Samantha is a second-year medical student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and grew up in the Bay Area of California. Following her undergraduate degree in Microbiology at University of California at Santa Barbara, she earned an MSPH in Tropical Medicine from Tulane University. During her MSPH, she became passionate about the research of vector-borne diseases and subsequently spent two years in research at the NIH in Maryland working on a Phase I vaccine trial targeting arboviruses. In medical school, she is a founding member and Patient Relations Coordinator of Miami Street Medicine, a student-run clinic works with existing community partners to bring medical and non-medical support directly to people experiencing homelessness in Miami. Furthermore, as a member of the executive board of the Ultrasound Interest Group, Samantha is interested in promoting the use of point-of-care ultrasound by providers in austere and rural environments. In her spare time, she is a long-distance runner and has so far competed in eight marathons. She is an avid outdoors enthusiast and spends any free moment, any season, adventuring in the mountains or the ocean.
Seroprevalence of Zika Virus Infection in a Pediatric Cohort in Cambodia
Kampong Speu District Referral Hospital
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
Conducting benchside tropical medicine research from the United States for several years prior to medical school, the Kean Fellowship gives me the opportunity to work face-to-face with the people, communities and diseases that I have only interacted with through email or samples sent to the lab. The Kean Fellowship will allow me to make meaningful connections with the people and culture of Cambodia during my research experience.
What do you anticipate learning?
I look forward to stepping out from behind the scenes of tropical disease research. I have always enjoyed laboratory work from the comforts of a university or government-based lab and I am excited to confront the challenges intrinsic to low-resource environments and to learn from the local technicians. I hope to understand clinical study implementation and sample collection in a rural, tropical area, and to observe the clinical care of dengue fever in both a city hospital and rural clinic. Because the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed my travel dates until after my core clinical rotations, I will have a richer understanding of U.S. medical practices to serve as a comparison. I will gain practical and transferable data analysis skills while contributing to a study that will elucidate the complex interactions between host immunity, mosquito saliva and arboviral pathogens.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
I was first introduced to the fascinating life cycles and elusive nature of parasites in an undergraduate parasitology course taught by Dr. Armand Kuris at UC Santa Barbara. Through subsequent experiences, I remained interested in tropical medicine as it brings together physiology, culture, policy and an interplay between humans, animals, and the environment. Tropical medicine requires a researcher to exhibit flexibility and humility as they learn the right approach from the community in which they work. As a physician, I would like to address the unique health concerns of migrant, immigrant, and housing-insecure families as related to infectious causes, including disrupted vaccination schedules. I will stay engaged in clinical research and education of global tropical disease, as to promote the recognition of these infections even in the diverse population within our borders. I would also like to work abroad with medical organizations that focus on supporting sustainable health infrastructure and education.