November 12, 2015
Attending the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA 2015) was my first experience in presenting research in a professional conference setting. This for me was the highlight of my three days in Chicago. Having the opportunity listen, watch, and take part in vivid discussions concerning public health from a variety of perspectives was enlightening but also fueling.
The APHA conference had 13,000 participants, which can easily create an overwhelming environment. The opportunities presented due to this plethora of people however was unlike any other. I was able to have conversations with physicians, graduate students, professors, and healthcare professionals about public health and each perspective was unique. This conference was a great example of how multidimensional the realm of public health can be. As a prospective medical school student, I found the lack of presence of medical school representatives surprising. Almost all of the booths representing schools were focused on their respective programs of public health. I assumed that there would be a larger representation of medically focused initiatives for students like myself. Saying so, after many conversations with different representatives, I became aware of the close interaction that can take place when medical students continue to show interest in public health. There are programs across the country that have opportunities for students to continue to work and conduct research pertaining to public health, showing the possible continuation of our work.
Attending this conference as one of the very few undergraduate students presenting research was an experience that I will keep with me forever. I really enjoyed walking around the conference with my good friend Geard, who also presented his research. We conversed with people from all different types of backgrounds. In almost all of these interactions we received praise and encouragement for both having our work accepted and for our career aspirations. It was both empowering and motivating to receive praise from complete strangers who showed genuine interest in our work, reminding me of the importance of positive reinforcement.
The American Public Health Association Annual Meeting 2015 was held in Chicago in early November. While this conference has been going on for a variety of years it was the first time that I attended. My trip to the APHA conference was full of a variety of firsts for me. It was the first time I presented any of my work at a national conference of over thirteen thousand public health professionals, it was the first time I was able to meet and network with a variety of individuals in different areas of public health, and it was the first time where I was able to speak to job recruiters for many different companies and faculty members from a variety of different universities.
As a current senior looking to apply to both graduate schools for public health and future employment opportunities, I felt that the conference was a great way to speak to a diverse group of individuals working in the realm of public health. I found that a lot of individuals with whom I had in-depth conversations were more than willing to help me by supporting my career goals within public health. Through attending various seminars, and talking to individuals I really felt that I was able to make a variety of connections and hopefully take advantage of some of the opportunities I was presented with.
Overall I think my favorite part of the conference was both presenting my poster in the ethics poster section as well getting the opportunity to view others presenting their research. Those presenting their research ranged from current undergraduate students to people with graduate degrees. This was truly a great opportunity to not only ask questions about their research but also to get an insider’s view as to how different research is after the undergraduate level.
I thoroughly enjoyed attending the conference with my close friend Marcel Souffrant. Although we attend different schools for undergrad we had a rare opportunity to attend this conference together. It was truly a privilege being able to navigate my first professional conference with a true friend.
Follow @myhealthimpact #APHA15 #students #publichealth #Healthcare
October 28, 2015
One of my recent projects incorporates to how to use technology to monitor stress and engagement during activities. A few of the tools used include the Emotiv EPOC+ EEG and Shimmer GSR Bracelet. These are two of the cool new gadgets that I will use to monitor cognitive load in programming environments. We can identify changes in the types of cognitive loads described utilizing techniques that measure brain activity, eye movement, and skin conductance. Mapping the changes in cognitive load during programming helps us gain a better understanding of how programming can be a representation of the applicant's knowledge.
There have been many studies that have studied the use of these tools, but not many that study the safety of software developers. Defining the usage of these tools for software developers can open up doors as to how we can monitor the well-being of developers. This is also a giant leap forward in understanding why so many developers are leaving the field of computing. Through the analysis that this tool provides we will be able to monitor the daily work of developers beyond what they can personally report.
Monitoring the cognitive load, stress, and engagement of developers can help researchers expand the tools and methods used in having developers present their knowledge. These tools used in this research are a next level version of some of the tools and devices that are made commercially to the average consumer. This goes to show that the devices that are made affordable and accessible to the general consumer can be adapted to solve multiple problems.
The tools today are advancing at a remarkable rate and surpassing the expectations that any researcher would have expected. As these tools become less expensive and more portable, the door opens for more intense research opportunities.
You can find out more about my research projects on my blog: http://blog.denaeford.me.
October 22, 2015
There has been much discussion on Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman, John Urschel. Urschel is currently in his second NFL season, but his energy is not fully invested in football. While attending and playing football at Penn State University, he earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics. He is currently working towards a PhD in applied mathematics and was invited to speak to NSA mathematicians about an algorithm created by him, to aid in the organization of large amounts of complex data. His published works have been widely celebrated in and outside of the mathematics community. Urschel has been one of the more prominent figures pushing the importance of STEM education in school. He has taken his position in the community to tour Baltimore and speak at local schools. Although he is currently being profiled with articles about him found in the Huffington Post, Sportsnation, and Sports Illustrated, he is not the only NFL athlete who has dedicated his time to STEAM education. Vernon Davis, the San Francisco 49ers current tight end has also been highlighted.
