Monday, January 9, 2017

Capstone 2016 – Demitra Runjo

Presented December 9, 2016, Demitra Runjo’s Capstone project explored whether an association exists between the duration of breastfeeding and adolescent overweight and obesity. As dietary behavior starts at birth, this important early predictor may be used in the development of health intervention strategies. Although Demitra identified research existed relating the duration of infant feeding patterns to childhood obesity outcomes, she also recognized a knowledge gap as to whether this association extends to adolescents. Demitra’s research concluded that breastfeeding for 6 months or longer may be protective against overweight and obesity.

Learn more about Demitra’s Capstone experience. 

Demtra Runjo (left) with family.

What led you to your topic? 

I was previously working with Dr. Shoham as a Research Assistant (RA) using the ALSPAC dataset. While working with him as a RA our topic was much different, we believed that the association between breastfeeding duration and obesity/overweight outcomes would be interesting to explore using the ALSPAC dataset. Working with Dr. Shoham, as my mentor, was a more engaging experience than any classroom instruction. He took the extra time to work with me until I understood not only what I was doing but also what it meant… no matter how many annoying meetings I needed!

Did you encounter any challenges? 

As the semester began, we started to dive deep into the data. I was surprised just how much time data management and cleanup takes. That was probably my biggest challenge throughout the semester.

What did you enjoy about the project? 

The capstone truly is a culmination of the entire program and I got to use knowledge and skills from almost every class. It was really rewarding to see just how many pieces and skills—from epidemiology, to biostatistics to public policy—go into a project like this.

Where are you headed with your career? 

I received my Bachelor’s in Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health (with minors in sociology and psychology) from DePaul University. I began my school program by taking an Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases course. Displaying an interest in the subject, my professor, Dr. Layden, helped me explore it further which eventually led to me getting a position at the University of Chicago Medical Center in the Infection Control Department.

A student’s Capstone project is a professional presentation, which demonstrates his/her ability to apply the program learning to a specific public health topic. Selected by the student, the project reflects a culmination of the course curriculum, field experience and independent study. This experience helps students explore their academic passions while preparing them for a competitive job market.

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