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Benika Dixon

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About Benika

Doctor of Public Health
Epidemiology and Biostatistics


Hometown: Connecticut
Class: 2020
Undergraduate Major: Chemistry
Professional Interests: Hazards/Disasters, Environmental Exposure, Epidemiology Community Engagement, Environmental Justice
Campus Involvement: William Averette Anderson Fund, EpiAssist, Graduate Teaching Consultant

Why did you choose Texas A&M Public Health?

Witnessing the extensive human impacts of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and after serving as a public health emergency planner during the Freddy Gray Riots in Baltimore, I was inspired to further pursue a career in disaster and environmental epidemiology. I believe it is my responsibility to have a seat at the table to bring a diverse perspective and to advocate on behalf of individuals that come from low-income, minority populations. These communities, which are most vulnerable to hazards/disasters, need to know that there are people ready to work for and with them.

Prior to attending Texas A&M School of Public Health, I assisted in the development of the Emergency Response Team at Morgan State University, as well as worked with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to develop the HBCU Emergency Management Consortium. I am also a Founding Fellow of the Bill Anderson Fund, a fellowship developed for doctoral students to expand the number of historically underrepresented professionals in the field of disaster and hazard research and practice.

I came to the School of Public Health because the faculty members were conducting noteworthy research in the areas of hazard/disaster and environmental epidemiology. I am currently working with Dr. Garett Sansom on a few environmental exposure-based research projects. My dissertation research focuses on the health and environmental risk perceptions of residential exposure to creosote, a liquid mixture of chemicals used in the process of wood preservation and a probable human carcinogen. I also worked with faculty at the School of Public Health to develop the Aggie MPH Core Curriculum. I was able to use my experience as a public health practitioner to assistant in the development of curriculum that will help to prepare students for the complex problems they may face in the public health workforce.

I am thankful that I can combine my experience as a public health practitioner and knowledge gained from the school to address the health impacts communities face when hazards and disasters strike.