Kudos to Mark Robson, PhD, MPH, who won the 2009 ASPH (Association of Schools of Public Health)/Pfizer Award for Teaching Excellence. The award comes with a $10,000 prize, and Robson has big plans for this money.
How did you become interested in public health? I started out as an agricultural scientist, which I suppose at heart I still am, but I learned early on that to be a successful pesticide specialist I needed to know a lot more about public health, so I decided to retool and go for an MPH. This was several years after getting my doctorate. Public health has to be one of the best areas in which to work. All sorts of people from varied backgrounds come into public health and contribute to our knowledge base. Public health is readily transportable and adaptable anywhere in the world. From clinicians to applied and basic research scientists, each of us can make a contribution and make a difference.
Describe your relationships with your students. They’ve been my inspiration and motivation. It’s a thrill to see someone like David Rich, who was my undergraduate advisee, go on to the Harvard School of Public Health, get his doctoral degree, and then return to our school as an energetic and successful faculty member. I guess what it means to be acknowledged as a good teacher can be summed up in a note I received from a student:
Last week I received my final transcript from SPH, stating that I had received
my MPH. What a thrilling feeling it was to see it in writing! I would like to take
this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and
encouragement. I could not have done it without you. You are certainly a student advocate extraordinaire!
— as told to Mary Ann Littell