Erikka Loftfield - New York

Internship location: New York, N.Y.
Career goal: Pursue a Ph.D. in epidemiology and a career in academic research

Internship summary:
I was a New York City Epi Scholar along with 10 other students from M.P.H. and Ph.D. programs at Johns Hopkins, the University of North Carolina and Columbia. I worked on analyzing data from the Heart Follow-Up Study, which is the evaluation tool of the Sodium Reduction Initiative. As a member of the research team for the Nutrition Strategy Program in the Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention, I completed a literature review on fruit and vegetable intake and potassium, conducted analyses using SAS and SUDAAN software, attended bureau staff and journal club meetings, and worked on several papers for journal publication. I also participated in HRTP and Epi Scholar workshops and health disparities seminars.

Value of experience:
I had full access to the wealth of expertise and data that the NYC Department of Health has to offer. The NYC DOHMH is a unique public health agency because of its law-making ability, progressive leadership and the diverse urban population that it serves. As a student interested in nutritional and social epidemiology, the data I worked with from the Community Health Survey Heart Follow Study provided me with the opportunity to analyze nutritional biomarkers in the context of socioeconomic status and access to fresh produce. In addition, the Epi Scholar program provided me with invaluable learning opportunities including a trip to Riker’s Island and a day with Dr. Ana Diez-Roux, one of the best known social epidemiologists today.

Best moment:
Working closely with an experienced epidemiologist on a study aimed at promoting life-saving policy was an incredible experience. Everyday I felt like I was helping to promote a healthier NYC.

Erikka Loftfield, New York City