Monday, October 29, 2012

Academia Done Right

I remember the first day of my Principles of Suicide Prevention course, we went around the room to talk about why we were taking the class.  Over and over again, from the 2 instructors to the students, though we were in different programs, there was the same refrain, "When I took DHem's class-," "DHem-," "DHem-."  When I got to Hopkins last fall, there it was again.  That one name everyone mentioned when they talked injury prevention, that one name that inspired them to care and see the world differently.  Except at Hopkins, it wasn't DHem.  It was Sue Baker.  She even predates DHem.

So when I saw a feature on her this Sunday, I thought: how could I not mention an article that a. features a hero in injury prevention and b. mentions the very title of this blog?

By 1973, she was teaching Hopkins’s first class in injury prevention. Baker’s decision to champion what was at the time a virtually nonexistent discipline was a mystery to some of her colleagues. One of them, a public-health professor, asked what she was working on. “The connection between alcohol and highway safety,” she replied.  “Oh,” the professor said, “is that public health?” (emphasis added)

--Robert W. Stock for the New York Times 
The world outside is raining and storming, you might as well take the time to enjoy this piece and be inspired by a woman who sees public health everywhere.  The article not only has some neat stories from the Annals of Safety History (any good student of Baker and DHem should recognize some of these), but also shows how a research career forms and grows and relates to the people and world around us.  It's that second part that makes me like the piece so much.  I don't yet know if I can talk about so many research projects without being boring.  But examples like this is exactly what I'm gearing up to do here when I grow up.

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