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Arnold School of Public Health


I Am Public Health: Victoria Lambert

November 1, 2018 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

When Victoria Lambert moved to Columbia to earn a master of science in public health from the health promotion, education, and behavior (HPEB) department, she didn’t plan on staying past her two-year program to pursue a doctoral degree. After becoming immersed in courses, research and mentorship experiences, however, she quickly changed her mind.

After graduating from high school in Conway, South Carolina, Lambert remained in her hometown to earn an undergraduate degree at Coastal Carolina University. During an introductory public health course, she became intrigued by the idea that public health professionals aim to improve health by changing social and environmental factors.

Having received glowing recommendations for the Arnold School from recent alumni, Lambert chose the HPEB department for her master’s degree. She wanted to learn more about the behavioral and social theories that explain the reasons for health behaviors and the mechanisms for changing them.

Throughout her master’s program, Lambert gained experience as a graduate assistant to HPEB professor Jim Thrasher, whose research focuses on tobacco control and cessation. Working with Thrasher’s research group, Lambert gained experience managing projects, analyzing data and writing scientific manuscripts. As a result of these collaborations, Lambert has already published three peer-reviewed publications (one as lead author) and presented at numerous professional conferences.

“I enjoyed this work so much that I decided to pursue a career in research,” Lambert says. “Involvement in his research was my primary inspiration for deciding to obtain my Ph.D. and pursue a career in tobacco control and health communication research.”

She also found a mentor in HPEB assistant professor Rachel Davis, who served on Lambert’s master’s thesis committee. “Dr. Davis has taught me how to better interpret and write about public health research,” Lambert says. “I took two courses with her, both of which influenced my decision to seek a career in health communication research.”

The double Doctoral Fellow (Norman J. Arnold and Mary Elizabeth Newton) is primarily interested in researching health communication around smoking cessation and tobacco products as well as health communication more broadly. She is currently assessing the effects of graphic cigarette warning labels and positive cessation package inserts as well as patterns of e-cigarette use among youth and consumer preferences for different types of tobacco products and product characteristics.

Though she just began her doctoral program this fall, Lambert’s career aspirations are clear. “As a public health student, I have been fortunate to have several influential professor mentors who have helped shape my academic and career trajectories,” she explains. “These professors’ passion for public health and commitment to supporting students inspired me to work harder, and their careers seemed extremely rewarding. Thus, after obtaining my Ph.D., I would love to be a professor, as this would allow me to contribute to the field of public health by continuing to conduct research while also mentoring students.”