Student Spotlight: Samantha Andritsch

With a heart of ambition and toolbelt of knowledge, Samantha Andristch is one step closer to her dreams at the University of Florida. 

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in public health from the College of Charleston, Andritsch headed south to pursue a Master of Health Science in One Health in the fall of 2023 and is planning to graduate by 2025.

While considering her decision, Andritsch said she realized UF offered one of the only One Health programs in the nation which is housed in the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions

“I came down to visit, and I just fell in love with the campus and the school itself,” she said. “Everything fell into place.”

What particularly attracted her to the UF-based degree program was the convergence of multiple disciplines spanning human, animal and environmental health. 

Andritsch said she appreciates the value of learning from a comprehensive standpoint after gaining a degree at a liberal arts institution, piquing her interest in the interdependence among multiple branches of public health.

“It can be very close-minded to only look at something from one perspective,” she said. “Studying in a One Health program allows me to cultivate all these different viewpoints to better understand some of the biggest problems in public health facing the world today.”

Fueled by a lifelong passion for environmental conservation and a keen interest in human health, her time at UF has been driven to deepen her understanding of animal health. Now, the One Health program has allowed Andritsch to “harness the trifecta” of the human-animal-environmental One Health paradigm.

Andritsch said the baton of mentorship was swiftly passed to her new advisor and director of the UF One Health Center of Excellence and EGH Associate Professor Mike von Fricken, Ph.D., M.P.H., during her transition to UF.

The von Fricken research team.
From left to right: Nora Cleary, an Remote Emerging Disease Intelligence-NETWork representative, Bianca Punch, Dr. von Fricken, Abigail Lilak and Samantha Andritsch.

Alongside von Fricken, Andritsch has dived into the vector-borne side of zoonotic diseases, which includes the spread of diseases that emerge from mosquitos in Equatorial Guinea.

Samantha Andritsch, Bianca Punch and Abigail Lilak use drag nets to collect ticks outside of Gainesville.
Nora Cleary explains how to use a CO2 trap to collect ticks.

“The faculty here has always been very open, receptive to meetings and just very honest with their communications in the classroom,” she said. 

Von Fricken also introduced her to PATH, a global nonprofit organization committed to health equity. Andritsch has since relished in opportunities to work on projects like One Health 4 Cambodia, where she supports the development of the country’s health infrastructure to reach communities in need.

Beyond her time at UF, Andritsch aspires to continue developing sustainable solutions using a One Health framework to forge a lasting legacy on accessible public health. 

“It’s been a really welcoming experience here, especially after coming to Florida not knowing anybody, and I think that is what’s a game changer for me,” she said. “I feel like I’ve got a second family here.”To read more about a master’s degree in One Health, please visit our One Health academics page.

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