Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

SWCOEH alum Whitney Harrison Jackson, MPH, PhD, appointed Public Health Informaticist with Washington State DOH

SWCOEH alum Whitney Harrison Jackson, MPH, PhD, appointed Public Health Informaticist with Washington State DOH

HOUSTON (Dec. 15, 2022) – Whitney Harrison Jackson Jackson, MPH, PhD, an alumnus of the SWCOEH Occupational Epidemiology doctoral program (2020), has been appointed Public Health Informaticist with the Washington State Department of Health.

Her role is a supervisor on the Data Integration & Interoperability Team, Informatics Section, within the Office of Immunization.

“In my role as a public health informaticist, we are involved in setting up the infrastructure via data systems to receive immunization information from organizations that have a data sharing agreement with the Washington State Department of Health,” Harrison Jackson said. “That involves ensuring that the data are coming into the Immunization Information System at the same level of quality that they are being sent. We review the data for all potential data quality issues such as variation in structure of data tables, missing variables, missing data, etc.”

“We also prepare, transform and massage the data for those individuals in the analytics department who are responsible for analyzing the data for reporting out to funders, internal/external dashboards, and/or internal and external partners.”

Harrison Jackson was attracted to the position because it uses nontraditional epidemiologic methods.

“It involves having a good understanding of traditional epidemiology, but it also weaved in the informatics piece which is an important upstream piece to data analysis.”

After witnessing the value of infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrison Jackson hopes to continue to gain experience interpreting data.

“I think many public health professionals became very aware that we were not prepared as far as infrastructure for a pandemic,” Harrison Jackson said. “COVID taught us that we need to have the appropriate infrastructure in place to receive the data well before any analysis or reporting is completed. I hope to learn how to develop these data infrastructures by creating operational and analytical pipelines and learn more about the back end of data systems and how they can be improved for front end users.”

Following her time at the Southwest Center, Harrison Jackson’s experience includes time as an epidemiologist with the Defense Health Agency and a position as an epidemiologist contractor for the Texas Department of State Health Services. Harrison Jackson’s studies at the Southwest Center helped her prepare for this new position.

“The SWCOEH provided not only the educational curriculum to understand traditional epidemiology, but it also taught me how to apply the traditional epidemiologic methods in real-world settings such as a health department,” Harrison Jackson said. “My job requires me to understand data analysis and reporting, which I refer to as traditional epi, in order to understand what data systems and infrastructure need to include in order to report out accurate information internally and externally.”

Harrison Jackson, who recently completed her doctoral dissertation on “Firefighting And Cancer In Texas: Availability And Usability Of Texas Cancer Registry Data For Proportionate Incidence Studies” has had mentorship team which included researchers at Baylor College of Medicine (Dr. Elaine Symanski), MD Anderson Cancer Center (Dr. Shine Chang), in addition to UTHealth Houston School of Public Health (Dr. David Gimeno, who was Harrison’s academic advisor).

“We are very proud of Whitney’s accomplishments, especially after a couple of years of distance education and mentoring” said Dr. Gimeno, PhD, the Director of the SWCOEH.

The SWCOEH provides a variety of graduate-level training opportunities for occupational and environmental health professionals through our industrial hygiene, occupational and environmental medicine, occupational epidemiology, and Total Worker Health®.