Lisa Wehr's Public Health Blog

Lisa is originally from Sigourney, Iowa. She attended Iowa State University and received her bachelor’s degree in Music in 2010. She is currently a first year Master’s of Public Health (MPH) student in community and behavioral health (CBH). Lisa works on the medicine-psychiatry unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). Through this blog Lisa hopes to let people learn about the CBH department.

This student blog is unedited and does not necessarily reflect the views of the College of Public Health or the University of Iowa.

01 December 2010

Interview with Dr. Paik

What is your educational background?
I have a BA in Public Policy, and an MA and PHD in Sociology.  All of my
degrees are from the University of Chicago, but I did spend four years
working in Washington, DC after college.

How did you get into sociology?
While working in DC, I became fascinated with cooperative relationships
and conflict in organizations.  Indeed, I was living through my share of

How and when did you get started in network research?
Network analysis was a natural way to understand the organization of
work, so I immediately started taking classes in the area.  I took classes
on networks from Ron Burt, John Padgett, Roger Gould, and my advisor Edward
Laumann.  Ed was the person who introduced me to the concept of "sexual

What do you think are the biggest benefits of network research? The biggest drawbacks?
The biggest benefit of network analysis is that it emphasizes how social
relationships take concrete forms (i.e., social structure).  This allows
researchers to specify pathways of influence and diffusion.  The biggest
drawback, however, is that network analysis is incredibly data intensive.
As such, we are often limited by the amount of data that we can collect and
by significant amounts of missing data.

What is the most challenging part of researching networks?
The most challenging part of this field is keeping up with it.  Since it
is interdisciplinary in nature, it is extremely fast moving and technical.

You have done some network research into health issues, do you think network research hold promise for public health?
 I do think that combining network analysis with the study of public
health is an excellent opportunity.  There have been several high profiles
articles and texts (e.g., Tom Valente's new textbook) that have highlighted
the natural fit between public health and network analysis.

What do you think sociology can offer to the field of public health?
I would say that network analysis is not just a sociological venture.
Its origins are in sociology and anthropology, but today's researchers come
from many fields, including business, public health, economics, and computer
science.  Sociology, however, can offer ways to think about network

Thank you Dr. Paik for answering my questions!


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