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Environmental Health and Engineering

Student Profiles

Some current and former students tell us what they value most from their experiences in the Environmental Health Sciences department.

Benjamin Davis
PhD Student, Environmental Health Engineering

Benjamin DavisEducational & Professional Background:
Ben has a BS in Neuroscience & Behavior from Vassar College and has since been working in the lab of Neuroepidemiology at the National Institute of Aging. Ben is a 2102-2013 Center for a Livable Future Doctoral Fellow.

Research Interests:
Ben’s current research focuses on using spatial statistics with the CLF’s GIS-constructed food systems map.  He expects his research will address concerns of energy inputs and waste outputs from different agricultural system models. Ben’s advisor is Dr. Frank Curriero, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences.

Kamau Peters, PhD
Alumni, Occupational and Environmental Health

Kamau PetersEducational/Professional Background:
BS, Biology, University of Michigan, 2000; MPH, Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 2003; PhD Candidate, Division of Occupational and Environmental Health

Research Interests or Career Goals:
My research focuses on urinary biomarkers of particulate matter exposure and childhood asthma exacerbation in a Baltimore City cohort. I am also interested in studying the intersection between environmental factors in health disparities among African American and Latinos living in urban environments.

Why I chose EHS?
I am interested in environmental exposures and their responses within the body, as well as the study of exposures and health outcomes within populations. The Environmental Health Sciences department has faculty, researchers, and students who are dedicated to addressing the environmental factors related to adverse health outcomes and disease. The coursework, resources, and research opportunities offered by the department are an excellent fit for me, and have allowed me to further my academic and research goals.

Joan Casey, MA, PhD
Alumni, Occupational and Environmental Health

Joan CaseyEducational Background:
BS in Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University; MA in Applied Physiology, Columbia University. Joan is a Sommer Scholar and 2012 Center for a Livable Future Doctoral Fellow.

Research Interests:
Joan is currently examining de-identified health records of hundreds of thousands of people to see if the incidence of infection correlates with patients' physical proximity to farms. Eventually, her results and the model she’s developing could help change practices at farms throughout the country.

In addition to learning, Joan has particularly enjoyed working with other students as a teaching assistant in two environmental health courses.

For her dissertation, Joan will examine the link between concentrated animal feeding operations and antibiotic-resistant infections in humans. She hopes that her research will translate into policy requiring the withdrawal of all antibiotics, and particularly those of therapeutic importance to humans, from food animal production. Her advisor is Dr. Brian S. Schwartz, professor and co-director of the Program on Global Sustainability and Health in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences.

Joan chose the EHS program both because of the program's broad prospective as to the environmental determinants of disease (spanning bacteria to metals to climate change), and the excellent detail-oriented training that we receive. She plans on working in the field of environmental epidemiology for the rest of her career.

Lindsey Eldridge
PhD Student, Respiratory Biology and Lung Disease

Lindsey EldridgeEducational Background: 
BS, Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University, 2008

What are your research interests and goals?
My research focuses on lung tumor angiogenesis. More specifically, I am interested in proangiogenic changes to the extracellular matrix of lung tumors and the surrounding tissue.

Why did you choose to study in the Department of Environmental Sciences/RBLD program?
I have always been very interested in lung physiology and have a research background in lung angiogenesis. The program fit perfectly with my desire to continue pulmonary research and to do my thesis work on lung tumor angiogenesis.

What are your future career/postdoctoral goals?
After finishing my PhD I hope to continue my education with a postdoctoral fellowship that will allow me to continue doing research on lung cancer.

Nathachit "James" Limjunyawong, PhD

Nathachit James LimjunyawongEducational/Professional Background:
BS, Biology, Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand), 2009; PhD Candidate, Program in Respiratory Biology and Lung Disease, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Baltimore, MD)

Research Interests:
My current area of research is focusing on the pathogenesis of chronic lung diseases particularly COPD, using elastase-(tissue-degradation enzyme)-induced emphysematous mice model. I am also interested in how environmental pollutants such as ozone can cause lung tissue damage. This includes the interdisciplinary approaches from the molecular and immunological mechanisms, pathophysiology as well as epigenetic alteration.

Why I chose the Respiratory Biology & Lung Disease program in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences:
I am very much interested in the structure and function of the organ called “lung” for several reasons. The lung is a very fascinating and complex organ because it consists of many specific and specialized cell types working together to form and stabilize a very unique architecture that is essential for our life. Moreover, every second we breathe in and out, the lung has to contact with many environmental toxic agents that are in the air all the time. It is engaging to know how the lung can respond to these exposures and what happens if it cannot do its work properly. The Department of Environmental Health Sciences, especially the Program in Respiratory Biology and Lung Disease is the perfect match for me. Here, we have lots of people who are experts, not only in the basic science of lung biology, but also in a variety of related fields such as environmental sciences, toxicology, epidemiology, genetic and epigenetic, etc. We also have very strong collaborations with pulmonary clinicians from Johns Hopkins Hospital and other departments within the School. At this point, all levels and all aspects of studying about the lung can happen here!!!

