University of Washington School of Public Health

UW SPH News: SPH Endowed Fellow: Maayan Simckes

SPH Endowed Fellow: Maayan Simckes



Area of study: Epidemiology
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Maayan Simckes fell in love with public health at 16, when she traveled to a small mining town in the Peruvian Andes as an environmental sampler for a lead exposure study. Since then, the PhD candidate has been devoted to public health efforts with real-time impact on community health and resilience.

“Public health is the glue that binds together disparate fields striving to improve the world in which we live,” Simckes said. “In my own work, I see how public health can provide a lens that encourages collaboration and unity, even in the face of challenging political or social discourse.”

In her dissertation, she is exploring the “militarization” of law enforcement and its potential association with lethal use of force. She hopes her work on this timely issue will encourage more collaboration between public health and law enforcement agencies – moving us towards healthier and safer communities.

In an independent study with Associate Professor Ali Rowhani-Rahbar (PhD ‘09), Simckes discovered a group of highly vulnerable youth who report both access to loaded guns and being bullied. The findings, which indicate opportunities for intervention, received national media attention, including by Newsweek and Reuters. Simckes has worked with the Student Epidemic Action Leaders (SEAL) Team, which prepares graduate students as budding “disease detectives.” She also takes part in her department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Curriculum committees.

Learn more about Maayan Simckes in a Q&A.

If you are interested in supporting future SPH Endowed Fellows, please contact SPH Advancement at