Alumni and Donors

Jaime Madrigano ’98 Bridges Disciplines for Maximum Public Health Impact

Jaime Madrigano ’98 found her passion in the connection between the environment and public health. As associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, she is bridging the environmental health and engineering disciplines for the benefit of public wellness.

Jaime Madrigano ’98 entered college with a keen interest in the environment and a desire to study a quantitative science, but she needed some time to determine exactly what her educational path might look like. “I was a first-generation college student and had to figure out a lot on my own,” she explains. “Stevens checked all the boxes for me. I knew I would get a great education and would have great job prospects when I graduated. That was important because at the time I didn’t know if graduate school would be realistic financially.”

“I was undecided about my major, but felt I could figure it out at Stevens,” Madrigano continues, noting that she ultimately chose Stevens’ environmental engineering program. “I also liked that the campus is small. I didn’t have to worry about getting lost in giant lecture halls.”

Madrigano’s senior design advisor helped connect her with her first career role at the construction engineering firm CH2M HILL (now Jacobs), where she learned about air permitting, toxic release inventory reporting, and pollution prevention assessments. From there, she joined Merck as an engineer for Environmental Regulatory and Compliance. Within a few years, she was promoted to senior scientist, Occupational & Environmental Health Sciences. “Each Merck plant has its own safety and environmental team,” she points out. “My department provided them with support for environmental regulations and compliance, pollution and byproducts, and waste. I drew on the problem-solving skills I learned at Stevens as well as the technical knowledge I gained there.”

The reasons behind the regulations captured Madrigano’s fascination. “I was learning that regulations and compliance requirements were designed to protect communities, the environment and employees,” she says. “In time I moved to another group within my department that focused on public health.”

That’s when Madrigano decided it was time to pursue graduate study. She earned a master’s of public health with a concentration in epidemiology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), and went on to Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health to earn a doctoral degree, also focusing on epidemiology and environmental health. “I liked being in the academic research environment,” she says, pointing out that she was a teaching assistant at Harvard while earning her degree there. “It was an opportunity to use, and build on, the technical and statistical analysis skills I first developed at Stevens.”

Madrigano followed her time at Harvard with two years as a research fellow at Columbia University and another two as an assistant professor at Rutgers University. For nearly seven years, she was with RAND Corporation, a nonprofit global think tank, first as associate policy researcher and later as full policy researcher. In 2022, she joined the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as a Bloomberg Associate Professor of American Health.

It is the ideal career move for Madrigano – joining a department that crosses disciplines, combining environmental health, engineering, pollution, climate change, and environmental justice. She enjoys the teaching aspects of her role, especially when she is mentoring doctoral students. “Teaching requires a different set of skills,” she says. “It is exciting to see students develop their ideas and build confidence in their abilities.”

The research is exciting as well. “I am able to support policy-making in local health departments and in large cities,” she says. “Answering questions about public health can inform public planning. For example, asking who is most impacted by heatwaves can lead to a city-wide program to plant more trees and implement other climate adaptation improvements.”

Jaime Madrigano and Tina Zottoli at Alumni Weekend 2018Jamie Madrigano ’98 with her classmate Tina Zottoli ’98 at the 2018 Alumni Weekend

Madrigano’s memories of her time at Castle Point include lots of camaraderie. “Stevens’ challenging curriculum builds stamina, and lasting friendships,” she says, adding that she was a member of the Gear & Triangle Honor Society and the Omicron Pi Sorority.

“I couldn’t have predicted how my career would develop,” Madrigano says. “But that is part of the beauty of a Stevens education. You learn to be a problem solver and that is something you can apply in so many ways. Stevens prepares you to be open to the different opportunities that come your way.”