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PhD in Demography Candidate Guest Posts for IAPHS
PhD in Demography Candidate Guest Posts for IAPHS

This article originally appeared in the IAPHS blog.


Embracing IAPHS and Interdisciplinary Research: A Graduate Student’s Journey

Muntasir MasumHello everyone, this is Muntasir Masum. I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Demography at the University of Texas at San Antonio. I am writing to share how I got involved with IAPHS and how it changed my outlook on interdisciplinary research.

I was introduced to IAPHS by my friend and colleague Dr. Stephanie Hernandez when I was a second-year doctoral student. Dr. Hernandez forwarded the CFP for the 2019 Annual IAPHS Conference. I noticed that students could apply for a travel scholarship, which got me hooked into the idea of submitting a paper to the conference. That was the beginning of my journey with IAPHS. My paper was accepted as a poster, but most importantly, I received the travel scholarship. I was ecstatic.  Why was I so excited? External travel scholarships for conferences are not easy to come by, and IAPHS offers them to students. That is just one of many reasons to get involved with IAPHS.


External travel scholarships for conferences are not easy to come by, and IAPHS offers them to students. That is just one of many reasons to get involved with IAPHS.


As a demography student, I was more familiar with conferences in my field. However, the 2019 IAPHS conference opened my eyes and got me thinking about what interdisciplinary research can be and how it can benefit the fields of population, health, and social science in the long run. The structure of the conference was easygoing, the sessions were high quality, and opportunities to network with people I admire were abundant. Most importantly, I got to meet people from different backgrounds who have a completely different set of research interests than mine.

The conference was only the beginning of my involvement with IAPHS. Shortly after the conference, I joined the membership committee. I became part of the member of the month sub-committee along with a couple members and mentors, Dr. Selena Ortiz and Dr. Tia Palermo. We share the interdisciplinary works of IAPHS members each month. It has been a wonderful learning experience so far. One highlight of my role in this committee was interviewing Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean of Boston University School of Public Health, in a podcast.

Once I joined the IAPHS Student Committee, I realized why IAPHS is a wonderful platform for students. In August 2020, we arranged our first webinar: “Understanding Interdisciplinary Career Paths in Population Health,” which was a huge success. Our upcoming session “Effective Social Media Use and Online Platforms for Interdisciplinary Scholars” is part of our Student Committee Conference Session during the 2020 IAPHS Annual Conference.


I got to know some wonderful peers who are doing incredible work and sharing tips and tricks on how to get ahead in academia, what worked for them, and what should be the way to go. When I joined, I did not know to look for these benefits. I must confess that IAPHS certainly exceeded my expectations. I could not ask for more as a student.


I have had a wonderful time so far participating in these two committees. I did not realize how influential IAPHS could be when I signed up for a membership a year ago. Putting my roles aside, I have received far more from IAPHS as a student. I am getting wonderful guidance for my career from my fellow committee members Dr. Ortiz and Dr. Palermo. I feel a sense of comfort knowing that I can seek their help. I have also had excellent guidance from the IAPHS Board and committee members in general, and from Dr. Margaret Hicken specifically, as I am getting ready to look for post-doctoral positions. I have received valuable advice from them, and I feel confident that I could tap into their network.  I got to know some wonderful peers who are doing incredible work and sharing tips and tricks on how to get ahead in academia, what worked for them, and what should be the way to go. When I joined, I did not know to look for these benefits. I must confess that IAPHS certainly exceeded my expectations. I could not ask for more as a student.

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, IAPHS has opened my eyes to the possibilities of interdisciplinary research. I am now open to the idea of incorporating an interdisciplinary angle to my research. Through various IAPHS webinars and different membership meetings I have come to value the importance of interdisciplinary perspectives in population, health, and social science research. You do not have to take my word on this; rather, if you read some member of the month highlights, you’ll notice how important interdisciplinary research is to these scholars. And right now, IAPHS is certainly the platform that is promoting interdisciplinary research and bringing together scholars from epidemiology, public health, demography, economics, sociology, political science, public policy, medicine, and so on.

For students, benefits of being a member of IAPHS include access to travel scholarships, opportunities to present research, networking, professional development, mentoring, and more. I highly recommend you join.

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