The School of Public Health at Georgia State University is proud of our alumni, students, and their work in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Alumni and students are encouraged to share their pandemic-response stories with the School of Public to be included in this Spotlight Series. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Alumni spotlights are featured in alphabetical order by first name.
Ambra Houser is working at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs as a data analyst for the Georgia COVID-19 Task Force Committee for the Homeless and Displaced.
Amna Tariq is a part of Dr. Gerardo Chowell’s research team that produces coronavirus incidence forecasts of the entire US trajectory, which captures spatial heterogeneity across the country. Tariq uses internet and news reports to assess new associations and patterns of the disease as well as compile information on clusters of patients and reproduction numbers to infer transmission dynamics of the disease. The research team is a part of the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
Arif Budiman is a Branch Office Manager at BPJS Kesehatan (Indonesia Social Security Agency for Health). As a public service institution, his team has worked with the COVID-19 National Task Force in deploying the vaccination program for the more than 181 million people of Indonesia. Budiman’s role in the vaccination program is educating the local health authorities, health centers and hospitals in using the P-Care application, which is Indonesia’s fundamental tool in primary care level management. The application was chosen for the management of the national vaccination deployment to ensure that big data will be well organized to increase the validity of the vaccine and protect health professionals.
Aung Aung is an epidemiologist activity manager with Doctors without Borders in the Kingdom of Eswatini, where the healthcare system is overstretched with the HIV epidemic. Aung is currently working on an analysis of health facility readiness assessment to COVID-19 for all health facilities in the country. The work analyzes the efficiency of the preparedness plan, the capacity to triage and isolate suspected patients, infection prevention and control, and human and material resources availability. Though not focused on disease epidemiology or direct patient management, this work highlights the capacity of health facilities to respond COVID-19, and will enhance the mobilization of preparedness plan while reserving resources. Additionally, Aung has led the integration of digital technology known as video observed therapy (VOT) into a new model of care for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) patients during the COVID-19 outbreak. Aung was a part of a team effort that sustained the patients in care without treatment interruption while minimizing the exposure between patients and different contacts. In this model, patients have more autonomy under directly observed DR-TB care while keeping virtually connected to their treatment providers.
Dr. Catherine Kemp is a Social Scientist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She completed a Civilian deployment with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Dr. Kemp supported the COVID-19 response as a Behavioral Health subject matter expert (SME) on the Workforce Behavioral Health (WFBH) team over the late summer of 2020.
Chinedu Egbuonu is an Emory COVID-19 Response Collaborative (ECRC) Fellow deployed to Cobb & Douglas Public Health (CDPH). He is a part of the task force built in order to support the COVID-19 response plan of the Cobb County School District, the second largest school system in the state of Georgia. As an epidemiologist on the team, Egbuonu’s responsibility is to ensure that all data received from contact tracing is available to be utilized for staff on the surveillance and investigation teams at the leadership level. The task force helps CDPH identify and contain the spread of COVID-19 in their school system.
Curtis Sarkar is an epidemiologist for the Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County Health Departments in the State of Georgia. He is currently a Case Investigation Team Lead and manages over 70 Georgia Department of Public Health case investigators. Sarkar helps with the on-boarding and training process, conducts weekly zoom meetings, and assists his team with any issues they may experience. He also sits in meetings with the Georgia Department of Public Health to stay up to date on latest guidance changes. Additionally, Sarkar conducts meetings with fellow Case Investigation Team Leads to improve and innovate the reporting and notification process. He puts together the Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County Health Departments’ weekly data snapshot document and COVID-19 data dashboard on their website.
Diana Orquiola is a data analyst and ORISE Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention working on the COVID-19 Emergency Response in the Heath Department Section. In her role, she provides support to the Reporting, Analytics, and Data Team as well as the COVID-19 Outreach, Response, and Engagement (CORE) Reporting Team. Orquiola also develops weekly reports related to the CDC and state health departments engagements for leadership, outlining states’ needs and wants (i.e. technical assistance, guidance, field/remote deployments, etc.). Her responsibilities will include developing maps for field deployments and high risk settings within the United States.
Dolgion Erdenebat is a technical officer within the HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infection (HSI) Unit at the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office in Mongolia. In her role during the COVID-19 pandemic, she has assisted in maintaining essential services and ensuring protection of health care workers in the WHO’s National HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programme. Erdenebat has also provided support to National counterparts on the strengthening of clinical preparedness towards COVID-19, including clinical management training for health care workers. Her duties have also helped with the national Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) in preparation of the COVID-19 vaccine deployment. In this capacity, Erdenebat has submitted vaccine requests to the COVAX Facility, a global initiative of the WHO, the European Commission and France in response to the pandemic.
