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Meet the NSSP Steering Committee Members
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Learn more about the NSSP Community of Practice Steering Committee members including what they do and who they are.

 

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Top tags: NSSP  Steering Committee  Amanda  Anikah  Caleb  Collier  Ergas  Faigen  Hamby  Hoferka  Jamaal  Krystal  Morse  Rosa  Russell  Salim  Stacey  Teresa  Wiedeman  Zachary 

Meet NSSP Steering Committee Member, Stacey Hoferka

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Stacey Hoferka Stacey Hoferka works as an Epidemiologist in Informatics at the Illinois Department of Public Health, and is a member of the NSSP Steering Committee. We asked her a few questions about her career and interests so you could get to know her. Here are her answers.

 

How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?

I was taking an oceanography class, of all things, during my junior year at the University of Pittsburgh in the Graduate School of Public Health auditorium. I picked up the school's graduate brochure and first read about the Epidemiology program. I was a biology major without much interest in doing direct clinical professions or laboratory sciences. I knew instantly that solving health problems with statistics would be a perfect fit for me. 

What do you do?

I am an epidemiologist in informatics at the Illinois Department of Public Health. Early on I became active in the state's implementation of syndromic surveillance for Meaningful Use, and currently manage more of the information systems and applications for the Communicable Disease program, focused on enhancements and data integration. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I’m glad to see the progress that public health is making with informatics standards and improving our effective use of electronic data from the healthcare community. I look forward to a continued collaboration between all sectors of healthcare to advance electronic health information exchange.

Who or what inspires you professionally?

The community of professionals that has been committed to the field of public health informatics for years and have been meeting its challenges since the earliest days, inspires me. I feel very fortunate to be working so closely with a very passionate and devoted group of experts.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement (related to disease surveillance)?

Building a statewide syndromic surveillance system and working alongside the community of practice and CDC to achieve a national system that is and will continue to be very beneficial to practitioners.

How long have you been involved with ISDS?

Since 2013. I’ve served on the Board of Directors from 2014-2017, and have attended and presented at the annual conference every year.

Why are you an ISDS member?

I joined ISDS because it is the leading organization for the community of syndromic surveillance professionals nationally, and by leading syndromic surveillance during the Meaningful Use years, it has provided me with a knowledge base and network of contacts that provide broader understanding for other informatics projects.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

My first role as an epidemiologist was in Thailand, working for 3 months on Dengue fever prevention at the Ministry of Public Health and Chulalongkorn University. It taught me how much more there is to learn about public health’s true impact. It has gave me the ability to accept that the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know.

Tags:  Hoferka  NSSP  Stacey  Steering Committee 

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Meet NSSP Steering Committee Member, Caleb Wiedeman

Posted By Catherine Tong, Monday, April 23, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Caleb Wiedeman is an Epidemiologist in the Emergency Preparedness Program at the Tennessee Department of Health, and is a member of the NSSP Steering Committee. We asked him a few questions about his career and interests so you could get to know him. Here are his answers.

 

How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?

Epi 101. And my first job working as the Hepatitis B epidemiologist at the Arizona Department of Health Services sold me on disease surveillance specifically.

What do you do?

I’m an epidemiologist in the Emergency Preparedness program at the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH). I’m responsible for our NSSP participation and reporting, our local ESSENCE site, and helping support local syndromic surveillance activities across the State.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Any time I can collaborate and work with other epidemiologists to get something done.

Who or what inspires you professionally? 

We have a lot of awesome people here at TDH, both in Preparedness and across our department. They help keep me motivated!

What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement (related to disease surveillance)?

Helping get Tennessee from having syndromic surveillance done using EARS (a SAS based program CDC developed and maintained through 2011) in regional silos to having a statewide syndromic surveillance system that contributes to the national platform.

How long have you been involved with ISDS? 

I first became involved in ISDS by attending the 2013 annual ISDS Conference.

Why are you an ISDS member?

ISDS provides a platform for me to connect with other public health professionals doing the same work I am and has given me many opportunities to learn and collaborate. A lot of the syndromic surveillance knowledge I’ve gained over the years has come from being engaged in ISDS and collaborating with other ISDS members.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

During my first ISDS conference, I put a “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” reference in my abstract/ poster title that may be one other person there understood or chose to acknowledge.

