Lorna Haughton McNeil, PhD, MPH

Currently: Professor and Chair, Department of Health Disparities Research, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Lorna works on research into promoting physical activity in minority communities using ecological momentary assessment.

Years at HCRL: 4

What it meant: “The HCRL was a place of innovation and creativity, a place where people were always buzzing about a new thought or idea about doing something to eliminate disparities. You developed ideas that were theoretically grounded that can shape your future thinking. You came into a structure and you had the ability to make significant contributions.”

Kia L. Davis, MPH

Currently: Assistant Professor of Surgery, Public Health Science, Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Davis is an applied social epidemiologist. Broadly, she is interested in reducing cancer health disparities by informing organizational and policy change.

Years at HCRL: 3

What it meant: “My time there was my first applied experience with public health and health communication. Working in communities around St. Louis reminded me that social factors such as poverty and low education can have detrimental effects on health on multiple levels. The HCRL helped me to see the importance of health communication and that there was more to it than messaging; that principles could be extended to how to present data to decision makers.”

Cheryl L. Knott, PhD, MA

Currently: Professor, Department of Behavioral and Community Health; Co-Leader, Population Science Program; Associate Director, Community Outreach and Engagement, University of Maryland

Years at HCRL: 4

What it meant: “It is hard to put into words just how profoundly grateful I am for the experience, which I credit for the academic successes I have enjoyed since. I hope that, over time, I am able to give back to my mentees something so valuable. When I came to St. Louis University as a doctoral student in psychology … I didn’t know what public health was and had not even heard of the field. But I knew what a research assistant was, and I needed a job…. I was offered the position. There were always new challenges and something to learn. Toward the end, I started writing my own grant applications, where Matt would hand back to me written feedback … there was so much learning occurring there. The years at the HCRL were formative years professionally. When I arrived, I had not a clue where my career would go. When I departed, I was off to my first tenure-track position in a soft-money environment, which I was able to meet with success because of the mentorship I received from Dr. Kreuter and others. Now I reside in a school of public health and maintain an active program of externally funded health communication research.”

Sharyn Parks Brown, PhD, MPH

Currently: Epidemiologist (Lieutenant Commander, United States Public Health Service), Etiology and Surveillance Branch, Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. Sharyn’s work focuses on surveillance of child maltreatment outcomes. She also works on surveillance and etiologic studies of injuries and deaths due to other forms of violence, including suicide. She is responsible for consultations with state and local health departments, universities and other health agencies.

Years at HCRL: 3

What it meant: “My time there definitely influenced my career. That was my first experience in public health field work and primary data collection. It also was my first experience working directly with human subjects research. … It really helped drive home the importance of the work we do and the connection between the daily grind of research to real life. I think having that experience so early career was an excellent foundation for a career in public health. Regardless of what sector or level one works in, remembering the faces behind what we do is crucial. There was an environment of scientific rigor and always a flurry of activity with new projects getting off and running but it was still trainee/student friendly. It always felt like maintaining the highest standards of training and teaching was just as important as engaging in quality public health research and practice.”

Darrigg C. Brown, PhD, MPH

Currently: Program Manager, Substance Use Prevention, Evaluation, and Research, RTI International

Years at HCRL: 3

What it meant: “Health communication cuts across many disciplines. I really think the Lab provided a solid foundation for understanding how to develop research protocols and being able to critique behavioral interventions with regard to the way they are tailored to specific populations. I have had the opportunity to utilize a lot of the techniques I learned at the HCRL. I think my experience there tends to catch the attention of a lot of folks. People usually have a positive response when they see that on my resume.”

Vicki Collie-Akers, PhD, MPH

Currently: Associate Professor, Department of Population Health, University of Kansas Medical Center. Using a community-based participatory research orientation, Vicki works with communities to understand how they create conditions that promote health equity.

Years at HCRL: 3

What it meant: “My experience at the HCRL ignited a deep interest in research and the varying contributions that diverse methods make to answering research questions. I felt better prepared to pursue a career in research because of this exposure and familiarity with how to align measures and methods. I learned a great deal about how to create a research question and implement a research protocol to answer that question. This was an approach form which I benefited greatly, and I have deliberately tried to replicate it with students who make up the teams that I lead now.”