Olivia Brandon

BS, Public Health-Global Health '23
Seattle, WA

Olivia Brandon wins UW President's Medal


Olivia Brandon’s interests in health care swing from micro to macro.

She loves sodium — not the variety most of us love at dinner time — but the element sodium and its impact on infant health. She’s so passionate, her lab peers will tell you she’s salty about it.

She loves the cerebellum, the part of the brain that helps you know where you are in space, even when you close your eyes. Her favorite fun fact is that, even though the cerebellum is so small, it contains more neurons than the rest of the brain. But the thing that really makes her jaw drop is how little is known about it, compared to how much it does.

That’s another thing she loves: unknown questions. The idea of combing through datasets on global health to answer questions excites her so much that she’ll pick hours researching in the lab over homework any day.

Most importantly, she wants the work she does to make an impact, both at the level of an individual person’s life and at a large scale that can lead to more equitable health care systems. Perhaps that’s why she chose to double major in two disciplines at opposite ends of the micro and macro spectrum: neuroscience and public health-global health.

“I think of global health as a macro view on health; how do we give people the tools and resources they need to be healthy?” Brandon said. “I think of neuroscience on a micro scale; now that we have a baseline healthy person, how can we improve their responses to injury at the cellular level? How do we design interventions?”

Brandon, now a senior, has been excelling in her studies and was awarded the University of Washington President’s Medal. From the thousands of undergraduate students at the UW, three are selected each year for the prestigious honor and this is the second time Brandon has received it. Awardees are selected for their high GPAs, rigor of classes and number of honors courses.

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