Finding Passion and Purpose in Disaster Epidemiology


TyKeara Mims, PhD student at Texas A&M, current cohort of Bill Anderson Fund.

Texas A&M Health Sciences Center

During the last semester of her undergraduate career at Spelman College, where she was working on a history degree, TyKeara Kims had the chance to meet a public health professional.

While discussing Mim’s future, this person shed light on what public health entails and what she could do with a degree in the field. It didn’t take much conviction for Mims, who was already interested in medicine, to change course.

“She explained to me the big difference I could make and how I could have a meaningful impact on communities compared to direct patient care,†Mims said. “I knew right away that this was an area I needed to go and that it was a wonderful opportunity that would take me away from some of the physics and organic chemistry classes that were stressing me out at the time. I was sure this was the way for me.

Mims set out to earn a master’s degree in community health education at the University of Tennessee. While preparing for her master’s degree, a professor from Texas A&M University School of Public Health was a guest speaker in one of her classes.

The speaker discussed the epidemiology of disasters, the use of traditional epidemiological tools and methods to assess the short and long-term adverse health effects of disasters and emergencies, and predict the consequences of future disasters. .

Again, Mims said she immediately fell in love with the topic and knew it was something she needed to pursue. Upon completion of her masters, Mims served as the Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner’s Fellow for two years before enrolling at Texas A&M to begin her path to a doctorate, which she plans to complete in 2024.

Mims was recently selected as a member of the current cohort of the Bill Anderson Fund (FBA), which was founded in 2014 by Norma Anderson. The mission and vision of the BAF is to increase the number of historically under-represented professionals in the fields of disaster and hazard research and practice so that the diversity of the hazard and disaster field reflects American society.

BAF Fellows are a diverse group of individuals working towards achieving graduate degrees in over 30 disciplines from nearly 20 institutions, which will position them to become the leaders of tomorrow in the areas of risk mitigation. and disaster, research, emergency management and practice.

Texas A&M is one of the BAF’s satellite campuses. Benika Dixon – who was recently appointed Visiting Assistant Professor at Texas A&M and who was named the inaugural School of Public Health for Climate, Equity, and Scholarship (ACES) Fellow – is one of the founding members of BAF.

“It is an organization run by fellows,” Mims said. “The fellows are the people who sit on the committees and we are the ones who make sure that the organization functions and grows. We have students from Texas A&M in architecture and sociology. We are spread throughout the university.

BAF recently hosted its Spring Disaster Workshop. While the event was forced to move to a virtual platform, Texas A&M was the lead university for the event and served as the host. The workshop included presentations by fellows on their research as well as external speakers on various disaster-related topics.

“Having A&M leading this file was incredible,†said Mims. “For that to happen as soon as I became a member of BAF, what are the odds? It means a lot to be a part of this organization and to have hosted the event here at Texas A&M.


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