Four Tips on Training from Population Dynamics Branch Chief

In a feature on “Exploring Population Dynamics”, branch chief, Rebecca Clark was interviewed. the full story is available at

In the interview Dr. Clark was asked “What advice do you have for students or trainees interested in a future career in population dynamics research?” she said …

1: Take a lot of math and statistics. And in statistics, focus on statistical training such as econometrics that teaches you how to collect and analyze population-representative samples so that your research findings are applicable to whatever population you are interested in. Behavioral research based on convenience samples—volunteers or people who attend a certain clinic, university, or youth center—is often limited because the types of people who volunteer to be in research studies (or go to a single clinic) may not have a whole lot in common with the general population.

2: Get grounding in human biology and genetics. The interactions among genetics, experiences, and environmental exposures have huge promise for explaining differential risk for health and disease and positive and negative health behaviors.

3: Learn spatial methods such as geographic information systems and the associated statistics.

4: Read scientific research from outside your field. For instance, at least skim the contents of every issue of Science and Nature. Many scientific advances emerge from the intersection of two or more scientific perspectives. Also, reading what other disciplines are doing in the subject matter you are working in will keep you from inventing a wheel that has already been rolling around successfully for a couple of decades.

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