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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

Yale: Student Spotlight on Melpomene Vasiliou

Ms. Melpomene Vasiliou – Melpo to her friends – has always wanted to be a lawyer. Her undergraduate studies in political science, international affairs and Middle Eastern studies culminated in a thesis about climate change as a driver of conflict in Egypt. As this interest in climate change started to take focus, she realized that health is a point of entry to engaging people in the environment.  “The food we eat and the water we drink,” are important to everyone and everyone’s children. “It is an area through which we can effect change in the United States.”

Now a second year MPH student in the Department of Environmental Health Science, Ms. Vasiliou is committed to developing her skills in public health so that she can truly be an effective advocate in environmental policy. This is not just buying time before law school, she says. “I want solid skills in my toolkit to understand and interpret science.”

The scarcity of people with this combination of skills, was shocking to her given how directly environment regulation impacts human health. In today’s political climate that is more important than ever, she says, because we are not going to solve climate change issues with top down approaches such as the Paris agreement. “It is going to take small, incremental changes by individuals and local- and state-level policy. The ways states enforce and regulate environmental health are critical to slowing and mitigating climate change.”

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