My Future Goals:
The RLBD program has opened my eyes to how appealing the research is. This has prepared me very well for a future career in research. After graduation, I would like to go back to my hometown of Bangkok, Thailand and keep doing the research on lung and environmental interaction. Bangkok is city of well-known for air pollution.

Jonathan B. Coulter, PhD

Jonathan CoulterEducational/Professional Background:
BS, Biology, James Madison University, 2004; MHS, Environmental Health Science, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2009; PhD Candidate, Program in Molecular and Translational Toxicology (MTT), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Research Interests:
I am interested in mechanisms through which chemicals can alter the epigenetic landscape in cells and tissues. In particular, we are studying chemicals that affect DNA methylation and may disrupt neural stem cell maintenance and differentiation. Our recent findings demonstrate that ROS-inducing toxicants can induce active and functional DNA demethylation in vitro, and we are actively investigating the indicated mechanisms in human stem cell models.

Why I chose the Molecular and Translational Toxicology program in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences:
The Department of Environmental Health Sciences has a rich history of integrating basic science discovery, exposure assessment, and intervention implementation to improve human health worldwide. Students have the unique ability to work within a close group of faculty advisors while enjoying networks of collaboration across the Johns Hopkins community, both locally and across the globe. I was excited by the research opportunities in the MTT program that seem to be limited only by the imagination. The didactic and practical experiences complement each other from day one, and include both classical molecular biology techniques and emerging technologies for high-throughput discovery. I chose the MTT program primarily because it fit with my research and career interests and the faculty within the program and our collaborators throughout the university are worldwide leaders in Toxicology.

My Future Goals:
I find scientific discovery to be exhilarating and its application can be life-saving and health-promoting, so I like the idea of a career in academia. I have appreciated the experiences in research and teaching the program has given me, so I plan to pursue and academic postdoctoral fellowship.

Ann Carroll, MPH
DrPH Student

Ann CarrollEducational/Professional Background:
Ann has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and an MPH in Environmental Health. She was also a Center for a Livable Future Fellow in 2010 and 2011. She has over 25 years experience working on environmental protection and health issues, including the last ten years with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization as well as prior experience with lead poisoning prevention and underground storage tank regulation. Ann has also worked at the National Governor’s Association and with former Office of Technology Assessment with the US Congress and internationally with the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority.

Why I chose the DrPH Program in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences:
The domestic and international caliber and reach of the institution in a range of areas, the reputation of the environmental health program are what attracted me to the Program. The part-time program and its flexibility, convenience and proximity to Washington make it seamless for a professional working professional with a busy schedule. The intersection between the policy and technical problems we are trying to solve and global environmental health questions we trying to answer, overlap with the Department’s expertise and interests.  

Also, many core classes are available on-line and you can make a significant dent which can reduce the travel and environmental costs of commuting to Baltimore for coursework.

Xiaoxing “Chelsea” Cui, MSPH

Xiaoxong Chelsea CuiEducational/Professional Background:
Bachelor of Medicine in Preventive Medicine, Peking University (Bejing, China), 2011; MSPH Candidate, Occupational and Environmental Hygiene,

Research Interests or Career Goals:
I am very much interested in airborne particles, particularly ultrafine/nanoparticles, in terms of both exposure assessment and health effect evaluation using the epidemiology or physiology/toxicology approach. Health outcomes of interest include pulmonary inflammation and cardiovascular effects. In the future, I hope to work in a academia/research institution, where I can investigate air pollution in developing countries, and teach classes to students who share my passion in Environmental Health.

Why I chose EHS:
The MSPH program in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene is ABET-accredited and the coursework as well as related training greatly prepares the students for the Certified in Industrial Hygiene exam. 

Exciting cutting edge researches in the Environmental Health field is happening right here at Hopkins!  Come and you will be amazed by the devotion of researchers and the active collaborations between research teams in the Department, between us and School of Medicine and many more!  

Student body is very diverse: Meet people from different continents who share their devotion in Public Health and experience the unique exchange of culture! People here are talented, nice and hard-working.

What are your post-graduate plans?
After graduation from the MSPH Program, I want to pursue a PhD study of airborne particles. The program at Hopkins really prepared me for my future career. I learned a lot about exposure assessment and industrial hygiene monitoring skills. The coursework exposed me to a lot of topics in environmental health and solidified my interest in further PhD training.

