Ph.D. 1970

After getting my BA in Sociology at George Washington University in 1958, I joined the Population Division of the US Census Bureau in Washington, DC as a Statistician. Charles Nam, Class of 1959, was one of my co-workers. Soon after arriving I was sent to take classes to learn to program the Bureau’s Univac 1105 – a large scale Digital Mainframe. During my two years at the Bureau, I programmed tables 13, 18, and 31 for the 1960 Census, the family card (bringing individuals into families, sub-families and the like for the first time. I was also asked to program a study of cohort fertility of women. This resulted in a 6,000 line program (three boxes of 2,000 punch cards each). Despite the prediction of my supervisor (“My God, Ames, it will never work”), it ran test and production on the same day!

I also entered the MA program in sociology at American University where I took two classes a semester on top of the full-time position at the Census Bureau.

Toward the end of two years at the Census Bureau, Charles Bowerman made a visit to the computer facility as UNC also had a Univac 1105 (as did the Illinois Institute of Technology). During his visit, Bowerman offered me the position of Research Assistant in the Department – a position which allowed me to complete the Ph.D. at UNC. All I had to do, he said, was to be admitted to the Ph.D. program at UNC. I told him I was already admitted. I had only applied to one graduate school. I had no money to go to school. But, less than two weeks later I was in Chapel Hill ready to start classes in the fall of 1960.

The years passed quickly at Chapel Hill as I was busy with classes, computer programming, and research activities. Favorite Professors were Dan Price and Gerhard Lenski. I studied urban sociology, population and demography, statistics and research methods, as well as other required and elective classes. For the computer center I wrote statistical and other general purpose programs which were available for faculty and students. Some programs were given wider distribution.

During my last year at UNC I taught classes in social problems, and assisted William P. Richardson, of the medical school, and A.C. Higgins, Ph.D., 1964 in the preparation and publication of a book titled “The Handicapped Children of North Carolina” published by E. I. Dupont, 1965. This book became very important to me a few years later.

Before I left UNC, I accepted a faculty position in the fall of 1965 teaching at USC in Los Angeles. This was not the time to arrive in LA as that was the time of the Watts Riots. USC was in the cordoned off area. I could not even get into my new department when I arrived. The students, by-and-large, stayed, while the faculty bailed out like rats leaving a sinking ship.

I was one of the faculty who bailed as well. Syracuse University offered me a sizable increase in salary and I took the position. I did not like Syracuse at all, and contacted a California State University which had made me an offer previously. I asked if the offer were still good. The answer was YES. I accepted the offer and moved to the San Francisco Bay area to teach sociology at California State University, Hayward in the fall of 1969.

Thus started another chapter in my life. Maybe the best chapter. There I met my wife Sue and we have now been married more than 45 years. We have a daughter who is a public school teacher in Lodi (stuck in Lodi, again!). Actually, Lodi Is a really nice little town, and one that is giving stiff competition to Napa in the wine arena.

But, I digress! At California State University I made tenure, full professorship, and was an Associate Dean of Academic Planning for four years.

It was while teaching at Cal State, Hayward that I used my sabbatical leave to enter the MPH program in Epidemiology (a Post-Doctoral program) at U C Berkeley, a program typically open only to persons with an MD degree. Here is where the book on handicapped children and related publications in the American Journal of Public Health paid off. I, a mere Ph.D., was accepted into the program and became a “Ph.D., M.P.H.” in 1980.

From 1980 to 1985 I was an epidemiologist/demographer assigned to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) where I worked with other professionals on the study of occupational respiratory disease. During that period, I had adjunct faculty appointments in Sociology and in the medical school, in Community Medicine at West Virginia University. I taught in the Sociology Department all five years. I published more than two dozen articles in medical and public health journals and gave presentation at International conferences.

When I returned from the five years with the federal government, I joined the California State Health Department as an epidemiologist and taught Epidemiology part-time at Sacramento State University. I became Chief of the Pesticide Epidemiology Unit. The work involved more occupational respiratory disease studies and two dozen articles in public health and toxicology journals.

In summary, while I spent much of my career as an epidemiologist, I also taught sociology and published in sociology and related journals. The Ph.D. in Sociology was really the foundation for all the rest of my career. The epidemiology that I did was often based on sociology underpinnings. Computers and computer programming were also part of my research. I programmed computers from 1958 until I retired. An especial thanks has to go to Charles Bowerman who offered and provided the monetary support to complete a Ph.D. It was less than two weeks before the Fall semester started. I had no money at attend UNC. Yet, I got to start and finish my Ph.D. and have a successful career. Thank you, Dr. Bowerman.

Dickames1906HM@hotmail.com
Submitted November 2016