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UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health returns to RTI headquarters for annual PHield Trip

Annual event provides immersive experience for public health students

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Leaders and staff from RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, addressed students, faculty and staff from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health on March 2 during the school’s PHield Trip. The annual event immerses students in the work of public health partners throughout the region.   

Wendee Wechsberg, Ph.D., director of the RTI Global Gender Center and Substance Use, Gender, and Applied Research and adjunct professor at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health delivered the keynote address. She highlighted the importance of working with students, developing strong, diverse teams and supporting the next generation of passionate researchers.

“Many members of our current team started as interns from Gillings and are now successfully addressing gender issues in health,” said Wechsberg. “Today’s students are the next generation of problem solvers, and we need them.”

RTI’s University Collaboration Office (UCO) hosted the program welcoming 75 Gillings students and administrators. It was the first time since 2019 that RTI has hosted the program in -person.

PHield Trip participants in front of RTI's Holden Building
Participants gather in front of RTI's Holden Building 

“We were so energized to be able to come together again – in person – for the ‘PHield Trip,’” said Elizabeth French, associate dean for strategic initiatives at Gillings. “It’s inspiring to learn about the many opportunities our students have to learn from RTI researchers – and the exciting career paths they can pursue with RTI International.”

Participants also heard from second-year Master of Public Health student Maggie Rothenberg, RTI health research analyst intern and 2022 RTI Mentee of the Year. Rothenberg provided insight into her experiences as an intern, encouraging students to explore, communicate, and build networks in their own internships and work experiences. Rothenberg also observed connections between Gillings and RTI: shared values around addressing systemic inequity and injustice, building capacity for individual transformation and learning, and emphasized the importance of well-being and self-care.

The UCO leads strategic collaborative initiatives such as the Initiative to Maximize Partnerships and Catalyze Teamwork (IMPACT) and University Scholars Program, which has brought distinguished former and current Gillings faculty to RTI to work with experts in RTI’s practice areas. The UCO also runs a robust internship program that counts many Gillings students among its alumni.

Watch a highlight reel from the event