The control and administration of SER is vested in an Executive Committee, which, as per SER bylaws, includes a President, Past-President, President-Elect, Secretary-Treasurer, four Members at large and an Administrative Director. All positions, except for the Administrative Director, are elected individually by majority vote of the members voting. The 2017 Elections include candidates for President-Elect and two Members at Large. SER members are entitled to vote for one candidate in the President-Elect category and two candidates in Member at Large. The voting period begins on April 3, 2017 and concludes on May 12, 2017.
Note: Individuals wishing to vote must be logged in and have a current 2017 membership with SER.
Dale P. Sandler, Ph.D.
Epidemiology Branch, Division of Intramural Research
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH
I have been a member of SER since graduate school, participated in the second SER student workshop, and served as student workshop faculty. I have spent my career at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), where I was a founding member of its intramural epidemiology program. Read more
I consider myself, first and foremost, a “card carrying” epidemiologist. I am a generalist – not a specialist. Attending a meeting focused on epidemiology has always been important to me, but in recent years, like many others, I have succumbed to other pressures – too little time, too little travel money, too many competing meetings. If elected President, one of the things I would like to focus on is how to keep the SER meeting at the top of the list for all its members.
Epidemiologists face pressure to be something else – molecular biologists, biostatisticians, geneticists, laboratory scientists. In some arenas, fundamental epidemiology tends to be undervalued. SER can and should serve an important role in raising the profile of epidemiology and advancing the discipline. SER has had tremendous success in bringing people together around statistical methods that improve our interpretation of data. Less attention has been paid to other aspects of epidemiology. Innovative and sound study designs and field methods are critical to collecting high quality data. This is an area that deserves our focus and could draw people to meetings. Creating special interest groups that sponsor sessions at the meeting is another idea that might attract people who would otherwise choose a disease-based or subspecialty meeting. SER can also be a forum for sharing ideas on challenges facing the field – including how to incorporate technology and big data methods into our work without losing sight of fundamentals. Another challenge that merits attention is making sure the work we do is not only methodologically sound, but relevant to diverse populations.
I recently had the opportunity to develop a cohort study in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (the GuLF STUDY). This effort required a range of skills not necessarily taught in school or transferrable from prior research experiences, and reinforced the importance of communicating with and engaging the communities we study. Creating opportunities to exchange ideas with others facing similar challenges is something that SER meetings can foster. Finally, SER has traditionally offered many opportunities for students, but less attention has been paid to members at other stages. I would like to see more career development/survival skill offerings for early and mid-career epidemiologists, and for members who are transitioning to leadership positions.
In addition to the GuLF STUDY, my research includes both mission-driven and investigator initiated studies, most recently through primary and secondary data collection in cohort studies. I built and continue to follow the Sister Study cohort which includes over 50,000 women with a sister who has had breast cancer, and share our data with students, fellows, and collaborators. I also have a sustained collaboration (since 1993) with colleagues from the National Cancer Institute, EPA and NIOSH studying the health of pesticide applicators and spouses in the Agricultural Health Study. I have had the opportunity to experience the full range of activities associated with a government and academic career, including grant-writing, training students and postdocs, and working as part of collaborative teams. I am aware of the challenges facing the field and am committed to creating opportunities for the next generation of epidemiologists. The experience I bring to the SER includes longstanding management responsibilities as Chief of the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS since 2000, past service as Education Committee Chair and President of the American College of Epidemiology, and service on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Epidemiology and as an Editor of Epidemiology. I believe that these professional, scientific, management, and leadership activities give me the background and experience to be an effective SER president.
If given the chance, I look forward to working with the SER leadership and members to continue to promote and advance the field.
Chief and Senior Investigator
Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH
For the past 20 years, SER has been my professional home. Since discovering my passion for research as a graduate student, I have been an active member of SER and attended every annual meeting. It is a great honor for me to be considered for SER President. Read more
My broad experience in epidemiologic research, mentorship, and scientific administration as well as my long-standing involvement with SER will allow me to serve the membership well as SER President. Over the years, I have served as a faculty member and organized symposiums for SER, but also organized the first Fun Run at the 2014 annual conference, which has become a continuing annual conference event. My mentees have been recognized for their hard work via the SER travel award and the Lillienfeld Postdoctoral Prize Paper Award and I was recognized with the SER Excellence in Education Award in 2015. What makes SER so great is that intensive scientific exchange happens in an atmosphere that also fosters professional development and deep friendships. If I have the opportunity to serve as SER President, my efforts will focus on three main areas to enhance the continuing success of SER.
