December 16, 2020 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Sevoyan, a December graduate of the Ph.D. in Epidemiology program, already had extensive training and experience in her native Armenia when she moved to the United States in 2013. A medical degree, Master of Public Health, three-year clinical residency in kidney diseases, and seven years as a monitoring and evaluation specialist with the World Bank’s Health Project Implementation Unit had prepared her well for a career improving health in her homeland. But Sevoyan wanted to do more.
“I wanted to work as a researcher, apply different research methods to improve the quality of the research, and promote evidence-based clinical practice,” she says.
Sevoyan joined the Arnold School’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and spent the next several years amassing knowledge and experience in new epidemiology methods, analytical skills and techniques to use in clinical and public health research. Working with mentors James Hébert, Nansi Boghossian, Marco Geraci and Edward Frongillo, she examined a range of topics (e.g., diet assessment, colon adenoma risk factors, maternal and neonatal outcomes, infant and child growth) and collaborated with researchers at the Yvonne and Schuyler Moore Child Development Research Center and Cancer Prevention and Control Program. She also found mentors in Angela Liese and Jihong Liu, whom she supported as a teaching assistant for graduate-level epidemiology courses, and epidemiology graduate director Linda Hazlett, who provided encouragement and support throughout the program.
I wanted to work as a researcher, apply different research methods to improve the quality of the research, and promote evidence-based clinical practice.
-Maria Sevoyan, Ph.D. in Epidemiology 2020
During her time at UofSC, Sevoyan won a Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity (SPARC) grant from the USC Office of the Vice President for Research and received the Outstanding Doctoral Student Award from her department. In parallel with her Ph.D. program, she completed a Certificate of Graduate Study in Applied Statistics. She has presented numerous scientific posters and published four peer-reviewed papers (with several more in preparation).
Along the way, Sevoyan has developed her own unique research expertise. Broadly, her work aims to improve maternal and perinatal outcomes and understand how to better care for women with pregnancy complications as well as how postnatal growth patterns can influence children’s long-term health outcomes. Findings from this research can benefit populations throughout the world, but she also takes the opportunity to examine health problems (e.g., familial Mediterranean fever) that disproportionately affect individuals in Armenia and other nearby nations.
With support from her dissertation committee (overseen by Boghossian, Geraci, Frongillo and Liu – all of whom challenged and encouraged her), Sevoyan’s final project at UofSC examined three related topics, beginning with a better understanding of how outcomes in the prior pregnancy and interpregnancy interval affect the maternal and perinatal outcomes of the subsequent pregnancy and how infant growth patterns affect child health later in life.
I hope to help my homeland, Armenia, with my research as well as middle- and low-income countries.
-Maria Sevoyan, Ph.D. in Epidemiology 2020
“Obtaining epidemiological and biostatistical knowledge has made me look at the world of clinical medicine in a different and unique way,” Sevoyan says. “I hope to help my homeland, Armenia, with my research as well as middle- and low-income countries.”
Over the next several years, she plans to continue conducting research in the areas of maternal, perinatal and childhood health. Her goal is to obtain a research position at a public health school, working closely with clinical and public health professionals while applying her research skills to develop evidence-based interventions to promote maternal and child health.
“As I reflect on my Ph.D. years at UofSC, I’d like to express my gratitude to all my professors, particularly my dissertation committee members for their feedback, support, and encouragement,” Sevoyan says.