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The Right Field for Me

Posted on January 20, 2009

Guillermo J. Prado (bio) talks about why he chose the field of epidemiology.

 

I started working at the University of Miami. I was a graduate student at the time obtaining a Master's degree in statistics, and soon after I finished, I had no idea where I was going to go and what I was going to do.

As a matter of fact, I was convinced I was going to be a statistician working for the federal government, either in the Census Bureau or a U.S. Bureau of Labor. And actually I went to interview at both of those places and received two job offers. And a colleague of mine now, he was looking for a data analyst to work at a research center. And he counter-offered one of the job offers I had from the U.S. government, and I decided to go ahead and take that.

And I was working as a statistician there for two or three years, and then I started to really love the work I was doing and getting more into the substantive area that I was working in, which was drug abuse and HIV. And after doing that for a few years, I decided that if I was going to stay in academia, that I really needed to go back and get a doctorate degree.

So I decided to go back, and I started working on my Ph.D. in epidemiology and public health. And at that point I had sort of figured out that I was in the right field for me, and I love what I did. I love to work in drug abuse and HIV prevention and in trying to improve the health of my community. I work a lot with Hispanic populations, and it's something that I really, really enjoy doing.

The research center where I was working, I was housed in the Department of Psychiatry, and the Department of Psychiatry didn't offer tenure track positions, which is something that I was interested in. So I went out in the job market and applied for different jobs and landed a job as a tenure track faculty at another institution, and then I took that job.

So this is how I got to where I am now. And where I want to go, where I want to be in the next five, ten years is sort of along this same line. It's just to really continue this trajectory of research that I've been working with and to try to improve the overall health of Hispanics and particularly Hispanic youth, which is the population that I focus on.

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Excerpted from an interview with researcher at the 2008 National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse Conference in Bethesda, MD.

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