Student Profile: Megan Bramlett

Megan Bramlett, a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, is one of the faculty, students and staff playing a big part in the UGA College of Public Health’s efforts to help our local community understand and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Megan’s areas of interest are in data-driven policy advocacy, with an emphasis on health equity and justice, and information accessibility for all. She continues to lend her research talents to a number of projects across UGA, including the Athens Wellbeing Project, led by her CPH faculty advisor Dr. Grace Bagwell Adams, and UGA’s ongoing evaluation of Georgia’s Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Epidemiology

Master of Public Health (MPH), Health Policy and Management, College of Public Health, University of Georgia
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), University of Illinois at Chicago

How have you supported the College’s effort to provide data-driven information to our local elected officials and community leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic?

I am part of a team of faculty and students who have worked to produce a report modeling the trajectory of COVID-19 in our health service area (a 17-county region that our local hospital systems serve) for our two primary hospitals, St. Mary’s and Piedmont Athens Regional. We are currently in the process of producing a similar report for southwest Georgia. I also worked with Dr. Bagwell Adams to produce a presentation for Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz and the Athens-Clarke County Commission.

How have you contributed your time and expertise to the COVID-19 response, whether at CPH, UGA, Athens, or elsewhere?

I contributed to the addition of a specific COVID-19 section to the Athens Wellbeing Project website with data and resources. After seeing a LOT of unsourced statements going around online, I created viewable spreadsheets with a collection of local, state, and national data and listed links to sources so people can more easily – and hopefully more often – verify and understand what they were seeing/posting. They have been accessed by a number of people, near and far.

Do you feel like your response work is making a difference? How does it make you feel to know you’re contributing to CPH’s efforts in such a major way?

Contributing to CPH’s COVID-19 response effort has been a profound experience for me. Having some power to make a difference, no matter how big or small, has helped me process this situation, for which I (and most) have no relevant coping skills.

No one could have anticipated the impact of this pandemic. How has it affected you personally and professionally?

Professionally, this experience has reaffirmed my passion for epidemiology and data-driven policy work. I have always felt very proud of and connected to the College. The opportunity to put the skills I’ve learned into practice has been invaluable. While it is undeniably tragic it has happened under these circumstances, I am so glad more people are engaging in a dialogue about how we care for one another – politicians and journalists are referencing the social determinants of health, data scientists are getting thousands of retweets.

Personally, every day I am increasingly grateful for my health and for my community – Athens and UGA have made immeasurably proud. I have also taken more time to (virtually) connect with family and friends. I worry a lot – about my parents and grandparents; about the way this is disproportionately impacting already vulnerable groups, such as racial minorities, homeless people, and older adults; about people without access to reliable (or any) internet, who may be receiving information delays; about anyone who is feeling scared or isolated or like they don’t have any control.

Posted on April 20, 2021.