A wide range of topics and issues are addressed under this umbrella of programs to include: climate change, immunizations, environmental health, injury and violence prevention, LGBTQ, mental health, nutrition, physical activity and obesity, Healthiest Wisconsin 2020, oral health, maternal and child health, food assistance, occupational health, opioids, substance abuse, tobacco prevention and control, and refugee health.

Project opportunities available to a student are wide-ranging and may involve assisting in program planning and evaluation steps such as eliciting data in the form of surveys, key informant interviews or focus groups and analyzing the data to evaluate program effectiveness, inform policy or protocol or make recommendations.

Depending on the observations made, reports of the findings may be appropriate for peer review and publication in a public health journal.

DHS - Bureau of Community Health Promotion: Nutrition and Physical Activity Program

The Nutrition and Physical Activity Program provides statewide leadership to decrease overweightness and obesity, increase physical activity and improve nutrition. Located in the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the program and its partners have developed and are implementing the Wisconsin Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity State Plan to accomplish the overall goal of preventing obesity and chronic disease.

Projects available in topic areas by settings include:

  • Active community environments
  • Early care and education (child care)
  • Food system
  • Health care
  • School
  • Worksite

The student and mentor will work together to develop a project related to one of these topics in Wisconsin.

Examples of previous student projects

  • Understanding producer perceptions to inform Wisconsin farm-to-school programs and policies
  • Assessing community coalition capacity to advocate for physical activity policies
  • Assessing the Nutrition Environment in Wisconsin Communities (ANEWC)
  • Statewide social marketing-based formative assessment with restaurant and food store owners and patrons
  • Strategy selection for grocery store intervention
  • Assessing physical activity and nutrition environment of child care centers

DHS - Bureau of Community Health Promotion: Injury and Violence Prevention Program

The Injury and Violence Prevention Program (IVPP) contributes to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services' mission — supporting economic prosperity and quality of life through the protection and promotion of health and safety — by investigating the underlying causes of injury and identifying opportunities for prevention. The IVPP conducts surveillance, analyzes data, reports to the public, develops interventions and evaluates impacts in the field of injury and violence prevention.

The substantial burden of injury in Wisconsin emphasizes the need for sustained public health efforts in this area. Injury is the leading cause of death for people ages 1-44 and the leading cause of years of potential life lost before age 65. Broadly defined, injury includes unintentional injuries, such as falls and motor vehicle crashes, and intentional injuries, such as homicide, suicide and sexual assault.

The diverse array of topics addressed by the Injury and Violence Prevention Program presents numerous opportunities for students to explore their individual interests while impacting a critical area of public health.

Specific projects will be identified based on the skills and interests of the student.

Potential topic areas

  • Poisoning (unintentional and intentional drug overdose)
  • Address the completeness of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and usefulness for data linkage
  • Evaluate impact of Prescription Drug Monitoring Program on prescriber behaviors and overdose trends

DHS - Bureau of Community Health Promotion: Maternal and Child Health Program

The Maternal and Child Health Program works with local public health departments, community-based organizations, statewide organizations and other providers to provide quality health services to mothers, children and families in Wisconsin.

Primary areas of focus include:

  • Increasing healthy birth outcomes
  • Promoting and assuring comprehensive primary care for children ages birth to 21, including children with special health care needs
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles among school-age youth, ages 6-21, including children with special health care needs
  • Assure access to safe, healthy child care up to age six, including children with special health care needs
  • Preconception, pregnancy testing and planning


Examples of potential/past opportunities

  • Preparing fact sheets and communicating Maternal and Child Health Program data to our partners
  • Developing a training module for medical personnel that will increase the provision of effective medical care for people who have a mental illness by improving medical provider competence, confidence and stigma resulting in accurate diagnoses and treatments
  • Examining the use of the Text4Baby text messaging system by pregnant women and new moms in Wisconsin
  • Identifying effective policies and programs to reduce elective deliveries
  • 2017-18: Maternal Mortality Review program

DHS - Bureau of Community Health Promotion: Oral Health Program

The Oral Health Program promotes and seeks to improve oral health for all citizens in Wisconsin through policy development, technical assistance, needs assessment, training and education. In addition, the Oral Health Program plans, implements and evaluates the effectiveness of preventive oral health programs in Wisconsin.

Examples of oral health activities


  • Analyze determinants of identified oral health needs
  • Assess oral health status and needs so that problems can be identified and addressed including resources

Policy development

  • Mobilize community partnerships
  • Develop plans and policies that support individual and community oral health efforts to address oral health needs


  • Inform, educate and empower the public regarding oral health problems
  • Link people to oral health services
  • Support services and implementation of programs

Potential student projects

  • Analyze of geographic distribution of providers, service delivery patterns, referral networks and provider/population ratios
  • Examine costs and policy implications related to access to care
  • Analyze data concerning oral cancer rates and deaths
  • Conduct oral health survey of specific populations
  • Prepare a “burden of oral disease” document for Wisconsin
  • Prepare resource directories of oral health services