Dornsife Faculty Recognized for Significant Contributions to the Field of Epidemiology
June 22, 2023
At the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER) annual meeting from June 13-16, 2023, in Portland, Oregon, two faculty members from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health were recognized for their significant contributions to the field of epidemiology.
Sherman A. James Diverse and Inclusive Epidemiology Award
Sharrelle Barber, ScD, MPH, assistant professor and director of the Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements and Population Health Equity at the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH), received the Sherman A. James Diverse and Inclusive Epidemiology Award.
The Sherman A. James award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated research, teaching or service that expands the scope of the field to under-represented or disadvantaged populations or researchers, and with an impact that has facilitated greater diversity and inclusiveness.
Barber was presented with the award on Friday of the conference and gave an acceptance speech that highlighted the power of working collectively for a better future:
“We occupy every space. We challenge outdated modes of thinking and bring fresh and nuanced ideas that push us to ask different questions and utilize different methods. We resist extractive practices that reduce our communities to data points, but rather honor the shared humanity and work to leverage data in service to the communities and movements working to bring about transformative change,” said Barber.
Barber concluded, “We work collectively, because there is plenty of work for all of us to do. We show up in the field and bring our brilliance and boldness in such a way that future generations will know we were here; that we did not squander this moment but we met the magnitude of the moment with the courage that it requires. And we do so, propelled forward by the ancestors who continue to push us forward from the other side, encouraged and supported by the elders, and accountable to the future generations who will benefit from our existence and the work we do in this moment.”
In the photograph below, Barber is pictured with Sherman A. James, PhD, the pioneering social epidemiologist who the award is named after, and his wife Alyce.
Brian MacMahon Early Career Epidemiologist Award
Usama Bilal, MD, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at DSPH and the Urban Health Collaborative, was awarded the Brian MacMahon Early Career Epidemiologist Award. This award recognizes early career epidemiologists who have already made substantial contributions to the field and are poised to become future leaders in epidemiology.
Bilal was awarded on Friday of the conference and gave an acceptance speech focusing on the importance of theory in epidemiology:
“I think we can all agree that the mission of epidemiology is to describe the patterns of disease and suffering in populations and to help prevent this same disease and suffering. I consider theory to be a crucial component of this mission, and challenging prevailing individualistic narratives to be a powerful tool to achieve this mission,” said Bilal.
Bilal concluded, “the idea that the production of health lays at the individual level is very common in the cultural narrative and ends up reflected in budgeting decisions that prioritize individual-level solutions to societal-level problems. If I had to name one wish for the field of epidemiology it’d be to make it possible to use our work to challenge this narrative.”
In addition to faculty receiving awards, several researchers from DSPH also presented, hosted workshops, and more. View DSPH’s SER guide to learn more.
Learn more about the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Dornsife School of Public Health.