2019 Tillman Scholar

David Coomes

Marine Corps
University of Washington
Ph.D., Epidemiology

“I hope to inspire collaborative action that leads to better nutrition policy.”

The son and grandson of veterans, David enlisted in the Marine Corps immediately after high school. During six years of service, including a deployment to Iraq, he learned a great deal about himself, leadership and what it means to serve a greater cause.

After separating from the Marines, David continued in public service as a wildland firefighter, where he worked as a smokejumper. During breaks from the fire season, he finished bachelor’s degrees in biology and anthropology. David also holds a firm belief in the importance of local and global community engagement, which led him to tutoring refugees in after school programs in Seattle, and then to teaching English to refugees and migrants in Ethiopia.

During his time in the Marines and as a firefighter, David learned the power of collaborative public action in improving people’s lives. After finishing his bachelor’s degrees, he continued working toward this goal through a different route – public health. To this end, David has spent the last three years working towards Master’s degrees in public policy and public health. He has conducted research to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia as well as collaborated on nutrition policy in Myanmar.

As David pursues a Ph.D. in Nutritional Epidemiology, he hopes that his work will influence decision makers at home and abroad to create better nutrition policy. David truly believes that collaborative action is necessary to improve the world around us and, through this, he hopes to contribute to a better world.