About Dayna Maniccia

Dayna Maniccia’s undergraduate degree is in Biology and her first job right out of college was at The Wadsworth Center in Albany, a research-intensive public health laboratory.

She felt lucky to be there. As a 22-year-old she was attending international conferences and even presenting at conferences herself.

But she was also spending a lot of her time looking into a microscope. And while she was learning a lot, she found something was missing.

You see, Professor Maniccia yearns to have the big picture. She likes to trace the course of events from beginning to end, and get a feel for all the connections. She’s also fascinated by thinking about why people do what they do.

So, she decided to pursue a master’s in Health Policy and Management, followed by a Doctorate in Public Health, focusing on social behavior and community health. This would eventually lead her to Russell Sage College, where she’s an associate professor and the Public Health program director.

“And today, I must say that I really do love my job,” she says.

She’s also become quite the advocate for the study of public health.

“There are so many ways this can benefit a student,” she says. “Do you want to work in the community to effect change? Do you want never to be bored? Maybe you want to work on social justice issues. If you want to contribute to society, if you want to help make this a healthier place for all of us to live, this is it.”

COVID-19 has put public health on everyone’s radar, in unprecedented ways. “In good times,” Professor Maniccia says, “hardly anyone even knows what it is.”

That’s all changed, of course, and Sage is uniquely prepared to help those who want to make a difference in this field. Students graduating with a degree in public health are eligible for several Centers for Disease Control and Prevention internships and fellowships, in addition to a CDC-sponsored two-year paid training program where they are assigned to public health agencies and non-governmental organizations across the country.

Sage graduates are also well positioned to work with local health departments and community-based organizations, and to continue on to graduate school.

In addition to opening up so many career opportunities, Professor Maniccia sees public health helping countless students discover a lot about who they are.

“They say, I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do until I found this passion. I didn’t really in believe in myself but now I do.”

These discoveries occur in large part, according to Professor Maniccia, because of the program’s interdisciplinary approach. Students might be exposed to everything from law and child development to environmental science and health policy.

“We want our students to have the broad view,” she says. “We want them to find what it is that gets them motivated. If we’ve done our job, you’ll never look at things the same again.”

That’s certainly what’s happened to Professor Maniccia. She says if someone had asked her 30 years ago if she’d like to be a teacher she would have shaken her head. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else.

Recent Courses Taught

PBH 201 Health and Society
PBH 310 Overview of Public Health
HSA 572 Program Planning and Evaluation
HSA 578 / MBA 564 Analytic Methods / Research Methods
HSA 605 Comparative Health Care Systems
NSG 703 Advanced Quantitative Methods

Research Interests

Maternal and child health
Health education and promotion
Health disparities

Educational Background

DrPH, University at Albany
Social Behavior and Community Health
M.S., University at Albany
Health Policy and Management
B.S., SUNY Oswego
General Biology