Interviewed by GH Student Reps: Alice Lu and Ashley Emuka
Eileen V. Pitpitan, Ph.D. is a social psychologist by training. Dr. Pitpitan’s research focuses on disadvantaged and stigmatized populations, including substance users. She earned her doctoral degree at the University of Connecticut and received postdoctoral research experience at the Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention and UCSD prior to her current position as Assistant Professor with the Division of Global Public Health at the UCSD School of Medicine.
Path to Global Health Research
Dr. Pitpitan majored in Psychology at UCLA and started in a research lab there, studying romantic relationships. She then chose the University of Connecticut for her doctoral degree, where she researched on the stigma of obesity. She completed her fellowship in HIV behavioral prevention in Capetown, and now works in San Diego with populations in Tijuana.
When choosing graduate schools, Dr. Pitpitan recommends researching the faculty and looking for schools where you share the research interests of their faculty.
What Motivates You
Dr. Pitpitan felt drawn to promoting social justice using her training in social psychological science – approaching Global Health from an Applied Sciences approach.
Specifically in designing interventions to reduce disease, the fact that you can be a part of people’s lives in that way is incredible. The focus in Global Health is often in treatment and surveillance, but is definitely shifting to also focus on prevention.
Tips for Success in her GLBH181 class
Of course, come to class!! Also, it’s important to reflect on your position in the world. Avoid ‘looking from the outside’. Instead, understand the community you’re working with. This will increase your motivation and help you identify what you want to do.
Advice for Current/Prospective Students
- Like how Dr. Pitpitan is a social psychologist by training, she explained you can be trained in anything to work in Global Health. In fact, it’s especially valuable to have these outside skills.
- Global Health training is sometimes more heavily fieldwork-based. Use the very interdisciplinary Global Health Program at UCSD to find something that will allow you to contribute in your own way.
- Take advantage of our unique geographic location. We are just 18 miles from TJ! As one of the few border cities in the states, San Diego is often brought up in the research world.
*Tip from your GH Student Reps*
Our faculty are all doing amazing things outside of the classroom. Don’t be shy about emailing professors if you’re interested in their research! You never know where opportunity lies