HHP Undergraduate Research Spotlight - Michael Denning

Michael Denning

Major: Public Health Studies- Pre-health Professions concentration / Masters of Business Administration

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sharon Paynter

Describe your current research project:

The research will assess both new and old recruitment techniques used to obtain an adequate number of participants for the program. Through anecdotal evidence gathered via community engagement activities, such as focus groups, community fairs, and one-on-one interaction with community members at local stores, the Pitt County Health Department determined that recruitment efforts are inadequate. This research will provide evidence to support changes in program design and inform the public health community about effective strategies to recruit at-risk minority community members for participation in public health prevention programs.

Why did you choose this particular topic?

As health disparities continue to plague at-risk communities, it remains pertinent that community-based health initiatives are well populated and administered in an effective and efficient manner. With this research, health departments will have a better sense of effective methods to recruit individuals from at-risk communities, individuals who consistently are more prone to poorer health outcomes and more difficult to attract to health-initiatives. Additionally, this research will assist in decreasing cost, as health departments will know when, where, and what are the best methods of recruitment. Overall, this study will improve the health of individuals and communities by providing data to reach the “unreachable” community members.

What outcomes or impact do you hope your research will accomplish?

As this research project continues, it is pertinent that the data is disseminated, not only to our community partner and other health professionals but also to the individuals within the community.

Do you feel that participating in such research will impact your job placement after graduation? If so, how?

Most definitely!  Before entering college, I held the misconception that research was only theoretical and “bench work,” which does not peak my interest. However, after completing this project, connecting with the community partner in a unique relationship, and producing a tangible outcome with a positive impact, I have determined that research must be a part of my career. As an Early Assurance in Medicine scholar to the Brody School of Medicine, my intentions are to become either a Pediatrician or Pediatric surgeon, two fields filled with research opportunities.

What has been your favorite part of your research?

I enjoyed two major parts: the intricacies and applicability of the research. Research has several intricacies yet much flexibility, which I enjoy. Having to think critically and plan for several scenarios, while also keeping the research goal at the forefront of all decision-making processes is extremely interesting. This need for a rigid foundation and ethical standard mixed with the flexibility associated with the various action steps taken is my favorite part of undergraduate research. I primarily chose this project, due to its real-world applications. As the Health Department is looking for more effective and efficient methods of recruitment, this research project is pertinent to discovering these new methods. Being able to witness the transition and translation of data to program improvements is enlightening.