Editor’s Note: Over the next week, we will be introducing our new News Team members through posts about recent experiences in health. Today is the first of three.
So, this has been one of the best summers of my life. But I say that (almost) every summer. What has made this one special? My name is Deanna Altomara, and I am a junior majoring in English (with a concentration in Creative Writing) and Human Health. When asked to describe myself, I usually explain that I have two passions: helping others, and writing.
These passions led me to the Scholarship and Service (SAS) program, where I lived in a house with 14 Emory Scholars for a ten-week long adventure in Atlanta. Twice a week, we would engage in discussion and field trips relating to a variety of social justice issues and, for the rest of the week, we each worked at different internships. I spent my internship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helping Sarah Gregory, the Communications Lead for the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.
Emerging Infectious Diseases is one of the world’s premier infectious disease journals, and is driven by a unique, but important, mission. EID is open-access, available online, and completely free. This is a rarity among scientific journals, which often require expensive subscriptions and restrict their articles to certain institutions. But EID was founded in 1995 with the purpose of disseminating cutting-edge research to a diverse audience of epidemiologists, doctors, policymakers, veterinarians, and more—even the public. Unlike other journals, EID is specifically edited to avoid unnecessary jargon and strives to make complex information easily accessible to all. And the journal excels at what it does: it is considered the number one open-access infectious diseases journal.
As a communications intern, I did a lot—but most of my efforts went towards the journal’s podcast. Each podcast features an interview with an expert who has recently been published in the journal, and explains in layperson terms the significance of their work. I combed through the journal articles to design interview questions that got to the heart of the issue, encouraging the experts to explain their experimental designs, thought processes, and personal insights. I drafted and formatted the podcast scripts, and experienced the live recordings in the CDC studio. I even had the chance to record my own podcast, where I interviewed the managing editor, Byron Breedlove, and his co-author, Martin Meltzer, about the essay they had written about the June 2018 cover art, the painting “Kitchen” done by Vincenzo Campi in 1580. On air, we discussed the role of cooking practices in the spread of food-borne illnesses.
One of my favorite tasks was writing the social media posts for the release of each new issue of EID. My posts, which explained the cover art in relation to the overarching theme of each issue (such as food-borne illness, parasitic and tropical diseases, or vector-borne diseases). I love the intersection of these topics, and always looked forward to writing the next post—even if it meant writing about a multi-centimeter African eyeworm right before lunch! Luckily, I love food so much that Loa loa didn’t kill my appetite.
I have so many amazing memories from this summer. I spent hours learning about fascinating diseases and writing about things that interested me. And just as importantly, I spent hours bonding with my peers in SAS, where we stayed up late talking about justice, where we learned to cook more than eggs and hot dogs (or at least, most of us did), where we camped in yurts, and where we explored nature and what it means to be us—just ourselves. Another summer has come and gone. And although I’ll miss it, I know it’s not really over. I’m ecstatic to be continuing my internship into the fall, and have already met up with several of my SAS friends. This sun won’t set on this summer.