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UW-Eau Claire student one of four in U.S. chosen for CDC internship

May 16, 2013
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Andy Kleist

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student has been selected to intern at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this summer. Four students from across the country were chosen for the highly competitive internship.

Senior Andy Kleist, an environmental public health major and Honors Program participant from Eau Claire, will participate in the CDC's 2013 Summer Program in Environmental Health.

"The program is extremely competitive, with only four interns chosen from the entire country," Kleist said. "Needless to say, I was thrilled when I got the news."

During the 10-week internship, students explore the broad field of environmental health by collaborating on projects with CDC experts, shadowing environmental health professionals at various levels of government and learning about environmental health issues from leading health scientists in their areas of specialty.

Kleist is not the first UW-Eau Claire student to be selected to intern at the CDC. He will follow in the footsteps of 2009 UW-Eau Claire alumnus Jay Nielsen, who now is the CDC SUPEH program coordinator.

"Clearly, those who observe history and the examples set by alumni are desirous to repeat it," said Dr. Karen Havholm, UW-Eau Claire assistant vice chancellor for research.

Both Kleist and Nielsen participated as UW-Eau Claire undergraduates in faculty/student collaborative research programs offered by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, under the direction of faculty mentor Dr. Crispin Pierce, associate professor of public health professions.

"By providing undergraduate research and mentoring experiences, UW-Eau Claire facilitates talent development — for our current students and our alumni," Pierce said.

Kleist was a 2011 award winner in UW-Eau Claire's Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity for the project "Particulate Pollution: UW-Eau Claire Student Center and Chippewa Falls Sand Plant" with fellow undergraduates and faculty mentor Pierce.

"Andy's work in my lab has been assiduous as we've measured particulates around hydraulic fracturing sand mines and plants in Wisconsin, and he has gained valuable perspective as we've shared results through student research and public presentation events," Pierce said.

UW-Eau Claire offers many opportunities that can help students stand out when applying for competitive internships, Nielsen said.

As an undergraduate, Nielsen also participated in the CDC's SUPEH program. He worked on a project tracking the publication of the agency's "Healthy Swimming" program and shadowed environmental health professionals in the field — from employees in the Georgia State Health Department to cruise ship inspectors in Florida to U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors at beef- and chicken-processing plants.

"I came into the SUPEH program armed with a passion for environmental health and the determination to excel in the field," Nielsen said. "I worked hard, exceeded expectations and had a clear vision for what I wanted to make out of the internship opportunity. I believe the program leadership recognized my drive and my ability to be an asset for CDC."

Kleist said he is looking forward to the entire experience during his time at the CDC.

"The SUPEH internship at the CDC is an amazing program," Kleist said. "It will allow me a chance to see and experience many things that I otherwise would not be able to. Also, being able to spend the summer in Atlanta is going to be a great experience in itself."

Kleist expects to graduate in December.

"As far as my career ambitions go, right now I am really looking forward to this opportunity to explore the many facets that environmental health has to offer in a very challenging and educational setting," Kleist said. "I have known for quite some time that the CDC is where I want to be. This is an incredible first step toward making that dream come true."

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