Student Spotlight: Sam Andritsch

By | September 20, 2021

This week we caught up with Public Health major and Geoinformatics minor, Sam Andritsch! Sam and her mentor, Dr. Brian Bossak, received a SURF 2021 grant to explore the spatial correlation between COVID-19 mortality and fine particulate matter concentrations in the United States. “Using Excel maps we were able to determine clusters of counties with respectively high COVID-19 mortality rates and high fine particulate matter concentrations. This finding will lead to further investigation into the Social Determinant of Health and/or geographical features that contribute to this positive association between the variables” Sam told us.

“From the results of the project specifically, I want people to understand the close relationship that exists between the environment and human health. It is not enough to just focus on human health, we need to take an interdisciplinary approach if we ever want to stop and prevent health crises like COVID-19.” Sam hopes readers will understand the importance of intersectionality when discussing environmental health.

Sam told us that “One of my favorite memories of this project was right after I ran some of the first correlation analyses in SPSS. This was the first time I saw that there was a significant positive correlation between COVID-19 mortality and fine particulate matter concentrations. It was so validating to see our hypothesis supported with analysis from our own work. I gained a wealth of knowledge from this experience. The technical Excel and statistical analysis skills have already set me apart from my peers in classes this semester. However, the most valuable skill set I acquired were the skills needed to prepare and propose a manuscript. This is something I fully anticipate to continue doing throughout my career, and this initial experience with Dr. Bossak as my mentor has been invaluable.”

Attached are some results from Sam’s project. Thank you to Sam for sharing your SURF 2021 experience!

Average Daily PM2.5 by County

COVID-19 Mortality by County


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