First, I would like to enhance training for successful grantsmanship and introduce new funding opportunities, especially for young investigators. Given the ongoing shortage of funding for our field, I believe SER should play an active role in supporting expanded funding of epidemiologic research. There are multiple avenues through which SER could support this mission, including competitive funding for early career researchers to provide start-up or pilot funding for risky but promising hypotheses, developing training opportunities on grant writing from experts in the field and project officers, tapping into the tremendous experience of senior faculty for reviewing grants for young investigators—especially those in remote locations, and promoting broader funding of epidemiologic research. Funding is paramount.
Second, I would increase the intensity and visibility of SER initiatives to increase membership diversity. With additional outreach to practicing epidemiologists, we can become an even more vibrant professional home for clinicians, applied epidemiologists and public health workers, as well as researchers interested in population health problems working in specialties such as genetics, bioinformatics, nursing, and biology. I want to foster an inclusive environment in which professionals committed to population health can collaborate, exchange ideas, and encourage each other’s research. As an immigrant myself, I appreciate the value of diverse perspectives and experiences. Diversity is paramount.
Third, I will expand the ongoing efforts to make SER a year-round and global experience for its members. We can participate in seminars and journal clubs from multiple epidemiology departments across the world in live broadcasts and partner with the epidemiology journals to create an online journal club for increased interaction and visibility. We have seen much success as a society with SERdigital, and through growing such efforts we can propel SER to the next level. Globalization is paramount.
If I have the honor of serving as SER president, I will work to increase funding opportunities, diversity, and globalization to further the mission of SER. Those who know me well know that I strive for the best in all that I do. It is with this same mentality that I hope to increase the success of SER and foster the strong population health research conducted by our members.
Member at Large
Daniel Westreich, PhD
Department of Epidemiology
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Thank you for considering my candidacy for the SER Executive Board. I come to you as both a scientist and a citizen, with numerous years of experience serving SER in several capacities. As a scientist, I believe strongly in epidemiologic methods as a core focus of the Society. I feel that working on important substantive problems can help us refine our methods, and that refining our methods helps us do our substantive work better. Read more
As a citizen, I believe that in the current political climate, the Society must take a more public position defending the integrity of science and the role of epidemiologic and population health science in setting national and local health policy. As a member of the Executive Board, I promise to consistently urge the Society to engage publicly in these capacities.
As well, as citizen-epidemiologists, we must all become more conscious not just of the importance of science in the public sphere, but also of the role that social factors, including race, sex/gender, sexual orientation, immigrant status, and the intersections of these factors (and others) play in health. Now, more than ever, health policy must be based on sound science, and our science must focus on reduction of harm among those most at risk.
Kiarri Kershaw, PhD, MPH
Preventative Medicine (Epidemiology)
My involvement with SER first started almost a decade ago when I volunteered at the meeting in Chicago as a doctoral student. SER’s commitment to providing students with opportunities to attend meetings and interact with experts in the field is what initially drew me in and I quickly became an official member in 2009. Read more
I identify as a social epidemiologist first and foremost, and my research to date has focused on understanding the contributions of the social environment, particularly racial/ethnic residential segregation, to cardiovascular-related health and health disparities. Upon completing my MPH and PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Michigan in 2010, I did my postdoctoral training in cardiovascular disease epidemiology at Northwestern University’s Department of Preventive Medicine. I went on to join the faculty there as an Assistant Professor in 2012.
I am running for SER Executive Committee Member at Large because I want to give back to the organization that has played such an important role in my development as an epidemiologist. I have experience with conference planning and scheduling from my two years on the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Committee on Scientific Sessions Program (2015 – present). In addition, I believe my experiences on faculty in a medical school setting could add insights into ways to expand SER’s reach to epidemiologists with a more clinical focus.
