Day in the Life
Dr. Bradley Dickerson
Date Featured: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
With a PhD in Biochemistry, Dr. Bradley Dickerson was pursuing a successful career in a laboratory. In 2007, this course change when he was inspired to do government service. After receiving a fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), he began his policy career at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Currently on detail at CDC as Acting Associate Director of the Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation (OPPE) in the Office for Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR), Dr. Dickerson shares the work involved in tying his public health security knowledge from DHS to public health preparedness at CDC.
What time did you wake up? What woke you up?
5:30 a.m. Nothing woke me up. I wake up naturally, usually between 4:45 and 6:00 a.m.
Where did you spend your day?
I spent my day on CDC’s Roybal campus.
Who did you see or call?
I spoke with colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security about how we could use DHS risk analysis to help inform CDC funding priorities. For lunch, I met with Sarah Wiley from the CDC Office of Infectious Diseases, in addition to other meetings today with folks from our science and learning offices about the publication of journal articles.
What most captured your attention today?
My job at the CDC is to lead the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response policy shop. It is often hard to explain what a policy shop does, and it’s even harder to quantify. What most captured my attention today was a logic model that we have been working on that describes how output from our office can affect health preparedness related outcomes. I think it will help us better understand ourselves and help us better explain what we do!
What personality trait did you find most useful in your work today?
The quality of humility and being quick to listen - I think these qualities are the most important traits for any policy employee on any given day. In policy, you make a decision and you’re trying to implement this decision and get people to do whatever that decision requires. To initially make the decision, you have to understand the people.
What did you snack on today?
Mixed nuts and protein bars.
How did you work exercise into your day today?
I exercise almost every night and I also do some stuff in the morning like burpees. I love burpees! It’s the most perfect exercise.
What took precedent in your day that was completely unscheduled?
Well, it didn’t take precedent, but it was unexpected. I got an email from a good friend of mine who is writing a novel. His name is Matt Fuchs and he wanted to know about epigenetics. I love to talk about science, so it was a lot of fun to talk with him about how epigenetics could play a role in his novel.
What do you think is the greatest challenge in preparedness today?
The challenge with preparedness is that immediately after a catastrophic event preparedness is very important to people, then as time goes on other priorities arise and people lose focus and become less prepared.
What was the worst part of the day?
Are you kidding? This is CDC, there are no worst parts to the day!
What was the best part of the day?
Since I am only temporarily assigned to CDC, my wife and three daughters did not move down to Atlanta. They are still in the DC area, so the best part of any day is when I get back to my apartment and video chat with them.
How will you close out your day today?
Read, pray, sleep.