Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

Amanda Staudt

Amanda Staudt, PhD

Staudt_AmandaSince graduating as an Occupational Epidemiology Trainee, I have been employed as an Epidemiologist for The Geneva Foundation. I am contracted to do research for the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, whose focus is combat casualty care. Military health is a focus area within Occupational Health that is often overlooked,though the mechanisms of injury are quite different as compared to thither occupational fields. Although my career is different than I originally expected, my traineeship with the UTHealth Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH), NIOSH-funded Education and Research Center (ERC) satisfactorily prepared me for this journey, and I am so grateful to have been a part of the SWCOEH ERC.

What led you to public health and to occupational & environmental health in particular?

I am a practical person. I do not have a unique personal story that sparked my interest in occupational health. I was led to Public Health because I have always had a deep interest in both science and health care. I was attracted to apply to the SWCOEH ERC traineeship because the most prestigious faculty members and the best performing students at UTHealth were a part of that program. I applied to the Occupational Epidemiology traineeship because I knew a career in this field would provide employment opportunities upon graduation. I also knew work in this field would be meaningful and impactful, and it would have the potential to improve the health and lives of almost the entire population. 

Tell us about your work. What is an average day like for you?

My work includes all facets of research: writing grant proposals, developing protocols, study design and analysis, and writing manuscripts. I love every part of my job, especially the great work environment. My research focuses on trauma, care in austere environments, and blood transfusion. My job is extremely rewarding, and the work of my team is saving the lives of the men and women who serve this country. My team has numerous patents, and I hope to one day be a part of the creation of a patentable invention. I work with surgeons, physicians, nurses, biostatisticians, and other epidemiologists- including other UTHealth graduates.

How did your education as a SWCOEH ERC trainee at UTHealth School of Public Health prepare you for your current career?

Participating in the San Antonio Journal Club led by Drs. David Gimeno and Kristina Whitworth was a huge milestone for me. The small size of the club allowed me to pull together everything I learned from my coursework. Unquestionably, the rigor of Dr. Symanski’s Epidemiology III course was incredible, and Dr. Whitehead’s mentorship was really special. I have kept in contact with many of my peers from UTHealth. We are always reaching out to one another for professional assistance or advice. I graduated with a terrific understanding of how things were supposed to work, but I did have the experience of actually implementing some of the things I learned in school. I think this is typical for many graduates. I was just really luckily that my job career began with a supervisor who supported my search for a mentor. As fate would have it, the mentor I found is a retired UTHealth faculty member. 

What advice do you have for students pursuing a SWCOEH ERC traineeship leading to a career in public health?

I am forever indebted to the faculty of SWCOEH ERC. If you want a rewarding career in a field that has the chance to affect the entire population, work with the faculty at SWCOEH ERC. Their quality faculty and staff will provide you with the resources and training needed to get the job of your dreams.