Born as the youngest of a cattle ranching family in Uvs province, Dr. Erdenekhuu Nansalmaa went on to become the dean of the education policy and management department at the leading medical university in Mongolia, the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences (MNUMS), and later interim director of the National Cancer Center of Mongolia. Dr. Erdenekhuu Nansalmaa has authored and co-authored a number of research articles published in prestigious peer reviewed journals with international circulation, such as Diabetologia, Heart and Vessel, the Journal of Nursing and Care, the International Journal of Obesity, and the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, in addition citations of his work in the peer reviewed journals such as PLoS One. With his record of academic excellence and professional achievements, Dr. Erdenekhuu is continuing to strengthen the Mongolian healthcare system and making meaningful contributions to our communities and our world. Click here and here to learn more about Dr. Nansalmaa.
As an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Francis Annor has been deployed twice to support CDC’s response to COVID-19. His first deployment was to manage the data collected from screening travelers arriving at US airports. Dr. Annor’s second deployment involved providing epidemiological support to a state Public Health department in linking and analyzing COVID-19 data and developing an algorithm to prioritize case investigations.
Ginny Kincaid is the communications lead for the Health Systems and Worker Safety Task Force at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kincaid provides strategy and leadership in the dissemination of COVID-19 guidance for healthcare professionals, healthcare systems, businesses, workers, partners, and the public.
Ijeoma Nena Uzoezie is a Program Evaluation and Translation ORISE Fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She was deployed to support CDC’s Health Systems and Worker Safety (HSWS) task force to respond to COVID-19. Using her background in medicine and public health, she served as a Clinician on the Underlying Medical Conditions Clinical Team in the Core Clinical Unit.
Ijeoma provided technical assistance, including clinical expertise, to develop or update documents and materials in response to the COVID-19 emergency response, as well as regular communications with other health agencies (e.g., FDA) to assess risks of treatments and communications with clinicians to aid their understanding of COVID-19 disease and treatments. She also responded to clinical inquiries from the general public and provided technical assistance with cross-clearing documents from other teams to ensure the integrity of clinical content.
In her role, Ijeoma provided assistance with interpreting adverse event reports and surveillance data related to COVID-19 treatments and develop guidance for clinicians regarding treatment and management of patients with COVID-19 disease. Additionally, she contributed to literature reviews on the underlying conditions (multiple morbidities, pulmonary fibrosis) and increase risk of severe illness and developed clinical guidance for the clinicians webpage on CDC’s website.
Since March of 2020, Jacob Attell has supported the COVID-19 emergency response efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Laboratory Task Force. Specifically, he provides analytic solutions and expertise to the task force, ensuring virtually real-time insights into testing operations, reagent supply, and projections based upon current trends.
Janhavi Dubhashi worked with a coalition of grassroots organizations in Atlanta advocating for the health and safety of incarcerated populations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently a David A. Winston Health Policy Fellow and placed with the United States Senate Finance Committee, Minority.
Jency Sekaran is a City Research Scientist in the NYC Department of Health and Hygiene and has had many roles in response to COVID-19. Sakaran aided in developing a questionnaire form and performing Q&As for data entry. As COVID-19 cases increased, she assisted in transporting lab specimens to the public health lab from the hospitals and conducted interviews with patients that tested positive. Currently, Sekaran is aiding with clusters investigation on the data side.
As a pharmacist and epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Jennifer Lind has been supporting the COVID-19 response since March 2020. Dr. Lind is currently serving as Lead of the Clinical Team’s Adverse Event Monitoring Unit within CDC’s Emergency Operations Center.
Dr. Jessica Rogers-Brown is an ORISE Fellow and epidemiologist in the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During the onset of the pandemic, she has served as a Deputy Team Lead for the Medical Countermeasures Task Force’s clinical team. Dr. Rogers-Brown has conducted several studies covering the effects of COVID-19 on patients in the state of Georgia and across the United States. She has also led the development of a Redcap database to create Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) and manuscripts for the Maternal–Child Case Management (MCCM) Task Force, the Epidemiology Task Force, and CDC Puerto Rico.
Kat Hoffman leads communications for the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s journal, which has published more than 150 reports focused on COVID-19 since February 2020. Hoffman coordinates communication products and promotion of the reports including graphics, media, and social media outreach. During the onset of the pandemic, she finished a detail with CDC’s Emergency Operation Center working on the Joint Information Center’s content team. Her work there included leading their twice weekly COVID-19 newsletter, video coordination, and working with translation services and the web team to translate the consumer COVID-19 pages into Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean.
