Epidemiology, health behavior, and health-related behavior
When I moved to Minneapolis in 2006, my apartment backed up to a bike trail, and that ended up shaping all the ways that I got around the city.
It occurred to me that if that bike trail hadn’t been right there, I wouldn’t have been so active, and I decided that I was really interested in all the things that shape our choices.
Now I study health behavior and health-related behavior. A lot of work on this topic has to do with the choices that people make, but I became interested in looking at the frameworks in which we make those choices, and how public policy can be used to shape or guide choices to allow people to have healthier behaviors when they otherwise wouldn’t. Being able to study health-related behaviors and public policy together is what brought me to public health.
I like the breadth of epidemiology. Everybody needs an epidemiologist; even if they don’t know it, marketing firms need epidemiologists! Being able to quantify that all the work we’re doing on bike infrastructure is actually saving hundreds of millions of dollars a year in disease prevention, for example, is really significant.