SASKIA POPESCU, PhD, MPH, MA, CIC
SUMMARY – Goal-oriented infectious disease epidemiologist with a background in infection prevention, biodefense, global health security, antimicrobial resistance, and hospital infectious diseases preparedness. A senior infection preventionist with HonorHealth and term Assistant Professor at George Mason University, holding a doctorate in Biodefense, with a focus on special pathogen preparedness with experience in bioprepreparedness, pandemic and outbreak response, and system-wide public health initiatives.
George Mason University – Doctor of Philosophy, Biodefense, Schar School of Policy and Government August 2015-August 2019
Dissertation: “How Cost Containment Undermines Disease Containment: Political and Economic Obstacles to Investing in Infection Prevention and Control”
University of Arizona College of Social & Behavioral Sciences School of Government & Public Policy – International Security and Policy MA, December 2013
University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Tucson, Arizona – Epidemiology MPH, May 2011
University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona – Major: Classics, B.A. Minor: Public Health. December 2008.
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY, SCHAR SCHOOL OF POLICY AND GOVERNMENT (July 2020-Present
Term Assistant Professor – Biodefense graduate program
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA MEL & ENID ZUCKERMAN COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH (May 2020-Present) – Adjunct Professor – Department of Epidemiology and Biostats
HONORHEALTH, Phoenix AZ (April 2017-Present)
Senior Infection Preventionist
- Maintains active surveillance and reporting for communicable diseases and healthcare acquired infections
- Performed a gap analysis and preparedness assessment of a five-hospital healthcare system for a coordinated response for patients infected with high consequence pathogens. Facilitated the creation and maintenance of the High-Consequence Disease Subcommittee to help strengthen internal infectious disease preparedness across HonorHealth system.
- Developed and implemented a hand hygiene monitoring program to establish accurate baseline.
- Advanced to Sr. Infection Preventionist in July 2019.
GEORGE MASON UNIVERISTY, Arlington, VA (August 2015 – May 2020)
Managing Editor – The Pandora Report
- Responsible for managing and publishing biodefense and global health security news and analysis on the Pandora Report website and weekly newsletter.
PHOENIX CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, Phoenix AZ (April 2012 – March 2017)
Infection Preventionist/Hospital Epidemiologist
- Maintain active surveillance and reporting for communicable diseases and healthcare acquired infections
- Identify and respond to exposures of infectious diseases
- Member of emergency preparedness steering committee responsible for revision of hospital preparedness plans, including influx of infectious patients, mass fatalities, and bioterrorism events.
- Attendance and involvement in mass fatality training, improvised explosive device, bioterrorism, hospital preparedness, and emergency management workshops.
- Supported hospital preparedness for Ebola response and organized response to a 200+ person measles exposure
- Responsible for collecting and reporting quality improvement data for NHSN, Leapfrog, and US News & World Report.
ANTHEM COLLEGE ONLINE, Phoenix AZ (March 2012 –September 2014)
- Create and teach lesson plans for health education, ethics, and additional compliance courses.
- Courses taught: Business strategies in health care, anatomy and physiology, health care compliance, health ethics, etc.
BANNER GATEWAY MEDICAL CENTER/ M.D. ANDERSON CANCER CENTER, Phoenix, AZ (June
2011-February 2012) – Infection Preventionist
- Identified major flaws in hospital bioterrorism preparedness and response plan and revised plan to incorporate all Category A agents and necessary management tactics
- Identified and responded to bacterial meningitis case prior to holiday. Initiated precautions, prophylaxis and treatment responses for all healthcare workers involved in patient care.
- Initiates epidemiological investigations of significant clusters of infections and single cases of unusual events to prevent future miscommunication between staff and patients.
PIMA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARMENT, Tucson, AZ (January 2006- August 2009)
Bioterrorism Preparedness Program– Intern: Worked with program manager to coordinate mass vaccination clinics, revise protocols and manuals for public health officials.
