Wednesday, November 9, 2016

URSP Student Ashley Plaster Studies the Zika Virus

My name is Ashley Plaster and I am an undergraduate senior majoring in Neuroscience, and minoring in public health and biology. My project currently is investigating the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors George Mason undergraduates have towards Zika virus. I was eager partake in this project because it pertains to infectious disease epidemiology, a field I am determined to go into after graduating.

What interests me the most about epidemiology is that I am able to help many communities at one time, in comparison to individualized patient care. In 2015, I was referred to Dr. Julia Painter, an assistant professor at George Mason. She is a hard-working, and kind faculty member for George Mason’s Global and Community Health department. She currently partakes in many side projects at the university, including the Zika virus project. Together, we developed a survey, and are now currently working on interpreting the findings.

Each answer per question was given a statistical percentage using SPSS, and then categorized into two groups, health majors and non-health majors. Unfortunately, the survey displayed a disproportional participation rate of women and Health majors to its comparison. To combat this, a standardization is being created using excel. By doing this, the data set will mathematically predict the results that would have been shown if the survey was taken by all undergraduates at the University in Fairfax, spring 2016. During this term, I have discovered that there is a significant difference in knowledge and perceived threat between Health majors and non-health majors towards Zika virus. I look forward to dissecting these findings in more depth as the semester continues.

I hope that with the information provided from this survey intervention programs can possibly be instituted at George Mason, as well as encourage other universities to do the same.