Diversity Conference: Alumni Spotlight




Olufunmilayo (Funmi) Arogbokun

Conference Participant 2016

Undergraduate: BS in Chemistry, minor in Mathematics – Butler University

Current: MPH in Epidemiology, minor in Biostatistics – University of Minnesota, School of Public Health


Funmi Arogbokun remembers spending her summers in Nigeria as a child visiting family. During one of those summers, at the age of 10, she and her sister both fell ill with malaria. This experience stayed with her and inspired her to pursue studies that could help her better understand the environmental factors and infectious diseases that disproportionately affect communities like those of her relatives in Nigeria.

With undergraduate studies in chemistry and mathematics, she developed a strong ability for utilizing quantitative skills to solve problems. While each discipline excited her, she realized that she had been pursuing public health and numerical analysis separately.  She learned about the Conference for Increasing Diversity in Mathematical Modeling and Public Health during her senior year and was encouraged to apply by her Gates Millennium Scholars network. Funmi notes that “attending the Diversity Conference introduced me to ways to connect my interests in mathematics with public health and infectious diseases.”

After graduating from college, she returned to her home state of Minnesota to pursue a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health. Funmi says that “prior to attending the conference, I was unsure of whether I wanted to pursue public health and infectious diseases through the lens of epidemiology or environmental health. After attending the conference, I chose to pursue an MPH in Epidemiology, as the diversity conference presented ways to deeply incorporate mathematics in studying infectious diseases. I became very intrigued by the quantitative lens that epidemiology makes use of.”

In 2017 Funmi joined CCDD as a summer Research Assistant where she worked on a project modeling migration of the malaria parasite and quantifying genetic differentiation with Research Associate, Dr. Hsiao-Han Chang, and CCDD Director, Dr. Marc Lipsitch. Currently, Funmi is working on influenza research projects in her part-time work with the Minnesota Department of Health and also separately as part of her MPH culminating project. After Funmi graduates with an MPH, she will pursue a PhD in Epidemiology, with a concentration in infectious diseases. Funmi says, “I am excited to continue working on malaria research which will have global health impacts. I am very thankful for the opportunity to have attended the Diversity Conference in 2016 and to have been a part of CCDD. Since the conference, I have continued to pursue mathematical modeling, which I was first introduced to at the Diversity Conference. I look forward to continue incorporating modeling into malaria research during my PhD.”