Chewing on Global Health: Elektra Alivisatos '14

Friday, Jan 6, 2017
by Alex Wheatley '16

Elektra Alivisatos ’14 is really into food. She listens to podcasts about food; she reads articles and blogs about food; she loves to go out to eat; she reads cookbooks. Her global health passions fall into the realm of food as well.  An anthropology major at Princeton, Elektra is interested in the intersection of health policy and the sociocultural components of eating. Today, she works in the life sciences more broadly as a senior associate consultant with Trinity Partners. Elektra shared her journey through health and food for this Spotlight.

Elektra comes from a family passionate about medicine; both of her parents, and much of her extended family, are doctors. She came to Princeton certain that she did not want to be a doctor and that she wanted to be involved in health. She describes Professor Biehl’s “Medical Anthropology” class as one of the most transformative classes she took at Princeton. She dove into anthropology and the Global Health Program in her sophomore year.

In her junior year, Elektra was named a US Health Policy Scholar. She used this opportunity to work with the NYC-based nonprofit organization “Wellness in the Schools” and conducted research on school lunch programs in New York City. This formative summer stemmed in part from the GHP community: “through GHP, I could make connections. I could reach out to professors, who helped facilitate and make it reality through GHP. To live in NYC and do research was spectacular and I’m forever grateful.” Her thesis, “’You Can’t Teach That Love’: Implementing government initiatives for healthy eating in public schools,” focused on how health policy interacts with the local socioeconomic and sociocultural factors that dictate health within schools.

While researching, reading, and writing her thesis, Elektra noticed one health perspective that felt foreign: that of private industry. She felt she had a good grasp on the nonprofit, governmental, and lab-based approaches to health, thanks to global health courses and internships, but she hadn’t experienced health through the eyes of private industry. She wanted to understand how consulting firms and the pharmaceutical industry saw the world. To that end, Elektra pursued the world of healthcare consulting after graduation.

Today, Elektra works in life sciences consulting with Trinity Partners. Her time at Trinity has been positive and informative, she says; her work varies from qualitative interviews to analytical research/methods, and she loves working in a community of curious, motivated individuals. Some GHP skills have directly crossed over to her current work: “I literally have my epi (epidemiology) book in my office. And some of the cheat sheets I made? They’re printed out and on my walls next to my desk.”  GHP grooms students for life outside of the classroom, she says.

In our interview, Elektra shared an insight on balancing life inside and outside the classroom. “I don’t necessarily want my life to be my career,” she says, “but I want to do something for the rest of my life that reflects my favorite section in the New York Times.” For her, these are the Health and Food sections. She reminds students that “health is more than just a doctor’s office or a hospital or a disease. There are so many layers to health and so many ways to be involved. Health is what you make of it.” So make your health passion your own; her world of health brings together anthropology, food, and policy. And that’s just the way she likes it.

 

Elektra is a 2014 graduate in Anthropology. Today, she works in life science consulting with Trinity Partners.