What do a freshman-orientation counselor and a research assistant have in common? Kristen Sanchez says the answer is that both “serve something bigger.” As a Fish Camp counselor at Texas A&M University, she shared Texas A&M values and culture with new Aggies. As a CARTEEH intern, Ms. Sanchez worked on the CARTEEH literature library, a resource for students, researchers and practitioners interested in transportation and health. The growing library allows researchers to set topic filters and hone in on scientific studies that best meet their needs.
After graduating in December 2018, Kristen took on more responsibility and the new title of research assistant at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). She continues to make additions to the literature library, highlight relevant news for the website, and work on CARTEEH’s Transportation, Air Quality, and Health Symposium being held in February. In addition, Ms. Sanchez will begin a systematic review of the current literature on how policies impact traffic-related emissions, air pollution and human exposures and health. She believes that gathering and synthesizing the information will help inform scholars and the public alike.
Kristen considered several career paths before choosing public health. Though medicine was her initial choice, the interdisciplinary nature of public health intrigued her. “Public Health is a bridge between science and people,” Sanchez notes.
Her senior year capstone project on the opioid crisis in Texas demanded teamwork, marketing, research, project management and a fundamental understanding of human psychology. This cross-disciplinary talent complements CARTEEH’s mission, which embraces the health and transportation sectors working together to research the impact of transportation emissions on human health. Research, education, workforce development and technology transfer advance this mission, and education and workforce development are key to its success. Ms. Sanchez’s graduation from intern to full-time research assistant underscores CARTEEH’s emphasis on education and workforce diversity, even as it develops its own bank of research expertise.
“Understanding the intersection of public health and transportation is a passion of mine,” Sanchez says. “My coworkers in the center are just as dedicated. And channeling that passion into research and education is how you make positive change in the world.”