Member Insight – Matthew Fox

What sparked your decision to become an epidemiologist?

I sort of fell into it. I was doing work in various countries and got interested in global public health and signed up for an MPH. I’d never heard of epidemiology at that point in my life but once I took my first epi class I was hooked and wanted to learn more. I applied to the PhD program as I was finishing my MPH but it wasn’t until I took Tim Lash’s Modern Epidemiology course that I realized how much I loved epi methods and wanted to teach it as well.

What do you see as the biggest obstacle facing epidemiologists in the next five years?

I think the biggest obstacle we face right now is around funding. It does seem to be getting harder and harder and I fear that that is going to cause some very talented people in the next generation, probably those who are new to SER tight now, to think they might not want to get into the field. I’m hopeful we don’t miss the next superstars because we as a society didn’t invest in the future of epidemiology. If you are one of those people, let’s talk.

Do you have any pets?

I have a dog named Jojo. He’s a midsize black collie mix and about the sweetest dog you’ve ever met. We got him while living in South Africa to act as a guard dog, but as best we can tell he’d let any robbers in and show them where the valuables were so long as they’d pet him.

Why did you join SER? What keeps you coming back?

I joined SER as a student to get more training and access to the cutting-edge methods and the experts in the field. Since then I’ve found it is the best way to meet likeminded people and get re-inspired by epidemiology. I keep coming back because it is an incredibly friendly, welcoming and social organization and I have enjoyed getting to see both the developments in the field and good friends every year at the annual meeting.

Outside of epidemiology what do you enjoy doing?

I really enjoy spending time with my family, running and travelling. I ran a marathon once and realized I didn’t like running that long. Instead, I try to run a few half marathons each year if anyone wants to run with me. I’m also still working on my goal of living on 6 of the 7 continents (forget Antarctica, we already have too much snow in Boston for my liking). I’ve currently been to 5 and lived on 4 (North America, Europe, Asia and Africa).

What is something that not many people know about you?

That I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the former Soviet country of Turkmenistan, right on the border of Iran and Afghanistan. I spent two and a half years trying to teach English to middle and high school kids (and for some reason, one group of kindergarteners who I couldn’t even get to sit down). I don’t think anyone learned any English from me but I learned to speak Russian (I’ve since forgotten it) and learned a lot about the world and myself.