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Shiny Epi People

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The world needs more empathy, joy, vulnerability, & laughter! Lisa Bodnar talks to a diverse group of epidemiologists about everything except epi. Personal beats professional. More heart, less smart.


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The world needs more empathy, joy, vulnerability, & laughter! Lisa Bodnar talks to a diverse group of epidemiologists about everything except epi. Personal beats professional. More heart, less smart.




AJ Adkins-Jackson, PhD on music as 'home', Dr. Dre, boxing, and comic sans

Season 2 finale ends with a bang! Paris "AJ" Adkins-Jackson, PhD is a multidisciplinary health equity researcher and Assistant Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University. She tells me how her career path moved from anthropology to studying impact of structural determinants of health on historically marginalized groups. She tells me about the richness of her life outside of work, including finding a home in music from childhood to today, and kicking butt boxing, We chat about looking for a co-parent, singing our grant applications, and fonts we hate. Thank you for all of your support this season! Support the show


Beth Linas, PhD on life outside of academia and ranking chain restaurants

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Fausto Bustos, PhD, on life crossing the southern border and loving prunes

You will surely love today's episode with Fausto Bustos, PhD. Fausto is an infectious disease epidemiologist and an ORISE Data Science Fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he provides data analytic expertise, computational and statistical assistance, and substantive scientific knowledge to advance their research mission. Fausto grew up crossing the southern border of the US for school every day, lived in poverty with his mother and brother, and found an escape in education. His story is stirring, but his combination of intellect, humor, and silliness makes his life so far a story of resilience. Support the show


Rachel Hardeman, PhD on dismantling structural racism and advice for penguins

Rachel Hardeman, PhD is nothing short of a powerhouse. She is a reproductive health equity researcher, scholar, teacher, writer, speaker, and activist. Rachel is Associate Professor and the first Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity. Division of Health Policy & Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Her research links structural racism to health, identifies opportunities for intervention, and dismantles the systems, structures, and institutions that allow inequities to persist. Two of her most important roles are as PI and founder of the Measuring & Operationalizing Racism to Achieve Health Equity lab and director of the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity. She has so many other roles and projects that I mention on this episode. Today, Rachel discusses what motivates her to keep doing the hard work in racial justice, what her biggest impact has been thus far in her career, and what she sees as the broader vision of her work. She also tells me about airplane snacks, Prosecco, her love of Prince (RIP), and advice for penguins. I am so very honored Rachel would find time to share with us! Support the show


Steve Mooney, PhD on being a cis dude in therapy, divorcing, and online dating

Steve Mooney, PhD, is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health. He and I have been friends since 2017, and we met because we were both in the very early stages of our divorces. On the show, we talk about how our divorce has changed our feelings about our family structure. He tells me what it's like to be a cis American man deciding to go to therapy (in a culture that tells men to ignore their feelings) and how we try to muddle through the dating apps. Support the show


Maria Glymour, PhD on the path to finding her career and riding cows in Oklahoma

Today, my chat with the amazing Maria Glymour, ScD, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California - San Francisco. Maria tells me about being lost after college and her winding road to epidemiology, growing up in rural Oklahoma, riding cows, the Beastie Boys, a dinner party with Jaws, and the 'flavor' red. I don't think I've ever laughed this hard during an interview. Enjoy! Support the show


Tamarra James-Todd, PhD on peer mentoring and joy riding in her dad's Mustang

Tamarra James-Todd, PhD is an Associate Professor of Environmental Health at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. She tells me about the motivations for her research interests in environmental reproductive justice, dedicating her diabetes research to her late father, the value of peer mentorship, joy riding with her dad in his Mustang in the '70s, dinner with Hannibal Lecter and Molly Ringwald, and more! Laugh along with us! Support the show


Chenoa Cassidy-Matthews, MPH on Indigenous research and shark tank diving

Chenoa Cassidy-Matthews is a rockstar PhD student in epidemiology at the University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health. She is a member of the Sachigo Lake First Nation, which is an Oji Cree First Nation band government in an area that colonizers now call Northwestern Ontario Canada. Chenoa is an indigenous health researcher and epidemiologist. She studies the impacts of overdose and COVID-19 on urban Indigenous young people, and develop recommendations for a holistic, self-determined, Indigenous response. Chenoa talks with me about her Indigenous background and research and how they conflict with her current training and how she takes care of herself in a time when Indigenous Nations and Peoples’ human rights are violated. Chenoa and I discuss how she pushes back on academic norms, how she stays connected to her culture, and many of the enriching outside of work activities that make her a very whole person. You'll learn something here as I did! Enjoy! Support the show


Whitney Robinson, PhD on apologizing, male mentorship, and bad 90s fashion

Today you hear from Whitney Robinson, PhD, social epidemiologist and all around brilliant, thoughtful, vulnerable woman. She is so well known in the public health community after her positions as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Societies Scholar, assistant and then associate professor at UNC in the epidemiology department, and now as faculty epidemiologist in the Division of Women’s Community and Population Health in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine. Whitney tells me about her recent transition to Duke, what she learned about changing jobs midcareer, how her personality matches her new job description, how male mentors shaped her training, and what makes for a good apology. Living in the pocket of a kangaroo, how she'd blow 5 grand, bad 90s fashion and more come up in our conversation. Enjoy! Support the show


Brandon Marshall, PhD on letting staff lead and 90 little Christmas houses

If you know my guest today, you probably know what a rock star researcher is, but you may not know much of anything personal about him. Today, Brandon Marshall, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Brown University, gives me a glimpse into his life: acting, snowboarding, home decorating, caring for 2 pugs, and stubbornly refusing to leave Celsius back in Canada. Of course, Brandon shares how he successfully manages a very large research team, cross-training staff and letting them lead, and avoiding overwhelm. Enjoy! Support the show