 

Tags:  Caleb  NSSP  Steering Committee  Wiedeman 

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Meet NSSP Steering Committee Member, Teresa Hamby

Posted By Catherine Tong, Monday, April 23, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Teresa Hamby Teresa Hamby works on the Surveillance Team for the Communicable Disease Service at the New Jersey Department of Health, and is a member of the NSSP Steering Committee. We asked her a few questions about her career and interests so you could get to know her. Here are her answers.

 

How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?

I first learned about disease surveillance when I started with the NJ Department of Health in July, 2001.  My supervisor at the time was closely following the NYC health surveillance activities and wanted to institute something similar in NJ.  For the first weeks of my new job, I wasn’t sure where to start.  Then September 11th happened, followed about a month later by the Anthrax letters going through a local post office to our location.  With the help of CDC and later, Homeland Security funding, NJDOH was able to set up statewide emergency department surveillance.  I was hooked as soon as I could see the potential of how SyS could benefit public health in our state.

What do you do?

I am on the Surveillance Team for the Communicable Disease Service for NJDOH.  NJ’s emergency departments submit SyS data using Health Monitoring’s EpiCenter.  My primary role is to coordinate and oversee the NJDOH side of that system, working closely with the vendor and colleagues to maintain and enhance the system where possible.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the combination of public health, data, statistics, and working with colleagues both in NJDOH and ISDS.  Both communities have helped make my career fulfilling and interesting.

What excites you in the work you do

Knowing that we have a system that can ramp up or down depending on the circumstances and seeing it benefit other programs’ work like emergency preparedness and occupational injury surveillance.

Who or what inspires you professionally?

Working with colleagues and seeing how much more we can do to promote syndromic surveillance both locally and nationally.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement (related to disease surveillance)?

I think I’m proudest of having all but one of our facilities in our SyS system without a state mandate.

How long have you been involved with ISDS?

I have been involved in ISDS since the beginning, starting with the first meeting at the Academy of Medicine in NYC circa 2002(?) even though NJ did not start conducting statewide SyS until mid-2011.

Why are you an ISDS member?

ISDS has been the community most relevant to my work in SyS since the beginning.  I make connections and have a go-to group for helping with questions and conundrums.  The Society is an incredibly important resource in my career.

What do you value most about your ISDS membership?

Working with and learning from incredibly smart and interesting colleagues who believe in what we all do.

What is the biggest issue in disease surveillance (in your opinion)?

Marketing the value of our work to those outside of the community who may be able to provide support and reap the benefits of our work to help what they do.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I almost went to pharmacy school and I worked in a doctor’s office before I found public health so I know a little bit about pharmacology and private medical practice in addition to surveillance.

If you could meet anyone living or deceased, who would it be?

 Mother Teresa (and not just because of her name 😉)

If you were not a public health analyst, what would you be? 

Book editor or voiceover artist

 

Tags:  Hamby  NSSP  Steering Committee  Teresa 

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Meet NSSP Steering Committee Member, Jamaal Russell

Posted By Catherine Tong, Monday, April 23, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Jamaal Russell Jamaal Russell is a Senior Epidemiologist Program Scientist and provides contract support for the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB), and is a member of the NSSP Steering Committee. We asked him a few questions about his career and interests so you could get to know him. Here are his answers.

 

How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?

I saw former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher speak at my university about the field of public health and epidemiology. It really spoke to me and my interest in science and health.

What do you do?

I am the subject matter expert for syndromic surveillance/biosurveillance and ESSENCE for the DoD.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy working with such a well accomplished group of scientists and public health professionals to prevent and detect disease among the Services.

What excites you in the work you do

Understanding disease and working to keep people from contracting diseases feels meaningful to me. 

How long have you been involved with ISDS?

I have been involved since the beginning in some form or fashion. I attended the 2nd Syndromic Surveillance conference at NYU in 2003 or 2004 and have been around ever since.

What do you value most about your ISDS membership?

The collaboration and partnerships I have developed and encountered.

If you were not an epidemiologist, what would you be? 

I might have been a historian because I love history.

 

Tags:  Jamaal  NSSP  Russell  Steering Committee 

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Meet NSSP Steering Committee Member, Rosa Ergas

Posted By Catherine Tong, Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Rosa Ergas Rosa Ergas is the Syndromic Surveillance Coordinator and Epidemiologist at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and is a member of the NSSP Steering Committee. We asked her a few questions about her career and interests so you could get to know her. Here are her answers.

