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Student Spotlight Emily Robinson

Public health career aspirations broadened thanks to One Health

Headshot of Emily Robinson standing in front of pumpkins.

There’s nothing like a pandemic to turn public health into a front-page topic. A relatively new discipline to many of us, Master’s student Emily Robinson has been interested in it since high school.

With an undergraduate degree in microbiology, Robinson has always been fascinated by human health and disease. But as she’s learning in her graduate program, public health as a field is evolving and broadening its scope to consider animal and environmental health as well.

Public health serves as an excellent example of where One Health – that is, the recognition that animal, human, and environmental health are interconnected – is being put into practice and is on full display in Robinson’s graduate work.

Pursing a Master’s in Epidemiology, Robinson has been studying the spread of black-legged ticks in Ontario. As these ticks are the source of Lyme disease infection in people, it’s an important public health issue, but it’s also an issue of animal and environmental health. So, Robinson has been looking at multiple factors that may be influencing their spread, such as climate change, wildlife distribution and habitat loss.

Though Robinson isn’t completing a degree specifically in public health, she has gained a deeper understanding of the complexity of disease and disease spread, which will only benefit her in a health-related career.

She credits One Health for this, saying, “[it] has enhanced what I want to get out of my future career.”

Robinson also praises One Health for its collaborative nature. As a student also enrolled in the Collaborative Specialization in One Health, she regularly engages with others in the specialization, learning about their disciplines and getting to see first-hand how One Health can be applied to various projects and health issues.

The One Health Collaborative Specialization has allowed Robinson to view the interconnections between each pillar of health and consider perspectives she’s wouldn’t necessarily have noticed before.

“I have a greater appreciation for disciplines outside of my own because of One Health,” Robinson says.

Photograph of Emily Robinson working at her computer.

She also feels that One Health has taught her that she doesn’t need to be an expert in every topic to incorporate it into her research. The Collaborative Specialization has given her skills to recognize when and how to best collaborate.

Whichever specific area of public health Robinson works in, she’s confident that she will apply what she’s learned from the Collaborative Specialization to the health problems she is tackling there.

“I hope to use One Health to work with others to fight a health issue together,” says Robinson, “rather than fighting it alone.”


Update: Emily Robinson graduated with her M.Sc. in 2021.

Article by Anna McMenemy

Listen to Master’s student Emily Robinson discuss what One Health has taught her:

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