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Jennifer Dowd

Demographer & Epidemiologist

I fell in love with data and statistics when I realized what powerful tools they were for understanding (and hopefully improving) the world. My first academic dream of understanding poverty led me to study economics at Princeton University.  Discovering the strong ties between income levels and health was my “a-ha” moment—surely depriving people of good health and years of life is even worse than depriving them of money?  Demography and later social epidemiology gave me the tools for analysing data to better understand why some people live healthier, longer lives than others. A lot of my research has looked at how social factors like income and education “get under the skin” to impact health. This opened up a new world of biology for me, combining social science data with biological markers of things like immune function, genetics, and the gut microbiome. This mix of skills put me in a good position to process the firehose of information coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides researching the mortality burden of the pandemic across countries, I helped launch a science communication platform on social media called Dear Pandemic (aka, Those Nerdy Girls) to distil the science and provide practical guidance to general audiences.

Those Nerdy Girls blog.