PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Benjamin Ackerman

“I had those mentors who have gone through degrees, have had to learn this material, and are now very successful at what they do. And they were also really great reminders and advocates for me to keep going when it felt tough.”

Bloomberg School of Public Health

Biostatistics, PhD 2020

Principal Statistician at Janssen R&D

Benjamin‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss what led Ben to pursue a PhD in Biostatistics, the important role of mentorship for support during his graduate program and guidance in finding a career path, and his advice for persevering in the face of challenges.

Learn More About Benjamin‘s Story

This is a plot that I generated using the statistical computing software R. The code randomly simulates data based on a user’s specified sample size and color palette, and maps the data to a figure reminiscent of the LGBTQ+ pride flag. Since the data are random, no two plots turn out the same, symbolizing the uniqueness and individuality that makes the LGBTQ+ rainbow so vibrant.

Throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies in Public Health and Biostatistics, I grew increasingly aware of how infrequently research studies collected data on sexual orientation and gender identity, thereby limiting our understanding of the health needs and challenges facing intersectional queer communities. As a gay biostatistician, I continue to advocate for inclusive and intentional data collection and survey methodology. This pride flag plot serves as a reminder that representation matters, that we’re here and we’re queer in the studies you conduct!

These are the very first two loaves of challah that I baked in my first “grown-up” Baltimore apartment. I was raised in a Jewish home, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I want my own Jewish home to look like, what traditions I want to maintain or adapt. Challah baking has become central to my Jewish identity. For me, it’s almost a meditative process, separating the mundane and busy work week from a reflective and restful Shabbos and weekend. Sometimes the dough is too sticky, or too dry, or the strands look uneven, but it always turns out OK. The most fulfilling part is getting to share the process, the technique, and the final product with friends and family. No matter where I go or where I move to, baking challah always makes the place feel like home.