David Hammond

Don’t Be Afraid to Think Big

Ambition is a big part of this professor's soul, be it in his cross-disciplinary work in public health or his dreams of being a pro surfer.


David Hammond is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health & Health Systems at the University of Waterloo and the CIHR/PHAC Applied Public Health Chair. We asked him everything from what he likes most about being a researcher to what he is reading in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What do you like most about being a researcher?
I love that my work day is constantly changing. In any given day, I get to work with students, public health advocates, the government and the industry. Public health can be a rapidly changing landscape and it’s exciting to contribute evidence to high profile, controversial issues.

What advice would you give young researchers?
Follow your instincts and don’t be afraid to think big. Science can be a very conservative discipline: our methods need to be conservative, but our ideas should be ambitious and suitably grand if we want to solve big public health issues.

What are you reading right now?
Thousands of previously secret documents from the tobacco industry on how they designed and marketed low tar cigarettes. If I’m not feeling sufficiently depressed, I read the New Yorker and stories about the U.S. election…

What do you like to do for fun?
I still love to play games and sports like I’m 12 years old. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ll cancel work trips if it conflicts with a hockey or slo-pitch game. Tickle fights with the kids are also fun.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be?
Graphic designer (despite a lack of skill), professional surfer (despite a lack of skill), or a smoothie shack operator in a tropical country (highly skilled).

Aside from things for your survival, what item would you most want to have with you on a deserted island? 
My family, a surfboard and my smoothie shack!