Ana Lucia Espinosa Dice

ScM Biostatistics ’21


Undergraduate Institution: Brown University (Applied Math and Public Health)

Why did you choose the Brown University School of Public Health?

Our school motto immediately comes to mind — “learning public health by doing public health.” I remember attending the Providence Women’s March during my second year at Brown and running into a handful of SPH professors there with their daughters and friends. That was the first of many reminders that my professors, colleagues, and peers are not just academics, but also advocates and change-makers in a diversity of ways. Individuals at the Brown University School of Public Health are true to their word, translating knowledge and community into action. I have benefited from endless opportunities outside of the classroom to engage with my mentors and their global health colleagues, applying my classroom skills and learning even more along the way.

What makes Brown's program different from other programs you considered?

I chose to continue my graduate studies at Brown after obtaining my undergraduate degree here because I wanted more time strengthening and treasuring the relationships I had built with both professors and peers at the School of Public Health. I have a diverse team of mentors who consistently demonstrate investment in and commitment to my academic and professional development. That’s not necessarily the typical undergraduate or graduate experience at any institution, but I’d say it certainly can be here at Brown.

What do you enjoy most about your program?

I think the Biostatistics Department does a tremendous job of making course assessments incredibly relevant and beneficial to students. Nearly all courses I have taken in the department include at least some project-based work, allowing you to master course material while simultaneously advancing your research interests. My recommendation to any student starting out in Biostatistics is to think ahead and take advantage of these project-based course assessments. It is a truly unique opportunity to be able to tailor your assessments to your interests, research, and/or work.

What is your academic area of interest and why?

I am passionate about applying quantitative methods to questions of infectious disease epidemiology, social-ecological risk factors, implementation science, and global health. Specifically, my research interests and experiences lie at the intersection(s) of HIV care outcomes, interpersonal violence, mental health, maternal health, and spatial epidemiology. In the past, I worked with one of Socios en Salud’s maternal health interventions in Lima, Peru and completed my thesis research on the spatial epidemiology of clinic transfers in Cape Town, South Africa. Currently, I serve as an RA for a handful of projects in South Africa and Malawi that focus on adolescent mental health, interpersonal violence, and the joint burden of HIV and cardiometabolic disorders during pregnancy. I aim to bring both scientific rigor and creativity to my research as I grow into my niche of epidemiologic methods.

What are your postgraduate goals/plans?

After graduating this Spring, I plan to spend a couple years in epidemiologic research before applying to PhD programs in Epidemiology. I’ve loved the mentoring- and teaching-related opportunities I have pursued at Brown, so academia definitely feels like the career path for me.

Why Providence?

I used to say that I wanted my college to be in such a rural area that I’d see cows on my way there… Providence beats that dream any day, even for a person like me who wanted to get as far away from NYC as possible. You get the perks of a metropolitan area–an impressive food scene, wonderful art and theater, robust healthcare and transportation options, easy access to Boston and NYC–without losing access to that peaceful neighborhood feel with gorgeous streets, parks, and other quaint escapes. I think it’s also always important to remember that there is more to Providence than just College Hill – in terms of adventure and culture, yes, but also in terms of immense inequity and need. The School of Public Health is in a unique position of power and privilege to reduce inequities in its very own neighborhood.

What advice would you give to prospective applicants?

I have come to realize that a public health education is truly about so much more than your classes. The biggest opportunities for both growth and impact are likely going to be outside of the classroom through research, community engagement, activism, policy, and so forth. As you envision what your trajectory at Brown would look like (and even as you consider other public health institutions), I encourage you to reflect on what you might want your experience outside of the classroom to look like. That way, you can hit the ground running your very first day at 121 South Main Street!