Skip to main content

Patrice M. Hicks, PhD, MPH

Patrice M. Hicks, PhD, MPH

Patrice M. Hicks, PhD, MPH

Currently working as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences with Dr. Maria Woodward and Dr. Paula-Anne Newman-Casey. 

I received my Ph.D. from the Department of Population Health Sciences with an emphasis in Clinical and Translational Epidemiology at the University of Utah in 2021.  My primary research interest is in addressing health disparities in eye health and vision care. 

A brief autobiography

I received my undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Eastern Michigan University. I then went to pursue my Master’s in Public Health from Michigan State University. I knew that I would need to obtain a Ph.D. so that I could conduct the research that I was most passionate about. I was excited to be able to build the skill set that I would need at the University of Utah in the PHS Department. 

Describe your experience in the program

The Clinical and Translational Epidemiology track in the Ph.D. in Population Health Sciences has not only provided me with course work to be a successful researcher, but also has provided informational seminars, a collaborative environment, outstanding mentorship, and translational opportunities to use my skill set. The Ph.D. program set me up for success for the next steps of my career. The Ph.D. program provided me with the tools to be a successful ophthalmic epidemiologist. The connections, courses, and opportunities that the program provided me with the tools needed to successfully be offered a post-doctoral opportunity to continue my training. 

What classes did you take?

In addition to my dissertation work, I also completed coursework in the following areas: Cyber Pedagogy, Grant Writing, Teaching in Higher Education, Research Ethics, Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Seminar I & II, Analysis of Secondary Data Analysis, Clinical Rotations, Implementation Science and Dissemination, Molecular Epidemiology, Social Determinants of Health and Health Inequities, Modern Causal Inference, Statistical Methods for Epidemiology, Clinical Epidemiology, Comparative Health Systems, Survey Methods, and Biostatistics II. 

Describe some of your research experiences

During the first year of my doctoral studies, I worked under the mentorship of Dr. Rachel Hess. The main project I worked on was a Nurse triage study for sore throat and cough. I was able to work on all aspects of the study including writing/submitting the IRB, recruiting participants, data analysis, and manuscript writing. In my last three years of my doctoral studies, I worked under the mentorship of Dr. Meg DeAngelis at the Moran Eye Center. My research focused on blinding eye disease in underserved populations. I was able to work with data focusing on eye disease within the Navajo Nation, The Confederate Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, and a Mayan population from Guatemala. This was the basis for my dissertation “Genetic and Epidemiological risk factors contributing to blinding eye disease within three distinct underserved populations. For my work focusing on eye disease within the Navajo Nation, I received a T32 Vision Research Training grant. I also had the opportunity to write a book chapter for Advances in Vision Research, Volume III entitled “Global Women’s Eye Health: A Genetic Epidemiologic Perspective. 

What did you enjoy most about the program?

I enjoyed the wide array of courses that were offered both by the department but around campus. I liked that I was able to take coursework about my Clinical and Translational Epidemiology focus, but also courses on teaching in higher education and health disparities. I am interested primarily quantitative research but took a survey methods course that I can apply in my post-doc qualitative work. 

What is your next step and how you feel the program prepared you for this?

My next step is a postdoctoral fellowship focusing on health disparities in eye health and vision care at the University of Michigan at the Kellogg Eye Center. Within the Ph.D. program, I took courses with my peers that were also in Biostatistics and Health Systems Innovation Research. This allowed me to learn more about their expertise, as well as be in a collaborative environment. This has prepared me to join a collaborative lab with clinicians and scientists with different expertise. I was also able to be a Teaching Assistant during my last year of the program as well as guest lecturer. This allowed me to gain valuable experience in the classroom, that I hope to apply in the academic setting in the future. 

What advice you have for future students?

I recommend building an outstanding network of people that you can go to, not only for advice but to also celebrate your accomplishments. I truly enjoyed gaining mentors and meeting peers not only within the Population Health Sciences program but across campus. I also recommend applying for every opportunity that you want. Some of my greatest experiences were from additional opportunities that I was able to take part in, in addition to my program including the African American Doctoral Scholars Initiative, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and the Emerging Diversity Scholars Fellowship. If I didn’t take a chance and apply for these opportunities I would have missed out on experiences that truly enhanced my doctoral studies.