Vernon Davis grew up in inner city Washington, DC and quickly noticed his passion for visual art. He went on to change his major while at the University of Maryland from criminal justice to studio art. He now continues to pursue his passion of art through painting. He now sponsors a visual arts scholarship, promoting the arts for interested high schoolers in the San Francisco area. Davis, who was initially embarrassed by his interest in the arts while a high school student, has said that the arts have provided him with a refuge away from football life. It has also taught him the importance of self-confidence, and wants to be sure that students interested in the arts are able to follow their interests regardless of social pressures of their peers.
These two athletes are providing a great example of the multidimensionality of professional athletes. These men have dedicated hours upon hours for a significant portion of their lives to football, but have found an alternative outlet in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). It is important to note that education in these domains is pivotal for our education system. We must expose children of all communities to these realms, providing them with a variety of options to pursue. The ability of Urschel and Davis to use their platforms to advocate for STEAM is a significant stride for education, especially in the underserved communities in which they have spent their time.
October 15, 2015
September 28, 2015
Serena Williams’ womanhood has recently been under question. If you google ‘serena williams womanhood', you without a doubt, stumble upon some articles speculating that she is a male due to her amazing body. The body shaming that has surfaced due to this fit African-American Tennis player has without a doubt come at an interesting time, at the peak of her career. It seems as though the media had to discredit her exceptional achievements and question her on every move (including gender and health).
Interestingly enough, many of the gender questions have ended as it has become public knowledge that she has a relationship with Drake, the Canadian actor and rapper. Now that she has a man on her arm, she is somehow now validated as a woman. The presence of a man, or his absence, should not be validating criteria to how feminine a woman is perceived. But because the media has “evidence” of her sexuality, there is no one questioning her womanhood any longer.
It often seems like the media just won’t let Serena live. As a woman, and one who smiles pretty often, it actually grinds my gears when I am asked why I’m not smiling. Most of the time there is some male stranger who thinks they have the authority and the privilege to tell me to smile. I assume this describes the reporter who thought it was reasonable to ask Serena during the press conference why she wasn’t smiling. Unfortunately we live in a society where some members expect you to react in a prescribed way. When you don’t, they assume something must be wrong as the reporter did during the press conference.
It is as though society unconsciously has a problem when females keep a neutral face. During the recent Apple Event this September, the Adobe Creative Suite presentation showed the ease of being to edit the woman’s face from neutral to a moderate smile. The model’s resting face was not good enough and had to be modified it seems. It often seems as though many women just can’t win. We can only wait for the day when our world is willing to accept that there are many definitions of a woman and all of them are SELF-DEFINED requiring no explanation.
September 22, 2015
It was not until high school that I learned that I held the trait for sickle cell. During my high school athletic years I did not feel significantly impeded by my health status, and even briefly considered playing collegiate football. I however did not make that decision based on my status as a carrier for sickle cell, but instead on my passion for football at the time. Losing the last game of my high school career took a toll on my desire to continue playing.
For the most part, I do not think about sickle cell trait, but I recently had an experience that caused me to take precaution. I participated in a retreat that took place in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Initially, I was reminded of Ryan Clark, former NFL safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Clark had life threatening complications following a game in Denver due to the altitude and dehydration from the game. Following a game against the Denver Broncos, Clark was hospitalized and eventually had his spleen and gall bladder removed. Due to his ailment he lost 30 pounds and was deemed unable to play for the remainder of the season. Although I was not undergoing the same physical exertion as Clark, I was weary of the outcomes of my activities.
We were given strategies to cope with the change in altitude, all of which I took very seriously. Even with the increase in water consumption, my adjustment to the drastic increase in altitude was slower than my classmates. I found myself having trouble falling asleep and going about daily activities, which was initially frustrating, but also worrisome. I started thinking about my health and taking responsibility for my fitness. I realized that my difficulties, although rooted in the presence of the sickle cell trait, could have been aided by better fitness habits beforehand.
The experience reinforced my belief in the importance of being responsible for one’s own health. I know that I must practice better fitness habits, especially since I intend to work in the medical field. I urge everyone to not only stay responsible for their health by practicing healthy fitness habits, but also be conscious of their health status. As we celebrated the awareness of sickle cell disease, it is also important to urge those around you to be informed of their health in general.
