Student Profile: Christopher Carr

Christopher Carr developed an interest in the field of disaster epidemiology while working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during 2017’s deadly and costly Atlantic Hurricane season, which included hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Now a doctoral student in the College’s Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Carr is leading research aimed at improving preparedness and resilience for Georgia communities at heightened risk for natural disasters.

Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Bachelor of Science in Biobehavioral Health,Pennsylvania State University
Master of Public Health, Emory University.

May 2024

Doylestown, Pennsylvania

What is your educational and professional background?

I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Biobehavioral Health from Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s in Public Health from Emory University. After graduating, I worked for three years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education fellow. My work there focused primarily on Zika Virus surveillance in the U.S. States, Territories, and Puerto Rico.

What particular area/field of public health are you passionate about? How did you become involved in your field?

I identify as a quantitative social scientist. My research examines population health disparities exacerbated by climate change and structural and behavioral interventions to improve minoritized population health and disaster resilience. I developed an interest in the field of disaster epidemiology while working at CDC during the 2017 Hurricane season, which was particularly devastating.

What exciting projects are you working on? 

I am currently the project director for a study aimed at building climate resilience right here in Athens-Clarke County. The project is a collaboration between UGA, Athens-Clarke County Government, Kennesaw State, and Augusta University. We developed a survey to measure disaster preparedness as well as other constructs such as climate resilience and we are comparing how those improve after participants attend an in-person disaster exercise. The exercise was developed by one of our co-investigators at the Institute for Disaster Management here at UGA. Our goal is for this exercise to be deployed in areas that are at heightened risk for natural disasters to improve preparedness and resilience and reduce negative outcomes.

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

I highly value mentorship. I had the opportunity to connect with my now advisor, Dr. Allan Tate, before joining the program. We had shared interests, and it was obvious that by coming to the College of Public Health I was going to be working under a great mentor that would allow me to gain experience in many different areas of public health and make me a better epidemiologist.

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

The highlight of my time at the college was the period after I finished my coursework and could really focus on the direction of my research. It was exciting to figure out the specifics of my dissertation and work on identifying data that would help me answer my research questions.

What achievements/honors during your time at CPH are you most proud of?

I am most proud of working as a project director on the climate study I mentioned previously. Although it is still ongoing, working in that role required me to learn and apply new skills. It was also an opportunity for me to be a part of a study from the beginning and help may key decisions in the design process.

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

Outside of the program, I enjoy spending quality time with my girlfriend, family and friends, and especially my dog Phoebe.

What are your career plans beyond graduation?

I am keeping my options open. I would go back to work for the federal government but would also consider state government or the private sector.

What are the biggest takeaways from your educational experiences at UGA so far? 

My biggest takeaway from the program so far is that investing in mentorship is key to your success. Surrounding yourself with faculty advisors who support you and will help guide you through your respective program makes all the difference.

Posted September 28, 2023.