Choose Your Own Adventure
Environmental Health, BS/MPH ‘19
“The ability to get field, lab, and analysis experience is so unique to Rollins.”
Most people don’t dream of capturing bats in the caves of Costa Rica. Then again, Miranda Mitchell isn’t most people. As an environmental sciences major at Emory College, she received the Lester Research Grant (open to students in the Department of Environmental Sciences) to travel and conduct her research, which she is now analyzing and using as her thesis in the Department of Environmental Health at Rollins.
Miranda has spent the entirety of her higher education at Emory University: first at Oxford College, then at Emory College, and now at Rollins. Miranda’s mom briefly attended Emory College before transferring to NYU. So, despite Miranda’s Hudson Valley upbringing, Emory had always been on her radar.
Miranda is taking advantage of Emory’s 4+1 BS/MPH program, which allows her to earn her bachelor of science in environmental sciences and master of public health in environmental health in five years—an option that saves time and money. "You get in and get out," she laughs. In addition to her BS and MPH, Miranda also earned a bachelor’s in political science during her time at Emory.
Students in the BS/MPH program begin taking graduate coursework during their junior year at Emory College. While Miranda admits it was odd at times to be the youngest in her classes, she was able to get a head start on building her research resume. "I had read about Thomas Gillespie’s work [he works on global health and biodiversity conservation efforts with primates in Madagascar, Gombe, and Argentina] and I wanted to get involved with his research laboratory, so I reached out to him. Since he’s jointly appointed at Emory College and Rollins, that was my first bridge between environmental sciences and environmental health."
As a result, Miranda has worked in the Gillespie Lab for the duration of her time at Rollins, which has allowed her to build both her research knowledge and her network.
"I am grateful to have all of the resources I need to do molecular analysis on the dataset I am currently working on [she’s studying the transmission dynamics of Bartonella, a genus of pathogenic bacteria, in wild bat populations]. It’s wonderful to see an integration of fieldwork to lab work to analysis, all while receiving training and support from such great faculty, as well as my PhD candidate mentor. The ability to get field, lab, and analysis experience is so unique to Rollins."
In addition to her bat research in Costa Rica, Miranda completed an internship with the Environmental Protection Agency and a Rollins Earn and Learn position with the CDC’s National Center for Zoonotic Emerging Infectious Diseases during her time at Emory. She’s increased her involvement by serving as president of the Rollins Environmental Health Action Coalition and co-president of the Emory Climate Analysis and Solutions Team.
"What I’ve enjoyed most about the Rollins experience is that it has added something practical to my environmental sciences degree. Environmental health is so integrative … it integrates medicine and policy and ethics, and because of that, I have enjoyed learning more about the field and becoming a part of it."