YJBM Preventative Medicine Issue: Interview with Dr. Emma Pierson



To kick off our content following YJBM’s March 2021 Issue on Preventative Medicine, Wes interviews Dr. Emma Pierson. Dr. Pierson is a computationalist and multidisciplinary scientist pairing novel methodologies with equally novel datasets to understand human health disparity and racial and economic inequality. Dr. Pierson is also a repeat contributor to science in the news, writing for outlets such as The New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post, among others. Alongside these contributions, Dr. Pierson frequently posts to her personal blog (linked below) and has been recognized in Forbes’ 30 under 30 in Science. While seeking to understand the trajectory and aims of Dr. Pierson’s science and various contributions, our conversation moves across a number of topics. Highlights include a discussion on transitions between research fields, Dr. Pierson’s personal and familial inspirations for studying human health, traits of good scientific mentors, and cross pollination between academia and industry. Although some of her work is described here in brief, its impact can be seen more clearly in the journal articles themselves and the many associated pieces she has written for a general audience. To those who’ve kept up with empirical research on racial inequality in America over the past year, the Open Policing dataset that Dr. Pierson published will undoubtedly ring a bell. For others, it’s a great place to start. Her research has also included social policy recommendations in response to COVID-19 and a large-scale analysis in the historically overlooked area of Women’s health across temporal cycles of varied length. This expansive work fosters a discussion on the immense challenges and successes of data science, as applied to preventative medicine.

Sources and Related Material:

Pierson, E., Simoiu, C., Overgoor, J. et al. A large-scale analysis of racial disparities in police stops across the United States. Nat Hum Behav 4, 736–745 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0858-1
On the Web: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1B58Os2Hb2v__YQ8whdWRULY9mgxxsHoO/view

Dr. Emma Pierson:
Personal Website
Twitter: @2plus2make5

Wes Lewis (Host):
Twitter: @ai_weslewis