Public health major receives undergraduate research award

Public health major receives undergraduate research award

Public health major receives undergraduate research award


Isabell Groves knew she wanted to study public health before she even knew there was a word for it. Growing up on Detroit’s west side, the Wayne State University senior was compelled to combat the health disparities her community faced every day.

Groves originally enrolled as a nursing student at Wayne State, but changed her major when she learned about the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' new bachelor’s of science in public health.

"Public health is such broad yet crucial field," says Groves. "Health disparities affect so many different groups of people. From childhood obesity to pre-term labor in different populations, it’s so important that we identify and address these issues.”

Now a year into the program, Groves has won an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) award for her study on the eating behaviors and physical activity levels of African-American adolescents in metro Detroit. 

Conducting a secondary analysis of data surveyed by former WSU College of Nursing Professor Nutrena Tate for a previous study, Groves discovered that ethnic identity may correlate with the health and fitness habits of African-American youth. For instance, in the group surveyed, many of those who strongly identified with their ethnicity were more likely to choose low-fat foods.

“Each discovery in this project was exciting because I realized it could guide public health practitioners in creating culturally sensitive anti-obesity interventions for African-American youth," says Groves.

She says that while receiving an award for her research was wonderful, the opportunity to discuss her project with the campus community was equally gratifying.

"It felt great to win the UROP award, but talking to the WSU community about my research was even more rewarding. Whether it was because they had children in the community or just identified with my findings, I had several people approach and thank me for the work I was doing."

After graduation, Groves plans to pursue a graduate degree in either nursing or public health while working for a health organization in an urban community. “Inner-city violence isn't just an issue, it's a major health crisis. That's one of the main problems I want to tackle in my career. There are different societal factors that contribute to violence – I want to go beyond the stereotypes and identify the root of the problem.”