Which people and/or events influenced your decision to work in this field?
I never really decided to enter the field of public health. Rather, the decision was made for me. My doctoral dissertation, which consisted of two chapters on earnings and labor-market outcomes associated with late-career job loss, was judged by my advisors to be insufficient for the awarding of my degree. So the committee asked me to write a chapter on health effects. The chapter led to a postdoctoral fellowship in epidemiology at a school of medicine, which I leveraged to obtain grant support to fund faculty positions in schools of public health. At some point, I realized that I was never going to return to labor economics.
What was the answer you gave people as a child when asked what you want to be when you grow up?
I wanted to be a professional athlete, as most boys in my age cohort aspired to be.
What advice would you give yourself 3 years ago? 3 years from now?
Looking back, I would suggest the following: Read the works of the Stoic philosophers and apply their advice; the road ahead will primarily be uphill. Looking forward, I would tell myself: Keep going; one foot in front of the other. Looking at today, I tell myself: It’s a good thing you’ve chosen such a capable and loyal partner!