For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

The Dornsife School of Public Health: Going Beyond the Walls of the Classroom

  • Abigail Dixon
Posted on October 22, 2020
Learning and Innovation

Drexel's Dornsife School of Public Health was founded in 1996 on the guiding principle of health as a human right, which remains true to this day. Dornsife is currently ranked number one for Public Health programs in Philadelphia and 19 throughout the United States for graduate school programs by U.S. News & World Report. The school's mission and strong rankings attract students who view health as a social justice issue and work to improve access to health resources for others. For instance, John Marshall, MPH '19, started his own granola bar business, OTbar, with a focus on healthy, natural ingredients. Marshall's company works to fight hunger in Philadelphia by donating ten percent of the company's profits to Philabundance, Philadelphia's largest hunger relief organization.

No matter where you are in your academic journey, Dornsife offers a variety of academic programs to further your education if you are considering a career in public health. These offerings include, but are not limited to, an accelerated BS/MPH degree in Public Health, eleven master's degrees, six doctoral degrees, and a variety of online graduate certificates. Dornsife is made up of four departments and corresponding research centers: Community Health and Prevention, Environmental and Occupational Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Health Management and Policy in order for students to easily to pursue their interests. As an undergraduate in the Dornsife School of Public Health, students can gain six months of work experience in their field prior to graduation through the co-op program. Dornsife students often build their résumé by conducting research or working to improve health conditions on a global scale through the Dornsife Global Development Scholars program.

Dornsife is currently ranked number one for Public Health programs in Philadelphia and 19 throughout the United States for graduate school programs by U.S. News & World Report.

Dornsife students perform impressive and vital research in a wide array of areas. Anna Bostwick, BS '20, MPH '21, for example, conducted her co-op at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, where she researched blood spots with the goal of understanding the cause of autism. Gillian Terlecky, BS '19, completed her co-op at the NASA Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer. Terlecky's role was to support NASA's microgravity disease research to improve health on earth and enhance our knowledge of outer space! Finally, Gi'Anna Sterling-Donaldson, BS '19, worked to advance sickle cell disease research in Jamaica, supervising a team of medical students to guarantee efficient and ethical data collection at the Caribbean Institute for Health Research Tropical Metabolism Research Unit at the University of the West Indies. For Dornsife students who want to co-op abroad, the Dornsife Global Development Scholars program is a great opportunity for those looking to improve health on a global scale. These scholars have worked on projects such as creating access to clean water, bringing awareness to how child marriages could increase the risk of maternal mortality in young mothers, and teaching girls how to make disposable sanitary pads from available materials as well as proper hygienic care of the materials.

Dornsife's faculty are closely linked to the field through practice and innovation that benefits the surrounding community. Stephen Lankenau, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, for instance, created Unity Philly, which is a mobile application that aims to prevent opioid overdose deaths. The app connects a bystander witnessing an overdose with someone nearby who is carrying naloxone, an overdose reversal medication. Doctoral candidates and a postdoctoral research fellow at Drexel have contributed to Lankenau's research team for this project. Professor Mariana Chilton created the Building Wealth and Health Network, a program that teaches women who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) how to save money and understand finance with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty. The program also helps participants address trauma, violence, and severe adversity to improve their all-around health as well as academic and professional success. The program is run by Drexel's Center for Hunger-free Communities. In regards to COVID-19, Dornsife professors continue to share their expertise with the Philadelphia community from safety practices while shopping to best practices on how to safely deliver something to a loved one during the pandemic and even mask etiquette.

Jennifer Kolker, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice for the Dornsife School of Public Health, illustrated the school's role in the community saying, "we don't keep our work within the walls of the school of public health." Whether you are interested in researching first responders' mental health during the pandemic, why people choose to consume certain beverages, or creating the next nutritional product — Dornsife's faculty and staff are enthusiastic about helping you achieve those goals and share them with the local and global community. Thomas Farley, Health Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia, says of Drexel, "We particularly value Drexel's focus on urban health and health disparities and doing research that is really relevant to the programs that we are putting in place." Regardless of what path you choose to take through the Dornsife School of Public Health, you can be confident that your journey will not only impact you but surrounding communities as well.


Abigail Dixon is an Admissions Counselor at Drexel. When not in the office, she loves cooking different vegetarian recipes for her friends and family, traveling to new places, and listening to country music.

Abigail Dixon

Abigail Dixon
Posted in Abigail Dixon