UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Magazine - Autumn/Winter 2018-19

Page 23


Speaking from Experience Having thrived during her training at the Fielding School, Kate Crespi is using her faculty position to ensure that her students reap the same rewards. KATE CRESPI (MS ’91, PHD ’04) believes the most important quality for any academic in mentoring students is empathy. And as someone who trained in the Fielding School’s Department of Biostatistics before joining the department’s faculty, where she is now professor in residence, Crespi can easily identify with her students’ experiences. Crespi completed her MS in FSPH’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences,


then spent five years working

“Biostatistics is a highly collaborative discipline, so it’s particularly beneficial to train at a research powerhouse like UCLA.” —Dr. Kate Crespi

at the South Coast Air Quality

ment of Biostatistics, considers

in the FSPH-based Center for

Management District. While

Crespi one of his department’s

Cancer Prevention and Control

there, she developed quanti-

most valued trainers. “As an

Research, where she is now the

tative health-risk assessments

active researcher on many

lead biostatistician.

associated with air pollution

high-profile projects in FSPH

exposures, using both com-

and the David Geffen School of

than 100 peer-reviewed publica-

puter simulations and statistical

Medicine at UCLA, she is instru-

tions and has served as principal

methods. Fascinated by the

mental in bringing graduate stu-

investigator or co-investigator

work, Crespi decided to return

dents onto scientific projects,”

on more than 40 funded studies

to the Fielding School for a PhD

Banerjee explains. “Working

covering major public health

in biostatistics.

with Dr. Crespi has considerably

issues such as cancer, obesity

“Ever since I was a kid, math

enhanced the research experi-

and infectious diseases. But

was my favorite subject, but not

ence of many of our students.”

nothing takes a back seat to

for its own sake; I was interested

During her own train-

Crespi has amassed more

her work with FSPH students.

in using statistics to advance

ing, Crespi says, she grew to

“I know how stressful graduate

public health,” Crespi explains.

appreciate both the quality of

school can be,” she says. “I try

As she progressed through her

the program’s faculty and the

to be supportive, maintain a

training — including a postdoc-

wide-ranging research opportu-

positive outlook, and allow stu-

toral fellowship supported by

nities within and outside of the

dents to feel a sense of owner-

the biostatistics department’s

Fielding School. “Biostatistics is

ship of their work, while making

HIV/AIDS training grant — Cre-

a highly collaborative discipline,

sure they understand that

spi concluded that she didn’t

so it’s particularly beneficial

science has to be conducted

want to leave academia. “I have

to train at a research power-

with a high level of integrity

experience working for the

house like UCLA,” she says.

and attention to detail. It’s also

government and in the private

Many of the connections Crespi

easy for doctoral students to

sector, but what I love most is

forged during her training have

get caught up in the minutiae

doing research and mentoring

endured through her faculty

of their dissertation. I want to

students,” she says.

tenure. Most notably, as a post-

make sure my students don’t

doctoral scholar Crespi began

lose sight of the big-picture

collaborating with researchers

impact of their work.”

Dr. Sudipto Banerjee, chair of the Fielding School’s Depart-


AU T U M N /W I N T E R 2 0 1 8 –1 9


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