Kacey Ernst, Ph.d, MPH

Dr. Kacey Ernst’s Work Inspires Graduates to Pursue Epidemiology

From chemist to bioterrorism preparedness coordinator, Kacey Ernst went from studying what makes up matter to protecting what matters most – public health.

Now an associate professor for the University of Arizona’s online Master of Public Health program, Dr. Ernst inspires colleagues and students alike with her research in epidemiology that continues to benefit communities. Her current work investigates how social and environmental influences impact how infectious diseases spread.

“I am interested in learning more about the dynamics of vector-borne diseases and how environmental changes influence the transmission patterns,” Dr. Ernst said. “I then apply that knowledge to develop and evaluate community-based strategies that are aimed to be sustainable.”

Disciplined in Tracking Disease

With the university since 2008, Dr. Ernst has seen many master’s in public health graduates move on to successful careers in epidemiology. She has noticed a few that disciplines particularly stand out as providing great opportunities for grads.

“One career trajectory that I think is really promising for epidemiologists is infection control,” Dr. Ernst said. “Several of our graduates have gone on to get jobs as infection control professionals. They absolutely love the challenge of working in the hospitals and ensuring that transmission of infection is detected and controlled.”

Experience Leads to Confidence

Dr. Ernst exemplifies the practical approach that distinguishes the Master of Public Health online for students looking to advance in the field. By sharing her experience, she helps students learn how to solve real-world problems.

“The master’s in public health online is a small program, which means that you don’t get lost in the shuffle,” Dr. Ernst said. “UA faculty takes the time to get to know the students and look out for each of them. We really want each student to have an experience that allows them to come away as a confident public health professional.”