Cody Dailey, a doctoral student and UGA IDEAS Trainee in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, has always enjoyed the complexity of biology and the practicality of math and statistics.
He credits the experiences and opportunities provided at the College of Public Health for nurturing his interests in infectious disease epidemiology and inspiring his passion for teaching, fellowship, and scientific collaboration.
Ph.D. in Epidemiology
- B.S. in Biology, French Minor, University of Georgia, 2015
- Master of Public Health, concentrating in both Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Georgia, 2017
What research are you passionate about? How did you become involved in your field?
I find infectious disease epidemiology very interesting. I have always enjoyed the complexity of biology and the practicality of math and statistics. I saw an education and career in epidemiology as a way to combine these interests and have been greatly rewarded in my experiences. Even more so, I enjoy cross-scaling perspectives on infectious diseases, from the molecule to the organism to the population to the world. It is fascinating how everything fits together and interacts. Cross-scaling research is relatively new and I have great hopes for the future.
What attracted you to your graduate program at the College of Public Health?
I inherited “Red and Black” blood and grew up with a love of the University of Georgia. In my senior year of undergrad, I took a couple of public health courses, Fundamentals of Epidemiology and Intermediate Biostatistics for Public Health Sciences. I greatly enjoyed these classes and decided to pursue a Master of Public Health at UGA CPH. During my MPH, I became very interested in infectious disease research and decided to continue with our department in the Ph.D. program. I found CPH and, particularly, the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, very comforting. It is a warm environment filled with ambition that has allowed me to learn many skills and branch out in many aspects of research and collaborations. There is a wealth of experience and opportunity within our department and both are within reach for students who strive for them.
What exciting projects are you working on?
I am currently working on many projects which are all equally exciting.
I am working on a project surveying UGA students about their health behaviors with an emphasis on vaping habits. This is part of a research program within our department called Practice, Research, and Mentorship in Epidemiology (PRIME) created by Dr. José Cordero and Dr. Michael Welton as a way for undergraduate and graduate students to work together in research.
I am also working with researchers in the UGA College of Education on an evaluation of an immunization training program component in collaboration with the Geneva Learning Foundation and the World Health Organization.
In 2018, I joined UGA’s Interdisciplinary Disease Ecology Across Scales (IDEAS) program, a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship offered through the Odum School of Ecology. As part of the IDEAS program requirements, I spent seven months (January-July 2020) in Montpellier, France working as an intern with Dr. Benjamin Roche and the Infectious Diseases and Vectors: Ecology, Genetics, Evolution, and Control (MIVEGEC) research team within the French National Institute of Sustainable Development Research (IRD). The projects that I worked on, still to be finished, are part of the larger Pathogen’s Niche (PANIC) project which, partly, aims to characterize the ecological niche of Plasmodium falciparum (malaria parasite) in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.
Finally, I am working on projects directly related to my own research which essentially explores sources of bias (systematic error) in malaria epidemiology research.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your time at the College (so far)?
I have a passion for teaching. CPH and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics allowed me to discover this passion through teaching assistantships. Moreover, I was given the opportunity to instruct (under the supervision of a professor and alongside a fellow Ph.D. student) the undergraduate Fundamentals of Epidemiology course, the very course which sparked my interest in public health and epidemiology. I found this experience to be truly enriching and enjoyable. Since then, I have had other opportunities to teach and have loved each one. I hope to be able to do it more again in the future.
What achievements/awards during your time here are you most proud of?
Foremost, I am proud of myself for the aforementioned teaching of the undergraduate epidemiology course. Taking a course on for the duration of a semester was challenging as it was rewarding. It gave me a new perspective and respect for professors.
Also, I am proud to be an IDEAS NRT (Interdisciplinary Disease Ecology Across Scales National Science Foundation Research Trainee – a mouthful, I know). Playing a part in this program has been very fulfilling. I have made many friends from other departments who I, very likely, would have never encountered without the IDEAS program. These friends and our classes together have broadened my perspectives on infectious disease research.
I am also proud to have received the Ann & Tipton Golias International Travel Award from my department which helped fund my travels abroad for my internship this past year.
What insights have you gained about the current pandemic as a public health student?
Nowadays, it is fairly easy to see the importance of epidemiology research. With the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Pandemic, we are able to see all important phases of research within short-term timeframes: from the identification of knowledge gaps and research studies/investigation, to the sharing of research results, usage of research (or lack thereof) in data-driven decision-making, and also public digestion of highly specialized research. This pandemic allows us to see all these aspects of research in a matter of weeks/months.
What are your plans after graduation?
Ideally, I would like to find a post-doc position and, eventually, a professorship in epidemiology. But, this specific goal is overshadowed by a more general aspiration to find a close-knit team of researchers – with whom I can work, interact, and develop friendships – who are passionate about science.
Posted on November 11, 2020.