Noah Hull, a Ph.D. student at the University of Wyoming, recently completed the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases’ (IIAD) Career Development Program (CDP). As a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Center of Excellence, IIAD hosts the graduate-level fellowship Program to promote workforce development into public practice or academia.
The Program requires fellows to complete a 10-week internship in a homeland security field – an experience Hull said was one of the most beneficial aspects of participating. For this internship, Hull interned in the DHS Office of Health Affairs – holding a dual appointment with the Food, Agriculture and Veterinary Defense programs and the National Biosurveillance Integration Center.
“The skill that I feel was most important with the CDP was the experience I obtained from the internship with DHS,” Hull said. “Coming from academia and my department, you have very little interaction with the application of infectious disease epidemiology. We mostly deal in theory and answering questions that add to the body of research. In the internship, I was consuming this information from the literature and applying it to policy and decisions that affected on-ground operations. That to me was the most important thing, to see how the private and academic side compliments the consumers of the data generated.”
During his time as a Program fellow, Hull was awarded the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians J. Lindsay Oaks Best Student Molecular Biology Award and he had the opportunity to attend different DHS conferences that allowed him to present his research and network with professionals in his field. Hull was also afforded the opportunity to participate in BSL-3 Training/Transboundary Animal Disease Summer Program hosted by the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases.
Hull is currently working towards his Ph.D. at the University of Wyoming. His research interest is epidemiology and molecular diagnostics for zoonotic pathogens. He said he plans to further his hands-on training in practical epidemiology by applying to the 2018 class of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS). Sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EIS is a post-doctoral training program for health professionals interested in practicing applied epidemiology to work in the areas of infectious diseases, chronic diseases, injury prevention, environmental health or occupational health at CDC or another federal agency, state or local health department.
Prior to his Ph.D. work, Hull received a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology from the University of Wyoming.
Hull said the Program greatly impacted his decision to pursue a career with the federal government.
“I just want to underscore the importance of this type of program,” Hull said. “While university graduate assistantships are great support, they don’t include the career development aspect of a fellowship. The access to conferences, specialized training and internships was critical in forming the scientist I am today. The support from IIAD was phenomenal in shaping me today and is going to be ultimately responsible for my desire to serve the government in my expertise.”
IIAD’s Career Development Program was established in 2008 to provide graduate-level fellowships that promote workforce development into public and private practice and academia. Emphasis is placed on building future workforce capacity in fields related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics that also support the DHS mission space in transboundary, emerging and zoonotic disease defense. The program is made possible through funding awarded to the Institute through the DHS Office of University Programs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture National Needs Fellowship.