All About Tullia V. Johnston, B.S., M.P.H, C.H.E.S
M.P.H. Public Health Education, Virginia Tech 2018

B.S. Biology, Psychology Minor, Virginia Tech 2015

Certified Health Education Specialist


How long have you been a Faculty Affiliate/Center Associate/Certificate Alumna/Futures Board member at Virginia Tech, and what is your current appointment?

I graduated with a Master of Public Health (MPH) and Certificate of Gerontology in May of 2018. I was just recently offered a position by Dr. Blaise Costa as a research assistant in his lab at The Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases (CMMID) located here in Blacksburg. I am a VCOM employee, but our lab is affiliated with Virginia Tech and The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

How did you become interested in doing work on an aging population?

Since I was very young, I have always enjoyed being around the aging population. I believe spending time with my grandparents and listening to their stories prompted this interest, but as I have progressed in my education this interest has blossomed. During my junior year as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, I worked as a Life Skills Trainer at NeuroRestorative, a rehabilitation center for patients with traumatic brain injuries. Many of the residents at this facility were of the aging population, and this experience furthered my interest. When I was accepted to the MPH program at Virginia Tech, I learned of the Graduate Certificate in Gerontology offered by the Center for Gerontology. The coursework for this certificate was intriguing to me and has further prompted my consideration for geriatrics when I am (hopefully) eventually accepted into attend medical school. The lab I currently work in at CMMID investigates the causes and potential treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease, a condition strongly correlated with the aging population. It is my hope that my experience in this lab will prepare me for medical school and a potential position in the field of geriatrics one day.

Are there upcoming developments in which you are involved that relate to older adults?

Currently, I have no upcoming developments; however, I was the recipient of the 2018 S.J. Ritchey Endowed Scholarship via The Center for Gerontology. This scholarship has allowed me to take classes at Virginia Tech part-time this year, while working full-time under Dr. Costa in the CMMID lab I previously mentioned.

Could you provide any fun facts about yourself?  

Probably the most fun fact about me is that I was a dancer at Virginia Tech during my undergraduate years! I started ballet at the age of 3 and danced lead roles in full-length ballets such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker during high school. When I came to college, I joined Virginia Tech’s dance team, The HighTechs, in spring of 2012. This experience truly shaped my undergraduate years. Practicing for 3+ hours a day on top of dancing at football games, soccer games, volleyball matches, and wrestling matches (to name a few) definitely honed my time management skills. Juggling school, clubs, and being a college athlete is not easy! But, I had the time of my life. My most cherished memory was dancing in a torrential downpour in Lane Stadium when Virginia Tech defeated Marshall in triple overtime.