Skip to main content

Isha Berry

University of Toronto
Isha Berry Headshot
Isha Berry Headshot
Location Now
Education Pathway
School Subject

I look for patterns in disease outbreaks and health outcomes in populations across the world.

About me

I was born/grew up in: New Delhi, India. I have been lucky to move around a lot growing up - India, Bahrain, Canada and the USA.

I now live in: Toronto, Ontario.

I completed my training/education at: BSc in Environment at McGill University; MSc in Epidemiology at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

What I do at work

I am studying to be an epidemiologist. I research the way infectious diseases spread between people, and from animals to people. My work focuses on trying to understand how population behaviours and other factors affect the spread of disease.

I work with global and local teams to design and carry out population surveys. We ask individuals questions about their daily activities. This includes who they interact with (including animals!), and where they buy their food. Other questions ask about their hygiene practices as well as their general health and well-being. The answers to these survey questions become the data that we analyze. The goals of these analyses are to identify patterns in the population. It also helps us understand behavioural and system-level factors related to health outcomes. To do this, I use statistics and code my analyses in software packages like Stata or R.

I spend the last major part of my time writing up my findings. I have to interpret my findings to understand what the numbers mean. To do this I summarize the statistical results. I write papers to share this with other researchers. Here, I focus on how the data were collected and how analyses were conducted.  I also write papers to share information with the populations who contributed to the data. When I do this, I highlight the key health outcomes.

Three things make up my work. These are project set-up, statistical analysis, and writing. Usually these flow over the course of a month or so. Sometimes they all happen in the same day!

My career path is

I always liked math. I also liked interacting with people and teams to solve problems. It turned out that these are the two key skills needed as an epidemiologist. I didn’t know what epidemiology was until I took a research assistant position in my second year of undergrad at McGill.  In this position, I worked with a health-geography research group. This allowed me to see the application of my environmental science, geography, and health classes in action. I took advanced math and statistics classes. This helped me move from just observing how research was done, to actually doing research. It also really sparked my interest in epidemiology!  

Doing scientific research can be tough. All research involves some rejection. Sometimes it is when you submit papers to journals and they get rejected. At other times, rejection happens when you apply for funding and you don’t get it. Without funding you can’t do research. Having supportive mentors, friends, and colleagues is important. They remind you that your work is not only interesting, but important. They also help keep you grounded.

I am motivated by

Epidemiology is about bringing together different information to understand a population’s health needs. This information could be numbers of individuals with a health outcome. It could be looking at those who are practicing a certain behaviour. On the other hand, it could be looking at those who believe an opinion or attitude about health. Using such different sets of information, I act as a disease detective. This means I try to identify patterns to improve population health. I do this by creating scientific evidence to support public health policies.

Epidemiology is exciting to me because it is so interdisciplinary. I get to work with veterinarians, doctors, and statisticians. Together we make sure we build a strong evidence base. Then we turn this into actionable results to improve the health and wellbeing for populations.

How I affect people’s lives

Research in the fields of public health and epidemiology addresses health issues by looking upstream. This means that the work doesn’t cure or treat a single patient. Instead, it aims to inform policy and support health systems to create healthier populations.

Outside of work I

I love trying to cook new vegetarian dishes – particularly if they involve eggplant. I enjoy playing tennis. I also like knitting, but I can only make rectangular-shaped items!

My advice to others

Having an open mind, and enthusiasm for exploring health patterns in your local, national, or global population can take you wherever you want to go in epidemiology!

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Foreign languages
  • Geography
  • Math
  • Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Liked helping people
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Was really creative
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades

Explore Career Profiles

  • Allison Guitor in her lab at McMaster University.

    Allison Guitor

    PhD student (antibiotic resistance)

    I study antibiotic resistance, which is what makes bacteria able to live in the presence of antibiotics.
  • Dr. Harpreet Kochhar at standup computer station in his office.

    Dr. Harpreet Kochhar


    I am the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
  • Isabel Hilgendag in the fileld collecting samples in the Arctic

    Isabel Hilgendag

    MSc Student (Biology)

    I look for heavy metals, such as mercury, in Arctic marine animals, to ensure they are safe to eat.
  • Manpreet Kaur in her lab

    Manpreet Kaur (She/Her)

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    I work on research projects to discover drugs to treat infectious diseases.
  • Ryan Mitchell headshot

    Ryan Mitchell

    Hatchery Supervisor

    My job is to supervise the daily workflow at our salmon hatchery.
  • Daryl Lawes in front of one of Seaspan’s many tugboats supporting marine transportation.

    Daryl Lawes

    Environment Manager

    I am responsible for all aspects of environmental protection, performance, and regulatory compliance for Seaspan Shipyards.
  • Corie HOuldsworth headshot

    Corie Houldsworth


    I perform inspections of worksites where radiation is used, stored or transported.
  • Terra MacDonald at aquaculture site holding farmed salmon.

    Terra MacDonald (she/her)

    Veterinarian and Fish Health Manager

    As the veterinarian for Mowi Canada West, I care for the salmon at all life stages, from egg to harvest.
  • Isha Berry Headshot

    Isha Berry


    I look for patterns in disease outbreaks and health outcomes in populations across the world.
  • Clair Poulin hiking near wetland area

    Claire Poulin

    Zebrafish Researcher/Pre-Med Student

    I am researching how Zebrafish respond to lower oxygen levels in their environment.
  • Jasmin Chahal headshot

    Jasmin Chahal

    Assistant Professor

    I teach in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at McGill University.
  • Lynn Henderson with German Sheppard dog

    Lynn Henderson (she/her)

    Veterinarian, Clinician, and College Professor

    I am a small animal veterinarian serving animal health in a variety of capacities.
  • Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk headshot

    Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk

    Science and Innovation Lead, Health Beyond Initiative

    I explore ways in which science and technology can provide solutions to healthcare problems in space and on Earth.
  • Hayleigh Conway laying on map of NWT and pointing to Inuvik on the map. Taken on GIS Day 2017.

    Hayleigh Conway (she/her)

    Geomatics Technician

    I make maps that help answer questions about the health of the environment in the Western Arctic.
  • Megan Katz headshot

    Megan Katz

    Prosthetic Technician

    Megan is a prosthetic technician who makes and repairs artificial limbs.
  • Dr. Jackie Dawson doing field research on Beechy Island, Nunavut.

    Jackie Dawson (she/her/they)

    Professor and Canada Research Chair

    I work with large teams of academics, Inuit knowledge holders, and decision makers to understand the risks and solutions to environmental change.
  • Katie Harris essayant une combinaison spatiale de simulation au Centre européen des astronautes.

    Katie Harris (she/her)

    Medical Student/Prospective Aerospace Medicine Specialist

    I am working towards a career as an aerospace medicine specialist - a doctor who works with astronauts and keeps them healthy for long missions!
  • Chris Derksen en train de faire ses recherches sur le terrain en Arctique.

    Chris Derksen (he/his)

    Climate Scientist

    I use satellite data and climate models to understand how climate change is impacting snow and ice across Canada.
  • Shari Forbes à l'extérieur du centre de décomposition humaine

    Shari Forbes (she/her/elle)

    Forensic Scientist

    I conduct research to understand how the human body decomposes in our unique Canadian environment.
  • Viviana Ramirez-Luna dehors en hiver

    Viviana Ramirez-Luna (she/her)

    Environmental Entrepreneur

    I founded (and run) a consulting company to help businesses, communities, and organizations reduce the waste they produce