SER President’s Message

I’m so honored to serve SER as President this year.  I’m awed by the number of members who work mostly behind the scenes to make the Society a hub of learning, teaching, and collaboration.  The shaping of SER meetings (note the plural) in 2020 are already underway.  On Friday, March 6, 2020, our first SER Mid-Year meeting will feature Keynote Speaker Sonia Hernandez-Diaz and two symposia.  To increase accessibility, it will be a live web-conference at no cost to SER members.  The SER Board will meet at the end of this month to review symposium proposals for both the Mid-Year and the regular June meetings.

It’s official: SER is growing!  Although numbers had increased at the last few SER meetings, we weren’t ready to claim this as real growth because attendance depends to a certain extent on venue.  When we last met in Minneapolis in 2012, 714 people attended; this year, we had 1147 attendees.  Thankfully, our venue for SER 2020 in Boston has larger meeting rooms to accommodate our increasing numbers.

I’d like to share with you a slide presented by Professor Shawnita Sealey-Jefferson at SER 2019.  I know I wasn’t the only one in the room that was stunned by the magnitude of time since Africans were enslaved in America in proportion to the 55 years since the Civil Rights Act.  Recognition of this 400-year history has taken on various forms across the US, but I want to call out the New York Times 1619 Project, which appears in the August 18 issue of their Magazine.  It has superb essays on how America’s slave history shapes our world today. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend it.  After all, this context matters in our epidemiologic studies.