Deana Li, MPH

University of Southern California

How have you contributed to one of CDC’s priorities through your ASPPH/CDC Fellowship assignment? Explain what you have done that has “made a difference” at CDC and benefitted public health in the United States.

To contribute to CDC’s strategic priority of securing global health, I had the opportunity to join and assist one of CDC’s many response and prevention efforts. Specifically, I contributed to the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine’s Surveillance team, helping to analyze the quality of contact tracing data collected from passengers entering the United States and developing streamlined data visualization methods to summarize data collected at quarantine stations. These actions aided in determining the impact of government regulation changes that were implemented to prevent the further transmission of infectious diseases into the US.

How will your fellowship experience shape your career?

Due to this fellowship, I have a better, and much more reallife experience and understanding of the multiple facets of public health that you can’t learn from textbooks. From my observations, speaking with other professionals, attending multiple trainings and public health conferences through this fellowship, one unifying theme that has become clear to me is that public health is a team sport; it takes a village to protect the lives of millions. I will take this theme with me wherever I go, knowing that we can make the change we want to see if we work together to tackle whatever issue that threatens public health. Furthermore, this fellowship allowed me to experiment, hone my skills, and determine in what ways do I want to contribute and what aspects of public health interests me the most.

Describe specifically some of the relationships/partnerships you have built through the fellowship and how those relationships have helped/will help you in your career.

I must admit, it has been difficult to truly cultivate the relationships and partnerships I was hoping to in a pandemic where most employees are working remotely. I am looking forward to when the CDC offices open in January to have more network opportunities. Thus far, I have developed two exceptional relationships with my mentor and a previous fellow. They helped me to navigate starting this fellowship at the CDC and continually sought out opportunities for me to continue to learn and grow. There is much that I have learned from them and from my other team members during our weekly meetings. Due to this fellowship, I have been able to start building my network of individuals who I can turn to for their expertise, which is certainly going to be helpful throughout my career. In fact, I met an individual through my time helping on the COVID19 response who is a much more advanced R coder than myself. I have already relied on his expertise to help me with a piece of coding that I have been struggling with.