Brian Seavey, MPH '09

Enlisting public–health skills to help a global region in need

As a “military brat”, Brian Seavey, M.P.H. ’09, grew up on three continents. As a conscientious global citizen, he spent time working to improve lives on yet another.

Seavey graduated the University of Virginia in 2004 with a degree in chemical engineering. But an impulse to “move out of the lab’ and work with populations in developing countries attracted him to the Peace Corps. He served in Mali for two years as a small enterprise development volunteer, promoting literacy and finance education. While there, he witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by malaria.

Seavey decided to use his scientific training to help a country he “fell in love with,” and Yale’s strength in malaria research made it a natural fit. His coursework in Epidemiology of Microbial Disease yielded insight into various illnesses plaguing West Africa, including tuberculosis and HIV.

Thanks to a Curtis D. Heaney Fellowship, Seavey returned last summer to West Africa—this time, Senegal—to conduct a public–health needs assessment with local officials for the Millennium Cities Initiative, a program of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “Because of my foundation in public health, I felt I could evaluate the situation better to pinpoint weaknesses in the health system,” he says. “Financial aid made it feasible for me to learn these skills and then apply them to help the people of West Africa.”