Jennifer Dias ’16 is working with the Madison County Department of Health this summer to enhance their understanding of vulnerable and at-risk populations, community structures and networks within the City of Oneida that may be factors in the event of a community emergency. In June 2013, the community experienced substantial flooding, and in order to be prepared for a future event, the county department suggested this research project.
Jenn’s project seeks to engage community members– through interviews– in a conversation about communication pathways and social networking in order to gain insight and help improve risk communication and planning strategies in future emergencies. Her primary research will allow her to develop a survey tool, collect data and leave the department with a summary report and recommendations. In her time at the department, she will also study the concept of the “whole community approach” in public health and will create a report on the approach that will provide another benefit to the department, and by extension the county.
This Field School project builds upon Jenn’s study of sociology and social science research methods, and her knowledge of conducting research and writing a scientific report. The experience is giving her a better understanding of public health, which is critical for her future plans. Jenn plans to get a joint M.D. and M.P.H degree. It will also impact the remainder of her time at Colgate, as she plans to expand upon this experience by taking courses in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in her remaining years on campus.