One Health Supporter
“I became interested in the One Health approach when I was an undergrad and decided to postpone and potentially forgo attending vet school so that I could get my master’s in conservation medicine,” says Madison Evans, VG20 (she/her), an epidemiologist with the state of Delaware’s Division of Public Health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, One Health is a collaborative, global approach to achieve optimal health outcomes by recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.
A native of northern New Jersey, Evans currently resides in Delaware, from which her mother’s family hails. Evans earned a M.A. in biology from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
She planned to go to vet school after graduating, but her liberal arts education revealed other options. “The different topics and perspectives broadened my interests, and I went to [Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at] Tufts [University] because I wanted to further explore some of those topics from a completely different perspective,” Evans shares.
“What attracted me to the Cummings School was its well-roundedness. From different topics to explore, externship options, and amazing speakers, after I arrived there and went through the program, I realized that my expectations were completely exceeded.”
While on campus, Evans forged relationships with the School’s Master’s in Conservation Medicine Director Chris Whittier, V97; Assistant Director Alison Robbins, VG89, V92; and Course Director Jessica Sparks, VG14. “They helped me a lot during my time there and when I graduated, they said so many times that their doors are always open,” says Evans. “And I’ve taken them up on that. They’re willing to provide advice, share ideas, and help with networking.”
“In addition to what I learned, I gained some amazing skills in communication, project management, and grant writing, to name a few, which made me into a well-rounded individual, able to have conversations about important public health and one health issues. That is invaluable in my current field.”
At the Delaware DPH, Evans has worked to help residents through the COVID-19 pandemic. She landed the position in the spring of 2020, while she was still finishing her capstone project at Cummings School.
Since most of her coworkers have a Master of Public Health degree, it took some time to show the value of her degree, according to Evans, “but having a well-rounded team allows us to do some excellent work.”
“It was a crazy experience and a really stressful time when I first started my job,” she explains. “SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was a novel pathogen and we didn’t know exactly how to handle it. We were building new surveillance systems to help monitor the situation and deal with outbreak intervention. I felt like Cummings School prepared me to perform and do well under pressure.”
In her DPH position, Evans worked on contact tracing and provided guidance to schools with a large volume of cases. She transitioned into outbreak investigation, collaborating with employers and universities. “I helped grow that program in the context of COVID. Now that we understand how to address case surges and keep things running smoothly, we have a greater capacity to do data analytics and data visualization. I’ve taught myself SAS (a popular analytics platform) and Power BI (a Microsoft-created interactive data visualization software product) to build on some of the skills I learned at Tufts.”
Since things have become more manageable at work, Evans decided she wants to continue her education and has applied to a few dual degree D.V.M./Ph.D. programs. “This job has been an amazing stepping stone for me,” she explains. “I really love what I do, but I want to take the public health perspective I’ve worked with and bring it into an animal sphere so I can have these really important conversations as a veterinarian.”
Evans’ interest in One Health fuels her drive. “One Health is amazing,” she says. “It’s such a vision and framework and I think it is the future … It requires passionate, well-trained individuals who will bring that mindset to the conversation. I think Cummings School is graduating those types of people and I look forward to seeing them do amazing things.”
Working Toward Impacting the Environment
Cummings School’s M.S. in conservation medicine uses a One Health approach to educate and train students how to make an impact on the environment and ecosystem.
Department:MS in Conservation Medicine