Model Your Body: Epidemiologist
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An epidemiologist investigates and describes the causes and spread of disease and develops the means for prevention or control. They may study many different illnesses, often focusing on major infectious diseases such as influenza or cholera.

Low-end Salary: 
Median Salary: 
High-end Salary: 

Undergraduate students should have a solid background in mathematics, chemistry, and computer science. Once a student is prepared for graduate studies, he or she can choose a specialty within epidemiology (e.g., water pollution, air pollution, pesticide use, toxicology, molecular biology, or outbreak investigation). Some jobs may require a Ph.D. or medical degree.

Math Required: 

College Algebra Trigonometry Calculus I and II Applied Data Analysis Survey and Research Methods Mathematical Statistics Biostatistics

When Math Is Used: 

Epidemiologists use mathematical models in order to track the progress of most infectious diseases. They may also discover the likely outcome of an epidemic or to help manage them by vaccination. Some specific areas that epidemiologists may track are as follows: • transmission, spread and control of infection • persistence of pathogens within hosts • immuno-epidemiology • virulence • strain structure and interactions • evolution and spread of resistance One specific type of mathematical model used for many infectious diseases, such as measles, mumps, and rubella, is the SIR model. This model consists of three variables: S (for susceptible), I (for infectious) and R (for recovered).

Potential Employers: 

Among epidemiologists, 57 percent are employed in government; 12 percent are employed in hospitals; 11 percent are employed in colleges and universities; and 9 percent are employed in scientific research and development services, such as the American Cancer Society.


In 2009, epidemiologists conducted a study and found middle-aged women who indulge in just a few alcohol-containing drinks each day may have a higher risk of cancer than those who drink less often.


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Salary figures from
the current US Bureau of Labor of Statistics website and represent the
90th percentile.

The most common question students ask math teachers at every level is “When will I use math?” WeUseMath.org is a non-profit website that helps to answer this question. This website describes the importance of mathematics and many rewarding career opportunities available to students who study mathematics.



Figures represent salary potential.


Dr. Cary Oberije, a postdoctoral researcher in The Netherlands, has found that mathematical models can be used to accurately predict patients' responses to treatment. Prediction models were used to analyze lung cancer patients' likelihood of survival and...

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