Erika Bailey

Credentials: MS Population Health


Black and white bucky badger, used as replacement photo for individuals who do not have pictures

Year Started: 2021

Hometown: Evansville, WI

What are your areas of interest within population health sciences? I’m interested in health system innovations specifically geared toward improving access to necessary preventative health services among underserved populations. I’m particularly interested in studying health literacy as a primary barrier, and have a special interest in working with people who experience substance use disorders.

Interest Statement: I am a science enthusiast at heart, since I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be a “scientist.” My love and understanding of the human body and human experience grew tremendously during my undergraduate program at UW – Oshkosh where I studied Biology and Healthcare Science. I worked for University Health Services as a Health Promotion Intern, where my passion for increasing health literacy as a method of increasing healthcare access barriers began.

What experiences in your life led you to study population health/epidemiology? In February of 2020 I was hired as a contracted research program assistant for Dr. Ryan Westergaard. I began supporting Dr. Westergaard’s NIDA research grants as well as his work as the Chief Medical Officer at the state health department – through this position I was granted a front row seat to the COVID-19 response in Wisconsin which revealed a lot about public health to me. I felt there was such a desperate need to support our vulnerable populations, and I decided to go back to school and learn how to do research or jobs that could achieve this.

Why did you choose UW-Madison for your degree? I chose UW Madison (over John Hopkins – small brag) because I had a really well established network of connections here already. Madison is home to me, and I knew that I had real opportunities to find high quality mentors and existing research to learn from on this campus.

What do you hope/plan to do with your degree? In the short term I hope to be able to improve my ability to work with my current team on substance use disorder related research projects, and in the long term I hope to understand more about how to create and promote health system innovations that increase access to healthcare for vulnerable populations.