Dr. Thalia M. Williams, Wisconsin AHEC’s new Outreach Specialist, is passionate about clinical medicine and population health. Thalia received academic trainings in Clinical Research Administration, Educational Leadership and Epidemiology. In 2017, she was named “Actual Living Scientist” by the Milwaukee Area Science Advocates. For 18 months, Dr. Williams served as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public health at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She also continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor at Southern New Hampshire University teaching Epidemiology and at UW-Milwaukee Helen Bader School of Social Welfare teaching social work statistical methods.
Thalia has a combined 19 years of public and university-level teaching experience. She engages in peer and abstract reviewing for Gavin Publishers and the American Public Health Association (APHA) regarding topics of formaldehyde in fiber manufacturing, typhus myocarditis, Cesium-137, and the emergence of the community health workers in chronic disease management and care.
When Dr. Williams was teaching middle science and high school chemistry, she realized that she wanted to take a broader approach to science education. The topics that piqued her interest – the units she taught about adolescent and environmental health – got her thinking about how she could expand beyond her classroom to study population health. This in turn led her to the field of epidemiology, which she explains as gathering data to detail the health status of an entire population of people. For Dr. Williams, studying epidemiology was an opportunity to have a greater impact. Here, she could plan and come up with viable resources to support the health needs of an entire population.
Many individuals consider the doctor or the nurse to be the go-to person when it comes to health; however, social determinants of health outcomes are also critically important to consider, according to Dr. Williams. Prior to completing her doctoral degree in epidemiology, she has conducted focus-group research, as well as observational studies in risky and unfamiliar places. Her doctoral research involved considering depression and neighborhood safety as variables that impact outcomes involving Sexually Transmitted Diseases among adolescents and young adults.
Dr. Williams’ areas of knowledge and expertise are social determinants of health, biostatistics, epidemiology, experiential learning and environmental science education, which lend themselves nicely to the multifaceted nature of the field of Public and Allied Health. She believes that our society is abundant in resources that paves the way to personal achievement in health, wealth and happiness. However, research continues to demonstrate that people across all racial and economic strata are not achieving what science considers as an idealized mind, body and soul that are linked to optimal health and longevity. Warranted is a shift away from the narrow, as a balance between mind, body and spirt is a complicated web. Dr. Williams agrees that epidemiologists, medical practitioners and other important stakeholders have their work cut out for them in establishing appropriate solutions for such vast problems.
“Thalia brings a wealth of experience to the AHEC Program, that will help us better serve the needs of our students and communities,” said Patrick Remington, Professor and Associate Dean at the School of Public Health. “We look forward to collaborating with all our partners, as she continues to develop the AHEC Scholars Program, and helping achieve our goal of a more diverse health and health care workforce in rural and underserved communities in Wisconsin.” Welcome to the team, Thalia!