Opening doors for student success

| Ryan Babadi
Portrait of Ryan Babadi

Opportunities to attend professional conferences and networking events can be transformative for students, including first-generation students like DEOHS alumnus Ryan Babadi. Photo: Courtesy of Babadi.

DEOHS alum Ryan Babadi credits mentorship and support from DEOHS for helping launch his new career as a Harvard researcher investigating how environmental factors affect reproductive health

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where I am a member of the James-Todd Lab for Research, Education, and Policy.

The mentorship, support and training I received as a PhD student at the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) was key to preparing me for my current research-oriented career path.

DEOHS offers students interdisciplinary research opportunities across the many disciplines in environmental and occupational health sciences, including exposure assessment, toxicology, epidemiology and risk assessment.

I earned my PhD in Environmental Toxicology along with a variety of skills that ultimately qualified me to advance to my current focus in environmental reproductive epidemiology. I feel grateful to be able to work and continue my mentored training in this critical field.

Studying the link between phthalates and childhood asthma

My research at DEOHS was supervised by my PhD adviser, Dr. Catherine Karr, principal investigator of the Home Air in Agriculture Pediatric Intervention (HAPI) trial. This community-based, participatory study focused on improving indoor air and the health of farmworker children with asthma.

Thanks to the excellent mentorship provided by Dr. Karr and my supervisory committee, I was able to investigate the relationship between phthalates—a class of synthetic chemicals commonly found in our environment—and health outcomes related to asthma exacerbation and oxidative stress among children.

My research was possible because of the HAPI trial and the corresponding community-academic partnerships involving DEOHS.

A transformative experience

Students at UW and DEOHS are involved in exciting areas of research with important translational potential.

It's essential to provide students with the support they need to attend workshops, trainings and conferences—not only for the evolution of their research but also for professional development and networking.

My post-graduation job search was meaningfully enhanced because of professional development opportunities like conference attendance funded by DEOHS travel scholarships. These types of experiences can be transformative for students, including first-generation college and graduate students like me.

I cherish many of the interactions and lasting friendships I developed with folks across various programs within DEOHS, the School of Public Health and across the UW.


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