Meet one of our EQUID Students, Katherine Wolf

Taking a break at Fallingwater in Pennsylvania after visiting unconventional oil and gas development sites in Belmont County, Ohio

Taking a break at Fallingwater in Pennsylvania after visiting unconventional oil and gas development sites in Belmont County, Ohio

I am a third-year joint-degree student studying for a Master of Environmental Science (MESc) degree at F&ES and a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Environmental Health Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH).  I also serve on the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Committee at F&ES and as a Graduate Assistant Program Coordinator at the Yale Office of LGBTQ Resources.

Where I was before F&ES:

Although no path to F&ES is typical, mine was perhaps less typical than most.  I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and planned to become a classical musician, studying voice and organ at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.  To prepare to apply to F&ES, I worked a day job at Northwestern University in Chicago assisting a biostatistician and took laboratory science courses at night.  Working full-time while taking a year of biology and organic chemistry with laboratories isn’t something I’d want to do again, but I managed!  I also did an internship at the Environmental Law and Policy Center and some contract work for Elevate Energy in Chicago to demonstrate my commitment to environmental science.

Why a joint degree?

I started at F&ES pursuing an MESc in Dr. Michelle Bell’s laboratory.  At our first advisor meeting, she pointed out that my interest in pollutant exposure disparities was as much a public health interest as an environmental one and recommended that I take Principles of Epidemiology with Linda Niccolai.  After that one course, I was hooked.  I applied to YSPH late in the fall of my first year at F&ES and started taking YSPH coursework in earnest in my second year.  My MESc project investigates potential associations between racial residential segregation and airborne fine particulate matter component levels, whereas my MPH thesis, advised by Dr. Nicole Deziel, investigates the sociodemographic contexts of disposal wells for waste from unconventional oil and gas development.

What I do in my free time:

I don’t have much this year as I try to finish all my MPH coursework and two theses.  The MESc/MPH joint degree route is not necessarily an easy one, particularly given the numerous and relatively strict course requirements at YSPH.  I do feel uniquely prepared to apply to PhD programs in environmental health, though.  In whatever spare time I do have, I help edit a semimonthly newsletter on equity, inclusion, and diversity issues for the F&ES community, and I co-lead the Queer Womxn and Nonbinary Grads group at the Office of LGBTQ Resources with Karis Slattery at Yale Divinity School.  Ultimately, I want Yale to be a place where everyone feels safe and supported.

Katherine Wolf, MESc/MPH Candidate, 2018