By Kara MacKeil, Senior Technician, Public Health Preparedness and Response
Even in an essential, exciting field like public health, summertime in the office can seem a little…slow. You might be doing exactly the same things that filled your days in February, but when the sun is out and the temperatures are rising, it does start feel like the rest of the world is at the beach. Even with our awesome new summer dress code, APHL’s offices are no stranger to the summer funk. So as you can imagine, we were very excited to shake up our routine with a special visit from the District of Columbia (DC) Public Health Laboratory and their two summer interns!
Faheem Muhammed (left in the photo), a rising senior at South Carolina State University, and David Martin (right in the photo), a recent graduate of Augusta State University, came to the APHL offices last month with the DC laboratory’s Microbiology Supervisor, Dr. Morris Blaylock. Both interns were placed with the DC public health lab for the summer as a part of Project: IMHOTEP, a highly competitive program run by the Public Health Sciences Institute of Morehouse College. Project: IMHOTEP is a ten week summer course that places minority students interested in working in public health with experts in the field. Students spend two weeks in an intensive introductory course at Morehouse, and then travel to their respective placements for the remaining eight weeks. At the conclusion of the program, each participant is required to put forward an oral presentation on their work and a written manuscript appropriate for publication.
The interns who visited APHL are nearing the end of their projects, and both have had a busy summer. Faheem has been studying methods to trace arsenic in food under Dr. Tracie Willis, the DC public health lab’s Chemistry Supervisor. Faheem is also interested in clinical virology and the potential to work “behind the scenes” in public health. David has spent the summer investigating alternative uses for multiplex PCR under Dr. Blaylock. He is interested in public health in a laboratory setting, but is also considering the physician’s assistance track.
I’m sorry to say many of us here at APHL don’t get the chance to speak with potential future public health laboratorians very often. It isn’t for lack of interest though, so when we reached out to the various APHL programs to see who would like to participate in this visit we had no problem filling the schedule. The day started with a meeting with APHL Executive Director, Scott Becker, who gave an overview of APHL and its mission, and moved on to discussions with various other programs. Staff members from Public Health Systems, Global Health, Public Policy, and Public Health Preparedness and Response explained in more detailed terms what their program is responsible for and how their work impacts laboratories and the greater world of public health. APHL staff also provided lots of information on professional development opportunities and encouraged the interns to explore fellowships and other openings. Overall, APHL was very happy for the chance to meet both Faheem and David, and we wish them all the best in their careers! Visit our website for more information on careers in public health laboratories.