2019 Councilor Representing Students, Trainees, Residents or Post-Docs Candidate
Koya C. Allen, PhD, MS, MSPH
U.S. European Command Headquarters, U.S. Department of Defense, DE (Germany)
The ASTMH is an organization dedicated to improvements in tropical medicine and global health. Success in improvements within these two complementary fields requires advocacy for policy initiatives, technological advances, as well as training opportunities in clinical medicine, epidemiology, maternal and child health, immunology, and the many facets of basic science that contribute to overall human health. Serving as a Councilor for the Society offers an opportunity to sit in the forefront and help pave the way for progress in tropical medicine and global health by developing innovative strategies for training and collaboration amongst local and international members. An important attribute of the Society is its reach throughout the scientific communities across the globe, and placement as the leading organization for influencing health promotion and prioritizing advancements in a sometimes undervalued aspect of public health.
As a Councilor, I would have the opportunity to support the ASTMH’s commitment to tropical medicine by contributing to ongoing efforts in career development, training opportunities, and mentorship. A key challenge many face is in career trajectory and discovering opportunities that will aid in career advancement or in changing career paths. With the reach and influence of the Society’s many members, it is possible to bridge the gap between those interested in academia versus governmental or private sector research, and those interested in applied public health. Establishing opportunities to ensure that members are afforded valuable experiences in varying aspects of tropical medicine subspecialties can also help effect change through evidence-based recommendations for implementation of global health programs, and policy changes. As time passes, and things change, scientists must uphold rigor in their pursuit for progress in the field, while being flexible and amenable to alternative methods, regulations, and potentially declining investments. My hope is to continue engaging with members across different ASTMH subgroups and career fields, with the goal of contributing effectively to the current priorities of the Society, and aid in our collective ability to adapt to changing global policies and issues as it relates to global health and tropical medicine.
Summary of Volunteer/Member Roles in ASTMH
I have been a member of ASTMH since 2008, when I had my first opportunity to present a poster on my post-graduate research at the Annual Meeting. Since then, I have become an active participant in several subcommittees and have attended the Annual Meeting almost every year. I recently served as Councilor for the ASTMH Committee on Global Health (ACGH) from 2015-2017. As an ACGH Councilor, I led the organization and execution of the annual speed-networking session, which has since expanded to include all five subgroups and has become a highly anticipated event at the Annual Meeting. Additionally, I have organized the ACGH Peer-to-Peer Networking session at the Annual Meeting each year since 2014. The Peer to Peer session began as a mentoring session to help students and trainees build networking skills, and openly discuss career paths with early career professionals. The session has now evolved from a trainee-centered networking exercise to an informal debate on current hot topics and global health issues relevant to members at differing stages in their career.
As an ACGH Councilor, I also assisted in the planning of the annual pre-conference course in 2016 on the 'Science of Disease Elimination' leading a panel discussion on surveillance strategies, and served on the ACGH Student Travel Award Committee in 2017. During my PhD program, I also supported college activities by serving as the student representative on the Student Academic Complaint Committee, serving as a liaison for the College of Public Health to the University-wide Graduate Student Association, being an informal mentor to graduate students, developing and teaching courses in global health and research methods, and participating in student-lead initiatives for public health promotion on campus.
Dr. Koya Allen is an Infectious Disease Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the Counter Biothreats Cell of U.S. European Command Headquarters for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). In this role, Dr. Allen is responsible for providing expertise and coordination of pandemic influenza and infectious disease preparedness, and enhancing biosurveillance capabilities for DoD in the European region. As the infectious disease SME, Dr. Allen is called upon to provide disease risk analyses, and engage with NATO and international partners to ensure force health protection and minimize potential operational impacts of infectious diseases. Her work focuses on surveillance of infectious diseases using a one health approach, and providing recommendations on the best preventative measures to mitigate impact of disease on force health and military operations.
Prior to this, Dr. Allen was an Epidemiologist in the Division of Integrated Biosurveillance at the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) where she worked on evaluating case-capture methods for the DoD surveillance system and supported outbreak responses to key disease events including anthrax, chikungunya and ebola. These opportunities were funded through the Oak Ridge Institute of Science Education postdoctoral fellowship program. Dr. Allen has interests in infectious disease epidemiology, particularly focusing on high threat pathogens and emerging vector borne diseases. She has a background in tropical medicine and social epidemiology concentrating on cultural influences to health and behaviors that impact infectious disease transmission. Her past research examined travel health behaviors for dengue prevention and developed key concepts in cultural embeddedness including the phenomenological aspects of going home for visiting friends and relatives (VFR) travelers.
Dr. Allen completed her PhD in Prevention Science from Kent State University, where she maintains a faculty position and completed postdoctoral research in disaster epidemiology. Dr. Allen also participated in the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Environmental Health Fellowship program, where she worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assist in policy development for vector control pesticides and guidance for a dengue outbreak prevention and surveillance program for the US Virgin Islands. In that position, she also assisted PAHO as a subject matter expert for the development of the Integrated Management Strategy for dengue program in the Caribbean sub region. Dr. Allen completed an MS in Biohazardous Threat Agents & Emerging Infectious Diseases at Georgetown University School of Medicine, an MSPH in Parasitology and Tropical Medicine from Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, and a BA in Biology from University of Rochester.