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Ayoola Carleton oversees the diabetes prevention research program of the Community Health & Research Office at UAMS. She has always been interested in doing participatory research work.
“Part of the work involves being in touch with the community and having their needs drive the work,” Carleton said. “They know what their needs are. You’re not just a lab coat; you’re involved in your research.”
Before coming to Arkansas, she did research work in places such as Bogota, Colombia, and the African nation of Namibia.
“I have always been involved in service and service-oriented work,” Carleton said. “Once you have research, you can make such a large impact. You can prove what works and what does not work. By extension, it can inform policy decisions. It is really impactful work.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Carleton helped set up UAMS’ tracing center to serve the area’s Marshallese and Hispanic communities. She called the pandemic a “completely different ballgame.”
“When you’re in the field you need to learn how to be innovative and creative and work with the resources you have in the situation you are given,” Carleton said.