Student Profile: Charles “Ash” Warnock

Charles “Ash” Warnock, a doctoral student in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, has taken advantage of the opportunities that abound at the College of Public Health to grow as a researcher.

“With my involvement in these projects, I have developed close relationships with a large number of mentors that have served to guide me in career and educational choices,” he says.

Doctor of Philosophy, Health Promotion

Summer 2022

Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, University of Georgia
Master of Public Health, Health Promotion & Behavior, University of Georgia

Jefferson, GA

What research are you passionate about? How did you become involved in your field?

I am passionate about addiction and recovery research, especially in the context of rural and under-served areas. As an undergraduate, I worked as in a small, rural emergency room where I often encountered people struggling with drug and alcohol use. While working in this emergency room, I saw the effects of the opioid epidemic first-hand, and I became especially interested in ways to improve the lives of people who are struggling with substance use disorders.

What exciting projects are you working on? 

Currently, I am working on a couple of exciting projects. My primary research commitment is as a graduate research assistant on a research project funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism with Drs. Jessica Muilenburg and Nate Hansen. This project examines how the places people go and the people they hang out with change as they enter treatment for alcohol and other substance use. Another project I am involved in is with Dr. Tamora Callands involving physiological arousal and stress in pregnant African American women. Both projects use context-aware sampling methods, meaning that they deliver electronic assessments based on external contexts like experiences or other triggers related to the participant. Being involved in cutting edge research using novel sampling methods like these is very exciting to me.

What attracted you to your graduate program at the College of Public Health?

I was attracted to the Health Promotion Ph.D. Program at the College of Public Health because of the research opportunities present at the college and the relationships I have developed with my professors and mentors. I have had the pleasure of participating in several research projects within the College of Public Health (other than those already discussed) throughout my time as a graduate student that both developed my skills as a researcher and meaningfully improved the public’s health. When I first entered the College of Public Health as an MPH student, I was accepted as a graduate research assistant with Dr. Carol Poe and worked with the Traffic Safety Evaluation and Research Group to evaluate traffic safety programs in Georgia. I also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Pamela Orpinas on a project facilitating health and social service access among LatinX people in Athens-Clarke County. Research opportunities abound within the College of Public Health, and I have never lacked for research opportunities throughout my time as a graduate student. With my involvement in these projects, I have developed close relationships with a large number of mentors that have served to guide me in career and educational choices.

What do you consider to be the highlight of your time at the College (so far)?

The highlight of my time within the college so far would be serving on the Public Health Association Student Executive Board. I developed close relationships with several other students on the Executive Board. I also had the opportunity to organize multiple events like cookouts and “field day” (pre-COVID) with other graduate students within the College of Public Health. I also spearheaded the creation of a peer-mentoring program for first-year MPH students that is sustained by the club to present. Through the PHA Executive Board, I met several friends and felt as if I made a positive impact on the experiences of incoming MPH students.

What achievements/awards during your time here are you most proud of?

I have several achievements I am especially proud of. I have been awarded travel scholarships to present original research that I conducted at both the Lifesaver’s National Traffic Safety Conference and the American Public Health Association Annual Conference. I also had the opportunity to publish two articles and multiple conference presentations/talks here at the College of Public Health.

How has the current pandemic impacted your educational experience at UGA and CPH? 

For me, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted my educational experience through the transition to electronic forms of communication like Zoom and Microsoft Teams and the loss of face-to-face time with my colleagues. Prior to the beginning of the pandemic, I spent a great deal of time on campus, either in my office or working face-to-face with other colleagues. When the pandemic began, it was difficult for me to adjust to a changed work environment where I was encouraged to work at home and most communication occurred electronically. However, now, I would say I am used to this change, although I welcome the increasing in-person interaction occurring at the school as we continue to encourage precautions.

Have you worked or begun a project outside of school that you might not have otherwise? 

Yes! I started running! When the pandemic first started up, the only exercise option for me was outside. With the world full of so much uncertainty at that time, I decided it was as good of a time as any to start training for a half-marathon. I ran the St. Jude’s Half Marathon 2019 virtually. I was so proud of myself. It was the farthest I had ever run at one time. This year, I hope to complete the FULL St. Jude’s Marathon in person in December in person in Memphis, TN.

Do you have any external activities that you are passionate about?

I am passionate about spending time with my family and my dog. I am very close to my family. In fact, my entire family lives in the Athens area. I am also recently engaged to an intelligent and beautiful woman that I met at the University of Georgia as an undergraduate, so much of my external activities right now pertain to planning a wedding in a COVID-era. As for my dog, he is me and my fiancé’s whole world. His name is Dudley, and we take him on long walks, hikes, and dog parks any chance we get.

What are your plans beyond graduation?

I hope to complete a post-doctoral program after graduation. I love both the research and mentorship aspects of academia, and I wish to continue a career on an academic career path.

Posted on October 29, 2021.