Vanessa Oddo, Mathematica Policy Research

Vaness Oddo MPH graduate 2011

"The Tufts program is unique in that it is truly designed to help students gain applicable skills for public health practice. Students should take advantage of experiential opportunities to gain exposure to the public health field, such as internships with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Applied Learning Experience."

Research Analyst, Mathematica Policy Research
MPH program, 2011
MPH concentration, Nutrition

Tell us about your current job.
I am a Research Analyst at Mathematica Policy Research. A policy research firm, Mathematica studies and analysis have yielded information to guide decisions in wide-ranging policy areas, from health, education, and nutrition, to disability, and international development. I'm currently working on a variety of health and nutrition policy projects. In the last year I've contributed to the School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study-IV, co-authored a report to Congress detailing the nutritional status of American Indian children, and am working on several projects exploring the impact of the Affordable Care Act on vulnerable populations.

What inspired you to pursue an MPH in your area of specialization?
American society has become increasingly obesogenic, characterized by environments that promote increased food intake and the consumption of unhealthy foods. This is particularly the case among underserved populations. This issue affects numerous sectors of society and demands nutrition researchers who can employ culturally competent, population-based strategies, to promote health and prevent obesity among underserved populations. I wanted to better understand the factors contributing to this disparity, in particular, the cultural and environmental influences on dietary patterns.

What drew you to the Tufts Program?
The Tufts program focuses on providing students with the skills needed to successfully pursue public health practice. I chose Tufts because I believed that I could strengthen my methodological skills (via the Core MPH courses) while exploring substantive courses in nutrition at Friedman.

How did your Tufts degree help prepare you to work in the field (or what were the highlights of your Program)?
The Tufts program introduced me to applied research skills in nutrition assessment, program design, and evaluation used to explore public health nutrition issues. Coursework contributed to my understanding of data collection and analysis, using both quantatative and qualitative methods. I was given the opportunity to translate public health theory into practice as an intern with Sight and Life, a humanitarian initiative that is dedicated to nutrition intervention implementation and research in developing countries. Interning with Sight and Life was an invaluable opportunity to investigate issue areas, such as the double burden of malnutrition, and to better understand population-specific nutritional problems.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
The Tufts program is unique in that it is truly designed to help students gain applicable skills for public health practice. Take advantage of experiential opportunities to gain exposure to the public health field, such as internships with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the ALE.