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Student Spotlight – Sappho Gilbert

September 12, 2018

Sappho discovered public health as an undergraduate at MIT, where she studied biology and political science. She found epidemiology and public health to be a perfect as marriage of these skills and interests. After earning her Master of Public Health at Dartmouth—where she grounded herself in quantitative skills—she was hungry for real-world application.

Moving into fieldwork, Sappho worked first for a humanitarian organization in Bosnia-Herzegovina after massive flooding in 2014 affected over 1.6 million people. Next, she received a post-graduate fellowship from Dartmouth to partner on a study with a suicide prevention organization in the predominantly Inuit Canadian territory of Nunavut (near Greenland). She then worked as Project Director at Johns Hopkins University on a multi-year grant examining the safe, ethical inclusion of pregnant women in clinical HIV research. When the time came to apply for doctoral programs, Sappho realized her heart was in the North and has since centered her studies on the health of Nunavummiut.

Now a second-year PhD student in the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and a pre-doctoral fellow of the Yale Climate Change and Health Initiative, Sappho’s dissertation work remains focused on Nunavut. She employs mixed methods to investigate trends in human and environmental health.

This past summer, Sappho partnered with the Government of Nunavut’s food security team and the Hunter and Trapper Organizations in two communities to explore the challenges and opportunities for communities when experiencing a “bad year” for the harvest of traditional foods such as caribou, narwhal and seal.

Sappho has just been named a 2018-19 Kerry Fellow by the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. Over the course of the academic year, she will collaborate with former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry YC ’66 and his team on cutting-edge research and high-profile publications for a global audience. In addition to her studies, she serves on the Yale Human Investigation Committee, as a public health representative to the Graduate Student Assembly, and on the Board of the Yale Hellenic Society.

Submitted by Denise Meyer on September 10, 2018