Member Insight – Robert Orellana

What sparked your decision to become an epidemiologist?

I was first introduced to infectious disease epidemiology through my microbiology undergraduate courses. I quickly realized this was the right fit for me academically and professionally. I recall during my first semester in graduate school, that this was more than just a career, it was a vocation. I have not regretted my decision once. Along the way, I have learned from many brilliant instructors and mentors, and I am fortunate to work alongside a wonderful cohort of applied epidemiologists. 

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

Our field has certainly experienced the spotlight and the accompanying growing pains in the midst of the pandemic. One major accomplishment that many in our field have collectively advocated for is equitable health – in research and the community. One of the biggest obstacles going forward will be to sustain the importance of having an equitable lens with those outside our field, whether it be for supporting epidemiology research or public health policy.

Do you have any pets?

I love animals and currently have one #EpiCat, a Siamese named Claire adopted from the Humane Society.

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

I joined SER in graduate school for the content.  Specifically, the online resources for students and professionals alike.  At first to help me prepare for quals, then later to prepare for my career.  There is a wealth of information from fellow epidemiologists across the globe.  I stay with SER for the community which is inclusive and friendly.

What advice do you give students who want to become epidemiologists?

Do not be shy to reach out and find out more from others.  The epidemiology community, especially within SER, can provide incredible insight on different perspectives and careers within our field.  #EpiTwitter is just one example of our community and many of us love to share our journeys.

Outside of epidemiology what do you enjoy doing?

I have a young son and my family is everything to me.  We all enjoy the outdoors, especially walks and parks, but we also love reading together. On my own time, I am a big soccer (futbol) fan but I haven’t followed it much in the last year and I hope to enjoy it more after the pandemic subsides.

What is something that not many people know about you?

I went to grad school with a very special cohort of epis.  The careers they are leading now or the future careers they will soon embark on are incredible and I am proud to call them lifelong friends.  Too many to name but they are the inspiration for me when the job gets tough – thank you to all my fellow Buckeyes!