Rian Landers-Ramos is a PhD candidate in the Department of Kinesiology and an NIH Predoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland. After graduating in December 2015, she will begin work as a post-doctoral fellow at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Baltimore, MD.
In one sentence, what is public health to you?
To me, public health is educating the public and building awareness so that we can be preventative in our approach to treating health conditions.
What inspired you to study public health?
I was raised in a family where health and fitness were always a big priority and a part of our everyday lives. As I grew older I became more aware of my family history of cardiovascular disease. This inspired me to find ways to connect my love of health and fitness to researching how exercise can both prevent and treat cardio-metabolic diseases.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
One of the biggest challenges in public health is reducing obesity rates and accompanying cardiovascular diseases in our country. The American Heart Association estimates that by 2030, 40 percent of adults in the U.S. will have at least one form of cardiovascular disease, and that medical costs will triple as a result. Free community programs and educational materials to encourage people to incorporate physical activity and proper nutrition into their lifestyle are vital for physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing.
Why did you choose public health at UMD?
I chose to study at UMD because the research in Dr. Jim Hagberg’s lab investigating exercise and novel cardiovascular risk factors really interested me. When I visited the school, I saw a collaborative community of dedicated faculty and graduate students and was excited about becoming a part of that.
How has your degree from UMD’s School of Public Health shaped your career?
The School of Public Health and Department of Kinesiology at the University of Maryland have been helpful in providing me the tools and guidance needed for a career in academia. Through teaching, research, mentoring, grant writing opportunities, and collaborations with faculty in and outside of SPH I feel that I have been provided the experience necessary for a successful career in exercise physiology and public health.
What person or experience had the greatest impact on you during your degree program?
The whole experience of completing a PhD has had a great impact on me both personally and professionally and I feel I have grown tremendously over the last five years. My advisor, Dr. Hagberg, has been an incredible mentor and friend and has had the largest influence on me throughout my degree. Dr. Hagberg has a unique perspective, and has re-invented himself so many times throughout his career. This inspires me to continuously educate myself and to think outside the box as far as ways to keep exercise physiology growing and relevant in the realm of public health. Additionally, Dr. Hagberg has taught me important lessons about a healthy work-life balance that I plan to take with me throughout the rest of my career.
Published July 28, 2015