Alumni Highlight –
Christopher Brown, MPH in Biostatistics and Epidemiology, 2010
Hometown: Louisville, KY
I work in the Office of Emergency Management and Preparedness at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency within the U.S. Department of Labor that is responsible for ensuring safe and healthful working conditions for America’s workers. My group of colleagues coordinates OSHA’s national-level preparedness and response efforts for every type of disaster or other emergency that affects workers, ranging from hurricanes and floods to chemical spills and terrorism. I get to spend most of my time working on infectious disease and other biological agent issues and radiological/nuclear preparedness.
The most memorable event during my time at OSHA—and my longest-running assignment so far—has been supporting the agency’s Ebola response. Ebola taught us a great deal about the public health system’s preparedness for infectious disease events generally. It also gave us at OSHA the opportunity to develop and test resources aimed at helping employers and workers stay healthy during the next outbreak, whatever it may be.
While I may not be doing data analysis on a daily basis, I use my epidemiology and biostatistics skills in almost everything I do professionally. Since OSHA is a regulatory and enforcement agency, all of our guidance has to be scientifically sound and in line with existing legal requirements. Being able to analyze the literature on a variety of topics helps inform the public health actions the agency takes.
What you value most about your time in our program
The UNMC COPH offered opportunities for graduate assistantships, service learning, and other experiences that helped ensure I had skills I knew how to apply to practical public health problems when I graduated. I had great opportunities to lead UNMC’s student-run SHARING clinics, and had the chance to help launch the ongoing service-learning project for testing and treating inmates for STIs at the Douglas County correctional facility. The faculty members and staff I worked with most closely made sure I was successful as a student. I also left Omaha with a diverse network of contacts who I have been able to keep in touch with, especially when our areas of professional responsibility have overlapped or intersected.
Advice for current students
Hone your writing skills so you can communicate effectively about the science you know. Do everything your schedule allows with respect to service learning and community involvement. Not only do those things help broaden your resume or CV, they also give you invaluable skills to draw on when you look for a job upon graduation.