The Ohio State University at Newark

Ohio State Newark Alumna Endeavors to Promote Healthy Lives Worldwide

April 6, 2020

Before “coronavirus” entered the general lexicon, Liane Davila-Martin had been studying zoonotic diseases – those caused by germs spread between animals and people, like swine flu and the current pandemic virus – for years. When she earned a Master of Public Health from The Ohio State University, zoonoses was the topic of Davila-Martin’s thesis. Just this past summer, she interned with the Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau of Infectious Diseases. Though she’s working toward a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine now, she got her start at Ohio State Newark.

“Public health surrounds us in every aspect of our lives. There is right now an immense team working to flatten the curve for COVID19 — from MDs, to epidemiologists to veterinarians,” said Davila-Martin. “Although we are living through some scary times at the moment, this has served as a reminder that this is the field I belong to and hope to carry this passion for zoonotic diseases for the rest of my career, all while working together in hopes to enhance the quality of life of both humans and animals.”

Davila-Martin moved to the United States from Puerto Rico in her junior year of high school. Still settling into her new home and speaking a new language two years later, she knew she wasn’t ready to attend a large university with sizeable classes. But she still wanted to be a Buckeye. Ohio State Newark provided the academic setting in which she felt comfortable and gave her the platform to excel.

“Newark felt like a big family, and it didn’t feel overwhelming when I got here,” said Davila-Martin. “Seeing the smaller interpersonal relationships between faculty and students, campus events and unlimited free resources wowed me; I knew I wanted to be here. My expectations were surpassed at Ohio State Newark.”

She made the most of all the university has to offer its students. During her two years at Ohio State Newark, she shared her perspective with incoming students while giving campus tours as a Buckeye Guide. She also worked on campus as a Spanish tutor. She started Ohio State Newark’s first animal-related student organization, fundraising and volunteering at the Licking County Animal Shelter. Davila-Martin got to see more of the world while earning college credit on trips to Washington, D.C.; New Orleans; and Montreal, Canada. She transitioned with confidence and ease to the Columbus campus where she completed her biology degree in 2015.

Davila-Martin had always planned to become a veterinarian; however, she detoured in graduate school to finish an unlikely Master of Public Health in 2018. After her bachelor’s degree, she took a yearlong respite from classes to pursue research full time at the Neurological Institute at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. This is where her interest in infectious disease was born. Her studies took her all the way to Spain where she researched her thesis on Leishmaniasis and Zika at Complutense University of Madrid, one of the oldest universities in the world.

Combining her lifelong passion for animals and newfound curiosity in public health, Davila-Martin is set to graduate with a doctoral degree specializing in veterinary public health from Ohio State in 2022. She maintains her involvement on campus through membership in student government and both cultural and academic student organizations. Her dream career is with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. She would be able to continue to travel all over the world making sure protocols are followed and doing what she has worked tirelessly to achieve through her master’s and doctoral degrees.

“I think here you can be a person, and you are more than just a number on a roster,” said Davila-Martin on how Newark laid the foundation for her academic career. “I fell in love with the campus. I felt like I was a Buckeye and was proud to be a Buckeye! It doesn’t matter where you start, but it’s where the journey takes you.”

The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that is inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors. It’s where learning comes to life. Research, study abroad and service-learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected.