Student Spotlight-Ashley Batson

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  • Name: Ashley Batson
  • Year: 2016
  • Concentration: Public Health
1. What type of research experiences have you been involved with during your time in college? 
This past summer I participated in Fostering Advancement & Careers through Enrichment Training in Science (better known as FACETS) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This 6-week program, targeted at students from underrepresented groups who are interested in public health, provides students with the opportunity to take a series of nano-courses, participate in a group research project with a faculty mentor, attend lectures from some of the most prestigious faculty, engage in networking and professional development activities, and take a GRE preparation course. During my time in the program, I worked on a project with two other program participants under the mentorship of Dr. Ichiro Kawachi and with guidance from two postdoctoral fellows, one of whom I am actually still working with. We investigated the relationship between U.S. income inequality and mortality outcomes.
2. How did you find out about this opportunity?
I found out about FACETS through a friend of a friend. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has several summer programs, but FACETS is relatively new, so it ended up being a program I (fortunately) stumbled upon.
3. What is your favorite part about conducting research?
I really enjoy interacting with and gaining insight from the communities with which I am working. I am a big proponent of community-based participatory research and through two of my research projects I interact with participants on a regular basis. These factors have not only made me better contextualize the work I am doing “in real world terms” but have also made me even more passionate about my work.
4. How has being involved with research shaped your future goals and plans?
I always said I would never join academia or “pursue research as a career”, but ever since I took on my first research position during my sophomore year at Brown, I haven’t been able to get away from it. It was actually during my time in FACETS that I fully came to this realization. This influenced my decisions in applying to graduate school. I am hoping to pursue my doctoral, or at least master’s, degree next fall and, ironically, ultimately enter into academia. I hope to not only continue conducting research but also teach and take on mentees of my own.
5. Any advice for students looking to find out what research interests them?
Don’t be afraid to try things, even if you think it might be outside of your comfort zone! I strongly believe there is something to be gained from every research experience, whether you are gaining new skills, you realize you are extremely passionate about a topic, or you find out research really isn’t your thing. I have worked on projects I absolutely love and others I feel can’t be finished soon enough, but looking back I think they have all impacted my research interests and career aspirations.
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