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Sydney Wade - CDC, San Juan, PR

In addition to my research project, I also helped with a community-based cohort study on dengue, Zika, and chikungunya that the Branch is leading in southern Puerto Rico. Here I am with my partner Jose recruiting a household in the Villa Grillasca community.

Career goal: To develop global health strategy and policy, particularly for monitoring and managing infectious diseases. My primary interests are vector-borne and zoonotic diseases.

Internship outline: I worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dengue Branch as an epidemiology team intern. Prior to arriving, I worked with my preceptor to develop a project on Zika virus-associated Guillain Barré syndrome using previously collected data. In addition to working on that project, I also tasked with other projects, including data cleaning and communications strategy development. I also volunteered once a week to help collect data for a community-based cohort study that the Dengue Branch is running in southern Puerto Rico.

Value of experience: This was a very well-rounded epidemiological experience. Through the internship, I was able to work on several different projects that tested and strengthened various skills needed for conducting epidemiological research. This included reviewing data inconsistencies, analyzing data with SAS, conducting field work in local communities, and developing a participant engagement strategy for a study. With each project, I was able to learn a little bit more about the life of an epidemiologist and the multiple hats that they wear when conducting a study.

Best moment/experience: Anytime I was in the field was a great time. The study staff were all very kind and welcoming, and you could tell that they were enthusiastic about the work they were doing for the study. Even though the days were long, hot and dry, we still were excited about recruiting new participants and entering new communities.

Also, every Thursday afternoon one of my co-workers led a yoga class at the office, which was always something to look forward to.

Funding source: Downs Fellowship