Summer 2023 NIDA Interns

The Department of Epidemiology congratulates two NIDA Scholars for completing their internships at the University of Florida. Dr. Cottler’s lab has hosted NIDA’s Summer Research Internship Program for 18 years, while Dr. Catalina Lopez-Quintero’s lab has hosted it for the second time. Out of 300 applications, Reuben Saunders and Azadi Mathew Lewis were selected for this competitive 8-week internship.

Reuben Saunders

Washington University in St Louis 

Dr. Linda Cottler 

Presentation: Naloxone Administration Trends from a Descriptive Epidemiological Viewpoint

What inspired you to study epidemiology?  

I was inspired to study epi from my own experiences (like growing up in a bad area with lots of violence and substance abuse) and how changes in my environment (moving neighborhoods and transferring districts) changed my life’s outlook for the better. I chose UF particularly after learning about Dr. Cottler’s research, with her work focusing on psychiatric epidemiology connected to my desired career path in psychiatry.

What are you most excited about when it comes to your future career in epidemiology?

In the future, I’m really interested in implementing epidemiology in a healthcare setting. Specifically, I want to evaluate patients holistically (taking factors like community demographics into account) and believe a strong foundation in this field builds these critical thinking skills.

What is the most surprising aspect of your internship at the Department of Epidemiology? 

I’ve been really surprised about how helpful everyone in the lab has been, especially the Ph.D. students that have taken time out of their busy schedules to give me advice for writing papers, transitioning to college, and even just to talk about life in general. While interning and gaining my first research experience at UF, I’ve learned that the whole investigative process is very dependent on grants/funding and can be really time exhaustive, but the work done here is really meaningful and makes an actual impact on public health both locally and nationally, so the most important driver behind any efforts is pursuing something you’re truly passionate about.

Azadi Mathew Lewis

Hampton University

Dr. Catalina Lopez-Quintero

Presentation Title: Examining the Associations Between the Dimensions of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Alcohol Use Outcomes

What inspired you to study epidemiology? As an aspiring clinical psychologist who particularly wants to work with youth, I aimed to take part in a summer internship that would allow me to understand the people I plan to work with in the future. With a better understanding of various aspects of epidemiology, such as substance use among adolescents, I can better know how I can help them in the future.

What made you choose UF? This summer, I really wanted to explore parts of the country I had not experienced before. Growing up in Chicago and going to school in Hampton, Virginia, has only given me exposure to those parts of the country for the most part. On top of UF being in a new environment, I was impressed by the prior research the epidemiology department had done, which encouraged me to want to study here for the summer.

What is the most surprising aspect of your internship at the Department of Epidemiology? I was most surprised at how vast the field of epidemiology is and how much can be researched. Between the research that has already been done and all the research that has yet to be done, I was invested in focusing on topics regarding adolescents, and I was surprised at how many different topics there were regarding this.

What is something you learned about interning at UF? Interning at UF really helped me solidify my plan for post-graduation. Going into my senior year of college, I realized that college days swiftly pass and that going into the real world is approaching quickly. Under the direction of my mentor and supervisors, though, I have learned a lot about post-graduation opportunities for people aspiring to go into my field, as well as many tips and keys to success for entering graduate school in the clinical psychology field. I say all this to say, one of the key aspects of interning is the network that you can gain from it and actually maintaining that connection with them. I’m fortunate to have been paired with a great mentor and supervisor who have expressed their support in my future endeavors and plan to ensure that I achieve my future goals!