Joe Silva

PhD in Health Services Research ’24


Undergraduate Institution: University of Rhode Island
Graduate Institution: Brown University School of Public Health

Why did you choose the Brown University School of Public Health?
I chose Brown for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest deciding factors was the small program size and emphasis on individualized advising. Attending Brown meant I could have closer and more meaningful relationships with my professors and mentors. I also have had the benefit of receiving my master’s degree here at SPH, meaning I already had a great sense of personal fit for myself before deciding!

What makes Brown's program different from other programs you considered?
The PhD in Health Services Research is truly interdisciplinary. Members of my cohort have a wide range of interests and backgrounds, and we can all bring our unique perspectives to discussions and research with faculty. Within my first year I was exposed to health economics, pharmaceuticals, health policy, and epidemiology. SPH also has strong connections to the Rhode Island Department of Health, where I have had the opportunity to work as an epidemiologist responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What do you enjoy most about your program?
Even though I started my PhD online during the pandemic, I have felt fully supported by my program’s faculty and staff. With multiple check-ins and people reaching out, I have continuously felt valued as I navigate becoming a doctoral student! I’ve also simply enjoyed being surrounded by public health. I have learned so much from my time here and the entire experience has been exciting. Every day I get to learn something new and talk about it with friends and family, getting them excited about what is going on in the world of public health.

What is your academic area of interest and why?
My area of interest currently is the intersection between infectious disease epidemiology and health services research. Some of my recent research has involved studying influenza vaccination in congregate care settings, and I hope to expand and study COVID-19 in this setting as well.

What are your postgraduate goals/plans?
After graduation, I am particularly interested in pursuing an initial path in government. As a former recipient of the Boren Scholarship, I have a federal service requirement that I hope to fulfill at an institution such as the CDC.

Why Providence?
Providence is a great place for studying public health. It is a small-scale city that is very walkable and affordable. The East Side (where campus is located) is beautiful and full of a variety of great restaurants. As a native of Rhode Island, I might be slightly biased, but I think the state has a wide appeal and has something to offer for everyone. Because of its small size, you can get almost anywhere you want in no time at all, and if you want to travel outside the state, there is so much close by (for example Boston is only an hour away).

What advice would you give to prospective applicants?
Above all, talk with faculty and current students at any program you are applying to. Doing so gives you the opportunity to learn more about the program than you would otherwise, but also learn if such a program might be a good fit for you and allow you to develop early relationships with future mentors and classmates. It can also help when it comes to admissions if faculty know who you are and know you have research interests that coincide with their own!

Find out more about the PhD in Health Services Research