Kimberly Erukunuakpor is a Second Century Initiative (2CI) Fellow and studying towards her PhD in Public Health with a concentration in environmental health. She worked with Dr. Lisa Casanova to study the efficacy of elastomeric half-piece respirators (EHFRs) as the COVID-19 pandemic evolved.
Disposable respirators are recommended for health care worker (HCW) respiratory protection when caring for patients with respiratory viruses like the new coronavirus (COVID-19). According to Kimberly, the current recommendation is to dispose of the respirator after each patient contact. During the last SARS outbreak, hospitals experienced a shortage of disposable respirators (N95), which are recommended for HCW protection when caring for patients with coronaviruses. To prepare for a situation where there is a shortage of disposable respirators, reusable respirators (EHFR) are being considered as an alternative. The current challenge with EHFRs is disinfection after each use. Because in an outbreak situation such as COVID-19, HCWs are in contact with multiple patients, respirators have to be disinfected frequently, ideally, after each patient contact. Current disinfection procedures recommended by EHFR manufacturers require several steps and take 20 minutes or more to complete, not including the time to prepare disinfection solutions. This time is not ideal for HCWs in an emergency.
Kimberly’s current collaborative work is trying to address the disinfection of EHFR and focused on developing and testing the efficacy (under ideal laboratory conditions and controlled HCW simulations) of a shorter disinfection procedure for EHFRs, such as using disposable wipes.
Kimberlyn Roosa was a part of Dr. Gerardo Chowell’s research team that produces global and US coronavirus incidence forecasts for the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. She monitored the transmission potential and death toll of COVID-19 around the world, characterized trends in data resulting from interventions, such as social distancing, and collected information from various news sources to generate short-term forecasts as data of COVID-19 cases fluctuated overtime. Roosa recently co-authored a study on forecasting the impact of coronavirus disease during delivery hospitalization. She is now a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Komal Patel is a COVID-19 Response Epidemiologist at Cobb & Douglas Public Health. She leads a team of epidemiologists, infection preventionists and case investigators for COVID-19 outbreak investigations among vulnerable populations at long term care facilities, congregate settings and healthcare facilities.
Laura Nguyen is currently deployed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s International Task Force for COVID-19 as a response capacity specialist for Anglophone Africa. In this capacity, she works with CDC country offices and their Ministries of Health on the development and delivery of global public health emergency management activities for COVID-19 within her team’s five technical pillars: public health systems integration, rapid response teams, public health emergency operations center, incident management systems, and risk communication and community engagement. Her most recent win includes being the lead on developing the CDC guidance on COVID-19 Sustainable Response Planning that is currently posted on the CDC’s Global COVID-19 site. The document features guiding questions for response workforce and operational resiliency considerations in a protracted response. It also aims to identify critical considerations for response leaders developing sustainable and effective COVID-19 response plans.
Before joining CDC, she served as a community health specialist in the village of Ndikinimeki, Cameroon focusing on HIV/AIDS and malaria education and prevention. Her time in the country, known as “Africa in Miniature,” ended prematurely when she, along with 7,000 other Peace Corps volunteers globally, were evacuated due to the spread of COVID-19.
Leah Moriarty is currently employed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In March 2020, Moriarty led a team of over 40 people to conduct a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship which had the largest cluster of COVID-19 cases outside of mainland China at that time.
Lia Scott was deployed as an Epidemiology/GIS consultant to the WHO Health Emergencies Programme in Geneva, Switzerland when the first cases of of COVID-19 were reported from China. While there, she helped develop the first COVID-19 public facing dashboard while supporting the team in determining whether to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Scott has recently returned to Atlanta where she continued serving as an Epidemiology/GIS subject matter expert on the international task force. Her work was captured in a Lancet Infectious Diseases publication detailing case travel at the start of the pandemic.
Lindsey Martin Webb is the COVID-19 Regional Epidemiology and Outbreak Program Manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). During the onset of the pandemic, she established Colorado’s COVID-19 Clinical and Epidemiology Call Center and developed the statewide COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing Program. In her current role, Webb manages a program made up of 50 epidemiologists who provide technical epidemiological assistance and case and outbreak investigation support to Colorado’s local public health agencies.
