What is your field of study and what drew you to this field?
My field of study is the development of systems engineering models of disease epidemiology for analyses of national disease prevention and control strategies. My entry into this field was a chance encounter. My interests had always been to work with non-profit organizations, including United Nations organizations and agencies. However, I did not feel strongly about my skills in the humanities and sciences that I thought to be the core disciplines of non-profit organizations. I felt relatively good about my analytical skills and logical reasoning so I instead chose an engineering field. My first link into my current field came when I got the opportunity to enroll in a PhD program in Industrial Engineering (IE) at the University of South Florida, where my advisor, Dr. Tapas Das, introduced me to systems modeling (part of IE) of cancer for analysis of screening strategies. This and several such fortunate opportunities, which lined my skills with my passion got me into this field of application of systems engineering tools for disease prevention. Over the years my interest in this area has continuously risen as I have gotten to understand the critical role that Industrial Engineering tools can play in national and global humanitarian efforts, in the identification of intervention strategies for optimal allocation of limited resources.
What drew you to UMass?
I chose UMass because of the interesting interdisciplinary work on a variety of societal problems conducted by faculty across the University and in my home department, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, which were motivational and assuring of support for similar interdisciplinary research that I intend to pursue in disease prevention.
What courses are you teaching? What does it mean to be teaching at CHC?
I offer two courses, MIE 290H (SB): Infections and Social Determinants- Simulation Modeling for Disease Prevention (in Spring) and MIE397H: Malaria, Cancer, Climate Change, and Social Networks: Simulation modeling for addressing world problems (in Fall). An opportunity to teach these courses, which also align with my interests and passion, in small multidisciplinary classes was another reason that attracted me to UMass. Solving societal problems is a multidisciplinary effort, and students can benefit by working together in small teams. Small classes provide a better means of engaging students to their full potential.
What do you intend to do on campus?
My long-term interests are in developing open-source systems models for analyses of synergistic approaches to disease prevention by considering the underlying social, economic, and environmental determinants common to most diseases. Along with my collaborators at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I am currently working on a model for the analyses of national strategies for prevention of HIV in the United States. I am also working on a model for the estimation of health impacts of breast and cervical cancer screening in low and middle income countries and corresponding resource needs, which is in collaboration with Avenir Health and the World Health Organization.