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Who we are and what we do: Atif Edition!

I’m an Epidemiologist. Contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean I’m a skin doctor. Epidemiology is a broad field that encompasses methods and techniques used to address health issues that affect populations. Or, put more eloquently “Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease, and disease related states, in a population of individuals.” In short – Epidemiologists study who is getting sick, what is making them sick, and how sick they are getting. You can replace “sick” with any health outcome there, and there’s an epidemiologist looking at it. We do other stuff too, but that’s a story for another day.

I’m currently in the second year of my PhD, studying youth health. I believe that our environment, both social and physical, leads to many of the health issues that we face on a regular basis. This is a perspective that comes from my undergraduate degree in Ecology. When ecologists study squirrel health for example, they never look at one single squirrel in isolation; they look at the entire squirrel population. Why don’t we do the same with people? Why look at the individual, but ignore the environment that individual exists in?

I took this perspective, and thought about how it could apply to people instead of animals. Our social circle as we grow shapes our health and our health-related behaviours. More importantly, these behaviours can stay with us for the rest of our lives. If you have three minutes and want to learn more about my work, you can check out my talk at the Queen’s University Three Minute Thesis Contest.

Outside of graduate school, I keep myself occupied with a range of activities. I play ultimate with two different leagues here in Kingston, and spend a fair bit of time at the ARC working out. I’m also a giant nerd (Sharday and I have had many long conversations about Star Trek and how Captain Jean-Luc Picard is awesome). I’m also a photographer, and I blog about higher education and epidemiology at www.MrEpidemiology.com. I also play the guitar and I’m currently learning how to play the ukulele!

You can connect with me here on Gradifying, or on Twitter @MrEpid

Finally, I’m a huge Ottawa Senators fan! GO SENS GO!!

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