John Pamplin

First Year PhD Candidate in Epidemiology

When I was an undergrad, I thought that I wanted to go into neuroscience research. But the outcomes from those studies are so far removed from the people I wanted to help that it can take decades before any real action happens. As a graduate student, I studied the timing of hormone release in hamsters. At some point in the distant future, that work might be applicable to human subjects, but I wanted to see my work live. Public health provides that kind of opportunity. Later, after I got into my MPH coursework at the Mailman School, I saw that if I wanted to be a lead researcher on studies, I needed to get a PhD.

I haven’t looked back since arriving at the Mailman School. The moment I realized that I needed to get my PhD came to me during my practicum with Mount Sinai after my first year as an MPH student, while studying the effects of perceived stress on Hispanics in Northern Manhattan. During that practicum, I saw that all the planning was being done by the PhDs, and then the MPHs would take over with the management and implementation. By that point, I was ready to create my own research agenda.

During my first year in the PhD program, I learned a lot about myself and the kind of research that I want to do. With the number of deaths around the United States of people of color resulting from police actions, I realized I couldn’t remain silent on the public health issues affecting minorities. I want to be the person that brings the hard, quantitative data to the discussion. I want to be able to point to the numbers in my research and say, “Look, these issues are real. And here is the proof.”

I want to see my work help the people that need it the most and reduce systemic health disparities. And that’s only going to happen by building on the base of knowledge that I have with my MPH.

At this stage, I’m trying to keep my future open-ended. Whether it’s academia, government, or a public health think-tank, whatever venue allows me to ask the kinds of questions I want to ask, that’s where I want to be.