Matthew Kristoffersen

As part of the first annual Yale-American Public Health Association National Public Health Week, members of the University community gathered at 47 College Street on Wednesday to attend a student symposium on public health research.

The theme of the symposium, which featured 10 oral presentations and 10 poster presentations, was “Creating the Healthiest Nation. For Science. For Action. For Health.” According to Yale-APHA chair Casey Luc SPH ’20, the event was an excellent way to learn more about Yale School of Public Health students’ research.

“The work that’s being presented in the research is so diverse, and it’s so exciting,” he said. “We’re really happy to showcase what the Yale community has been researching and what challenges they’re looking to address.”

Poster presenters stood by their research and answered visitors’ questions about the work they had done, and oral presenters used PowerPoints to report on their findings. Both groups were evaluated by a team of judges, which included School of Public Health professors Mayur Desai SPH ’94 GRD ’97, Leah Ferrucci SPH ’06 GRD ’09 and Melinda Irwin and doctorate candidate Adam Viera GRD ’23.

Luc’s group — Yale’s branch of the American Public Health Association — first came up with the idea to host the event earlier this year to celebrate the work of students engaged in public health research. After accepting several applications from interested researchers, Luc said, it was clear there was interest in a student symposium.

“We saw a lack [of public health events], and we really wanted to step forward and celebrate the work of the public health profession,” he said.

Luc added that hosting a symposium at Yale provides an opportunity for researchers to present their work without the financial burdens of travel that normally accompany similar gatherings at other universities. For presenter Reed Mszar SPH ’20, the proximity of the symposium was particularly appealing.

“Travel costs, poster costs and lodging definitely add up,” he said. “I think having this type of symposium conference here at Yale definitely grabbed my attention.”

Mszar, whose poster summarized his investigation on the self-reported financial hardship of individuals with chronic diseases, featured his work alongside several of his colleagues at the School of Public Health, including Joseph Clingerman SPH ’19 and Akshatha Kiran SPH ’20.

The symposium did not only feature the work of master’s students in public health. According to Luc, his team focused on bringing together students from various levels of study in order to increase the event’s intellectual diversity.

“It’s very rare to have a research symposium that is so diverse, that has undergraduates to Ph.D. candidates, as well as master’s students being able to share the room and share their research.”

Throughout the symposium, Luc stressed the student-run nature of the event. Because of the symposium’s focus on accessibility, he said, students could share their research regardless of economic ability. For example, presenters were not required to meet strict, costly printing guidelines for their posters, and oral presentations were limited to just 15 minutes.

“We wanted this to be as convenient and feasible for the Yale student as possible,” he said.

The symposium was the third event in a packed, weeklong observance of issues and research related to the field of public health. According to the official flyer, Yale-APHA’s National Public Health Week will end on Friday with a free yoga event for School of Public Health students.

Luc said his team’s decision to fill the week with events was influenced by the diverse ways in which public health has influenced the world.

“We wanted this week to be really comprehensive, and it truly is,” he said. “We have a variety of events, which means different ways to celebrate what it means to be a public health professional.”

Matt Kristoffersen | matthew.kristoffersen@yale.edu