10 questions with… Janaki Amin


Professor Janaki Amin was born in Kenya, grew up in Maroubra (“on the land of the Gadigal and Bidjigal peoples”) and joined Macquarie in  in 2017 as a Professor of Public Health and the inaugural director of the Master of Public Health course.

As an infectious disease epidemiologist, Janaki has been in demand as a COVID-19 commentator – you can read some of her recent explainers in The Lighthouse: What is a booster and why do I need one?, What is modelling? and How do vaccines work?

1. Something you feel proud of
When our students let us know they’ve been employed in public health. Being relatively new, we’ve had the opportunity to align our course with core current public health competencies and embed training in authentic skills, creating pathways to the workforce for our students. Their success is demonstration that we have!

2. Something people usually ask you when they find out what you do for living
How the world has changed – once upon a time they asked ‘What’s an epidemiologist?’ Now everyone is one!

3. Something you’d like staff to know about
The recent creation of the MQ Planetary Health and Equity Research Network – a joint initiative of the Population Health group in the Department of Health Sciences and Geography and Planning in the School of Social Sciences.

This group has come together around common research interests in the equity and sustainability of food systems, and the effects of climate change and emerging infectious diseases on human health and wellbeing, particularly in under-served populations. We are in our infancy and very excited about developing our agenda and what we hope to achieve. Our first project focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on food security in Australia.

If staff would like to join this Network, or the Population Health seminar series, I’d love to hear from them.

4. What you need to do your best work
A team. I always do my best work with others – bouncing around ideas, learning from each other’s perspectives and having each other’s backs.

5. Something you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you, professionally…
This paper – one of the first population wide studies of the impact of COVID-19, highlighting the social determinants of health.  It brings together with great finesse my interests in methodology-data linkage, content-infectious diseases, and concern-health disparities, by a physician journalist who does exceptional research, Ben Goldacre.

6. …and personally
I read Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo a couple of years ago. It’s the story of 12 women, interwoven as a rich, engaging and rewarding whole. Check out the Spotify play list of all the music mentioned in the book, from Edith Piaf through to A$ASP Rocky.

7. A favourite photo from your camera roll
Sunset at Ronny Creek, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania – it was the last trip before lockdown.


8. I’m happiest when…
I’m walking in the wild! I missed my trip to the MacDonald ranges in September, but fingers crossed for Milford Sound in January.

9, What you like about where you live
I live on the land of the Wangal people (Lilyfield). Nothing like lockdown to really give you a sense of place. I’m so lucky to live near water, enormous fig trees and good friends. Now we’ve opened up again that means great food, good company and live music in my neighbourhood.

10. A personal quality you value in others
Humour. Nothing like having people around you with whom you can have a good laugh, especially at yourself.






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