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Online Graduate Explores the Environment and Human Health

Heather Wells head shotAt work, Heather Wells studies the connections between the environment and our health. She went back to school to better understand how this research makes a difference. 

Wells manages the research laboratory of Dr. Neil Alexis, Professor of Pediatrics at the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology. The lab researches how environmental factors impact human health, specifically the respiratory system. 

This research sparked Wells’s interest in environmental risk assessment. To gain an understanding of how environmental research is used in public policy and decision making, she enrolled in the College of Natural Resource’s online Master of Environmental Assessment in spring 2017.

We caught up with Wells to learn more about her experience in the Master of Environmental Assessment and congratulate our #NCStateOnline spring 2020 graduates! 

Why did you pursue a Master of Environmental Assessment from NC State Online?

My research at work focuses primarily on how the environment impacts human health. The goal of our research is to help aid in public policy decisions, especially with susceptible populations. I was interested in this program because I wanted to understand how my research helps with these mitigation strategies. I chose NC State because it was in such close proximity to where I already was located.

Describe your experience in the program. 

My experience has been amazing. All of my professors had an understanding that most students also worked full-time, so most lectures were not live. This gave me the freedom to listen to lectures around my work and family schedule.

I was able to balance work, school and life by only taking one course per semester.

How do you see your Master of Environmental Assessment helping you in your current career?

While I have no intention of leaving my current position, this program has helped me understand a lot more about the importance of the research I do.

Did you have any faculty members who were particularly inspiring or stood out to you?

My advisor, Dr. Jen Richmond-Bryant. I would love to collaborate with her in the future. Dr. Stephen Graham also helped expand my knowledge of Environmental Statistics, which was important for my professional project.

What is your advice for other working professionals who are thinking about continuing their education or are currently enrolled in a master’s program? 

Taking online courses is a great way to further your education while still being able to work and have a family. Because lectures are recorded, you can listen when you have time, instead of having to be on campus at certain times. For me, I was able to do a lot of work during the evenings and weekends, which are not typical course hours.

I felt very supported throughout my program. It was a great experience. I wish I would have gone back sooner!

Congratulations to Heather and all NC State Online spring 2020 graduates!

Are you interested in advancing your career with a Master of Environmental Assessment? Visit the program page or for a full list of degree and certificate programs.