Loren Makhoul is a supervisor within the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH)’s North Georgia Health District (NGHD) (1-2). She has been working as an epidemiologist within her community as a COVID-19 contact tracer, case investigator, and supervisor. In May, Makhoul started as a contact tracing intern where she quickly learned the in’s and out’s of contact tracing to work with the community, NGHD staff, and GDPH’s contact tracing software, becoming the district’s contact tracing expert. She also trained in case investigation and serving as a primary data collector. Makhoul’s ability to work as both a contact tracer and case investigator ultimately aided in her promotion to a supervisor within the district upon competition of her MPH in August. Now as a supervisor, she manages a team of case investigators and contact tracers, trains new hires, cross-trains existing staff, and continues to work with community members experiencing COVID-19’s negative impacts first hand.
Priya Shah is a Public Health Analyst Trainee in the Office of Regional Operations (ORO) for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) located in Atlanta, Georgia. Her role supports HRSA’s federal programs and priorities, such as the Health Center Program, which provide quality health care to medically vulnerable and underserved populations in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region 4 (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, and TN).
Shah’s team convened a Primary Care Forum with each state’s Primary Care Associations and partners (federal, state, and local) to discuss best practices and strategies to increase access to COVID-19 testing and treatment, how to maximize telehealth, and how to avoid burnout by promoting workforce wellness. Her role includes conducting surveillance on emerging trends and issues across the eight states, such as business closures and COVID-19 case clusters, that may impact programs and stakeholders. In 2021, Shah’s team will shift focus on increasing access to the vaccine and supporting other priorities, such as HIV/AIDS and Maternal Health.
Dr. Rebecca Wilson works as a behavioral scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In early March 2020, Dr. Wilson was deployed to New York as part of the CDC’s COVID-19 response to assist in conducting entry screening and visual illness inspections for COVID-19 among travelers with a travel history to mainland China, Iran, European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. In June-July, 2020 she deployed to Wisconsin to meet with community members, community leaders, and local business owners in an effort to understand some of the contextual factors contributing to the increased incidence of COVID-19 among young adults in the community. The information Dr. Wilson gathered was used to inform public health messaging on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within those communities. She recently co-authored a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) as a result of her deployment in Wisconsin.
Robert Fairman is the Schools Deputy at Fulton County Board of Health, where he is responsible for coordinating the response to outbreaks, contact tracing, and case investigation in the schools, and working collaboratively with school nurses to determine what, if any, school implications occur and how to mitigate them.
Previously, Fairman led a team of contact tracers and case investigators for the Fulton County Heath Department. His team contacted those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and collected other information to better understand COVID-19’s impact on the community. Fairman also worked with at Specimen Collection Sites for the DeKalb County Board of Health to ensure that COVID-19 testing processes runs smoothly.
Sam Archbold is the Georgia Operations Manager/Deputy Area Manager of the humanitarian relief group CORE, where he oversees COVID-19 testing, vaccination and collaborative programs. What started as a Georgia startup team to provide free COVID-19 testing in the Atlanta area has now evolved into a large operation that works alongside local health agencies and institutions to expand capacity and reach for testing, contact tracing, resource coordination, flu vaccinations, and now beginning to assist in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations. Since April 2020, CORE has conducted over 300,000 COVID-19 tests in Georgia. The group’s primary goal was to ensure COVID relief and services would be able to reach populations of the highest need, which led to the development of a mobile testing system. The mobile system allows CORE to work with local groups and organizations with community ties to provide testing, where the networks of their partners allowed Archbold’s team to build trust in neighborhoods to provide pandemic support services.
Dr. Tia McGill Rogers is a Lieutenant in the United States Public Health Service. She has deployed to state and local health departments through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Field Deployment Unit within the Health Department Task Force. During her deployments, Dr. McGill Rogers has provided scientific and technical assistance towards the development and implementation of a state-wide pilot for virtual case investigation and contact tracing. She has also provided scientific and technical assistance during the investigation of COVID-19 outbreaks at meat packing facilities. In addition to working with her deployment teams to integrate environmental and epidemiological data related to COVID-19 outbreaks, she provides guidance on best practices for closing out case investigations, prioritizing contact tracing efforts, and summaries of process related considerations, procedural points, and products resulting from response activities.
Tunicia Walker is an Emergency Management Analyst for General Dynamics Information Technology, a CDC contractor. She works on the Epidemiology Task Force as a clearance coordinator in her role towards COVID-19 response. Currently, she assists with the approval process of many of the guidance documents and journal articles produced by the CDC.
Yiseul Lee was a part of Dr. Gerardo Chowell’s research team that produces coronavirus incidence forecasts of the entire US trajectory, which captures spatial heterogeneity across the country. She conducted statistical data analysis from information gathered from the Chinese Health Commission website, played an integral part in collecting data from COVID-19 cases in Korea, and also translated the global reports to English for the research team.
The research team is a part of the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.