Ric Bayly, N22, MPH22
Why was the Friedman School the right place for you when you decided to go back to school?
I was a stay-at-home dad, raising the family. It was the best job ever. The second of my three kids was going off to college, and I realized it was my chance to start a new challenge.
I’ve been really interested in nutrition for a really long time. My kids are adopted, and my first child had pretty severe malnutrition when we got her. From day one with our family, nutrition was important. I took the Principles of Nutrition Science course online at the Friedman School, and it made me so excited that I decided to apply to the master’s program.
What was the best part of your Friedman experience?
The thing that really struck me, coming into it in this phase of my life, was the support and acceptance from everybody: every faculty member, from the deans, from the staff, and from a great group of peers, many of whom have become good friends.
The faculty has steered me to opportunities, especially Dr. William Masters, who gave me the chance to go to Malawi as an intern. It was a transformative experience. I connected to another project in Mozambique and spent the whole summer on two different research projects.
Both studies were concerned with the effects in the diet of aflatoxin, produced by a fungus on crops like maize and groundnuts, on children’s health. Aflatoxin is associated with stunted growth in children and cancer in adults, and is a major problem in sub-Saharan Africa. One of my jobs was going throughout remote areas, finding health centers, on very bad roads filled with potholes and broken bridges tilted at angles. The whole experience was profoundly eye-opening.
The adjective that best describes you?
Curious. I’ve had several interesting careers, but I haven’t always been a scientist. One of the things I like about my current work with Dr. Thomas Stopka’s spatial analysis and mapping lab in Public Health and Community Medicine is that it’s a skill that crosses research areas. I can do healthy food access analysis, I can map health centers in Mozambique, and I can spatially analyze how ICU beds in Massachusetts are filling up, like I did at the height of the omicron surge in December.