- Oversaw the effectiveness of vaccination stations and their impact on the waiting time for patients during 2006 and
- inoculation clinics. Recognized confusion and slowness of patient turn around. Made changes to protocol
- manuals to include more efficient protocols by eliminating time consuming steps by obtaining patient
- information earlier in the vaccination process.
- Organizational team member during Anthrax preparedness drill at Tucson location of United States Postal Service.
- Committee on Data Needs to Monitor Evolution of SARS-CoV-2, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (2020)
- Georgetown University, Center for Global Health Science and Security, Non-resident affiliate (2020)
- Federation of American Scientists Coronavirus Task Force (2020)
- Affiliate Faculty, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, 2020-present
- Council, State, and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) Public Health Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee (2017-Present)
- ADHS BioSense Working Group (2014-Present)
- European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control (ECDC) External expert on biodefense and infectious diseases surveillance (2011-Present)
- Consultant, Clorox Pro and Clorox Household (2018-present)
AWARDS, CERTIFICATIONS, & FELLOWSHIPS
- Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Fellowship, Center for Health Security, John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health (2017)
- Presidential Scholar, George Mason University (2015-2019)
- George Mason Global Health Security Ambassador for the 5th Annual Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Ministerial meeting – Bali, Indonesia (2018).
- Frontier Interdisciplinary eXperience (FIX), Homeland Security Career Development Grant in Food Protection and Defense. (2010).
- Member of the International Society for Disease Surveillance, Council, State, and Territorial Epidemiologists, and Infectious Disease Society of America (2017-present)
- Department of Homeland Security Center for Domestic Preparedness Pandemic Preparedness (P3), Hospital Emergency Response, CBRNE HOT agents, and IED Awareness/Counter Terrorism certifications (2013)
- United Nations Basic and Advanced Field Security Training, (2014)
- FEMA NIMS 100, 700, 701, and 800 training (2011)
- FAS-CAT/CARVER+Shock training from University of Minnesota College of Public Health Summer Institute (2010).
- Certification in Infection Control & Epidemiology – APIC, December 2013 and re-certified in March 2018
- Saskia Popescu, How Cost Containment Undermines Disease Containment: Political and Economic Obstacles to Investing in Infection Prevention and Control (Contracted with Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021).
Articles and Book Chapters
- Saskia Popescu. Infection Prevention and Control: A Biodefense Measure. Defense Against Biological Attacks. Volume I. Singh S., Kuhn J. Springer. Switzerland. 2019, 145-169.
- Myers, N., Popescu, S. Interdisciplinary Information for Infectious Disease Response: Exercising for Improved Medical/Public Health Communication and Collaboration. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. (accepted June, 2020).
- Watts A, Au NH, Thomas-Bachli A, et al. Potential for inter-state spread of Covid-19 from Arizona, USA: Analysis of mobile device-location and commercial flight data [published online ahead of print, 2020 Aug 21]. J Travel Med. 2020;taaa136. doi:10.1093/jtm/taaa136
- Saskia Popescu. A Canary in a COVID Coal Mine: Building Better Healthcare Biopreparedness Policy. World Medical & Health Policy. August 7, 2020. Doi:10.1002/wm3.353.
- Keshavarz, M., Rezaei, N., Popescu, S. Prevention of COVID-19: preventive strategies for general populations, healthcare settings, and various professions. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Springer, expected 2021.
- Saskia Popescu. Hospital Biopreparedness in the Looming Presence of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19. Health Science Reports.Volume 3(13), DOI:10.1002/hsr2.149.
• Saskia Popescu. (2020). Roadblocks to Infection Prevention Efforts in Healthcare SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19Response. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness,1-7. doi:10.1017/dmp.2020.55
- Pugel B, Popescu S, Madad S. Restricted and Uncontained: Health Considerations in the Event of Loss of Containment During the Restricted Earth Return of Extraterrestrial Samples. Health Secur. 2020;18(2):132‐138. doi:10.1089/hs.2019.0088
- Popescu S., Leach R. Identifying Gaps in Frontline Healthcare Facility High-Consequence Infectious Disease Preparedness. Health Security, March/April 2019, 17:2.
