A Q&A with the new Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics chair Dr. Hongjie Liu
Dr. Hongjie Liu has been named the new chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (EPIB) effective July 1, 2017. Dr. Liu has been a professor in the department since 2012 and is an esteemed and established epidemiologist who has been recognized as a UMD Research Leader. His research focuses on the social and behavioral aspects of HIV/AIDS as well as research methodology. Most recently, Dr. Liu has been investigating social and risk networks for HIV infection, stigma, text messaging in intervention delivery, sampling hidden populations, and advanced analytical techniques. In addition to his research, Dr. Liu is dedicated to teaching and mentorship, having taught multiple graduate-level courses, including Epidemiologic Study Design and Advanced Methods in Epidemiology. He has also mentored several students, postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars and junior faculty. Below are responses from Dr. Liu regarding his interests and plans as the upcoming EPIB chair.
Q: What sparked your interest in the department chair position?
A: My interest in this position was aroused by the encouragement that I received from my fellow faculty, who kindly persuaded me to apply for it. As a senior faculty member, who has been in the department for five years, I felt some obligation to serve the department and work with students, staff and faculty to move it forward.
Q: What is your vision for the department, including for faculty/staff, students, and collaborations?
A: Due to the leadership of our former and current chairs, this department has developed very well. I understand the strengths, challenges and opportunities of the department and have accordingly developed a vision for leadership and addressing the current and future needs. As chair, I plan to prioritize faculty development and excellence, accelerate departmental growth in both teaching and research, and emphasize the role of epidemiology and biostatistics as the “backbone” of public health.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
A: Very simple. It follows these three strategies: fairness, transparency and collective management. That is, I will work with faculty and staff to collectively manage the department, while embedding fairness and transparency throughout the process.
Q: As the new EPIB chair, what is the first thing or some of the first things that you hope to achieve?
A: That is a good question. As you know, education is our primary goal. Thus, I will work with faculty to further improve the quality of teaching and increase the study body in both epidemiology and biostatistics.
Q: What plans do you have for your research? Will you continue to conduct research?
A: Clearly, I will spend tremendous time and effort on my new role as an administrator. However, as a scholar, I will continue my research.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time? Are there any hobbies that you enjoy?
A: I spend a lot of my spare time doing photography. It is fun to shoot beautiful images.
Dr. Liu shared some of his favorite photographs in this Flickr album.