and Eniola Kasim on a quick visit to Chicago

Working with Dr. John Constantino, Blanche F. Ittelson Professor of Psychiatry, on his child maltreatment prevention project has further elucidated the complexity of public health research.

There are a number of risk factors that can put families at a higher risk for child abuse or neglect. These span the spectrum from genetic to environmental risk factors, making child maltreatment risk assessment and targeted intervention a perfect example of the complexity of efforts needed to truly make an impact on public health concerns. I am extremely grateful for the experience and world of new information that my time in this lab has afforded me.

The universal utility of public health was most simply reinforced via a conversation with my fellow interns last weekend. As we were walking through museums and stores on our trip to Chicago, we started to talk about how easy it has become to view everything around us with a public health lens. From thinking about how accessible public transportation was on our ride into the city to questioning the availability of affordable housing on our architecture tour—

We saw that public health uniquely impacts people in every geographic location.

We have to continue to be inquisitive, asking the hard questions and facilitating action in order to improve health equity for all people.