Posted: 8/04/22

‘GET PHIT’ Summer Bootcamp at TAMIU Highlights Public Health Informatics, Paid Internship Opportunities


Dr. Cindy Salazar-Collier
Dr. Cindy Salazar-Collier  

While summer months often mean trips to the beach or long road trips, some 50 students from Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), spent time learning more about public health informatics. 

Dubbed the “GET PHIT Summer Bootcamp,” the Gaining Equity in Training for Public Health Informatics and Technology (GET PHIT) two-week camp took place July 11 – 22 in-person at TAMIU.

The GET PHIT Summer Bootcamp focused on understanding how data is collected for public health research, the characteristics of typical datasets utilized for public health informatics, commonly used sources of secondary data in public health, and standards and technologies used to analyze these data, explained Dr. Cindy L. Salazar-Collier, TAMIU assistant professor of Public Health. 

“The first week of the Bootcamp was a didactic experience where students were given a crash course in these topics, while the second week allowed for students to work in teams to work on a data-driven research project. The culminating project asked students to develop a research question, identify a public health dataset containing variables that could be analyzed to answer their developed question, compute descriptive and analytical statistics, and develop data visualizations appropriate for both scholarly and layperson audiences,” Dr. Salazar-Collier explained.

Students also prepared a conference-style poster and a 10-minute presentation delivered to their peers and local community health leaders. 

Top-performing students are now eligible for paid internships with various health agencies across Texas. Available internships include opportunities with the City of Laredo Health Department, Gateway Community Health, Mercy Ministries, PILLAR, and SCAN.

This summer’s winning group of the data-driven presentation included the following students: 

  • Samira García – TAMIU Biology major
  • Alejandro Luna, Jr. – TAMIU Accounting major
  • Patricia Martínez – UTRGV Integrated Health Sciences major
  • Samantha Molina – TAMIU Education major
  • Lisa Rodríguez – TAMIU Biology major 

Through these academically focused opportunities, students can learn more about these emerging technologies and potentially explore careers in digital informatics and data analytics, said Salazar-Collier.

“Informatics and data analytics go beyond the health field. These learned skills can be applied to virtually any discipline and can make students that much more marketable when they get in the job market. Our world is turning to new types of technologies and interfaces for the seamless collection and analysis of data. Much of what we do daily is data-driven, or is affected by data collected in that industry… whether we know it or not. Opportunities such as these let our students experience this a bit for themselves and opens the door to new career ventures, which they might not have otherwise considered,” Salazar-Collier reiterated. 

Joining Salazar-Collier in leading and instructing during the Summer Bootcamp were Dr. Susan Fenton of UTHealth-Houston; Dr. Virginia Berndt, TAMIU assistant professor of Sociology; Dr. John Kilburn, TAMIU associate vice president for Research and Sponsored Projects and professor of Sociology.

The GET PHIT Consortium aims to train 1,400 students predominantly from underrepresented groups and 500 public health, clinic, and academic professionals while placing 400 students in internships. 

Led by The University Texas of Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health (SPH) and School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI), the GET PHIT Consortium is collaborating with Huston-Tillotson University; Prairie View A&M University; Texas A&M International University; Texas Tech University Health Science Center; The University of Texas at Arlington; The University of Texas at El Paso; The University of Texas Permian Basin; and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Additional information on the GET PHIT Summer Bootcamp can be explored by visiting https://www.uth.edu/get-phit/

For additional information on TAMIU’s Public Health degree, visit https://www.tamiu.edu/conhs/publichealth.shtml,  email Dr. Salazar-Collier at cindy.collier@tamiu.edu,or phone 956.326.3279. For more information on the GET PHIT initiative, contact Dr. Kilburn at jckilburn@tamiu.edu or phone 956.326.3221. 

Classes begin Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. Late registration ends Friday, Aug. 26. Information is here.

University news and information can also be found online at tamiu.edu and on TAMIU’s social channels on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. 


Some 50 students from Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley spent time this summer learning more about public health informatics during the GET PHIT Summer Bootcamp held at TAMIU.