Posted by Alexander Falk on Jul 08, 2024

Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Master of Science in Epidemiology

Acadia Thielking, who graduated from Wesleyan University in May 2021, was chosen to represent District 7930 as the 2024 Global Scholar in the Rotary Foundation’s Area of Focus of Disease Prevention and Treatment.

Acadia, who lives in Somerville, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Science in Society from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She is passionate about using mathematical modeling to improve infectious disease health outcomes and address the growing threat of drug resistance worldwide. Her goal is to bridge the gaps between community-driven research, mathematical modeling, and policymaker decision-making to improve large-scale health outcomes.

Acadia’s passion for public health began during her time as an EMT. In this role, she encountered prison inmates faking seizures to escape unbearable heat, elderly “frequent fliers” who lacked needed assistance to transition from bathroom to bedroom, and home pregnancies within a Hasidic community deficient in prenatal care. She quickly realized that her EMT skills were insufficient against the root social inequities causing recurrent health crises. This led her to become fascinated by studies that use data analysis of EMT health records to reveal population-level healthcare shortcomings. Eager to further explore this intersection between health, data, and policy, Acadia became a Research Assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she uses microsimulation modeling to inform HIV, tuberculosis, and non-communicable disease global health policy. Some highlights of her research include evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of tuberculosis prevention drugs for pregnant people with HIV in South Africa, assessing the impact of smoking cessation interventions on life expectancy among people with HIV in South Africa, and projecting the future healthcare burden of dementia among people aging with HIV in the United States. 

Acadia is eager to further her mathematical modeling capacities through her studies at Imperial College London, an institution renowned for its infectious disease modeling work and collaborations with the World Health Organization. By engaging in courses, connecting with a global cohort of students, and working with leading professors in the field, Acadia aims to enhance her ability to identify potential solutions to global health challenges.