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2019 Chancellor Winner: Melissa Ertl 

Melissa Ertl's research, and her campus service, center around health issues. (Photo by Scott Freedman)

Wisconsin native Melissa Ertl is a fourth-year graduate student in Counseling Psychology in the School of Education. She will earn her master’s in May along with a certificate in health disparities, and expects to earn her PhD in May 2021. Her dissertation topic is the health risks and protective factors associated with behaviors among Latina college students.

Ertl’s overall research focus in general is the health behaviors and health risks among marginalized populations, including Latino/a immigrants, informal caregivers, college students and people with neurological disorders.

“Working with faculty on research has been by far the most meaningful experience in my time at UAlbany thus far,” Ertl said. “My mentors have reinforced how research can be an exciting process of discovery and a way to contribute to our knowledge of the world.”

Ertl gives back to the University as well, as a graduate assistant for the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program and by her service on the Student Health Advisory Committee, the Tobacco-Free University Steering Committee and the Sexuality Month Planning Committee, among others.

She is a project coordinator for a University suicide prevention grant and is working on a training program to help identify at-risk students.

“This has been a really rewarding experience, knowing that we may be able to better serve our campus community through these efforts,” she said.

After earning her PhD, Ertl said, she hopes to find a position in academia that allows her to combine research, teaching and clinical work. She plans to become a licensed psychologist and work as an activist, supporting marginalized communities.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.