Jill DeBoer

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Director, AHC Office of Emergency Response and Deputy Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

Started at the University of Minnesota in 1983 until 1988 and returned in 2002.

Recipient of the School of Public Health 2014 Alumni Award of Merit

Jill DeBoer received the School of Public Health 2014 Alumni Award of Merit. This award recognizes graduates of the School of Public Health who have achieved professional excellence in the field of public health through numerous years of consistent performance and service, distinguished themselves in their particular profession or field of endeavor, and contributed substantially to the health and well-being of people, communities and society.

What excites you about working at the Academic Health Center?

Three things come to mind right away. First is the diversity of the work here; every aspect of “health” has a place in the AHC. Human health, animal health, and the interaction between animals and humans (both beneficial and harmful) are all a focus of inquiry, practice, and education here. Where else would you find a collection of “top in their field” colleagues working in areas as diverse as diagnosing an ailment in a penguin to successful breathing lung transplant to documenting the effectiveness of flu vaccines

Another is the wonderful mix of research and practice. Evidence-based strategies are vital in all areas of health. Personally, I’m more interested in applying those strategies than collecting the evidence. However, I am surrounded here by others whose passion is discovery. Moving quickly from discovery to application is so important and the AHC is a fabulous place to witness that everyday.

Lastly, the people here are fabulous; just great, great, people.

What advice do you have for a new employee in the Academic Health Center?

People tend to hit the ground running. Employees work hard here. It’s really easy to become isolated within your own department. There are so many wonderful opportunities to learn new things, and meet new people, within the AHC and the broader University. You need to consciously seek those out and place them on your schedule or your days - one by one - will slip away from you.

What is your favorite place on campus?

Northrop Auditorium is a special place to me for a number of reasons. As an undergraduate, I had a student worker position in Morrill Hall and spent large chunks of time before and after work studying on the plaza. My College of Liberal Arts graduation ceremony was there. This huge group of excited graduates gathered at Coffman Union and processed down the mall and into Northrop. On that beautiful spring day, it was the coolest thing ever. As an adult, my husband and I were season ticket holders for the Northrop Dance Series. We kept our tickets after having children as a way to ensure we would have “date nights.” As our kids got older, we gave up our season tickets in order to attend events that interested them. My girls have seen the ballet, U of M Marching Band, and the America’s Got Talent Tour at Northrop. 

People would be surprised to know:

I’ve been an avid water skier for my entire adult life. My husband is as well and now my daughters have joined in on the fun. Last year, we joined a water ski show team. It’s a little like a ballet and a circus on the water. Our team practices twice a week and performs in shows across Minnesota throughout the summer. 

Favorite place on Earth:

Each summer, I spend time in a small remote cabin on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Those who have experienced that area of our state understand the beauty and peace found there is impossible to describe. We have no electricity, no running water, no phones, no internet. That means no email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, or cell phones. Life is simple, quiet, peaceful, and calm. Heaven on earth. 

Before I die, I would like to:

The DeBoer family is originally from Edam, Netherlands. My great-grandfather and his brother were involved in city government. I have never been to the Netherlands but hope to make that trip, spending enough time in Edam to poke my nose into some historical documents.