What I like about the faculty:
I really like the faculty members in the program because they teach very impressive courses. Their lectures are very well prepared and they are well designed for our future career path. Personally they are very nice people to interact with. They have an open-door policy and you can enter their offices and ask them questions whenever you want. For students who have no previous experience in the United States, they are very supportive. They are willing to discuss career plans and offer advice so I feel really supported and cared for in the department.

Stacey Croghan, CIH
Industrial Hygiene Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton, Alexandria, VA
Part-time Internet Based MSPH Student

Stacey CroghanWhy did you choose the MSPH OEH PTIB program at JHSPH?
At the time, I was interested in pursuing my Certified Industrial Hygienist credential and when I was looking into the requirements for the Certification, I saw that I needed some classwork – and that it had to come from an ABET-accredited program. I found the Johns Hopkins listing on the ABET website, and saw that the courses I wanted to take were offered there. I enrolled in the classes I needed [for the CIH exam] via the Certificate in EOH program. When I finished those classes I decided, ‘why not go for the master’s degree’ since I was already about 1/3 of the way through the required classes for the MSPH OEH. I was enjoying what I had learned so far, and a master’s degree was on my list of things to complete anyway.

What do you think about the Program faculty?
The faculty are very personable, easily approachable, and knowledgeable. They are very willing to work one-on-one with the students; they go out of their way to help them, to explain the material to them, to answer their questions, and I feel that they truly have the best interests of the students in mind.

How do you like the online classes?
I was a little hesitant at first, because I was always kind of a traditionalist and I like the one-on-one style [of a classroom setting] - interacting with your peers as well as the instructor. But after the first [online] class I was sold. The pre-recorded lectures you can sit and listen to at your leisure, and then you have the LiveTalks, which allow you sort-of the one-on-one interaction, and then the two-week intersessions [on campus] allow the personal contact.

Have you had an opportunity to get to know the other students in the MSPH OEH PTIB program?
I’ve made some really good friends in the program, which is something I didn’t expect from a distance program like this, but interacting with them through the class projects, and then meeting them when on campus, I’ve gotten to where I email and converse through email, LinkedIn, and Facebook on a regular basis with them.

Adam Crum
Executive Vice President, Northern Industrial Training, Anchorage, AK
Part-time Internet Based MSPH Student

Adam CrumHow did you hear about PTIB MSPH program?
My company performs a wide range of services, from developing and implementing health and safety employee training programs to auditing safety and health management systems for oil and gas companies. Because I work and live in Alaska I didn’t want to leave for a long period of time to pursue a graduate program, so when I found the Johns Hopkins PTIB program on Google, I contacted the program administrator. She responded the very next day, and things moved on from there; it’s been a fantastic experience.

What do you think about the program faculty?
From various experiences such as being an AIHA member, I had heard about Drs. Breysse and Lees. Prior to joining the program I had read articles that they published (fiber counting techniques, noise, etc.), so it’s great to be on campus and actually work with them. They are very laid-back – they are there to share and to teach, not to ‘lord-over’.  I have also enjoyed the other professors and subject matter experts who teach the core courses, including lab directors and other staff members – and all the people involved in the program are real, down-to-earth people that make the on campus institutes worthwhile.

How do you like the online classes?
I really enjoy the Johns Hopkins online classes compared to others I’ve taken in the past.  There is a high production value associated with these courses. If you miss something you can rewind and go back to listen again; it’s also rather interactive with the LiveTalks and Bulletin Board. I’ve probably contributed more in these classes than I ever did during undergrad and other live classes I’ve taken.  It is very casual, and there is a lot if information in there. The faculty members from all the different departments are great resources.

What do you think about the on-campus Institute sessions?
I actually really like the institute coursework, especially the industrial hygiene lab class. I was joking with another student and said it was like situational ADD – learn and work and move quickly to the next item. When you come here you’ve got all of this work you have to do, all of this exposure at once, and you are really kind of thrown into it. You learn about the equipment, you talk about it, and then you go handle the piece of equipment right away. It really does help – you get to practice how to use the equipment in the lab, how to calibrate it, discuss when different pieces will be used, discuss your own program and process, decide when you are going to use which piece of equipment and why, and do justifications. It’s been very interesting all across the board. It’s also a change of pace – to get away from work. Two weeks to just come down and learn; you feel like you’re further honing and perfecting your own craft.

[Occupational Health course:] Coming from a background in heavy construction, it was great to get some exposure to manufacturing, food processing, military and defense contracting, and various industrial processes – it was very eye-opening. I appreciated seeing how other people do things – there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Overall program experience
This program has most assuredly been worth the time and effort. The courses keep you on pace but are flexible around your work and home life. You gain access and build relationships with classmates and faculty that you can use and network with in your professional life. I look forward to taking (and passing) the CIH exam this spring and I feel as if this program has done a great job preparing me.