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.