MEET OUR GRADS: Elizabeth Claydon

Did you always know you wanted to be in Public Health?

I didn't always know I wanted to be in public Health. At first, it made sense to me when I was at Vanderbilt and I was pursuing a Medicine, Health and Society Degree. I first heard about the story of the upstream factors of someone pulling people out of a river downstream, and the idea of "Why didn't they go upstream to see why the people were falling into the river in the first place?" That was what first started me thinking about Public Health. It really made sense of trying to find those upstream factors of what was causing those longterm outcomes for people, and really wanting to try and make a difference at a population level, on a long-term basis. Then I applied to Public Health programs and found my niche. It made sense longterm for me.

What did you focus on for your PhD?

My main interest was Eating Disorder Prevention and Obesity Prevention. My dissertation was on the Inter-generational Prevention of Dieting Behavior and Eating Disorders and looking at parenting feedback, especially at a young age in children. Looking at how parental comments and even parents dieting are encouraging their children to diet. Or modeling some diet behavior can contribute to a child wanting to diet also, or having body dissatisfaction.

Trying to make parents more aware of how some of those influences can contribute to problems later in their child's life. Trying to really have parents foster a really healthy relationship for children with food and with their bodies at a young age. They're so impressionable at that age, and that can really prevent both obesity and eating disorders longterm for those children.

What do you hope to do with your PhD in public health?

I really hope to be able to teach and also to do some research. I really like the combination of both teaching and research, and love mentoring new students. I want to help foster Public Health professionals and get them inspired and excited about Public Health research.

You've been working with the Injury Control Research Center, haven't you?

I've been working at the Injury Control Research Center for the past year with Dr. Bossarte and the facility and staff here, and I really enjoyed it. I've been working with some suicide prevention and then just working on a lot of different projects as I'm needed to. I got hired here originally to work on a Binging Disorder project, but that contract didn't go through so I've been really helping with a lot of different projects. It's been very interesting to work in a variety of different areas.

You've been involved with some campus groups - what have you been involved with, and what have you done?

Delta Omega is the Delta Omega Honorary Society for Public Health, and there's the Gamma new chapter at West Virginia University. I served as Vice President of the previous year and as President this past academic year. We do a variety of different things with the organization. One of the main things we do is community service. We go out into the community and do some community service projects.

We worked with the Injury Control Research Center in the fall to do some of the naloxone assembly, to work with the Opiod Crisis in the state, which is also going across the country too. We've also helped with a used book sale that benefits local school children. We worked this spring actually creating an interdepartmental drive to raise donations for the Shack, which is the Shack Neighborhood House. It does a lot with community children, community families around here.

We've also done a lot with trying to help students prepare for poster competitions with our Poster Competition day. We usually do a speaker series each year and we bring in an alumni to do the speaker series. We keep ourselves pretty busy and are excited to get some new leadership in for the next year. We just did some leadership applications to keep it going.

What does Public Health mean to you?

Public Health mostly means to my just really trying to get at those upstream root causes or contributing risk factors. To prevent the longterm outcomes, so that we can increase the population health and prevent longterm health consequences for the population at large. It's just really trying to improve population health by getting at those root causes.