August 12, 2015
School is almost back in session so let’s cut to the chase and checkout how I got through the summer heat! What songs did I miss? Anyone switching from Spotify to Apple Music?
July 15, 2015
When I was growing up, eating healthy and physical fitness was something that was talked about fairly often in my household. I played sports throughout my childhood and remained very active. And for the most part, this was the case for everyone in my family. I always had access to a gym, fresh fruits and vegetables. Having the ability to eat healthy is a luxury, and I never really realized how much of a privilege it was until I was exposed to some statistics. “A recent multistate study found that low-income census tracts had half as many supermarkets as wealthy tracts. Another multistate study found that eight percent of African Americans live in a tract with a supermarket, compared to 31 percent of whites” (Bell). I would love to say that a statistic like this really stands out but it doesn’t at all. Minorities, particularly African-Americans, as a community, are extremely disadvantaged when it comes to healthcare as compared to their white counterparts.
When I first began to understand the notion of health disparities, I was intrigued and motivated. Why should citizens of the United States already a decade and a half into the twenty first century not have access to supermarkets close to their places of residence? Over time, I have realized that this is something I would like to change. Closely approaching my senior year of college, I have had the privilege of completing two ethnographic studies that examine pharmacy and supermarket access as well as examining health related racial disparities. Both of these studies examined the neighborhood of East Liberty in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which according to 2013 census data is around 74% Black/African-American.
I feel so personally invested in the discussion of healthcare disparities and healthcare equality for all because I identify with the Black/African-American community. After college ,I would like to further my knowledge on these subjects by pursuing my Masters degree in public health. I believe my future education will give me not only the tools and resources to think of potential solutions to my community’s problems but also allow me to work with other like-minded individuals.
One of the like-minded individuals I hope to work with in the future is Marcel Souffrant. Marcel and I went to high school together and have been close friends since around 2011. He is currently planning to attend medical school following graduation from college in the spring of 2016. In a true collaborative effort, I believe we can both help craft potential solutions to these healthcare disparities that currently plague the Black/African-American community. Two Black/African- American men working together to create solutions to these chronic issues is something I am really beginning to like the sound of. Follow the journey along at @myhealthimpact for this, other health-tech topics and voices of young people like me and Marcel.
Bell, Judith, Gabriella Mora, Erin Hagan, Victor Rubin, and Allison Karpyn. "Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters." Thefoodtrust.org. Policy Link, 2013. Web. 10 July 2015. <http://thefoodtrust.org/uploads/media_items/grocerygap.original.pdf>
July 02, 2015
My January 9, 2015 blog (see Tech-Social Activism) indicated that tech-social activism was “big” in 2014 with a prediction that 2015 would see even greater issues to explore. Six months into 2015, this prediction has surpassed expectations. Here is what dominated the 2014 social activism tech space:
The past few blogs from the myHealthImpactNetwork team has covered these topics and offered interesting perspectives on topics where health meets tech, and this is not absent of the social commentaries that influence daily living. Below is a mash- up of these topics. Check out these blogs on the website. Follow us at @myhealthimpact. Let us hear from you as we work to amply voices and (re)shape the health tech narrative.
June 18, 2015
We, as black people, have to watch our every move now. The levels of anxiety and mental stress we endure in our own homes and communities will have everlasting effects on us. I’m conscious on what I wear, what I say, what I do in public, and just my overall image. It’s sad to say, but this isn’t a world where I can be myself outside of my room.
If it wasn’t for Michael Brown, I would have never heard of Ferguson, Missouri. If you’ve been living under a rock or choose to deliberately not hear the story, here it is. A 19 year old black young man was shot and killed in the middle of the street by law enforcement. Not only was the boy unarmed, but was shot at 12 times. They levels of unanswered questions surrounding the case are baffling. After Brown’s death, Darren Wilson, the officer who murdered Brown, somehow went into hiding. Darren WIlson wasn’t indicted. The transcript was published on the internet and his description of Michael Brown was horrendous. Eric Garner’s murder wasn’t indicted either. The Supreme Court decided not to indict Eric Garner’s murder after video evidence of the officer using an illegal chokehold.
There have now been protests around the WORLD in support of Michael Brown and Darren Wilson, not forgetting all the other wrongfully slain brothers and sister in the recent days and even years. Then, there is Baltimore with the media commentaries depicting the community in ways that only causes even more stress.
Why do we have to die so young? Why do I have to feel like a suspect when I’m just walking around from place to place? Why are there people that don’t understand that there’s something to understand about race issues in America. It’s scientifically proven that ignoring race issues don’t make them disappear. That’s doesn’t even make sense when you think about it. You can’t ignore your work and expect to get it done. Can you? You can’t ignore your hunger and expect to be full?
In Partnership with: National Science Foundation