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Students and staff from UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health visit RTI main campus for annual PHield Trip

The event provides students with an immersive networking experience

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Leaders and staff from nonprofit research institute RTI International hosted students, faculty and staff from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health on Tuesday, February 27. The “PHield Trip” event is an annual student experience that immerses the UNC Gillings community in the work of public health partners throughout the region.

As a convener, RTI's University Collaboration Office (UCO) welcomed 79 UNC Gillings students and staff to RTI’s main campus. The Gillings School and RTI are long-standing partners, who are mission-driven in improving the human condition and global public health. Through research partnerships and shared talent through the RTI Internship Program and RTI University Scholars Program, they develop mutually beneficial relationships that support both institution’s missions.

Katie Bowler Young, senior director for the UCO, began the program with opening remarks touching on the history of RTI, noting that the institute was founded as the anchor tenant of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, with support from North Carolina government, local universities and business leaders to attract and retain local talent. She noted that the longstanding partnership between RTI and UNC Gillings has led to innovative and competitive teaming, joint research in public health and advancements in joint-scientific stature.

"Both of our institutions share a commitment to improving human health and the human condition around North Carolina and the world,” said Bowler Young. “It’s these core values that help to create the long-standing partnership between our institutions. Our partnership is about the people who work together and the impact that we can make through our collaboration,” said Bowler Young.

RTI panelists shared their public health research experience and early-career tips, including:

  • The importance of public health research
  • How to navigate challenges and diversify your work
  • How to gain international experience
  • The value of training programs and mentoring relationships
  • Finding a workplace culture that fosters collaboration, communication and employee engagement with an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging

UNC Gillings student Brooklyn Story, MPH’24, provided insight into her experiences as a 2023-24 RTI intern. She encouraged her peers to explore internship opportunities while emphasizing the importance of communicating and building networks and not being afraid to ask questions. Story described her internship as one of the most challenging experiences but also one of the most rewarding.

About the RTI-UNC Gillings Preferred Partnership
The “PHield Trip” is one of many collaborative activities of the RTI-Gillings Preferred Partnership Initiative to Maximize Partnerships and Catalyze Teamwork (IMPACT). In FY23, 25 RTI staff held an adjunct appointment at the school and 14 Gillings students interned at RTI. Since 2014, RTI co-authored 330 publications and hosted nine faculty from Gillings through the RTI University Scholars Program.