Major(s): Allied Health, Religion
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Internship: Harvard School of Public Health
Location: Boston, MA
Internship Responsibilities: My month in Boston was spent working at the Harvard School of Public Health within the epidemiology department. Epidemiology is a branch of public health that studies the spread, causation, and prevention of diseases. Epidemiologists constantly work with large sets of data from surveys and conduct research. My research in Boston was focused on prostate cancer, specifically cadmium and prostate specific antigen (PSA).
PSA is a protein that is produced in the prostate and it is used a biomarker in men to detect early signs of prostate cancer. My research group and I asked this question: What is the effect of cadmium on PSA levels? We hypothesized that there would be a positive correlation between the PSA levels in the blood and cadmium which was measured in urine. To find our results we used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This is a biannual survey that uses a non-random sample of people to collect a national representative sample. We sorted through this data to find our two variables, PSA and cadmium, and then used R (a coding software to deal with the large amounts of numbers) to create spreadsheets and graphs. Our results were anticlimactic. We found no correlation between PSA levels and cadmium exposure.
What I Learned: Regardless of our null findings, the experience of working in the epidemiology department at HSPH was worth being stuck in the airport for six hours because of a flight cancellation. The experience enhanced my resume, but the opportunity of being in Boston was the best part. I fell in love with the city and I cannot wait to return to make it my home someday.