Alumna Helps Improve Public Health – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Alumna Helps Improve Public Health

Lisa Vinikoor ’02 has made considerable scientific headway in only seven years since graduation from William Smith College, improving public health through research and work within her area of expertise, epidemiology.

After obtaining her B.S. in biology and chemistry, Vinikoor spent a year working for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the National Cancer Institute. Participants in the Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellowship spend 1-2 years working at the NIH, then return to school for a further degree.  She reflects that “It was a great program and I highly recommend it.”   

A little over a year ago, Vinikoor received her Ph.D. in epidemiology, a branch of medicine which deals with epidemics of both chronic and infectious diseases, from the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health. Her dissertation focused on trans fat consumption and colorectal cancer, and the first of three manuscripts from her dissertation was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

“With trans fats being such a popular topic, I received some requests for interviews from the lay press, including Men’s Health and Women’s Health! It was very exciting,” says Vinikoor. She has also been involved in projects looking at neighborhood deprivation and birth outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight.

Shortly after graduating from UNC, Vinikoor accepted a post-doctoral position at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and began work on a project examining the association between asbestos exposure and respiratory symptoms among children living in or near a Superfund site in Montana. Her work also examines ambient air pollutants, such as ozone and particulate matter.
Vinikoor thanks Professors of Biology John Glover and David Droney for helping her pursue her interest in biostatistics through classroom learning, her teaching assistantship, and completion of an honors project titled “A Biostatistical Analysis of Adherence to Post-Cardiac Rehabilitation.” “They were both so instrumental in getting me where I am today,” she says gratefully.

“I love my field. Epidemiology is the perfect mix of math and science while simultaneously allowing me to truly make a difference in improving the public’s health.”

Vinikoor graduated cum laude with Honors, participated in William Smith Congress, studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was named to Dean’s List.