Fellows Feature: Carlos A. Ramirez Hernandez & Bertram Melix

There is much to look forward to heading into the second half of the 2023-24 CAnD3 training year. Our Fellows will start 2024 with a discussion of recent advances in digital demography and explore topics like adaptive policymaking, loneliness trajectories of older adults, and social media analysis in the next six months. They will also be producing their portfolios, Dragons' Den data visualizations, and policy briefs. 

We caught up with two of our Fellows, Carlos and Bertram, to ask about their experiences with the CAnD3 program thus far. Read on to learn about their research and what they hope to achieve during the remainder of the program and beyond.

Feature image: Carlos A. Ramirez Hernandez (left) and Bertram Melix (right)

Carlos A. Ramirez Hernandez (he/him)

Carlos’s research concerns the statistical measurement of gender-based violence in Latin America focusing on practices such as child marriage and genital mutilation in Indigenous populations. “This is a topic that has been little explored because of the lack and quality of information,” says Carlos. He hopes that accurate quantification can benefit Indigenous women of all ages in Latin America – “from future births of girls who are at risk to older women who live with the health implications of gender-based violence”.

Toward this end, Carlos is pursuing a PhD in Demography at the University of Montreal. His thesis will focus on “Measuring female genital mutilation in Colombia” while also analyzing methodologies to measure the practice in different countries and contexts. Carlos’ interest in quantification methodologies can be traced back to his work analyzing fertility in Colombia from non-traditional and innovative sources, such as administrative records of vaccinations.

The impact Carlos wants to see from his research is shaped by his rich professional background. From 2018 to 2022, he worked at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) where he analyzed and interpreted the relations between population dynamics (mortality, fertility, and migration) and gaps in sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, and aging in Colombian regions with critical humanitarian contexts. With other UNFPA colleagues, he presented a prize-winning poster on adolescent fertility and the vulnerability level of spatial units at the 2021 conference of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP).

Carlos presenting at a conference back when he worked at the UNFPA.

During his free time, Carlos likes to spend time with family and friends, listen to music, and dance. Carlos says he is on a continuous search for good restaurants and street food.

Carlos later served as an advisor at the National Statistics Office of Colombia. Here, he was able to demonstrate the shortcomings in coverage, periodicity and methodological challenges that exist in the production of statistics for closing gender gaps in Latin America.

As a first-year PhD student, Carlos says that the CAnD3 training has exposed him to a variety of research tools that will shape and improve his research throughout the rest of his degree and career. Learn more and connect with Carlos.

Bertram Melix (he/him)

Bertram was drawn into his Geographic Information Systems (GIS) academic interests from his undergraduate in history. Inspired by an introductory course about GIS, the course sparked his interest in GIS and transformed his academic focus. As a health geographer, spatial data scientist and pursuing his Ph.D. in Geography at Florida State University, Bertram delved into the complex interplay between spatial and temporal dynamics, population characteristics, the built and social environment, and the underlying causes that contribute to health disparities across communities. 

Parallel to his academic career, Bertram is engaged with a consulting firm that focuses on delivering redistricting services to various cities, counties, and municipalities across the state of Florida. Currently interning at the Florida Department of Health, Bertram contributes to updating key data products. His responsibilities include calculating life expectancy estimates, developing a walkability index and compiling an economic hardship index for Florida census tracts. He says this hands-on experience enriches his research by grounding it in the practical aspects of public health as a geographer and spatial data scientist. “My research is a passionate exploration of the underlying causes that contribute to health disparities, utilizing a blend of demographic methods, spatial statistics and GIS techniques,” Bertram says.  

In his free time, Bertram loves outdoor activities including fishing, playing basketball with friends, and going on hiking adventures. Bertram also enjoys watching and attending all Florida State University sporting events.

Bertram's past investigations have been diverse, ranging from dissecting the relationship between life expectancy and social determinants of health in Florida to analyzing the determinants of COVID-19 cases in U.S. nursing homes. “My recent manuscript under review focuses on the challenges posed by the U.S. Census Bureau's implementation of differential privacy, revealing persistent biases in health metrics, particularly affecting smaller, more diverse, and vulnerable populations,” shares Bertram. 

“As a participant in the CAnD3 Fellowship, I am seeking to refine my data visualization, presentation, and communication skills,” Bertram says. Beyond academic pursuits, Bertram's commitment extends to integrating these skills into his pedagogical practices. He is aiming to deepen his understanding about how health outcomes throughout the life courses can be shaped by social, cultural, and physical contexts. We are looking forward to seeing how Bertram can refine his skills diverse with theoretical frameworks and bring positive changes to public policy through academic research. 

Learn more and connect with Bertram.

About the training program

The Population Analytics in an Aging Society Training Program is a rigorous one-year fellowship hosted by the Consortium on Analytics for Data-Driven Decision-Making (CAnD3), funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and based at McGill University. The program upskills rising researchers in Master's, PhD, and postdoctoral programs in the areas of population data science and computational population social science from a multidisciplinary lens. It also connects Fellows to experiential learning opportunities, which include hands-on research projects and internships with government, not-for-profit, and private sector CAnD3 partners. Since the first year of the program in 2020, CAnD3 has trained 52 Fellows and welcomes 22 new Fellows for the 2023-24 Academic Year.

Back to top