Meet the Dashboard: Alex Chen

Sep. 22, 2020

City Health Dashboard

Name: Alex Chen (pronouns: he/him) Dashboard Role: Data Analyst

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ, via Los Angeles, CA

CHDB: Tell us a little about yourself. What brought you to the Dashboard?

Alex Chen (AC): I started working at the Dashboard in July 2020. My big-picture interests revolve around translating complex data analytics into tools for actionable city and community health policy. Growing up, I was always interested in how cities were built. Armed with an interest in translating social theory into actionable policy, I studied GeoDesign at the University of Southern California, which included architecture, spatial science, and urban studies courses. Along the way, I became interested in how urban areas affected health, so decided to go to grad school to apply geography and complex issues of place into public health research and practice. I recently completed my MPH at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in Epidemiology with a certificate in Comparative Effectiveness Outcomes Researchy. The Dashboard melds many of my interests into a useful, meaningful tool for city and community leaders to work together to create healthier, more equitable communities, so I am incredibly lucky and excited to be part of this team.

CHDB: What are you excited to learn while working at the Dashboard?

AC: I have become very interested and critical of measurement issues. At the Dashboard, we are constantly thinking about not only what is measured, but how it is measured. Something that I care deeply about is the inverse—what is NOT measured, who is excluded from the dataset to begin with—and how those exclusions and measurements affect tract-level and city-level estimates, particularly with public datasets. With changes in Census 2020, population movements from urban areas to suburban and rural areas as a result of COVID-19, concerns among many minority groups about the new citizenship question, and decreased funding to carry out the Census, many demographers are concerned about the validity of the data obtained. These data have incredible implications on resource allocation, representation and, for the Dashboard, the metrics we design and disseminate. (If you haven’t already, fill out the 2020 Census here.)

CHDB: What is your ideal metric?

AC: Percentage of people per census tract who cried during Patrick and David’s wedding on Schitt's Creek.

CHDB: Any interesting hobbies or talents?

AC: I love staying active! I used to rock climb semi-competitively, grew up playing tennis competitively, and now play indoor and outdoor volleyball in a queer league in NY, and when it’s safe to do so again, will play nationally. More recently, I have started to program bodyweight circuit training regimens for friends.

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