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Arnold School of Public Health

Master of Public Health in Epidemiology graduate builds expertise in infectious diseases

April  24, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

Columbia, South Carolina native, Brianna Tennie, has been interested in science and health for as long as she can remember. “Even when I was little, I loved to watch medical and health shows on Discovery Channel,” she says.

Tennie’s high school teachers helped strengthen her knowledge and love of science, and she became interested in public health when she took a public health microbiology course as an undergraduate at Clemson University. The genetics major enjoyed learning about different diseases, outbreak investigations and other areas of epidemiology and decided to pursue a graduate degree in the field.

The Arnold School’s reputation for offering strong public health programs and UofSC’s proximity to family made the Master of Public Health in Epidemiology program the perfect fit. In addition to tutoring undergraduate students in biology and statistics, Tennie conducted research alongside epidemiology assistant professor and infectious disease expert Melissa Nolan.

As Nolan’s research assistant, Tennie helped examine the clinical and molecular epidemiology of Klebsiella infectious in the Upstate. Together, they are working on two manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed journals with Tennie serving as lead author. For her practicum project, Tennie interviewed community stakeholders in Greenville, South Carolina about the opioid crisis.

“Dr. Nolan has been my mentor and has influenced me greatly,” Tennie says. “She has helped me immensely in a lot of areas and has continuously guided me. I am very appreciative and thankful for everything that she has done for me.”

On the cusp of completing her program, Tennie has successfully built her knowledge and skills in infectious diseases and clinical epidemiology. She had interests in these areas prior to her program but developed her expertise as a result of her academic coursework and research/practicum experiences. 

“Public health is a broad and exciting field that allows you to explore many opportunities,” Tennie says. “When I came into the program, I did not know what I wanted to do in epidemiology, but over time my classes and experiences have allowed me to gain a much clearer picture of what I want to do.”

After graduating in May, Tennie will pursue a position as a data analyst. Long term, she hopes to use her degree to conduct research and contribute to outbreak investigations.

“I enjoyed my time in the program and gaining the experiences and knowledge that I did while being at UofSC,” Tennie says. “I know the things that I have learned from this program will continuously help me in the future. I am thankful and appreciative for the friends that I have made here and for everyone in the program who has helped me in some way.”


Growing expertise in infectious diseases engages students in epidemiology and biostatistics

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