Get to Know the 2014 Incoming Environmental and Occupational Health DrPh Students

The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program is a rigorous program that aims to educate the next generation of public health leaders and equip them for success at the highest levels of health-related organizations in the United States and abroad.

Every two years, Milken Institute SPH welcomes an incoming class of students pursuing doctoral degrees in Public Health. These students have already completed a MPH degree or other graduate degree and bring to the program a wealth of work experience in the field of public health.

Here are brief biographical sketches of the incoming class of students pursuing a DrPh degree in Environmental and Occupational Health.

Ashley Bieniek-Tobasco

Originally from Temperance, Michigan, Ashley Bieniek-Tobasco says growing up in the Great Lakes region was a major influence in developing her interest in environmental health. Significant contamination in nearby Lake Erie and the Detroit River was a frequent topic of local news and because her family’s home relied on well water, Bieniek-Tobasco says “water quality was something that was brought to mind very early.”  These experiences made her particularly interested in the relationship between the environment and human health.

Bieniek-Tobasco pursued this interest through undergraduate and graduate studies, completing her MPH in Environmental Health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and becoming the first person in her family to pursue a graduate degree. After working at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan as an Environmental Health Intern and then for an international educational consulting firm, Bieniek-Tobasco says she is excited about “the next phase of my environmental health career” as a student at Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Deise Galan

Deise Galan comes to the DrPH program after several years working for the Fairfax County Health Department and more recently the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). In these positions Galan gained experience working on surveillance and control programs for West Nile Virus and Lyme disease.

Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Galan felt privileged to grow up surrounded by an “amazing culture of friendly and caring people” but also witnessed the health challenges and “struggles of those who fight to keep their families safe and healthy.” One of the biggest challenges in Brazil is health, says Galan, citing the many Brazilians who die each year of longstanding infectious diseases such as dengue and influenza.

“Being surrounded by this environment has given me a sense of responsibility, compelling me to ask myself what I can do to help my country, as well as many others around the world that endure the same or even worse conditions,” Galan says. She plans to focus on environmental health problems that transcend national boundaries, such as climate change, indoor air pollution, water-borne, vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. “As a professional in this field you can see firsthand the results of your research, implement life-saving interventions and develop programs that can save millions of lives,” reflects Galan.

Jon Sharp

Jon Sharp joins the DrPH program at Milken Institute SPH with 10 years of experience working for the United States Army as an Environmental and Science and Engineering Officer. “I am proud to have the opportunity to serve my country in a role that I am passionate about,” says Sharp, describing with pride how his work has both helped the Army succeed in its missions and protects the health of U.S. soldiers.

During his career with the Army, he has held a broad range of public health positions including working in the fields of industrial hygiene, public health planning, policy development, and deployment preventive medicine.  Sharp will remain on active duty while he pursues his DrPh, serving in a student status through the Army Medical Departments Long Term Health Education and Training program. 

At Milken Institute SPH, Sharp will continue to focus on his areas of interest: preventing health hazards among deployed soldiers and civilians and working with international military public health partners.