Augusta Williams ’13 has been accepted to Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which has been ranked as one of the top public health schools in the country. Through her program with the Environmental Health Department, Williams will pursue a Doctor of Science degree, studying how weather patterns and global climate change impact human health.
“The work that Harvard has been doing related to climate change and human health has been quickly expanding over the last few years, and it makes me excited to be a part of an organization that is making sure we are standing on the right side of history in regard to the climate change situation,” Williams says.
As an environmental health graduate student, Williams will explore the different ways in which indoor or outdoor environments – homes, the workplace, the atmosphere – can influence health. She says her area of study aims to investigate and understand those circumstances through the use of epidemiological research, molecular mechanisms, field studies, as well as through various qualitative and quantitative measures.
“With climate change, there is a high probability of more frequent and more severe heat waves, more severe weather events, changes in where vector-borne disease will be found, and a continued threat on water and food insecurity,” Williams says. “All of these changes will have a multitude of impacts on human morbidity and mortality.”
Additionally, Williams is conducting research in the Boston area this summer for a project focused on understanding how heat waves influence sleep quality and how that has a direct effect on different age populations. “This study will be testing brand new technology that measures personal exposures and will be a great opportunity to participate in a field project in its entirety,” she says.
The values that the Colleges instilled in her has inspired her steadfast devotion to investigate health and climate change.
The curriculum assisted her in her growth by broadening her experiences and abilities through the rigorous programs. At HWS, she conducted research, learned statistical programs, attended conferences and collaborated with faculty.
“When I entered HWS, I found myself among classmates who had to learn to think in this manner and bridge thoughts and concepts across and between disciplines,” Williams says. “HWS taught me how to do just this, and I was already aware of how important interdisciplinary thinking is in today’s world.”
Williams recently completed a master’s degree at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health where she explored her interests at the nexus of climate change and health. At Columbia, she also testified to New York City Council in support of the Peoples Climate March, a gathering where those who are concerned about global warming and environmental harm gather to share their views. After she spoke, the march in Manhattan took place that brought together 400,000 global citizens and about 170 Mailman School students.
At HWS, Williams earned her B.S. in biology and geoscience magna cum laude with Honors. Her Honors project was “Weather and Weather Radar Observations During Eared Grebe Migration in the Vicinity of the Great Salt Lake,” with Professor of Geoscience Neil Laird as her adviser. She also served as a research assistant in the Geoscience Department and was a teaching colleague. Additionally, Williams participated in Learn2Lead, was a member of the Colleges wind ensemble and was inducted into Hai Timiai as well as Phi Beta Kappa.