Q&A with Adam Crawley, Public Health Alumni Association board member

Adam Crawley

Adam Crawley MPH '11 has served on the PHAA Board of Director since 2014 and currently chairs the Curriculum and Professional Development Committee. Adam received an MPH with a concentration in Infectious Disease and Vaccinology from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health in 2011. He is a research associate on the Pandemics Team at Skoll Global Threats Fund (SGTF) in San Francisco.


Q. Tell us about your position at Skoll Global Threats Fund.
A. I’m a research associate on the Pandemics team. We are a small team, which means I do different things on different days. I work on a couple of projects—one is a project called “Flu Near You.” It’s what we call a participatory surveillance system, where people report directly on their health over the previous week—essentially crowdsourced flu surveillance. I also do data analysis on other similar projects around the world with our partners in other countries, such as Thailand, Tanzania, and Brazil. I spend a fair amount of time developing indicators that can help us track and evaluate the impact that different projects are having. 

Q. What do you like most about your job? 
A. I like the fact that we have a small office and it’s very interdisciplinary. In addition to pandemics, we work on water security, nuclear proliferation, and climate change. The cross-pollination of ideas and backgrounds keeps things interesting and challenges your assumptions about your own work. It provides a really stimulating, dynamic, and healthy workplace. Essentially everyone is there because they want to save the world. 

Q. What is most challenging about your job? 
A. Because we’re small, being able to prioritize projects and manage my own bandwidth across competing priorities is a challenge. Knowing when to leverage our partners and networks and when to take things on ourselves is important. 

Q. How do you balance work, travel, and your PHAA Board commitment?
A. That one is challenging. I think it’s a matter of just being able to prioritize what is most important for you personally at any particular time relative to how much support those different priorities require.  It’s important to be able to rely on friends, family, and colleagues—whether that’s the other people on the alumni association board, my work colleagues, or my fiancée Jane (who is also an epidemiologist and Cal alum). We all need to be able to rely on other people in our lives to help balance those priorities. That and Google calendar. If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t get anything done!

Q. What is the most interesting or remote place you have traveled for work?
A. Amman, Jordan 

Q. Tell us about something you learned as a student at Berkeley that you have found most useful in your work?
A. The analytical epidemiologic skills that I have are the most useful on a day-to-day basis. The other thing that I took away is the history of infectious diseases in public health, which is really fascinating. It is important to be able to understand where we’ve come from to be able to eradicate certain diseases and seeing what mistakes have been made in the past and learning from them. 

Q. What motivated you to become involved with the PHAA Board? 
A. I was influenced to join by a former classmate and fellow board member–Baljeet Sangha MPH ’10, president of PHAA. 

Q. How do you contribute to the PHAA Board?
A. I chair the Curriculum and Professional Development Committee. We provide feedback on the curriculum redesign process and professional development opportunities that are offered by the School and engage alums around those topics.

Q. What’s your favorite quotation?
A. “Knowledge speaks and wisdom listens.”

Q. What famous person do you admire most?
A. There are actually two people I admire tremendously: William Foege MD, MPH because he eradicated smallpox worldwide, and Pope Francis because of his concern for the poor and the environment.