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Courage to Climb Winner – April 2016

The Division of Student Life would like to congratulate Corinne Tandy on being selected as the winner of the 2016 Courage to Climb Award. Corinne is a PhD student in Comparative and Experimental Medicine with a concentration in Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases from Knoxville, TN.


Because of the interdisciplinary nature of her program, her research perspective spans across several disciplines but the primary focus is on vaccine preventable diseases. Her research focuses on Tennessee’s demographic risks for pertussis. Commonly referred to as whooping cough, pertussis is a respiratory disease that can be fatal to infants. The study outlines three stages: analysis of demographic factors of pertussis patients, the demographics of vaccinated and unvaccinated Tennesseans, and a qualitative study asking Tennesseans about their vaccination attitudes. This information will help with public health efforts to increase vaccination coverage and understand vaccination attitudes. Her findings will directly influence the campaigns and messaging regarding pertussis and other vaccinations. Currently, there is no qualitative research on this subject.


She has been a member of the UT Student Outbreak Rapid Response Team (SORRT), a partnership between the Tennessee Health Department and the University of Tennessee. This team works closely with outbreak scenarios. Corinne worked with 12 of these events, primarily involving Salmonella. In addition, Corinne serves as a member of the Knox County Health Department initiative to improve vaccination rates for human papilloma virus (HPV) .


Corinne served as the Graduate Student Senate Comparative and Experimental Medicine department representative and served on the UT Student Health Advisory Council. She is also a member of Pipeline: Vols for Women in STEM.
When asked what makes this student unique, Corinne’s nominator stated that she “literally wears her interests and passions.”