What sparked your decision to become an epidemiologist?
After college, I worked for an educational and support non-profit that provided resources to Latinx and African American survivors of breast cancer. Part of my job was reading current findings in the literature and conveying them to a lay audience. This exposed me to the kind of studies and work that epidemiologists do. I didn’t even know about the field before then! It seemed like a career path where I could focus on social justice and also lean on my analytic strengths.
What do you see as the biggest obstacle facing epidemiologists in the next five years?
The pandemic a really thrust epidemiology into the public discourse. This has coincided with growing distrust of public institutions and propagation of misinformation by some. Clear and compelling communication has always been a challenge and now more than ever, if we want to hold the public’s trust in order to improve public health, we will have to contend with this.
Do you have any pets?
No, but I have two boys and they are covered in dirt, eat things off the floor, are not fully potty trained.
Why did you join SER? What keeps you coming back?
My PhD program was very small (only one or two epidemiology PhDs per cohort), so I thought it would be a great way to be a part of the larger epidemiology community. And I do feel like a part of that community! I also serve on two committees (Diversity and Inclusion and Scientific Dissemination) and that has been a great way to stay engaged, especially during the isolation of the pandemic.
What advice do you give students who want to become epidemiologists?
Get a sense of the different things you can do with an Epi degree (MPH or PhD). There are so many opportunities for people with training in epidemiology, keep an open mind!
Outside of epidemiology what do you enjoy doing?
I spend a lot of time with my wife and two boys which, luckily, I do enjoy a great deal. I love to be outside – biking, gardening, running, playing in the dirt with my kids (see above re: pets).
What is something that not many people know about you?
I am adopted! My biological mother was from Juarez, Mexico and I was born in El Paso, Texas. However, I am through and through a New Mexican and think that my home state, the Land of Enchantment, is by far the best in the nation. If you are planning a visit there, happy to talk at length about how wonderful it is!