Trainee Spotlight – Stephanie Eick

Stephanie Eick is a recent PhD graduate in Epidemiology from the College of Public Health at University of Georgia and PROTECT Trainee working under the mentorship of Co-Director Dr. Jose Cordero since August of 2016. Additionally, Stephanie worked under the direction of Michael Welton on PRIME team; a multidisciplinary research and training group for graduate and undergraduate students interested in using epidemiological methods. During her time on PROTECT, Stephanie primarily worked on data analysis, data management, and completing various publications. Stephanie attended and presented at many conferences including the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting, International Society of Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) Annual Meeting, Society of Pediatric Epidemiology Research (SPER) Annual Meeting, and the Annual Superfund Research Program (SRP) Meeting to name a few. Stephanie recently submitted her dissertation and is generally interested in maternal and child health as it relates to environmental and social epidemiology.

Stephanie was initially recruited by Dr. Cordero when she was pursuing her MPH at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health , and started working within PROTECT once she began her PhD at UGA. ”I’m passionate about environmental health because I think that it plays a large role in everything that we do,” she explains. “We can’t necessarily escape our environment. I think I have somewhat of a unique perspective on environmental health because I’m really interested in our ’social‘ environment and how our interactions with others shape health.” During her mentorship, Dr. Cordero has not only supported Stephanie along the way, but has set her for success on her own terms. “Dr. Cordero has always been really supportive of my career goals and from the beginning he put me in a situation where it was easy for me to succeed. For example, he is always thinking about other people for me to collaborate with and other projects for us to work on together. On my end, that resulted in a number of first author papers and conference presentations that definitely helped in my post doc search.”

During her time at PROTECT, Stephanie was not only able to attend many conferences but also make connections and network with many other Superfund scientists, researchers, and environmental health professionals. “For me, the best part about PROTECT has been the networking opportunities. The summer after my first year as a doctoral student, I went to NIEHS to work with Kelly Ferguson, who is now a PI at NIEHS but was formally a PROTECT trainee. I learned a ton from working with Kelly and we have collaborated on a bunch of projects together since then. Additionally, I completed the KC Donnelly fellowship during the summer after my second year. My PI, Craig Steinmaus at UC Berkeley, with the KC Donnelly award was supportive of my career development and he put me in contact with people in the Bay Area who had similar research interests as me.”

Out of all the presentations, publications, posters, and accomplishments Stephanie has completed during her time with PROTECT, her favorites are the paper she completed in collaboration with Kelly Ferguson and the publication she completed as the culmination of the work completed during her KC Donnelly Fellowship. When reflecting on this collaboration, Stephanie explained: “This paper was about psychosocial stress being a possible source of increased oxidative stress during pregnancy. We were hypothesizing that oxidative stress would be one pathway through which psychosocial stress could lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes. I am proud of this because it was my first paper and I built one of my dissertation aims around this hypothesis.”

In May 2018, Stephanie Eick was awarded the KC Donnelly Externship to expand her research experience to the University of California-Berkeley Superfund Research Center and collaborate with different SRP Centers. Stephanie enjoyed this opportunity because, “it was a little outside of my normal research interests, and I learned about how the social environment can affect chronic disease. It was a good way for me to see kind of the broader scope of my work with PROTECT. In the paper, we looked at the relationship between arsenic exposure and type 2 diabetes; we found that individuals who were at a socioeconomic disadvantage had increased odds of arsenic-related diabetes.”

Stephanie recently graduated with her Doctorate of Philosophy in Epidemiology from University of Georgia and will be pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California, San Francisco in June. We wish her the best of success in her career going forward.

KC Donnelly Funded Publication

Stephanie Eick & Kelly Ferguson Collaboration Publication