Muskie School of Public Service

Muskie School collaborations foster success

This month we spotlight the collaboration between Muskie faculty member, Dr. Kate Ahrens, and alumna of the Public Health program, Sarah Gabrielson, who worked with Dr. Ahrens during her program of study.

Dr. Kate Ahrens is Assistant Research Professor in the Muskie School's Public Health program and a research investigator at the Maine Rural Health Research Center. Dr. Ahrens’ research specialty is on maternal and child health and her most recent project has her looking at the health of women in the first years after giving birth. She was drawn to the field of public health as a way to effect change at the population level. Dr. Ahrens enjoys working with students, graduate assistants, and colleagues at USM. She teaches courses that cover statistics and applied data analysis, and is passionate about passing on her knowledge of advanced data analysis to students.

Sarah Gabrielson completed her Master of Public Health degree at the Muskie School in 2019 and had the opportunity to learn advanced data analysis and statistics from Dr. Ahrens. During her second year in the Public Health program, Sarah and Professor Ahrens worked on a research project looking at data on opioid use in Maine mothers and published their findings in 2020 in the journal, Public Health. In a recent Maine Science podcast, Gabrielson credits Ahrens to opening her eyes about the value of data science in examining population health issues.

Sarah is currently a Research Navigator for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, where she supports a variety of programs throughout the state, covering research, quality improvement, educational and advocacy projects, among others. While studying for her MPH at Muskie, she was able to make connections through the Cutler Institute and the Maine Medical Center Research Institute Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation that led to her current position -- one that she describes as her "dream job". She credits her faculty at the Muskie School with helping her build a strong foundation in the discipline as well as very practical skills in research and evaluation from Dr. Brenda Joly, quality improvement from Dr. Judy Tupper, health systems, public policy and advocacy from Dr. Erika Ziller, and Dr. Kate Ahrens for teaching her how to conduct and publish research. Congratulations on your success, Sarah!