Dana Bernson, MPH on government epi, grief, joy, and candy corn

Today you'll hear from Dana Bernson, MPH, Epidemiologist and Director of Special Analytic Projects within the Office of Population Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. She tells me about her position in state government and what she finds so fulfilling about it. Dana also generously shares the story of her first husband's passing, leaving her a widow at age 29. We discuss joy and grief, her pandemic elopement, as well as being a Nashville hot chicken sandwich, her unabashed love of candy corn, the band Creed (it's a no for her!), "We Found Love in a Homeless Place", and more! Support the show


Sameera Nayak, MA on antidepressants changing her life and being a rescue dog mom

I am happy to present to you a delightful conversation I had with Sameera Nayak, MA, who is currently a doctoral student in Population Health in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at the Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research at Northeastern University. Sameera tells me about immigrating to the US from India at 18 for college and navigating the academic system as an immigrant. She very courageously talks about past depressive episodes, her internalized stigma associated with medication use, her decision to start meds, and how they have changed her life for the better. I loved this story! Rescue dogs, cheugi (replaces cringey), eating nutella with a spoon, and bad taste in music. Enjoy! Support the show


Roland Thorpe, PhD on diversity, equity, and inclusion and being chocolate mousse

Today, I got to enjoy an informative, hilarious, and illuminating conversation with the incomparable Roland Thorpe, Professor of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. And his newest position, which we talk about today, is as the Associate Vice Provost of Faculty Diversity. Roland also discusses his love of food and drink, Android vs. iPhone, broccoli vs. broccolini, a story of academic kindness, and more! Enjoy! Support the show


Jaimie Gradus, DSc on luck in grant funding and SER friendships

Welcome to the premier of Season 2 of Shiny Epi People! I could not find a better way to start this new season than to chat with one of my epi besties Jaimie Gradus, DSc. Jaimie is an Associate Professor at Boston University School of Public Health whose research focuses on psychiatric epidemiology. She has an impressive NIH grant portfolio, so we talk success, luck, and the lack of meritocracy in grant funding. Jaimie and I also share our best memories of the annual meetings of the Society for Epidemiologic Research, how we help each other succeed, her life growing up in the Bronx, hatred of jelly donuts and waterparks, and much more. Jaimie is so authentic and funny. You will enjoy this episode for sure! Support the show


Updates from Hoda Abdel Magid!

It is the final of the update episodes with guests from 2020! Today, you hear from the hilarious Hoda Abdel Magid. Hoda is currently in the second year of her postdoc. She tells me about resubmitting her K99-R00 application, hot yoga in a hijab, a setup date in Cairo that she didn't know was a setup, surfing, therapy (a fav topic of mine!), and more! You will LOL in this one. Please enjoy, and thank you for all of your support! Support the show


Updates from Louisa Smith and Michelle Caunca!

Summer is nearly over, but I have two more updates of these episodes to put out! So we are going to keep calling them summer episodes! Today, you hear from two recent graduates and rising stars you first heard from in 2020: Louisa Smith, PhD, and Michelle Caunca, MD, PhD. Since her episode aired, Louisa has defended her dissertation, accepted a postdoc, participated in a triathlon, spent the summer in Switzerland, is on the dating apps, and more! Michelle updates me on her feelings of imposter syndrome in Medicine, the residency match process, how she is doing so far in her residency, moving from SoCal to NorCal, and of course her mom, the fittest mom in LA! Enjoy! Support the show


Updates from Bertha Hidalgo!

I believe in summer through September! Here is a fourth summer bonus episode for your enjoyment! And I have a treat with the hilarious and sweet Bertha Hidalgo. Bertha was my guest back in 2020, and so many of you loved her episode then. Today's will not disappoint! Bertha and I talk about her appearance on Dancing with the Stars (local version!), managing anxiety, valuing family during Covid, and holding your breath for 4 minutes. We get updates on fungo bats, baseball, mixed drinks, and baby carrots! Support the show


Updates from Matt Fox and Mya Roberson!

It's early September, and I'm still going to call this a summer episode! Today, you'll hear updates from Matt Fox and Mya Roberson. If you haven't listened to their original episodes way back in 2020, go have a listen. Matt and I talk some more here on kindness (or lack thereof) on Twitter, deli meat sheets, and superheroes. Mya finished her dissertation and got a faculty position since her first episode, so her update is especially great for trainees. We also meet her husband and her dogs. Enjoy this bonus! Support the show


Updates from Leslie McClure, Hailey Banack, and Penny Gordon Larsen!

Summer is ending, but my summer bonus episodes are not! Today, you get to hear 3 interviews which all appeared first on my Patreon as a thank you to my patrons (become one at Today, they are out for all to enjoy! You hear updates from Leslie McClure, Penny Gordon Larsen, and Hailey Banack. They all appeared on the show early in Season 1 and are here to tell you what's going on in their lives since their recording. If you didn't hear their first episodes, go back and have a listen so you can follow some of our silliness! Support the show


Updates from Tim Sheahan!

Hi everyone! Happy summer! I have been releasing update episodes this summer for supporters via my Patreon ( I decided to publish this summer bonus episode for all listeners because it is poignant and timely. I caught up with coronavirus researcher Tim Sheahan, who recorded with me back in fall 2020, when the pandemic was raging. In this conversation, Tim gives me updates on his work in the lab and how he is managing to balance work and life. But more importantly, he shows us the emotional toll that the pandemic has taken on him, a front-line worker, and the worry he has about his unvaccinated children. It is honest and vulnerable and everything this show is about. I can't wait for you to listen and feel deeply. Support the show