Profiles in Public Health


Benjamin Ackerman

PhD, Biostatistics

1. In one sentence, what is public health to you?

Public health is about improving human health through prevention, access to care, and treating ALL people with respect and dignity.

2. What inspired you to study public health?

During my freshman year of college, I read a book in an anthropology class that examined how the spread of HIV/AIDS was affected by different structures of sexual networks.  As someone who’s always been interested in quantitative sciences, I was fascinated by how statistical methods could be utilized to describe the severity of health issues at a community level.

3. What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?

Honestly, it’s so difficult to pinpoint a single experience! Being a biostatistician in a school of public health has allowed me to collaborate on several impactful research projects.  But if I must choose one… this past year, I worked as a statistical consultant on a randomized trial conducted by a pharmaceutical company. I recently found out that the drug from the trial was approved by the FDA, and knowing that this treatment will improve people’s health has made this experience incredibly meaningful!

4. What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?

Learn how to code! No matter what you do in public health, you will encounter statistics eventually (I promise), and the sooner you learn how to use statistical packages, the more confident you will feel using them throughout your career.

5. What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?

As a field, I think that public health should focus more on how to effectively disseminate research findings. While many researchers view publishing in a scientific journal as the end goal, I think that the public health field would benefit from exploring new and creative ways to expose more people (both in and out of the field) to the vastness of exciting research being conducted.

Find an Academic Program in Biostatistics and Informatics, TIPH