Contact Matthew J.
Matthew J. Maenner
Alumni of the PhD Population Health program since 2011
Hometown: Green Bay, WI
Areas of interest within Population Health: My dissertation work is concerned with how developmental disabilities are classified in epidemiological studies. Although conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disability are often represented as dichotomous outcomes, there is an incredible amount of diversity within these categories. I am interested in examining different dimensions of disability to answer specific epidemiological questions.
Title of Thesis/Dissertation: The epidemiology of developmental disabilities: incorporating measures of impairment, activity limitations, and participation restrictions in population-based studies.
Brief Interest Statement: I am currently an epidemiologist and data manager for the Wisconsin site of a CDC-funded autism and developmental disability surveillance system. I've also collaborated with UNICEF to analyze disability screening data in low and middle income countries. In 2010, I received a pre-doctoral training award from the Autism Science Foundation to analyze and describe phenotypic heterogeneity within autism spectrum disorders in the United States. I am very interested in using new technologies and novel analytic approaches to better understand and describe the distribution, determinants, and impact of developmental disabilities in children.
What experiences in your life led you to study population/public health? I've spent thousands of hours working with children with autism and other disabilities in home, school, and community settings. Many aspects of developmental disabilities are poorly understood, and inadequate or misleading information can have negative consequences for both families and public health.
Why did you choose UW-Madison for your degree? UW-Madison is an excellent research university, and PHS has strong ties across campus. I knew I would receive a concentrated education in epidemiology and population health, and have access to leading researchers at both the Waisman Center and School of Medicine and Public Health.
What do you hope/plan to do with your degree? I hope to become an independent investigator and study the epidemiology of developmental disabilities. There is a need for better measures and more rigorous population-based studies, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.