Alumni Profile: Matt Chrisman, PhD ’13

A portrait of Matt Chrisman, PhD '13

Current Position
Postdoc Research Associate in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at Texas Tech University

What interested you in Public Health?
I was originally planning to become a personal trainer, but during my time as a Masters student, I realized that I wanted to influence the health more than just a few people. I learned that public health was a way to target the health of everyone.

Why did you choose Iowa?
I wanted to attend a university with a college of public health, and Iowa was one of the closest to my hometown (Kansas City, MO). Attending the UI enabled me to get a quality education and be near my family and friends.

What was your favorite experience in Graduate School?
I enjoyed attending the annual American Public Health Association conferences and presenting my research to a national audience. I plan to continue involvement with APHA.

What piece of advice would you offer prospective students?
Be very open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new cultural practices. The UI offers all of those.

What piece of advice would you offer current students?
Take advantage of every academic opportunity. This includes seminars, webinars, reviewing grants and abstracts, participating in research studies. You never know what you will learn. The UI is very good at offering a multitude of events. Also, take advantage of the classes offered, and get to know your professors.

How does your CBH education manifest itself in your current work?
Everything I did during my dissertation work at UI, I am doing now. For example, I am conducting focus groups to examine health behaviors, writing research papers for publication, designing web surveys, and presenting research at conferences. I am applying the behavior change theories and statistical methods that I learned in classes at UI. I am tailoring research strategies to specific populations, and making sure all materials are culturally relevant. I am basically applying or building on everything I learned during my time in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health.

Anything else you want to share or you think prospective students should know?
Having a passion for public health will make it easier to enjoy working to improve the health of others. Also, if you have never been to Iowa, be prepared for lots of snow.