November 29, 2022 | Bryan Wanzer

Epidemiology Careers: Daniel Parker guides students through careers in epidemiology

Daniel Parker got his start working hourly wage jobs and through hard work, became an infectious disease epidemiologist. He shares that story and his experiences with students.

We humanize career exploration by featuring real humans doing real things. Our mentors provide candid advice on how they got started and the steps to get there.


Daniel grew up in Odessa, Texas he struggled to turn his interests into occupations. He started a family while still young – 20 years old – and worked different hourly wage jobs until he was 25. He was bored with what he was doing and thought he could do more, if given the chance. So Daniel started taking courses at a local community college and then moved on to the University of Washington in Seattle. He then continued on to earn a Masters and PhD and ultimately finished his PhD research on malaria on the Thailand-Myanmar border.

In 2017, he took his current position as a professor in Public Health at the University of California in Irvine. He still works on infectious disease epidemiology and is traveling whenever he gets a chance.

“There’s a big difference between failure and a learning experience. You did not fail just because it took you longer to succeed.”

Daniel parker, Epidemiologist and find your grind mentor

Daniel sees “finding your grind” as figuring out what you’re passionate about and then finding a way to make it work as your career. It’s what he did that has led him to live his ideal lifestyle.

“If you’d caught me when I was in high school, I wouldn’t have told you that I was going to be an infectious disease epidemiologist that traveled all over the world. But I was interested in infectious diseases, I was interested in traveling, I was interested in reading, and problem-solving. All of these things are exactly what I’m doing now.”

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