New Crew 2018

We're delighted to welcome our new cohort of PHP fellows: Sampada Nandyala, Chrissy Packtor, and Erin Polka! Executive Editor Michael Stein and Associate Editor Jennifer Beard also join the PHP team.

Chrissy Packtor, Erin Polka, Michael Stein, Sampada Nandyala, Jen Beard

Read Time: 5 minutes


We are beginning 2018 with a new Associate Editor, Dr. Jennifer Beard, three new writing Fellows, Sampada Nandyala, Chrissy Packtor, and Erin Polka (introduced below), and with continuing gratitude to our growing number of readers. It’s an honor to start this second year of publication, posting a new piece of Public Health every day with a weekly wrap-up on Fridays, at a moment when the U.S. has seen two consecutive years of declining life expectancy and our nation’s health is increasingly endangered. We plan to expand our stories, research, viewpoints, interviews, and databytes in ways that surprise you and keep your attention on the important ideas and solutions that can make us all healthier.  —Michael Stein, MD, Executive Editor

I am delighted to be joining the Public Health Post team in the role of associate editor because I believe passionately in our mission to provide a forum for stimulating, evidence-based conversations about topics critical to the health of all. PHP’s guiding metaphor has been an ongoing dinner party featuring fascinating guests and whip-smart graduate students talking about everything under the public health sun: from safe injection facilities to self-care when reporting difficult stories, preventing sexually transmitted infections in Detroit, and health care professionals who participate in torture. A key theme running through this conversation is how we translate and communicate the science and ethos of public health into policy and practice. What background knowledge should we assume our audience to have? What words do we use? How do we define those words? And what, for that matter, do we mean by “public health.”

These are questions I am eager to debate during our editorial meetings and in the articles we publish in 2018. I come to PHP as a faculty member in a Department of Global Health by way (a long time ago) of a PhD program in English literature followed several years later by a master’s degree in public health. I’ve been teaching writing in one form or another since 1991 and doing my best to train public health students to write clear, succinct, arguments grounded in evidence for over a decade. I find the topic of how we talk about what we do with one another and the rest of the world to be endlessly fascinating and critically important. Over the next year, I plan to explore these topics and encourage our readers to contribute your thoughts on public health language, communication, writing, etc. Are you interested in the language of public health and the ways in which we communicate? Please share your ideas with me at

I will kick off the conversation tomorrow, by returning to a question David Jones posed in our first week of publication with some thoughts on the definition of “public health. —Jen Beard, Associate Editor

Public Health Post Fellows 2018

Sampada Nandyala is an MPH candidate at BUSPH studying epidemiology and infectious diseases. She received her BS in public health with a certificate in Public Health Management from Rutgers University’s Edward Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. She was a Scientific Strategy Intern at the healthcare marketing agency McCann Echo, Public Policy Intern at Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, and Sustainability and Community Development Intern at Greener by Design. She wrote weekly articles as an intern for College Fashionista for two years.

Chrissy Packtor is an MPH candidate at BUSPH studying health communication & promotion and sex, sexuality, and gender. She received her BS in biology and psychology from West Virginia University with a minor in women’s and gender studies, graduating Magna Cum Laude with University Honors.  She was the Outreach and Communications intern for West Virginia Focus: Reproductive Education and Equality (WV FREE), Public Affairs Intern for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, and the President and Social Media Chair of WVU Students for Reproductive Justice.

Erin Polka is an MPH candidate at BUSPH studying biostatistics and epidemiology. She received her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She works as a research assistant at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, and was an an Agricultural Extension Officer for the Peace Corps in Tanzania where she worked alongside community members on grassroots agricultural and health projects. She received a grant from the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief and is fluent in Swahili.

Feature image: left to right: Chrissy Packtor, Erin Polka, Michael Stein, Sampada Nandyala, Jen Beard. Photo: Michael Saunders.