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Epidemiologist likes to rap

Date: 02/08/2014

Epidemiologist Alex Ortega Epidemiologist Alex Ortega is professor with joint appointments in public health as well as in psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences at UCLA. In the Fielding School of Public Health,  he is also director and principal investigator of the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities. Before participating in a Zocalo panel on how Angelenos eat, he answered a few off-the-cuff questions in the Zocalo green room.


Q: What’s your favorite word?

A: It’s probably “tittup”—it means like, moving in a very prance-y way.

Q: What, if anything, will you miss once trans fats are banned?

A: Probably kung pao chicken. [Laughs.] I have no idea. At least good kung pao chicken.

Q: What’s hanging on your living room walls?

A: A few friends of mine are artists, so I have some of their art on my wall. One of my favorite pieces is by a friend of mine named Margaret McCann, and it’s a self-portrait.

Q: If you didn’t live in Los Angeles, where would you be?

A: Probably Northern California — San Francisco.

Q: What’s your go-to karaoke song?

A: “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. I do all three rappers. I’m usually sweating by the end of it.

Q: What’s currently the most overblown public health menace?

A: E-cigarettes. Marijuana might be another one.

Q: Where do you go to be alone?

A: Usually in my room.

Q: If you had one more hour in the day, what would you do with it?

A: I would probably play [the game] Candy Crush because I’m addicted.

Q: If you could be anyone in history, who would you be?

A: I was going to say Martin Luther King Jr., but he gets killed … But I’ll say Martin Luther King Jr.

Q: How would you describe yourself in five words or less?

A: Social, curious, fun, a little lazy and generous.

This interview appeared Jan. 29, 2014, on the Zocalo website.




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