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Research opportunities bring MPH graduate back to YSPH

August 24, 2023
by Fran Fried

Student Spotlight: Tiffany Chang, PhD ’24 (Chronic Disease Epidemiology)

Why did you choose the Yale School of Public Health?

I chose to attend YSPH (twice!) because of its world-class research opportunities, and faculty who put teaching and mentorship at the forefront. Coming into the program, I had a strong interest in using administrative claims data to assess gaps and opportunities in primary and secondary cardiovascular disease prevention for young adults. Not only have I been able to conduct this research, but faculty have supported me in pushing these boundaries in my current dissertation research, which uses electronic health record data to understand potential disparities in cardiovascular health among young veterans. I knew that at YSPH, I’d not only be rigorously trained in research methods, but also would become a well-rounded scholar who had opportunities in teaching, public speaking, grant writing, service, and leadership. Moreover, in speaking with other students, I knew that work-life balance was not just a buzzword, but something the administration truly cared about.

What were you doing before enrolling at YSPH?

Before matriculating at Yale for my PhD, I was an MPH student at YSPH. I graduated with my MPH in Chronic Disease Epidemiology in 2015 and was eager to use the tools that I learned in the classroom in the real world to conduct surveillance of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. During my MPH summer internship, I was a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and after graduating, I was fortunate to go back and work on the same team as a contractor.

YSPH has a comprehensive and constantly evolving curriculum that covers topics that fulfill students’ interests and needs. I have seen this grow so much since my master’s.

Tiffany Chang

At the CDC, I conducted health services research using administrative claims and national surveillance data to assess health care utilization (e.g., hospitalizations, medication adherence) among individuals with cardiovascular disease. My MPH gave me the tools to be a productive researcher at this job, and I decided to come back to YSPH for my doctorate so I could receive more advanced epidemiologic training that would allow me to lead my own research teams in the future.

What are your favorite aspects of the YSPH academic program?

YSPH has a comprehensive and constantly evolving curriculum that covers topics that fulfill students’ interests and needs. I have seen this grow so much since my master’s, with the addition of courses covering more advanced epidemiologic methods, causal inference, social justice, and more. Additionally, coursework that I have specifically taken while earning my PhD, such as those in grant writing and independent studies, have allowed me to work directly with faculty to develop my research portfolio.

What was your most impactful experience outside of class?

The Yale community has so much to offer outside of the classroom and research, and this has provided me with an enriching and well-rounded experience that resonates with the work-life balance that attracted me to YSPH in the first place. I have been learning the Argentine tango through the Yale Tango Club, which has been a great outlet to exercise my creativity in a different way. Through the club’s weekly classes and practices, I have been fortunate to make friends across the university. Public health is a multidisciplinary science, and activities such as these have been vital for me to interact with individuals across fields and to think about my research from different perspectives.

Do you have a favorite Yale place or New Haven food?

Yale has some beautiful spots to study or just catch up with a friend. Sterling Memorial Library and the top floors of the Humanities Quadrangle are two of my favorites! In terms of food, pizza at Atticus Market has become a recent favorite, and I love grabbing coffee at the Jitter Bus on my way to campus.

Submitted by Fran Fried on August 18, 2023