In her academic career, Amanda Hensley has earned two Bachelor’s degrees, one in Journalism from the University of Georgia, Athens, which led to a decade-long career as a managing editor/senior managing editor of published scientific journals, books, conference proceedings, and encyclopedias; and one in Biology from Hollins University, Roanoke. During her time at Hollins, she worked on a Monarch Butterfly waystation research project, documenting and analyzing data of plant species located in the area. Her senior research project analyzed activator and suppressor protein interactions during the early formation of the Drosophila fruit fly photoreceptor sensory organs.
Amanda continued her education at Radford University Carilion by earning a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration, focusing on health policy, community outreach, and strategic operational management of a healthcare/research facility. While working on her degrees from Hollins and Radford, Amanda worked with Carilion Clinic’s Basic Research Laboratory on a variety of research projects, including immunological and cancer research. She also interned with Carilion Clinic’s Community Health and Outreach office, creating and maintaining their quarterly publication Easy Health, which is a printed and digital resource of local events and programs from various Roanoke non-profit organizations, categorized by social determinants of health.
Growing up in rural Georgia, Amanda watched many family members self-medicate and suffer through injuries and disease rather than seek medical attention due to either lack of affordability or accessibility. It has always been a concern of hers that government on all levels should engage in more robust healthcare policies and solutions, inclusive of all populations, specifically rural and lower-income communities, where accessibility to healthcare is the most challenging. Due to climate change, she also has a great concern of environmental risks to individual and population health. Crumbling infrastructure and adverse weather events have contributed to an increase in both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Through community-based participatory research, it is her hope that more methods and interventions to disseminate health information and resources to all populations will increase prevention and wellness.
Currently, Amanda is a graduate student and research assistant in the Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health (TBMH) program with Virginia Tech, mentored by Dr. Kathy Hosig. In her second year with TBMH, she was also the program’s graduate teaching assistant for incoming first-year students. Her focus in the program has been a combination of immunology and infectious disease, and public health implementation science, including human factors and community-based participation research. She is working on several projects addressing health inequity in diverse populations. Her goals in the Interdisciplinary Interfaces of Global Change program are to elevate her skillset in effectively communicating research, to collaborate with IGC fellows on environmental health and policy projects, and to better understand government policies that surround health implementation and environmental health.