What is it like to be an epidemiologist during a global pandemic? | Leadership Lessons

June 16, 2021  • Aspen Global Leadership Network

Wendy Nembhard (Health Innovators Fellow) is a professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. According to her, COVID-19 was the thing she had been preparing for her entire career, but something she, and other experts had never expected to happen in their lifetime. 

Everyone was looking for answers, so Wendy started on a new and urgent path as she dove into studying COVID. 

“Scientifically, everything we thought we knew, this virus threw out the window… so now we have to adjust.”

Determined to understand the impacts of the virus, including racial and ethnic differences in immune response, Wendy pursued new grants to fund research and deployed her team in different ways. Along the way, there were many pivots and sometimes no clear answers. Now, she is sharing her #LeadershipLessons from leading through ambiguity and how she is ensuring this crisis is not wasted. 

Wendy Nembhard, PhD, is the director of the Arkansas Center for Birth Defects Research & Prevention, one of 10 CDC-funded centers in the US that researches the causes and impacts of birth defects. She is also an associate professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Fay W Boozman College of Public Health in Little Rock, and an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the UAMS College of Medicine. She is in fifth class of the Aspen Institute’s Health Innovators Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

The Aspen Institute’s Health Innovators Fellowship’s mission is to develop a community of energized, values-driven leaders committed to finding viable solutions to confront U.S. health care’s problems.

Leadership Lessons – a Video Series from the Aspen Global Leadership Network

The impacts of COVID-19 continue to challenge our communities. However, through these challenges, there’s a lot to be learned. In “Leadership Lessons” hear from leaders who have stepped up in new ways and remained steadfast in their values through this crisis. How did they make the tough decisions? How have they changed as leaders? Tune in and gain top insights from values-driven leaders – Fellows in the Aspen Global Leadership Network – who are battling trade-offs, creating rapid responses to community needs, sharpening new skills, and more.

New episodes are released Tuesdays and Thursdays on the AGLN’s social media handles. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to watch in real-time.