As a volunteer intern and then research assistant in his native Nepal, Roman Shrestha worked with nonprofit groups on HIV prevention and intervention. After earning his undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in public health at UConn, where he is currently completing his Ph.D. in public health in the Department of Allied Health Sciences. Here’s what he said in an interview.
Where did you study as an undergraduate? Wiley College in Marshall, Texas.
What was your major? I majored in biology and chemistry.
Why did you decide to go to graduate school? As an undergraduate student, I spent two summers as an intern at UConn. I spoke with professors in public health, and they were doing similar types of work that I was doing in Nepal related to HIV prevention. It came to me that I wanted to pursue public health rather than biology.
Who is your advisor and what is your field of research? My advisor is Dr. Michael Copenhaver in the Department of Allied Health Sciences. My primary field of research is HIV prevention. It is interdisciplinary, in that my work involves HIV risk reduction, substance abuse, neurocognitive impairment and mHealth (mobile technology on health management). My dissertation work is mostly related to developing a brief integrative bio-behavioral approach for HIV prevention among drug users.
Name one aspect of your work that you like. It’s research and clinical work at the same time. I mostly work with drug users. I talk to them, do group, and help them in any way possible. At the same time, I mentor students.
In your opinion what is your greatest accomplishment so far? The majority of international students that come from countries all over the world to the United States find that it is completely different. My greatest accomplishment is just being where I am right now and being able to collaborate with senior scientists from all around the world—working with them and publishing papers together.
When do you expect to get your degree and then what then? I am expecting to finish my doctoral program this August, and then continuing as a postdoc with Dr. Copenhaver.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? This last couple of months has been really busy for me. I was involved with a new project where I was acting as a PI (principle investigator), and at the same time I had a newborn, so being able to handle everything and getting the work done was a new challenge and a new experience for me. That experience will help me moving forward. That being said, I really want to thank Dr. Copenhaver for providing me with his guidance and encouragement at each stage of my graduate career.