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SPPH Faculty Q&A: Dr. Anne Abbott

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Dr. Anne Abbott, Assistant Professor

What originally encouraged you to teach and work in the public health space?

I wasn’t officially trained in public health until my doctoral program. So, like many folks, I kind of stumbled into the public health world. I continue to work in this space and I love working with students interested in public health because public health isn’t just one thing, it’s many, and everyone can find their niche. It doesn’t matter if the topic you are passionate about is food insecurity, or preventing suicide or improving early childhood education. The public health table is a large one.

I also find it very energizing that our field is, by its very nature, focused on having a large impact and helping many people at once while also focusing on equity.

What brought you to Boise State University?

Several years ago, one of my mentors at the University of Iowa connected me with an adjuncting opportunity in Boise State’s online BA program. Because of that, I discovered that I really love teaching as well as the dedication of the faculty and staff at SPPH so I applied for a faculty position last fall and the rest is history.

I’m really excited to be at a place like SPPH where there is so much energy for increasing the public health workforce and improving public health practice, but there is also this dedication to doing really high quality research. You don’t find too many places that have a good mix of those two things!

What course or topic are you most excited to teach and why?

I love teaching about health communication campaigns, both because I find them fascinating (who doesn’t love Smokey the Bear? McGruff the Crime Dog?) and because it’s one of my main areas of research. Campaigns also usually come with a lot of interesting media and oftentimes evaluation data that students tend to enjoy digging into and are always getting updated, so it’s the opposite of a stale topic area.

I also love to teach about policy because it’s a newer area for most public health folks. Policies aren’t something most people are thinking about in their day to day lives so it’s really fun for me to watch students make the connections between federal, state, or organizational policies and their or others’ health.

What sort of research or project (current or future) are you excited about?

For my dissertation I explored how Sexual Assault Awareness Month functioned on Twitter in terms of who was engaged and what the actual messages shared were. Given that experience, I’m excited to look at awareness months/days for other public health topics and investigate how they operate. This is a very understudied area in public health and mass communication, but awareness months/days are fairly ubiquitous and a lot of entities (e.g., non-profits, health care, government) implement awareness campaigns and could benefit from an expanded knowledge base.

What do you enjoy doing for fun?

I grew up in the Adirondacks in Upstate NY so I love to hike, paddle, and ski. Luckily my partner really enjoys those things as well, and we have a lot of fun doing this kind of stuff together! We also have two dogs (a lab mix and a great dane/pointer mix) that I am irrationally fond of and I love to cook and bake.