Meet our graduate: Kaitlyn Harper, MSc

Name: Kaitlyn Harper, MSc

Program: Master of Science

What does your research involve? Why do you think it is important?
My research looked at risk factors of stunting, a condition where kids in low-income countries don’t grow as tall as kids in high-income countries. Typically, kids who have stunted growth also have decreased cognitive development, and they have a much higher risk of disease throughout their lives. Globally, one in four children under five years old have stunted growth, so this is a pretty big issue.

Specifically, I focused on how changes to gut health can affect growth. It turns out that when kids have unhealthy guts, their bodies can’t access as many nutrients from the food they eat, plus they’re way more likely to develop illnesses. This combination prevents them from growing as tall or developing as fast as kids that have normal, healthy guts.

What’s next for you?
I’m heading out to Baltimore, Maryland to start a doctoral program at Johns Hopkins University. My research will continue exploring factors that impact growth and development of children in low-income countries.

What’s your advice to incoming SPPH students?
This is a bit specific, but I’d really recommend taking a course or two on R – the statistical program we use most in SPPH. Learning how to use R will make your life way easier, in your courses and potentially in your research. And to be honest, it’s pretty fun (in a nerdy way) once you get the hang of it!