Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 23, 2024

Epidemic Proportions celebrates 20th anniversary with launch party

By NICK DAUM | April 10, 2024



Students gathered to hear speeches from members of Epidemic Proportions during its 20th anniversary celebration.

Epidemic Proportions, the University’s undergraduate public health journal, hosted their 20th anniversary celebration this Friday, April 5. The journal has highlighted student engagement and undergraduate voices in public health for the past two decades.

The organization was founded in 2004 to give students a chance to share their experiences with public health through articles, including opinion pieces, editorials and features. This launch party is the journal’s first in-person celebratory event since the COVID-19 lockdown.

The event attracted several hundred participants, including both students and professors. Food, drinks and merchandise were provided.

In an email to The News-Letter, Editor-in-Chief of Epidemic Proportions Neha Skandan described the purpose of the research journal for the student body.

“Since 2004, Epidemic Proportions has provided a platform for undergraduate students to share their experiences engaging in public health fieldwork and research, as well as to voice their perspectives on public health issues that resonate with them,” she wrote.

Skandan further explained that the journal contains four sections: editorials, features, policy and research. Editorials are opinion-based articles focusing on local and global public health issues; features center on personal experiences with public health work; policy delves into laws and regulation around public health; and research covers undergraduate research experiences.

Recent articles include features on the standardization of digital healthcare, research on sustainability of early mobilization programs for terminally ill children, and an editorial on smoking bans.

The journal publishes yearly around a central theme with additional topical articles regarding relevant issues in public health, such as the outbreak of COVID and Ebola. This year, the journal’s theme is “Historical Horizons,” with a focus on previous innovations and discoveries in the public health sector.

The launch party included speeches from several current undergraduate students, most of them members of the journal. 

In an interview with The News-Letter, sophomore Eric Cho explained his introduction to the club and interest in the topics discussed during the event. Cho is currently an editor for the editorial section of the journal.

“Involvement in [Epidemic Proportions] has definitely exposed me to a lot more public health concepts, issues [and] ideas that I otherwise might not have known about,” he said. “Especially today, one of the speakers talked about the usage of AI, green technology and patent laws in [public health].”

The journal’s staff is currently composed of several dozen undergraduate students, including editors and staff for each section. The journal encourages undergraduate students to submit articles for publications. The process, as outlined on their website, includes creating a proposal, review by committee and acceptance for the journal, followed by publication in the following edition. Editions are usually released in May. 

Freshman Nancy Yan explained her interest in writing for the journal this year in an interview with The News-Letter.

“What drew [me] to the club was that it was writing focused, and I’m already involved in two other writing clubs on campus,” she wrote. “Since I want to pursue pre-med and then potentially be a surgeon in the future, I feel like, even though it's public health intensive, it aligns with my interest in medicine.”

During Friday’s celebration, and in recent editions of the journal, Epidemic Proportions has focused on current events, like the effects of AI in medical innovation. Editorial section editor Wilson Huang described how Epidemic Proportions remains up-to-date on current trends in medicine and public health in an email to The News-Letter.

“​​In this year's edition, we presented editorials on AI and telemedicine, which as you can probably imagine, wouldn't have been topics we would think to bring forth in public health discussions years ago,” he wrote. “However, ongoing issues like climate change, gun violence, and the HIV epidemic continue to have a place in our public health conversations.”

Outside of current events, previous editions have included letters from experts as well as interviews with individuals like Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

Skandan explained the importance of the “Historical Horizons” theme as a way of focusing on history’s impact on future progress, especially since this year also marked the 50th anniversary of the Johns Hopkins Undergraduate Program in Public Health Studies.

“It is imperative to highlight how moments from the past can inform the navigation of the future public health scene. Thus, the desire to bridge historical experiences in the field with the modern face of public health has inspired the theme for our twenty-first volume,” Skandan wrote.

Huang also emphasized that undergraduate students make the journal possible.

“It is undergraduates that continue to do excellent work in public health and are willing to disseminate their findings and perspectives and also undergraduates that revise these pieces that allow us to continue to release our EP issues every year,” he wrote.

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