University of Washington School of Public Health

Graduate Student Profile


Katie Reynolds

MPH student, Health Services
Hometown: Northbrook, Illinois

Why did you choose UW?

I had been living in Seattle for seven years before I decided on the University of Washington. UW’s reputation for having an outstanding School of Public Health made it an easy choice. I feel incredibly lucky that UW was already in my backyard.

Why did you choose Health Services?

Because I knew it would give me a well-rounded approach for how to address public health issues.

What motivates you about public health?

It allows a systems-based approach to tackling health disparities. My prior jobs have been meaningful but, at times, felt like Band-Aid efforts. I was excited to finally gain public health skills that would allow me to play a part in addressing upstream determinants of health.

What are your research interests?

I am particularly interested in maternal health in low-resource settings.

What will you be doing as a Walter A. Remak Scholar?

A team of clinicians, engineers and scientists from the University of California, San Francisco has developed the Smart Diaphragm, a device aimed at detecting whether a woman is at risk of preterm birth. This summer I’ll help conduct interviews with local stakeholders in the communities surrounding Durban, South Africa. We will explore women’s attitudes and willingness to wear the device during pregnancy, the cultural beliefs surrounding preterm birth, and the area-specific barriers for implementing a device like the Smart Diaphragm.

Tell us more about the Smart Diaphragm.

Preterm birth is the leading cause of infant mortality worldwide. Often by the time we know a woman is going into preterm labor, there is not much that can be done to halt it. The Smart Diaphragm is designed to determine whether a pregnant woman is at high risk for preterm labor days or possibly even weeks before any labor contractions by detecting microscopic changes in the cervix. This could open up an earlier window for intervention and have far-reaching health impacts for mothers and babies. 

Do you have any extracurricular activities or jobs?

I recently started as a Research Assistant at VillageReach, an organization working in low-resource environments whose mission is to save lives and improve health by increasing access to quality healthcare for the most underserved communities. School, work, playing soccer and learning what it means to have a puppy keep me busy!

Do you have any advice for other students?

Keep your chin up—especially when you feel like everyone except for you is connecting with great mentors, finding perfect jobs and understanding course material effortlessly. It is important to remember that everyone has moments of self-doubt and you need to stay patient and persistent. Yes, it is important to challenge yourself and learn, but sometimes enough is enough, and you should just go to bed and turn in the darn paper. If you’re like me, having a friend, relative, or a series of self-written motivational post-it notes that remind you your GPA doesn’t define you…is key.

What do you like most about Seattle?

There are so many things I like about Seattle, but let’s go with the sports culture around the Sounders and Seahawks—and the view from the stadium!


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