 

How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?

I had the classic introduction to epidemiology during my first day on campus as a new MPH student when our program director told us the story of John Snow’s maps, the removal of the pump handle, and the dramatic drop off in cholera cases.  I was sold.

What do you do?

I manage the Massachusetts implementation of NSSP ESSENCE.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy working with a variety of programmatic epidemiologist about how to use syndromic surveillance data to bring a unique look at their surveillance needs, beyond the use of these data provide the same information faster.

Who or what inspires you professionally? 

The field of public health is inspiring to me; I have so many smart and creative colleagues who at all stages of their careers devote their talents to improving the health of all people.

How long have you been involved with ISDS? Why are you an ISDS member?

I have been involved directly with ISDS as a member since taking on my role as Syndromic Surveillance Coordinator five years ago.  It quickly became clear to me that ISDS was at the hub of the many organizations and processes working together to advance the science and practice of syndromic surveillance and a great resource for learning about the field, connecting with colleagues nationally and internationally, and getting involved.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

People might be surprised to learn that I was a professional bus and truck driver in college.

If you were not an epidemiologist, what would you be? 

I would be a children’s author.

 

Tags:  Ergas  NSSP  Rosa  Steering Committee 

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Meet NSSP Steering Committee Member, Steering Committee Chair, Krystal Collier, BA

Posted By Catherine Tong, Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Krystal Collier Krystal Collier, BA is the Program Project Specialist of the Electronic Disease Surveillance Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services, and is the Chair of the NSSP Steering Committee. We asked her a few questions about her career and interests so you could get to know her. Here are her answers.

 

What do you do?

Currently I am the Program Project Specialist II for our Electronic Disease Surveillance Program, which consists of our Syndromic Surveillance and Electronic Laboratory Teams, at the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).  I also answer questions for our agency’s Meaningful Use Helpdesk.  I have been in this role for almost 5 years now. For the Community of Practice, I am co-chair of the Data Quality Committee and member of the Steering Committee.

Who or what inspires you professionally?

What inspires me professionally is knowing that I can help someone. No matter what role I have been in working directly with patients to working with data from their visit, trying to help is always at the core of what I do.  I have spent much of my professional life coordinating, facilitating, organizing, tracking activities and events.  All of these things have taught me how important it is to listen for the question because there is always a gem behind it.  These gems are where I find what I do, makes a difference for someone else and motivates me to work harder.  My favorite questions that I have received since I began working in the world of syndromic surveillance are “what is it and how do you use it?” The gems and opportunities that follow these questions are why I wanted to be a Steering Committee member.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement (related to disease surveillance)?

I think the work our team did, to host the ISDS and Defense Threat Reduction Agency Consultancy on Assessing Risk for Emerging Arboviral Surveillance in Arizona last summer is a top contender.  The amount of energy and resources we devoted to make this consultancy happen was an accomplishment I was truly proud to be a part of.  The types of connections and forward thinking that took place during the actual consultancy is something I have never experienced in my almost five years of working in public health.  If there was anything I could wish for in the future, it is to have more discussions like this that can be put into action.

What is the biggest issue in disease surveillance (in your opinion)?

Over the years I have seen challenges with communicating the value of syndromic surveillance and especially as it relates to all the effort involved in the electronic transmission of data to public health.  This has been a huge driver for me to become more engaged with the Community of Practice and also with the partners coming from various backgrounds I interact with in Arizona.  There is so much potential in what we can do with our syndromic data that through my previous position as the Co-Chair of the Data Quality Committee and being Chair of the Steering Committee, I will do my best to get the message out about the incredible work being done here!

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I am a papercrafter and love making handmade cards!

 

 

Tags:  Collier  Krystal  NSSP  Steering Committee 

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Meet NSSP Steering Committee Member, Zachary Faigen, MSPH, REHS

Posted By Catherine Tong, Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Zachary Faigen, MSPH, REHS is an Enhanced Surveillance Epidemiologist in the Division of Public Health, Communicable Disease Branch or the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and is a member of the NSSP Steering Committee. We asked him a few questions about his career and interests so you could get to know him. Here are his answers.

 

How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?

