The opportunity to run for president of SER dovetails beautifully with changes in my own professional career. Having just stepped down as Chair of the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health after nearly 10 years, I envision the next phase of my career being focused on (1) mentorship and guidance for the next generation of epidemiologists, and (2) identifying innovative opportunities to help guide members toward impactful research initiatives. As SER president, I would have the opportunity to pursue these two career goals, and in doing so expand upon the legacy of SER as well.
With respect to mentorship and guidance, I had the privilege to serve as an SER executive board member between 2011 and 2013. During that time, my colleague Andy Olshan and I launched the Early Stage Investigator (ESI) program, now in its 4th year, at our Annual Meeting. These sessions have focused on time management, how to build a national reputation, and the importance of interdisciplinary teams. This year, we will focus on how we can involve our community stakeholders in our research and obtain funding to do so. Each year the attendance at these sessions has increased and we are committed to their continued improvement based on constructive feedback.
With respect to guiding impactful research, we have several research-focused initiatives already in place at SER. During my service on the SER executive board, I had the opportunity to assist, then President of SER Sandro Galea, in launching a series of new SER50 initiatives. These SER50 programs (“digital”, “playlists”, “experts”, and “talks”) bring SER into the professional lives of our members and colleagues year-round and not just during the annual meeting. These sessions focus on innovative methods and thematic research to help members formulate new, innovative, and collaborative research ideas. They were developed with the goal of having them implemented and refined as an SER mainstay by our 50th anniversary.
On a more personal note, a strength that I bring to SER is my own broad-based experience working in diverse organizations that employ many of our SER members. I began my career working closely with intramural investigators at NIH as a Westat Project Director. Upon completing my doctoral training under the tutelage of Noel Weiss, I spent the next 18 years working with clinical investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and building teams between clinical and population researchers at Harvard Schools of Medicine and Public Health. My colleague and mentor, Dan Cramer, and I founded the Ob/Gyn Epidemiology Center which launched my career as a women’s health researcher. Over the past 10 years I have had the privilege to head our Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University Of Minnesota School Of Public Health. During this period, we diversified our faculty and strengthened our methodological expertise across the spectrum of clinical, biological, behavioral and social health related disciplines. In addition, more recently I broadened my own experience in learning to effectively work with community-based researchers and stakeholders as the Director of our Community Engagement Core for our Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
Epidemiology bridges the clinical, biological and behavioral sciences, and our colleagues contribute to our discipline through their employment across a wide spectrum of academic, governmental, private and public sector organizations. My goal will be to leverage and improve the SER programs and platforms to ensure that they continue to benefit the diverse members of our organization. This includes our strong membership of students across the country and internationally. To be President of SER would be the beginning of my next chapter. It would be an honor to usher in the 50th anniversary of this organization that has been so influential in my own career and of so many of my mentees and colleagues.