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Welcome! ETR's 2015 Kirby Summer Interns Are on the Job

Welcome! ETR's 2015 Kirby Summer Interns Are on the Job

By ETR | June 11, 2015

ETR extends an enthusiastic welcome to this year’s Kirby Summer Interns. Monica Sun and William Spatafora both hail from the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University. They will be spending the summer working directly with ETR researchers, gathering and analyzing data. Each will co-author a paper for submission to a professional journal.

Monica Sun

Monica is a graduate of Rutgers, where she majored in public health with a minor in psychology. She originally planned to study medicine, but as she learned more about work in the public health arena, she realized public health would be a better match for her interests. “I will be able to do more of what I want, including focusing on the needs of the underserved,” she told us.

She chose the Kirby Internship because, “Dr. Kirby inspired me. What ETR is working on is the exact idea of what I want to do—literature reviews and research, being able to bring imagination and innovation to our ideas in public health, and making a real difference in the world.” She plans to complete her MPH at Tulane in 2016 with an emphasis in epidemiology.

She is looking forward to her ETR experience. “I expect to walk away with high spirits,” she told us. “I’ll learn from this rich environment and these experienced co-workers, and I’m looking forward to working with some new data and populations.”

William Spatafora

Will graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a major in biology. Like Monica, he had also originally planned another career—in dentistry. “The more I looked into it,” he explained, “the less it fit.” An advisor suggested he explore the options of public health and epidemiology. Will liked what he saw.

“I love outbreaks,” he said. “I’m excited by the challenges of these situations, and the answers we can get from biostatistics and epidemiology. You have to ask, ‘Where did this disease come from?’ It’s thrilling to unravel the mystery, and when you can find the right answers, you can save lives.”

Will looks forward to a time in the future when the media does less exaggerating and more educating about public health issues. He hopes to play a role in supporting effective media responses to disease outbreaks and other public health challenges. “We don’t need panic and public hysteria,” he told us. “We need practical, science-informed responses that genuinely protect communities.”

He will complete his master’s degree with a major in epidemiology later this year.

Douglas Kirby

The late Dr. Douglas Kirby, a senior research scientist at ETR, dedicated his career to promoting sexual and reproductive health among young people through writing, teaching and research.

Dr. Kirby was a passionate professional who was incredibly generous with his time. He relished the opportunity to explore scientific issues, and continuously pondered and tackled complexities of the field.

Doug was also a caring human being who took personal interest in those he met. He loved a good conversation. He took the time to build relationships, show concern, and share his support no matter how busy he was.

In his honor, ETR has established the Kirby Summer Internship for graduate students in education, psychology, sociology, public health, epidemiology or a related field, with a focus or interest in sexual and reproductive health.

Last Year’s Interns

Learn more about our 2014 Kirby Summer Interns. You can read a brief interview with Brittany Chambers and watch a video about her research and her thoughts about the internship. You can also read Brittany Nielsen's interview, and see her video discussing one of her passions, the social determinants of health.


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