I first learned about disease surveillance during my application process with the Maryland Department of Health. I quickly decided it was an area of interest for me because I wanted the job. And because it sounded like a fascinating way to apply my knowledge of epidemiology.

What do you do?

I am currently the enhanced disease surveillance epidemiologist for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. That is a fancy way of saying I am the epidemiologist that works with the syndromic surveillance system in NC, known as NC DETECT.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy that there is always something else to do. What I mean by that is there are so many different uses for the data that the job does not get boring. The primary focus in NC is communicable disease, but the data is also used for environmental health, injury prevention, preparedness and response, mental health, chronic disease, etc.

What excites you in the work you do?

Seeing the data that I work with daily used to advance public health, whether this is through routine surveillance, outbreak response, preparedness or response to an event, academic publications, etc. It is exciting knowing that what you are doing for a living can make a difference.

Who or what inspires you professionally?

My coworkers and colleagues in epidemiology and surveillance. Interacting with them daily and learning about all the work they are doing to protect public health can be very inspiring.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement (related to disease surveillance)?

My proudest professional accomplishment occurred during my time with the Maryland Department of Health. We expanded the syndromic surveillance system to include school absenteeism data, and in the process, we made Maryland the first state in the US to collect data from all public schools for health surveillance.

How long have you been involved with ISDS?

I have been involved with ISDS in some form since 2010.

Why are you an ISDS member?

I enjoy interacting with and learning from others in the surveillance community.

What do you value most about your ISDS membership?

I value all the opportunities that ISDS provides to interact with others in the surveillance community.

What is the biggest issue in disease surveillance (in your opinion)?

I believe the biggest issue in disease surveillance is proving that the data and practice is effective, and also a worthwhile investment. These systems cannot exist without funding, and the funding will not exist without proof of value. The issue is finding ways to prove this value, because surveillance success stories do not often have measurable, tangible results such as number of lives saved or number of cases of disease prevented.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I did not live in the US until the age of 7. I was born in Japan and then lived in Germany.

If you could meet anyone living or deceased, who would it be?

That is a very tough question. Right now, I think I would have to say Chris Cornell. He has been my favorite musician since I was a kid. It was very unfortunate that he passed away so young. I am grateful that I had the chance to see him in concert before he died.

If you were not an epidemiologist, what would you be?

If I was not an epidemiologist I would be a movie critic. Although if I wanted to have a house and be able to eat, I would have a more realistic career, probably as a pharmacist. 

 

 

Tags:  Faigen  NSSP  Steering Committee  Zachary 

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Meet NSSP Steering Committee Member, Anikah Salim, MPH, CPH

Posted By Catherine Tong, Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Anikah Salim Anikah Salim, MPH, CPH is the Regulatory Health Project Manager at the Center for Tobacco Products, Office of Science, with the U.S, Food and Drug Administration, and a member of the NSSP Steering Committee. We asked her a few questions about her career and interests so you could get to know her. Here are her answers.


How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?

 I first learned about disease surveillance and because interested in it when I started my career at the Maryland Department of Health. I recall my interview very vividly and being asked what I knew about disease surveillance/Biosurveillance. I answered, “I know as much as what I Googled prior to this interview…but I can learn anything!” And I did…and fell in love with the field.

What do you do?

 I am a Biosurveillance epidemiologist (at the time of joining ISDS and the steering committee) but currently I work in Tobacco Control at the Food and Drug Administration.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I’ve always wanted to work in a field where I can significantly impact the health of the public as a whole in a positive way, and I get to wake up and do that every day.

What excites you in the work you do?

 The people. We do not always get to see how we influence the community by our work, but just being able to advocate for the health of individuals who may or may not be able to advocate for themselves is rewarding enough. To do this with a group of like-minded people who are just a passionate make the work even more fulfilling.

Who or what inspires you professionally? 

 My parents. They are both givers. I learned from my parents that serving is more important than being served. They give from their heart, and that is something I’ve always admired about them and applied to my professional life. Yes, anyone can give, but as a professional I want and my motives to always come from a genuine heart – unconditionally.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement (related to disease surveillance)?

 I had the privilege of co-authoring a chapter in the book, Disease Surveillance: Technological Contributions to Global Health Security published February 18, 2016.

How long have you been involved with ISDS?