Magdalena Cerda, DrPH MPH
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
Associate Director of the Violence
Prevention Research Program
University of California at Davis
I am enormously excited about the possibility of becoming a Member-at-large of the Executive Committee at SER. I first joined SER more than a decade ago, attracted by an annual meeting that has all the qualities I look for in a professional conference: it offers high-quality talks over a range of substantive and methodological topics in a setting that is small enough to hear all voices and encourage new ideas to emerge. Read more
I am an associate professor at the UC Davis School of Medicine and I am primarily based at the Violence Prevention Research Program (VPRP). I obtained my doctorate in Social Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health and completed a postdoctoral fellowship through the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program. Fundamentally, I care about using epidemiology to identify and evaluate policies that can improve population health. I am currently working on projects that examine how social and health policies shape existing and emerging problems of violence and substance use. I believe we can combine methods from epidemiology, statistics, economics, and systems science to get the right answers to these types of questions. My ongoing studies focus on identifying the types of firearms disqualification criteria that could bring about the greatest reduction in firearm violence; evaluating the impact of prescription drug monitoring programs on average rates and socioeconomic inequalities in prescription opioid and heroin overdose; and examining the health and social consequences of emerging marijuana regulations in the United States and Uruguay.
Simultaneously, as Associate Director of VPRP, I am engaged in developing a new research program that focuses on addressing the causes, consequences, and ways to prevent violence. This involves recruiting and mentoring new faculty, students, postdocs and staff, and developing a vision for how we can become the premier center for policy-relevant violence research. Our program uses epidemiologic evidence to inform lawmakers about the types of modifiable factors policies can target to reduce violence, and evaluates the impact that newly-enacted policies have on violence. I believe such experiences can enrich the vision and potential of SER.
If elected, I will work on creating opportunities for new epidemiologists to learn how to effectively inform policy debates that impact population health. I believe we have a unique opportunity to use modern epidemiologic methods to identify and explain the impact that health- and non-health-related policies have on population health. But doing so requires a unique set of skills that are not taught in traditional epidemiology programs, including learning how to communicate policy-relevant findings to a lay audience, how to use research to inform discussions of policy decisions, and how to work with policymakers so that evaluation can inform future policy. SER can fill that gap. Some of the activities I envision include: mentoring programs that match senior researchers who collaborate with local, state and federal government institutions on policy questions, with junior researchers with an interest in this area; pre-SER annual meeting workshops on communicating with the media; SERdigital sessions where experts discuss challenges and opportunities to engage with policymakers; and SERplaylists discussing how specific researchers have informed policy debates, going from identification of a public health problem to the evaluation of policy solutions.
Thank you for nominating me for this position. I very much look forward to working with all of you on these important and exciting challenges to ensure that epidemiology can critically inform the public debate on population health.
Thomas Ahern, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
University of Vermont, Burlington
Many of us think of SER as our intellectual home. This is particularly true for me—an early career epidemiologist at a small institution, with appointments in clinical and basic science departments. I earned my MPH and PhD degrees in epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health, completed a post-doctoral fellowship in cancer epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, then joined the University of Vermont in 2014 as an assistant professor with dual appointments in the surgery and biochemistry departments. Read more
While there are moments I envy my colleagues at large schools of public health, I am grateful to represent our field in the atypical arenas in which I work. It has given me a better appreciation for the value of epidemiologic thinking in all avenues of scientific investigation, and a deeper commitment to sharing our methods—and the discoveries they afford—with colleagues from other disciplines.
Though I spend the majority of my effort researching the molecular and pharmaceutical determinants of breast cancer survival, I truly live to teach. I co-instruct a clinical research methods course for physicians at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Each student begins the course with an important question facing their patient population, but little idea of how to pursue valid answers using our local data sources. They leave the course with a manuscript draft, if not with a publication. I also teach a biennial seminar on advanced epidemiologic methods to international doctoral students at the University of Tampere in Finland. I learned to teach partly by emulating the gifted professors I’ve had, and partly through repetition and responding to student feedback. While this seems to work well enough, educational research—which has evolved quickly in the digital learning environment—stands to improve how each of us transfers our knowledge and love of epidemiology to students.
If successful in my bid to become an SER Member-at-Large, I will use my voice on the executive committee to help promote our field (and our society) in untapped clinical and basic science disciplines. I will also work to expand SER educational programs and symposia so that members at all career levels can become more effective educators in the modern learning environment. And most importantly, I will continue to meet new colleagues at SER, learn their interests and concerns, and help tailor our society to the needs of its members. It would be a great honor to serve SER in this capacity.