Meleah Boyle received her Master of Public Health in Environmental Sciences from the UMD School of Public Health in 2014. She is currently Project Manager for the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health (MIAEH).

What was your research project or internship experience while at SPH?

My research focused on the public health impacts associated with unconventional natural gas development and production (UNGDP). As an Environmental Health intern at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, I conducted a literature review on the potential public health consequences of unconventional natural gas development and production as well as a baseline health assessment for Garrett County, Maryland, the area that would be most impacted if UNGDP were allowed to move forward in the state. Following the internship, I worked as Graduate Research Assistant on the Maryland Marcellus Shale Public Health study and conducted my thesis research on noise associated with natural gas compressor stations.

What types of work did you do for your research project?

For my thesis research, I conducted noise monitoring near natural gas compressor stations in West Virginia.

Why did you select this internship or research experience?

Concerns about noise associated with UNGDP were brought up numerous times by community members during our stakeholder meetings, yet there was not much data or research available especially regarding noise from natural gas compressor stations. This research experience allowed me to leverage my assistantship while also giving me the opportunity to learn new skills.

What did your research/internship teach you that went beyond what you learned in the classroom?

My internship and thesis research, as well as my work with the Maryland Marcellus Shale Public Health study team, was an invaluable experience that allowed me to use the skills gained in the classroom to address an important issue facing the state. Conducting field research presented numerous but exciting challenges – from completing the IRB application, engaging the community, recruiting participants, and collecting field samples.

How did your SPH research/internship help shape your future goals and career plans?

I am currently working as Project Manager for the Testable Exposome Signatures of Influenza Threats study at the UMD School of Public Health’s Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health. My work and leadership on the Maryland Marcellus Shale Public Health study opened the door to this new opportunity and has allowed me to continue to develop my leadership, management, and coordination skills. I also continue to be involved in work on unconventional natural gas development and production through speaking engagements at conferences and community meetings, guest lectures, and writing articles for publication.

What are some of the most important professional skills or connections you gained?

I was able to build a professional network of researchers, policymakers, and community activists across Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia and learned how to conduct a health impact assessment, which is an important tool for considering the public’s health in policy and planning decisions. 

Published August 2015