 I have been involved with ISDS for 5 years as a member, part of the pre-conference planning committee and as a member of the steering committee.

Why are you an ISDS member?

I am a member of ISDS because I wanted to be part of an organization that had the same common goal and I do and dedicated to achieving the same outcomes - improvement of population health and prevention of disease. ISDS was exactly what I was looking for and has been accomplishing that goal through several avenues, particularly its esteemed Community of Practice.

What do you value most about your ISDS membership? 

 I’ve grown to become an “expert” in my field as a result of my involvement with ISDS. Because of my exposure to the webinars, conferences, and meetings, I’ve been able to gain a wealth of knowledge and skills that I’ve directly applied on the job to propel me even further as a disease surveillance epidemiologist.

What is the biggest issue in disease surveillance (in your opinion)?

 There is the increase in deforestation, expansion of international trade in food and medicine, coupled with emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases along with mutating viruses and resistance to treatments. I believe global infectious disease is one of the biggest issues in disease surveillance and a major concern for the country today.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

 I enjoy making my own skin care and hair care products, journals and gift baskets. I also climbed an active volcano.

If you could meet anyone living or deceased, who would it be?

 Harriett Tubman

If you were not a epidemiologist, what would you be?

 If I were not an epidemiologist, I would be a life coach/motivational speaker

 

 

Tags:  Anikah  NSSP  Salim  Steering Committee 

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Meet NSSP Steering Committee Member, Amanda Dylina Morse, MPH

Posted By Catherine Tong, Friday, June 30, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Amanda Dylina MorseAmanda Dylina Morse, MPH is the Syndromic Surveillance Outreach and Policy Coordinator at the Washington State Department of Health, and a member of the NSSP Steering Committee. We asked her a few questions about her career and interests so you could get to know her. Here are her answers.

 

How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?

 

I learned about syndromic surveillance accidentally when I was asked to work with a group in Bangladesh to help them analyze their clinical data. The project was a bit of a bust (I got dengue while in Dhaka doing some other work for them), but I was excited to learn more and took my current job when I graduated.

 

What do you do?

 

I handle outreach and policy for the Washington State syndromic surveillance program, which we call the Rapid Health Information NetwOrk (RHINO). Washington just passed a mandate for emergency departments to submit syndromic data to our state Department of Health, which has formed the bulk of my work.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

 

One of my tasks is facilitating ESSENCE trainings for our local health jurisdictions and other partners. It’s exciting to hear each group’s hopes for how to use the data as we onboard more facilities and its gratifying to watch new users become more confident.

 

What excites you in the work you do?

 

I love spending time working on new use cases (especially for injury surveillance). Clinical data is such a rich source of information.

 

Who or what inspires you professionally? 

 

My MPH advisor Dr. Ian Painter has been an excellent example for being both kind and creative. He’s fantastically talented person, but so quiet about it and always so willing to puzzle out problems with students or colleagues.

 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement (related to disease surveillance)?

 

I was very proud when our mandate passed through our Legislature. It took a lot of work to bring all the stakeholder groups together and get the language to a place where everyone was happy with it.

 

How long have you been involved with ISDS?

 

Since December 2016.

 

Why are you an ISDS member?

 

I think collaboration is important to improve practice. The closer groups from around the country and outside the US work together, the better we’ll all be positioned to improve public health.

 

What do you value most about your ISDS membership? 

 

I enjoy the variety of webinars each month and the opportunities to learn from all the good things others around the country are doing.

 

What is the biggest issue in disease surveillance (in your opinion)?

 

For Washington State, I’d say onboarding our facilities. We have counties now that have syndromic data for the first time, but we’re about 27% of our emergency departments in production now, so there’s still lots of work to be done.

 

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

 

People who know me well probably aren’t surprised about it, but I studied Latin for nine years and thought that I would be an archivist in a museum. I was particularly interested in numismatics (the study of coins and currency). Wealthy Romans used minting as one of their favorite ways to show their power and piety (piety for Romans was more about civic duty than how we conceptualize it) and you can learn a lot about what people valued by looking at what they stamped onto copper and mass distributed.

 

If you could meet anyone living or deceased, who would it be?

 

Secretary Hillary Clinton or Livia Drusilla.

 

If you were not a human, what would you be?

A cat.

 

 

Tags:  Amanda  Morse  NSSP  Steering Committee 

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