Student Research

What is health research?
Research is the process of systematically investigating a topic in order to generate new knowledge and discover generalizable insights about the world. Health research takes many forms. Epidemiologists use statistics, spatial analysis, and other data science tools to examine where and why population health problems occur and to test the effectiveness of clinical and public health interventions. Health policy researchers seek to understand the effects of governmental laws, policies, and regulations and organizational practices on population health. Health scientists use laboratory technology to study the biological and environmental contributors to health and disease.

How can UR students get involved in health research?
Professors in many departments at UR have served as research mentors for HS majors and minors. Learn more about these opportunities on the School of Arts & Sciences Student Research website and by communicating directly with potential mentors whose areas of research align with your own interests.

How should HS students prepare for health research?
Health Studies students who are interested in joining an academic-year or summer research team are strongly encouraged to enroll in HS 100 (Health Policy) or HS 101 (Global Health) during their first year at Richmond and take HS 250 (Epidemiology and Health Research Methods) during the fall semester of their second year. Mentors may have additional requirements for members of their research teams, such as the completion of additional coursework or online training on research ethics. Meeting with potential mentors early in your time at UR can help you maximize your participation in meaningful research.

Meet an HS Major

Katie Marchione Picture

Katie Marchione ‘25 is a double major in Biochemistry and Health Studies who has participated in research in both fields.  She spent Summer 2023 working in a chemistry lab on campus as a UR Arts & Sciences Summer Research Fellow, one of the programs under the Richmond Guarantee.  Her work on one-pot enol silane formation-alkylation reactions with Prof. Wade Downey was selected for presentation at the southeast regional meeting of the American Chemical Society.  In the Spring and Fall semesters of that year, she worked with Prof. Kathryn H. Jacobsen, an epidemiologist, on a planetary health education research project.  “I am grateful to have been able to pursue two fields of research,” Marchione said.  “UR provides incredible research opportunities for students who are planning to apply to medical school or graduate programs.”  

Katie’s research with the Department of Health Studies sought to understand how colleges and universities across the United States are teaching about the links between climate change, plastic pollution, biodiversity loss, and other global environmental changes and human health.  Katie systematically searched the websites and academic catalogs of more than 1000 institutions of higher education, extracting information about the graduate degrees, undergraduate majors, minors, certificates, and other programs that focused on the health-environment nexus.  She then worked with other members of the research team to qualitatively code those programs and categorize them.  They found that four key educational models are in use: One Health, which arose from veterinary schools and emphasizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and ecosystem health; climate medicine (or climate change and health), which is popular at medical schools; global environmental public health; and sustainability and health.   

Katie presented her findings at the 2024 annual meeting of the Consortium for Universities in Global Health (CUGH) in Los Angeles, and she coauthored a paper that was published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research.  She was also selected through a competitive process to serve as a 2024 campus ambassador for the Planetary Health Alliance, a nonprofit consortium that raises awareness about the adverse health effects of global environmental change.  “I didn’t expect to be able learn about the process of writing and editing scientific papers as an undergraduate student,” Marchione explained.  “I’m excited to be a published author and to be translating my research into applied public health action through my service with PHA.”