A meeting against all odds


Abraham Agbota

Investigation into Epidemiology club sets up a Zoom meeting with an expert in the field, Pardis Sabeti. The officers believed that by bringing in a guest speaker, they could engage with the Jefferson community more. “I hoped that by bringing Pardis Sabeti we could get an expert voice to guide us, and since she’s pretty popular at our school, I was hoping it could raise interest for our club,” sophomore officer Hardeep Mann said.

Chris Yoo and Abraham Agbota

“Hello, I’m Pardis Sabeti and this is ‘Against All Odds,’ where we make statistics count.”

The inclusion of Against All Odds videos into the Research Statistics 1 program has made their host, statistician and infectious disease specialist Pardis Sabeti, a well-recognized figure at Jefferson. On Wednesday 16, 2022, the Investigations into Epidemiology club hosted a virtual conference with her to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as epidemiology as a whole. 

“There was such a surge of interest, so I was hoping that by asking questions [to her], we could learn more about how teenagers at TJ could help epidemiology and become epidemiologists, and what steps we could take to help the world out,” sophomore club officer Hardeep Mann said.

The conference took place during the Wednesday 8A block and was conducted over Zoom call. The meeting was delayed a few minutes due to technical difficulties with the projector. Despite this, Mann said that the conference went favorably.

“We had technical issues in the beginning, which I believe is just a part of today’s reality, but against all odds we worked things out. I really appreciate them sticking with us. Despite initial technical issues, it was a good meeting, and people seemed engaged in the conversation,” Mann said. “I hope they learned more about epidemiology and maybe got more interested in it.”

After the initial difficulties, Mann and other members asked Sabeti questions about her field of work, ranging from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Sabeti’s experiences in epidemiology, to the impact of Against All Odds on the TJ community.

“I’m really honored to be connected to this school and to you guys. As far as the videos, I didn’t really appreciate them when I was doing it, but in retrospect I wish I did. I didn’t realize that this was going to be one of the things that I’m most proud of because it’s become a touch point to get to connect with amazing students from across the country,” Sabeti said.

Sabeti also spoke about an opportunity that she had with curricula and outreach concerning the spread of diseases.

“We wrote a textbook and a curriculum that’s being piloted in Louisiana, and I will fly to anybody who’s interested. [My team and I] are thinking about making an outbreak science course with a bluetooth app that can simulate the spread of virtual viruses. I have lots of fun ideas around that,” Sabeti said.

Overall, Mann said that he hopes this event would inspire and motivate more people to consider epidemiology and other subjects of the sort.

“Epidemiology is a very important topic today, so people should consider getting to know more about this interesting subject. Also, I want people to know that whenever they want to talk to an adult in their field, just reach out, especially since we have the internet and we can communicate with each other over long distances,” Mann said.