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December 8, 2019

Student Spotlight: Ella Nudell

Ella Nudell (SFS ‘22) is an undergraduate studying global health. She was a student fellow with the Global Health Initiative.

Why are you interested in global health? 

My dad is a surgeon, and my mom is a geneticist—with a genetic explanation for everything under the sun. Forget to scoop the cat litter? Your genetics are to blame! My 16 year-old sister inherited the science gene: my mom brings home mice from the lab for her to dissect (on the kitchen table). My sister used to force me to watch Grey’s Anatomy with her. I covered my eyes during all OR scenes (I made it through three seasons of Grey’s before discovering Gossip Girl, which satisfied my thirst for drama, minus the blood). Suffice to say: the gory hands-on was not for me. Nevertheless, growing up with a doctor, biologist, and vet-to-be sparked my passion for health. I fell in love with global health when I learned that I can make a difference without picking up a scalpel. Health is inextricable from global affairs: able-bodied politicians broker peace, vigorous demonstrators drive democratic reform, and robust scientists innovate to curb climate change. Furthermore, disease threatens the global economy: the CDC estimates that pandemics will cost over $60 billion annually this century; relatively modest investment in prevention—$4.5 billion—could offset treatment costs. Health, therefore, must come first on the international agenda. 

 What activities are you involved with on campus?

I’m a consultant with Georgetown Global Consulting (GGC): a student-run, 501(c)3 nonprofit consulting firm that provides innovative, pro-bono business solutions to international development NGOs around the world. This semester, our clients hail from Peru, Indonesia, Iraq, and Burkina Faso. My team is working with Global Surgical and Medical Support Group (GSMSG): an NGO that provides medical relief to communities in conflict zones, currently in Syria and Iraq. Volunteer surgeons do everything from performing open-heart surgery to training local surgeons, leaving a robust health system in their wake. I’m designing an impact assessment strategy for GSMSG by considering both objective measures and patient reported outcome measures (PROMs). My research for GGC this semester has enabled me to view global health through the lens of the nonprofit sector. 

I’m also part of the Hypothermia Outreach Team (HOT). On cold, snowy nights, we walk around Georgetown and Foggy Bottom and distribute gloves, socks, hand warmers, beanies, food, and water to the homeless. We also assess the homeless for symptoms of hypothermia and encourage them to seek shelter and/or medical care when appropriate. 

 What is your favorite part about being at Georgetown?

When I run to the monuments and see all the tourists fiddling with their selfie sticks in front of the Lincoln Memorial, I’m like, “this is my Wednesday afternoon run, no big deal.” It’s so cool that D.C. is at our fingertips! My professors bring D.C. into the classroom all the time. Last year, in a class on US-Africa relations, we took a “field trip” to the National Museum of African Art. My professor also took us out to dinner at a Ghanian restaurant downtown! For another class, I attended an event on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the Middle East Institute, with former U.S. ambassadors to Israel and Jordan. 

 Tell us about your educational and professional aspirations. 

I'm a science, technology & international affairs (STIA) major in the School of Foreign Service (SFS), concentrating in biotechnology and global health. I could see myself pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) after graduation, but I’m not really sure yet! 

As of right now, my dream is to work in the public sector: either at the World Health Organization (WHO) or at the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Global Affairs (OGA). I’m particularly interested in the emerging field of “planetary health,” which explores the intersection between climate change and health. We are already seeing malaria in places where we’ve never seen it before, since mosquitoes thrive in warm temperatures. Also, carbon emissions threaten respiratory health. My interest leans towards infectious—as opposed to chronic—disease, so studying vectors’ response to rising temperatures would be really cool.