Hours after returning from a business trip to Africa to his home in Geneva, Switzerland, alumnus Ramesh Krishnamurthy (’00) boarded a flight for Oregon to return to campus after an absence of more than 15 years to talk to graduating seniors in the College of Science. It was that important.
With a message of “What the world needs now is science and more science,” Dr, Krishnamurthy served as keynote speaker for the OSU Career Development Center Conference specifically for students graduating this spring in the College of Science.
Dr. Krishnamurthy leads the Information Systems and Framework team at Health Metrics Network (HMN)—part of the World Health Organization—that uses data to improve health and save lives. The Switzerland-based organization was founded in 2005 on the premise that better information means better decision-making, which means better health for everyone.
“When I was offered the position as Chief for the Information Systems and Framework team, I felt both elated and humbled,” said Krishnamurthy. “I realized the extraordinary opportunity for me to contribute at a global level towards reliable, sustainable, country-owned, and country-led development of national health information systems.”
HMN is the first global partnership dedicated to strengthening national health information systems by assessing health information systems and sustainably improving them. Partners collaborate to catalyze energies and resources in support of stronger health information systems in developing countries, with a goal of reducing overlapping demands on their fragile information systems.
Krishnamurthy arrived eager to talk to students, visit his alma mater and maybe even stumble upon some memories and inspiration. He earned both an MS and MA in Wildlife Biology and Anthropology from OSU and a Ph.D. in Physical Anthropology from the University of Oregon and an MPH in Health Service Management from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Amassing tremendous professional and life experiences after extensive global globetrotting, Krishnamurthy shared the many lessons learned, his successes, sorrows, challenges and his hopes for them, the next generation of scientists. He connected with students during an engaging and meaningful lunchtime conversation about his career path in public health and science
Krishnamurthy spoke passionately about his work of helping governments strengthen their public health information systems and providing informatics assistance to countries so they could establish national health information systems, routine and outbreak surveillance systems for infectious disease, national public health emergencies and disasters, and mass gathering events.
Previously, Krishnamurthy worked at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention in Atlanta as a scientist and Senior Informatics Advisor with appointments in the Global AIDS Program and the Coordinating Office for Global Health.
As a student, he took advantage of the many opportunities at OSU, visiting all science labs on campus to learn as much as possible. He even acquired radio experience as a student broadcaster on KBVR. Krishnamurthy convinced the station to give him an FCC license and go on-air with a science talk show. Later he parlayed that knowledge into working as an independent radio producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Krishnamurthy offered inspiration to students through his achievements but encouraged students to get out and explore the world.
“Go study abroad. Go anywhere. Experience a different country and culture,” urged Krishnamurthy. “It will change your life and open your eyes to new things. Go for a term, a summer, two weeks, whatever you can.”
He stressed the importance of learning a second, third or fourth language and said the world desperately needs their skills and talents in science.
“There are so many places in the world that need scientists. Just go out in the world and make a difference.”
From career advice connecting students with global opportunities in science at HMN and the CDC, where he offered contact information to a female science student graduating this spring and returning her native Saudi Arabia. Students collected advice, email contacts, wisdom and inspiration. Perhaps a little less daunted, they reflected on what the future holds for them and how they can indeed make a difference.