Meet a Social Scientist: Dr. Rowan from Public Health

What is your name?
Dr. Alan Rowan.

What kind of work do you do in the College?
I am an Associate Teaching Professor in the College of Social Science and Public Policy/Public Health at Florida State University. I teach, do research and engage in service in the department, profession and community.

Why did you decide to become an academic? 
I had worked for many years as an epidemiologist and manager at the federal, state, and local level with several agencies and was ready for a new challenge.  Working at these different agencies allowed me tremendous opportunities to respond to various epidemiologic issues such as hurricanes, infectious diseases, chronic disease, legislative issues, birth defects, migrant health concerns, natural and manmade hazardous material impacts on health, bioterrorism, laboratory concerns, and working with members of various communities.  Teaching allows me to take that experience and communicate the theories and realities to the next generation of professionals who will work to create a healthier America.  Many of my graduates are managing nursing homes, hospitals, health departments, corporations.

What do you find most fulfilling about your job? 
What is most meaningful in my job is to instill not just knowledge but a passion for creating future health professionals who are not just trying to earn a living but to make an impact on our communities.  I love interacting with students to teach them and also to learn from them and create exercises and assignments that ignite an interest in a particular field.  My goal is for each of them to be successful upon graduation and this requires learning the knowledge, skills, and culture to be thrive as professionals. 

What are you working on or teaching right now that has your excited professionally? 
Currently in my epidemiology classes, we are studying how to work as individuals with communities to combat this, and other, pandemics.  As a class, we discuss that health is not just the absence of disease but also includes mental and social aspects that are just as important. As we study the current health issues we need to keep an eye on the near future and what issues we as a society will be dealing with as a result of the pandemic.  There will not be an equal impact on society. There are many vulnerable populations have been disproportionately impacted.  Some of the vulnerable populations are low-income, the very old and the very young, chronically ill/disabled, and the LGBTQ+ populations.  

Please let us know if there is something that you would like us to share with blog readers (picture, publication, website, favorite book).
Two books I keep going back to are Steven Pinker “Enlightenment Now” and Steven Johnson “The Ghost Map”.  The first is recent and is one of the most optimistic and honest portrayals of how much better the world has become and where we are headed.  “The Ghost Map” is an older book about how one person can improve the health of an entire community.  I experienced this a couple of times as an epidemiologist and it is important to remind our students the tremendous impact they can have on the health of a community.  Steven Pinker’s other recent book is “The Better Angels of our Nature” and is also excellent.  This book is about how much less violent we have become and what we can expect as we evolve.

Dr. Rowan is an Associate Teaching Professor in the College of Social Science and Public Policy/Public Health at Florida State University. You can learn more about Dr. Rowan here.

The feature image is from Pexels.

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