Faculty Spotlight: Alysse G. Wurcel

"I am interested in helping improve healthcare for people who have been systematically excluded or marginalized by the health system."
Headshot image of Alysse

As a student at Tufts, you will have a community that supports you—including our faculty. Meet Alysse G. Wurcel, MD, physician at Tufts Medical Center, and assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Department of Public Health and Community Medicine.

What is your role in the Tufts Public Health programs?
"I mentor students during the Applied Learning Experience. Students interested in public health research reach out to me to learn more about the work I do, and often I find a project for them. I chose to be a mentor because I benefitted from great mentorship in college and in the years directly after college when I was a research assistant. I am so thankful for that time, and I mentor to pay it back to the next generation of leaders, clinicians, researchers, and social advocates."

Why did you choose to become a physician and then to teach as well?
"I knew I wanted to be a physician in high school. I attended Tufts University as a pre-med student. I was drawn to the Sociology Department, and in particular, classes about income inequalities, medical anthropology, and medical sociology. I received a small grant from Tufts to do my senior honors thesis interviewing women with HIV about their perceptions of motherhood. I interviewed 18 women with HIV, and it was a transformative experience for me. I am so thankful that those women trusted me and shared their experiences. That undergraduate experience as the foundation for my career using qualitative methodology to improve healthcare."

What are your areas of research and why did you pick them?
"I am interested in helping improve healthcare for people who have been systematically excluded or marginalized by the health system. I focus my work on people with HIV, people who are incarcerated, and people who use drugs. I like to work at the intersection of social justice and infectious diseases."

What accomplishments are you most proud of?
"I love to mentor students. My accomplishments are best exemplified in the success of people I mentor. When people I mentor get into graduate school or get a paper published, it makes me feel wonderful. That is why receiving the faculty mentorship award is so special to me."

Why did you choose to teach at Tufts?
"I have two degrees from Tufts—a BA and a MS. Tufts University provided me with the right tools to succeed. I want to pay it back to the students."

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with Tufts students?
"One time a friend and colleague told me that I was the type of person who likes to ruffle feathers. He meant this as a compliment. Sometimes feathers need to be ruffled to make change. Anything else you would like to share? I applied to Teach for America in my senior year of college but did not get accepted. I was crushed. I share this because rejection has been a part of my journey. Instead, I spent the summer working at a camp for inner city kids. Then I lived and work in Israel for nine months and then backpacked around Europe for three months. That experience truly changed me by giving me more confidence. I have experienced several rejections in life. I truly believe, 'When one door closes, another opens.'"