TRITON Magazine Fall 2020 | Page 27

and lung disease . When an infectious disease comes along that is worsened by underlying chronic diseases , the outcomes there will be worse as well .
What can we do to better address racism and reduce health disparities ? Public health brings a social justice approach to understanding the barriers and the root causes of unequal health outcomes . Then we find ways to remove those barriers to improve the health of entire communities . The way you vote , how you spend your money , how you spend your time and energy can all influence whether or not we as a country allow systemic racism and health disparities to continue . We know how economic pressure can effect change because we saw how much influence corporate sponsors had in convincing sports teams to retire racist mascots . We can apply different kinds of pressures to encourage changes in racist practices .
What is your role in the UC San Diego Return to Learn program ? In the Return to Learn pilot program , I led a public health program to implement epidemic interventions . These interventions help to interrupt transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from person to person . Our team supports contact tracing efforts for students or employees who test positive for COVID-19 . We determine close contacts of the person who had a positive test — roommates , for example — and provide them with guidance to selfisolate and , if appropriate , get tested . This process helps to stop inadvertent transmission of the virus . We follow up with infected individuals and their close contacts for 14 days , and facilitate successful self-isolation and quarantine . The Return to Learn pilot program had a team of public health researchers , physicians , infectious disease experts , epidemiologists , data scientists , psychologists , leaders , communicators , and many others who worked quickly to make this one of the only universities in the country able to test a robust epidemic surveillance program in such a short time .
What is your vision for the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science ? Our school has several strengths , all of which inform my vision to foster transformational academic and research partnerships across the UC San Diego campus , and to build partnerships between the school and regional stakeholders to ensure the attainment of the highest possible level of health and longevity for citizens from all walks of life in San Diego , and beyond . Our strengths include a health system that is integrated with our academic mission and that allows for training and scholarship that advances population health initiatives . What ’ s more , we can partner with the Jacobs School of Engineering on the application of wireless and mobile health technologies to public health challenges , and partner with Scripps Institution of Oceanography on climate and public health solutions . We ’ re also one of few schools of public health on an international border , which allows us to study and address global health challenges and unique issues related to migration as a determinant of health . We will also focus on human longevity — public health science that covers the entire lifespan , or what I like to call from “ twinkle to wrinkle .”
Learn more about UC San Diego ’ s new Wertheim School of Public Health at tritonmag . com / publichealth