Meet Drew A. Westmoreland, Bixby Doctoral Fellow 2017-18

As a native South Carolinian, I received my Bachelor of Science from Clemson University and Master of Science in Public Health from the University of South Carolina. Originally planning to be an artist, I transitioned to public health sciences during my undergraduate studies ultimately deciding that I wanted to spend my career helping people improve their health. After my master’s training in epidemiology, I moved to Los Angeles to continue my studies in epidemiology at UCLA becoming the second Westmoreland in my family to make the transition to the West Coast. My research interests in infectious diseases, specifically STDs and sexual risk behaviors, led me to UCLA’s Department of Epidemiology where I have continued to develop these research interests and skills.

My time at UCLA has been spent in academic pursuits and a hodge-podge of different jobs and service positions. I’ve worked as a data collector and analyst on several studies for HIV, HPV, and other STD testing, education, and prevention; spent six quarters as a Teaching Assistant in various epidemiology and social network courses, and worked as a Graduate Writing Center Writing Consultant. Outside of these academic pursuits, I have been an ambassador for the Department of Epidemiology, a member of the UCLA Graduate Student Orientation Day Planning Committee, the Chair of Doctoral Affairs for the Epidemiology Student Association, and an advisor for my sorority’s chapter at UCLA. Most recently, I took a position as the 2018 Thinking Gender Conference Coordinator organizing a Graduate Student Research Conference and Art Exhibition focusing on health and gender.

I rekindled my interests in reproductive health and justice while I was completing the UCLA CARE program certificate training. I first developed an interest in reproductive health when I worked as a facilitator of a sexual health education intervention for military trainees at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. My renewal of this interest led me to seek out fellowship and training opportunities in reproductive health and, ultimately, the Bixby Doctoral Fellowship. As an epidemiologist who has sought out interdisciplinary training in social network analysis, I viewed the Bixby Doctoral Fellowship as an excellent opportunity to incorporate population-based methods and perspectives into my research by learning from seminar presenters and visiting lecturers. These experiences have helped to introduce me to demography-based research questions and methods, and to strengthen my interdisciplinary research literacy and communication skills.

Outside of my studies and work at UCLA, I enjoy continuing my artistic pursuits, going to Los Angeles-area art and science museums, watching far too much TV with my cat, reading fiction, cheering on my Clemson Tigers, and traveling back home to visit the farm in South Carolina.