- McCullough M., Fowel, N. et al. Cost Analysis of 3 Concurrent Public Health Response Events -Financial Impact of Measles Outbreak, Super Bowl Surveillance, and Ebola Surveillance in Maricopa County. Public Health Management & Practice. June 20, 2018.
- Jones, Jefferson & Klein, Ron & Popescu, Saskia & Rose, Karen & Kretschmer, Melissa & Carrigan, Alice & Trembath, Felicia & Koski, Lia & Zabel, Karen & Ostdiek, Scott & Rowell-Kinnard, Paula & Munoz, Esther & Sunenshine, Rebecca & • Sylvester, Tammy. (2015). Lack of Measles Transmission to Susceptible Contacts from a Health Care Worker with Probable Secondary Vaccine Failure — Maricopa County, Arizona, 2015. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report. 64. 832-3. 10.15585/mmwr.mm6430a5.
- Norman, L., Caldiera, F., Callegary, J. Gray, F., O’Rourke, M., Meranza, V., van Rijn, S. Socio-Environmental Health Analysis in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. (2012). Water Quality, Exposure and Health, 4(2): 79-81.
Non-Peer Reviewed Articles and Opinion Pieces
- Saskia Popescu, “Arizona reopened too fast. Epidemiologists knew it, but we couldn’t stop it.” The Washington Post. July 16 2020.
- Saskia Popescu and Greg Koblentz. “Hear, see, speak no COVID: Why the Trump administration is bungling the response to the pandemic.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. June 18, 2020.
- Saskia Popescu. “Pandemic dispatch: An infection-prevention expert on shortages, misinformation, and health worker strain on the coronavirus front line”. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. May 8, 2020.
- Saskia Popescu. “If the coronavirus outbreak grows, can a strained US healthcare system stay up?” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. February 12, 2020.
- Saskia Popescu. “Of quarantines and robots: How smart are US and Chinese efforts to combat the Wuhan coronavirus?”. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. January 28, 2020.
- Syra Madad and Saskia Popescu, FoxBusiness: Coronavirus, nursing homes, and elderly: the age at which you’re considered ‘at risk’. March 10, 2020.
- Syra Madad and Saskia Popescu, FoxBusiness: Coronavirus crisis – Hospitals need to do these 4 things now to prepare for a pandemic. February 28, 2020
- Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, Saskia Popescu. “The dread and the awe: Crispr’s inventor assesses her creation”. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. March 8, 2018.
- Saskia Popescu. “Antimicrobial resistance: an underrated biological threat”. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. November 21, 2017.
- Saskia Popescu. Global Reaches of Antibiotic Resistance, Crisis Response Journal (August, 2016).
- Contributor to Global Biodefense and Contagion Live– The Up-Hill Battle of Antibiotic Resistance in the World of Infection Prevention, Rewiring Outbreak Preparedness and Response, Pediatrics and Bioterrorism: the Forgotten Patient Population, etc.
PROFESSIONAL PRESENTATIONS/INVITED TALKS
- “Special Pathogens Preparedness in Healthcare”, Arizona State University Biosecurity Workshop, (December 2019).
- “The Role of the IP in Biopreparedness”, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology Grand Canyon Fall Conference (October 2019).
- “Infection Prevention and Control: The Neglected Biodefense Tool”, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Research Symposium (July, 2017).
- “The Infection Prevention & Control Response & Perspective to a Large-scale Measles Exposure”, Arizona Department of Health Services Infectious Disease Conference. (July, 2015)
- “Preparedness & Infection Control in Pediatrics: The Forgotten Patient Population”, Arizona Department of Health Services Infectious Disease Conference (July, 2014).