Public health is critical to a healthy, fair, and sustainable society. Realizing this vision requires imagining a public health community that can maintain its foundational core while adapting and responding to contemporary imperatives such as entrenched inequities and ecological degradation. In this commentary, we reflect on what tomorrow’s public health might look like, from the point of view of our collective experiences as researchers in Canada who are part of an Applied Public Health Chairs program designed to support “innovative population health research that improves health equity for citizens in Canada and around the world.” We view applied public health research as sitting at the intersection of core principles for population and public health: namely sustainability, equity, and effectiveness. We further identify three attributes of a robust applied public health research community that we argue are necessary to permit contribution to those principles: researcher autonomy, sustained intersectoral research capacity, and a critical perspective on the research-practice-policy interface. Our intention is to catalyze further discussion and debate about why and how public health matters today and tomorrow, and the role of applied public health research therein.