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Debra Revere: Weaving Words and Information

NWCPHP Research Scientist Debra Revere studies the information needs of public health and how they can be used to inform the development of tools to improve bi-directional communication and the quality of health information exchanges. Like her work, her hobbies and background reflect a passion for weaving together words and information.
Debra Revere: Weaving Words and Information

Debra Revere

NWCPHP Research Scientist Debra Revere studies the information needs of public health and how they can be used to inform the development of tools to improve bi-directional communication and the quality of health information exchanges. Like her work, her hobbies and background reflect a passion for weaving together words and information.

July 2, 2013

For Research Scientist Debra Revere, the most invigorating things in life are complex, ambiguous, or hard to find.

At NWCPHP, Debra works on five projects which all focus on understanding the information and communication needs of public health. She likes the journey and process of sorting through data and systems and using her findings to construct useful tools. Her passion lies in figuring out underlying structures.

"It's all a puzzle," she explains. "I like searching for things, cutting across different databases, going into government reports and 'gray literature.'"

Unafraid of delving into the unknown, Debra's life has taken a similar journey. Long before she was weaving together information, Debra was an actual weaver (with a side job as a Metro bus driver), selling shawls and scarves down at Pike Place Market.

After earning her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology, Debra split her time teaching psychology at Seattle Central Community College, running a private practice, and working in community mental health.

Her investigative nature drew her back to school for a master's degree in library and information science. Following graduation, Debra was awarded a National Library of Medicine Fellowship in the Integrated Advanced Information Management Systems Program. It was the beginning of her focus in public health informatics research. (Fun fact: to get better acquainted with public health, she took NWCPHP's CD-ROM trainings on epidemiology and public health.) At the end of her fellowship, Debra was asked to stay on as a researcher with the University of Washington.

When asked how she made the jump from psychology to library science to informatics and research, she says: "To me, they are connected. When you're a counselor, it's a puzzle—what makes us who we are and how we respond to things. Similarly a database has certain viewpoints; it only covers things it has experience with and has a mission and organizational structure. If you want to find anything, you have to think like the database."

Debra Revere's Books and HobbiesOutside of work, Debra enjoys playing the cello—an instrument that she re-learned after playing on and off earlier in life. She is also part of a small group that gets together to study and practice book binding, book making, and altered books (taking an existing book and transforming it into something else). Each piece she creates is a delicate system of interwoven parts.

Debra's investigative nature is reflected in her view on life. "People like to say things that make your whole life seem like an intentional journey, but there's a bunch of blips in there, like driving a bus," she says. But like any good puzzle, each piece—while unique—makes a very intriguing larger picture.

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