Student Research Profile: Amy Harris

Feb 15, 2022

UMD public health student getting hands-on research experience in topics she cares about.

Amy Harris is a double major in biology and public health. She anticipates graduating next fall and then going on to attend medical school to become a doctor.

Harris has been working closely with Jessica Hanson, assistant professor of public health, on research, data collection, analysis, and public health interventions related to alcohol use among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women. She’s the co-author of two peer-reviewed papers related to this work: “Adaptations of an RCT during COVID: Case Study in one Rural American Indian Community” and “Alcohol Consumption during COVID among Women with an Existing Alcohol-Use Disorder.”

Here’s what Harris had to say about her experience: 

As a public health major, I am required to complete 9 internship credits. This requirement can be filled via a variety of internal and external opportunities, one of which is a communication assistant. This opportunity was the first way that I was involved in UMD’s public health program. Through this experience, I met Dr. Hanson and learned more about her research. The next semester, she was looking for a research assistant, so I applied and got the position. I have now completed my internship credits and I am continuing to work with Dr. Hanson through the Promoting Diversity in Undergraduate Research and Scholarship  (PDURS).

The work that I have completed with Dr. Hanson involves alcohol use among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people. The first project that we did was a literature review of the effects of  COVID-19 on alcohol consumption. I presented this research at the CEHSP Research and Scholarship Conference and the MN SOPHE (Society of Public Health Education) Conference. I also provided input on an app development to reduce alcohol consumption in AI/AN teens. This year, I am a part of the PDURS and I am involved in data collection and analysis for a pilot study regarding weekly drinking patterns among AI/AN women. From my research, I am also a co-author for two peer reviewed papers.

I never thought I wanted to be involved in research but after working and learning from Dr. Hanson, I fell in love with it. Lab research is really important but I think my experience has set me apart from other pre-med students because I am working directly with people impacted by health topics that I am interested in.