August 27, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alycia Boutté, a recent graduate of the Ph.D. in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB) program, has joined the communications team at the National Cancer Institute as a postdoctoral Cancer Research Training Award fellow in the Behavioral Research Program. In this role, Boutté is gaining training and professional experience in health communication by promoting the Behavioral Research Program’s research initiatives.
These projects include cancer-related health behaviors (e.g., diet, exercise, energy balance, sun protection), biopsychosocial processes of cancer-related behaviors, tobacco control and health communication research and decision making. A few months into her role, Boutté is already applying what she learned through her doctoral program.
“The Arnold School did an excellent job of preparing me for my career in a variety of ways,” she says. “First, the formal mentorship provided by my advisors Dr. Brie Turner-McGrievy and Dr. Sara Wilcox have been extremely valuable in strengthening my writing skills, project and time management skills, and varied research and presentation opportunities. The Arnold School’s collegial environment allowed for informal mentorship through learning from my peers both within the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, but also from other departments as well.”
Boutté also points to students’ openness toward helping each other reach their goals and the professional development opportunities that she found extremely helpful in putting together job applications and preparing for interviews. Finally, she credits the Arnold School for providing her with opportunities to strengthen her teamwork and collaboration skills, which she uses daily in her role at NCI.
The Louisiana native became interested in public health after completing a clinical psychology research program while earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Xavier University in New Orleans. Boutté’s focus shifted to population-level approaches to disease prevention, and she enrolled in a master of public health program at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
At the Arnold School, Boutté worked with multiple research centers, including the Prevention Research Center’s Health in Pregnancy and Postpartum (HIPP) Study. She won a Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research from the National Institutes of Health, which allowed her to be a graduate trainee on the grant to extend the impact of the project even further.
Boutté’s supplement allowed her to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the HIPP study’s main outcomes by analyzing psychosocial (e.g., stress, depression) and geospatial (i.e., the built environment, such as access to healthy/affordable food) influences on diet quality using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis. In recognition of this and her many other contributions to the field, she won a 2019 Breakthrough Graduate Scholar Award from UofSC’s Office of the Vice President for Research and the HPEB department’s Christopher Peter Aluah Outstanding Doctoral Student Award.
“The Arnold School was a wonderful place to grow personally and professionally,” Boutté says of her time at UofSC. “I was able to develop a variety of marketable skills that prepared me for the next step in my public health career.”