My experience in the RWJ program has been a transformative one. Through collaborations with the talented RWJ faculty and scholars and attendance at conferences from a variety of disciplines, I have expanded my professional network as well as my research goals and objectives. In collaboration with an interdisciplinary group of researchers at both UCSF and UCB, I have engaged in a program of research that spans multiple levels of analysis and extends far beyond my training as an epidemiologist. Through these collaborations I have initiated a pilot project that uses brain imaging to understand how early life experience is biologically embedded. I intend to continue this work through a mentored career development award from NIH. I am grateful to the national program office, the UCSF/UCB faculty, and my fellow RWJ scholars for providing such a stimulating and supportive environment during this critical time in my professional development.
My time with in the Health & Society Scholar program has undoubtedly changed my approach to research. I entered the RWJ program with training in sociology and demography and have been privileged to spend the last two years collaborating with scholars in epidemiology, anthropology, psychology, and economics. Our research has attempted to measure the causal influence of contextual experiences on population health. The opportunity to consider the biological mechanisms that allow the social world to be embodied and transmitted between generations was particularly eye-opening for a social scientist. Debating the central issues in population health with these colleagues has provided a rich introduction to new fields, and in many ways, has served as a reintroduction to the underlying assumptions of my own.
In a short term sense, my time in the program has broadened the literature I read, the questions I ask, and the methods I consider. More broadly - and perhaps more importantly - it has changed how I think about the universe of information that is unfamiliar to me - that it is both accessible and non-ignorable. I would be incredibly fortunate if my career were dotted with intellectual experiences as rich as those in this program.