Elise Garton is a master student in Global Health Research at VU Amsterdam.
How did you hear about 510? I specifically searched for a global health internship that was not affiliated with an academic institution as I wanted to be part of a team environment, learn from colleagues with a variety of academic backgrounds, leverage my previous project management experience, and ensure my research had a tangible outcome. These were aggressive criteria for a first-year internship and I was struggling to find something. Luckily, a professor I had emailed about a different project at Erasmus University referred me to 510 and I quickly realised it was a perfect fit!
What project are you currently working on? For my research internship, I am researching the relationship between local governance and dengue incidence in the Philippines as part of the EPI Project. My research will create a governance index that will later be used in the calculation of overall epidemic risk. I have a B.A. in political science, so this topic is a great combination of my previous and current studies.
In addition, I have been supporting the Philippines Red Cross (PRC) as they respond to a measles outbreak. We provide data analysis and visualisation to help PRC can better understand the spread of the epidemic, identify vulnerable areas and people, and conduct more evidence-based response activities.
510’s purpose is ‘Improve speed, quality and cost-effectiveness of humanitarian aid by using data & digital.’ How are your skills helping 510 reach its purpose? With long-term research projects, it can be difficult to see the impact of your skills and work. That’s why I find it so interesting to support PRC during the measles outbreak – I get to use my analysis and communication skills to improve the speed and quality of their response to the epidemic, almost in real-time. So far, we have made maps of the Philippines that show measles incidence and case fatality rate alongside several possible influencing factors, like the population of children under 5 or the vaccination rate. As PRC continues their vaccination campaign and other response activities, we can conduct more detailed analyses to see what is working and what can be improved. Of course, I would prefer if there was no measles outbreak in the Philippines, but it has been a great opportunity for me to experience research away from the classroom.