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Runner and Researcher: December Graduate Katie Dammer (C’21) Tackles Cross Country Competitions and Covid-19 Research

Katie Dammer (C’21) is one of 82 students who is graduating this December. A Biology of Global Health major with a Science, Technology, and International Affairs (STIA) minor, Dammer balanced her academics and athletics during her time on the hilltop. 

Research, Running, and Religion

Katie Dammer standing smiling at the camera with cleats for offical cross country photo

From Clarks Summit, PA, Dammer came to Georgetown with a passion for biological sciences, though she was initially unsure of her concentration in this subject. After being exposed to a combination of research opportunities, policy perspectives, interdisciplinary courses as well as “an emphasis on problem-solving and health disparities,” Dammer chose to major in biology of global health. 

“The professors in the biology department are great at exposing students to academic options during freshman year and introducing us to older students that have taken different paths within the department,” Dammer says. “Some of these classes introduced me to the STIA minor, and I am grateful I took the opportunity to be part of the SFS while still getting a liberal arts education from the College.”

In her final semester at Georgetown, Dammer worked with Claire Standley, Ph.D. and professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology through the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative’s student fellowship program. 

Dammer and Standley collaborated on biosecurity and infectious disease research, focusing on epidemic interventions in conflict areas. Specifically, Dammer conducted a scoping review of how vaccine campaigns have been used for outbreak response in conflict-affected settings in Africa.

“Katie is an extremely poised and self-assured student, with an obvious passion for international relations and security studies,” Standley says. “She soundly demonstrated her intellectual curiosity and creativity of thought through the course of her Global Health Initiative fellowship. I wish her the very best in her future academic endeavors!”

While in this research position and through classes and internships, Dammer also worked with Rebecca Katz, Ph.D. and director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center, where she was able to apply her knowledge and research skills to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Katie worked with the Center on collecting and coding data on the COVID-19 mitigation policies implemented globally during the pandemic, in addition to deep-dive analysis on special topics,” Katz explains. “She was able to quickly adapt to fast-moving requests and continually provided quality work despite balancing her coursework and training.” 

In addition to research alongside Georgetown’s faculty, Dammer also found mentors and friends through cross country including chaplain for athletics Tony Mazurkiewicz, who she says “provides programming, leadership and spiritual development for myself and other student-athletes” as well as her coach Mitchell Baker, who helped her “chase my athletic goals while also helping my teammates and I develop leadership and self-awareness outside of sports.”

“My most influential activity has definitely been competing for Georgetown in cross country and track and field,” Dammer continues. “Being a student-athlete is such a fun and challenging experience, and the community and friendship with my teammates helped me stay positive and goal-oriented during our time apart.”

Other Activities on Campus

In addition to running and conducting research, Dammer is also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Georgetown Christian Athletes, and Catholic ministry. 

Outside of the Georgetown community, Dammer and some friends from across the country run The Oval Magazine, a crowd-sourced distance running website and magazine that they founded in April 2020 when our sport was completely shut down for the pandemic.

After graduating, Dammer will stay on the Hilltop to complete a masters in Security Studies. She says that she selected this program because she wanted a program that would not only expand her interests and knowledge base, but would enable her to concentrate on the security and policy realm. 

“My interests in global health have evolved a lot since the pandemic started, and my internship and class experiences over that time have emphasized the importance of communication and interdisciplinary skills and solutions in crises,” Dammer says. “I hope to learn more about health as a facet of security, as well as other aspects like counterterrorism, intelligence, and nuclear nonproliferation that I have less experience with, to work towards in a career where science and policy overlap. SSP has interesting courses and an amazing reputation for professors, peers and career opportunities and connections.”

In addition to staying at Georgetown for another two years, Dammer will also be able to continue running for the track and cross-country team through 2023.

-by Shelby Roller (G’19)

Biology of Global Health