Q and A with Jiehong Guo
Jiehong earned a PhD in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in 2015.
What job did you obtain following graduation?
Following graduation I obtained a position at Indiana University-Bloomington as a postdoctoral research associate.
What are you doing day-to-day?
I am doing lab experiments measuring organic pollutants in Lake Michigan, and Great Lakes fish and writing reports about our experiment progress to the United States Geological Survey. I am also writing journal papers about pollutants distribution in the Great Lakes sediment, which was done during my time at UIC.
What excites you most about this job?
This job is exciting to me because it gives me the opportunity to combine my previous background and academic experiences to develop professional experience in environmental chemistry while also publishing my findings.
How do you feel that the PhD in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences program prepared you for this job?
Aside from coursework in the content area, EOHS is committed to ensuring students are prepared to enter the workforce by developing seminar courses specifically for doctoral students with a variety of different themes, including grant writing, teaching, and preparing yourself for employment.
What attracted you to UIC’s program, as opposed to other schools?
I was originally attracted to UIC because of the faculty in EOHS and their expertise in the field. While applying, I met with faculty and quickly learned how welcoming everyone is and how the faculty really want to help students succeed.
What was your favorite aspect of the program?
My favorite aspect of the program was the opportunity to work closely with a variety of professors, all of which want to help students succeed in and outside of the classroom. My professors were always eager to help me apply for scholarships and other awards.
Can you think of a particularly memorable aspect of your experience?
Students have the opportunity to take part in school-wide committees, like the Committee on Academic Progress (CAP). This was a great opportunity for me to gain experience in academia that is not part of a standard doctoral program as I helped review MPH practicum waiver applications, scholarship applications, and discuss other academic issues.
Were there faculty or staff who made a notable impact on you?
My advisor, Dr. An Li, was a great guide as I performed my research and helped me select courses that would best prepare me for the type of work I wanted to perform after graduation. She also encouraged me to get involved in a variety of SPH events. Dr. Rachael Jones provided me many useful suggestions about future career development and gave me opportunity to practice teaching. EOHS staff like the Academic Coordinator and Laboratory Manager also provided a lot of help and worked to make my research and time at EOHS as smooth as possible.
What advice would you give to an incoming graduate student at UIC? Is there something you wish you had known when you started out?
I would suggest students make a detailed plan for the classes, prelim exam, dissertation proposal and final defense. Doing so would have lessened the pressure I felt in the last two years of my program and help spread out the amount of work I needed to complete. I would also suggest them to take classes in other related areas to extend knowledge.
What was the most challenging aspect of graduate school for you, and how did you overcome that challenge?
Managing time was the most challenging aspect for me. I had to take classes, do the lab experiments, prepare reports and write journal papers. At first, I tried to finish things with closer deadlines; and I was pushed to finished work but did not do very well. Later I felt that I have to give up something and focus on the things that are more important to me; and I also set up a clear schedule every day and did my best to follow it.
Any concluding thoughts?
Earning my PhD with EOHS at UIC was a very valuable experience. I have met some friends and got a lot of help from faculty and staff. I am proud of having been a student here.