Sarah Cornelius, Guarini


What do you consider your hometown?

I grew up in Hartland, VT, which is very close to Hanover.

Where did you earn your undergraduate degree and what was it in?

I earned my undergraduate degree at Colby-Sawyer College. My major was biology, but I also minored in chemistry and pre-medical studies.

What is your graduate degree in?

The Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (QBS) PhD program.

Why is your area of research? What inspired you to pursue this research?

I am training to become a health services researcher, which means that I am studying variations in health systems. My longterm goal of my research is to help improve the health care system in the United States because, as a patient with a chronic health condition, I have experienced reduced access to health care due to these variations.

My research at Dartmouth is on the impacts of oncologist turnover on cancer patients and on the health system. I wanted to pursue this specific research question because one major barrier to care coordination and access to care is physician turnover, particularly in rural areas. Because access to a coordinated care team is crucial for the long-term outcomes of cancer patients, barriers to this access, such as oncologist turnover, need to be investigated. While these methods are being developed for cancer care, they are translatable to other medical fields. This research is my first step in studying the health care system in the U.S.

What does it mean to you to receive the award?

I am a first-generation college graduate, so this award highlights how hard I have worked to get here. Statistically speaking, it was very unlikely for me to even be in a PhD program, let alone at Dartmouth, so I have given it my all while here.

One of the things I have worked on while in school is talking about my research in a way that my family can understand because the end-user of my research is often people outside of research, such as hospital administrative staff. I also enjoy having engaged discussions with people from many different backgrounds to gain new perspectives on my research. I was so excited to win this award because it confirmed how important it is to make science approachable.

Why did you choose Dartmouth for your degree?

I chose Dartmouth because of the atmosphere here. While the faculty here are leaders in their fields, they are also approachable. I am able to talk with them about topics unrelated to research and school.

I chose Dartmouth because the faculty and staff truly care about the success of the students. I don't feel as though I am competing with other students; instead, we all work together to learn and improve our research.

What do you like best about Dartmouth?

I have two related favorite things about Dartmouth.

First, the Upper Valley is a beautiful place to live. I love being able to see how the landscape changes with each season. Even more mundane things, like my commute home, is peaceful and beautiful.

Related to this point, I am so thankful that Dartmouth promotes a healthy work-life balance so that I can take advantage of living in such an amazing place. It has been great to learn how to have a life outside of work. It has given me the opportunity to have hobbies, such as hiking with my dog on the weekends.