Class Notes


From Cow Barn to Politics

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Jiri Karas and daughter Helena Karasova 09MPH

Jiri Karas knows where the history starts in the Czech Republic. Last fall, he shared that history with students at Rollins.

Born in 1942, Karas came of age under Communist rule. When his father refused to join the Communist Party, the family was jailed save for Jiri. Eventually, he worked in a cow barn for 18 years until Czechoslovakia broke free from Communist rule in 1989. He  went on to serve in the Czech Republic parliament and rose to become the first Czech ambassador to Belarus.

Helena Karasova 09MPH, who translated for her father while he spoke at Rollins, worked and played in the cow barn as a child and learned to stand up for what is right.

“By watching my father, I learned the significance of becoming involved politically,” she says. “It is too easy to disagree with politicians verbally, but it is a real challenge to make change.”

That belief led her to Rollins. “I was inspired by the stories of faculty members in the Hubert Department of Global Health who demonstrate their devotion to changing the lives of those most in need,” says Karasova, who is now married to a Colombian journalist.

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Dr. Don A. Franco 85MPH is the author of  Poverty—Hunger—Disease—and Global Health (Yawn’s Publishing 2011), his third book on poverty and health. He also has published extensively on food safety and public health microbiology. Franco is a former Rollins adjunct faculty member who lectured on Campylobacter for several years under Eugene Gangarosa, now professor emeritus of global health.


Dr. Robert J. Davis 90MPH has written Coffee is Bad Good for You (Penguin 2012), an evidence-based guide on what’s believable and what’s not when it comes to popular diet and nutrition claims. Davis, who has taught “Mass Media and Public Health” at Rollins for four years, finds his students continue to be enthusiastic. “It’s pretty much the only course of its kind in the country—covering the intersection of health with news, entertainment, advertising, social media, and the web,” he says.

Brian G. Shelton 92MPH was featured in an Atlanta Business Chronicle article, “Microbiologist captures unique astral images,” last November. Shelton has dabbled in astrophotography for more than a decade, using telescopes to photograph the sun, moon, planets, and stars. He became interested in outer space as a way to explain the origin of life.

When Shelton is not looking up through a telescope, he is looking down through a microscope. As CEO of Pathogen Control Associates Inc., he and  his colleagues investigate biological agents such as the one that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Shelton was the first to show an association between Legionella concentrations in cooling towers or decorative fountains and risk of disease. Pathogen Control Associates also helped identify anthrax contamination in news media facilities and post offices after 9/11.

Lisa Carlson 93MPH was elected to the Executive Board of the American Public Health Association at the 2011 meeting in Washington, D.C. Carlson is the grants administrator for the Emory Transplant Center and a longtime alumni leader at Rollins.

Mark Kashdan 95MPH serves on the Board of Directors of Embraced Atlanta (, a nonprofit that distributes slightly used or surplus orthopaedic and prosthetic devices to people unable to access or afford them. He is a senior attorney in the Office of the General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services, at CDC and lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children.

David B. Feig 98MPH was named one of “Seattle’s Top Doctors 2011” by Seattle Met Magazine. Read about him at



Dr. Audrey Schuetz 00MD/MPH 07MR is a certified diplomate of the American Board of Medical Microbiology. Schuetz is assistant director of the Clinical Microbiology Lab at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

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Ginger Merry 06MD/MPH as project manager for breast ultrasound imaging in Uganda

Dr. Nicola Dawkins 01G 01MPH 11B is one of three authors whose book won the 2011 Outstanding Publication Award from the American Evaluation Association. She co-wrote The Systematic Screening and Assessment Method: Finding Innovations Worth Evaluating with Laura Levitorn and Laura Kettel Khan.

Dawkins is a behavioral scientist and principal at ICF International (formerly Macro International) in Atlanta. She provides technical direction for ICF’s research community and has led multiple projects implementing the Systematic Screening and Assessment Method. She pursues research on obesity, women’s health, and health equity.

Christopher (Chris) W. Kuzawa 01G 01MPH is a lead author of a study suggesting that men’s bodies evolved hormonal systems that help them commit to their families once children are born. The study was featured in a New York Times article, “In Study, Fatherhood Leads to Drop in Testosterone,” last September. Kuzawa is an anthropology professor at Northwestern University in Illinois. His PhD student, Lee Gettler, is the other lead author, along with Thomas McDade and Alan Feranil. To read about their study, visit

Born: To Olivia Chelko Long 01MPH and her husband, Adam, a daughter, Odessa Catherine Long, on Jan. 22, 2010, in South Korea. Odessa joined her brother, Hamilton. The family returned to the States in 2011. Olivia is now executive director of AIDS Athens in Athens, Ga.

Jean O’Connor 98C 01L 01MPH was named deputy director of the Oregon Public Health Division. She leads policy, program, and strategic initiatives, including preparedness and accreditation efforts, for the state’s public health system. O’Connor previously worked on preparedness and tobacco policy at CDC.

Lisa Ann Rotondo 01MPH moved to Washington, D.C., last fall to serve as deputy director of the Neglected Tropical Disease Program at RTI International.

Born: To Pooja S. Atwal 03MBA/MPH and her husband, Parm, a daughter, Raina, on May 20, 2011. Pooja is an executive vaccine specialist at Merck Vaccines. The family lives in Arlington, Va.

Melissa Creary 04MPH 18G was featured in Ebony magazine regarding her work and experience with sickle cell disease. Creary is the recipient of the 2011 Matthew Lee Girvin Award.


Dr. Edgar Simard 04MPH is a senior epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society, Intramural Research Department. His research focuses on cancers among people with HIV/AIDS as well as the impact of interventions such as prevention, screening, and treatment on cancer incidence and mortality patterns. He also serves with Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute.

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Mark A. Chen 08MPH and four other Rollins graduates met at the 2011 U.S. Public Health Service Scientific and Training Symposium in New Orleans last June. Pictured are: LTJG Candis Hunter (formerly Mayweather) 09MSPH, LT Mark Chen, LT Erica Bushong 08MPH, LT Erin Grasso (formerly McKay-McElroy) 08MPH, and LT Aaron Niman 08MPH. They are assigned to ATSDR, FDA, CDC, CDC, and EPA, respectively.

Katherine (Katie) ­Wootten 05MPH is associate director, Secretariat, of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) at the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. She writes that the White House recently selected SPRC as a Champion of Change, part of President Obama’s Winning the Future across America initiative. Wootten notes that SPRC was recognized for its role in taking a public health approach to suicide prevention. To learn more, visit

Dr. Ginger Merry 06MD/MPH worked in Uganda last fall for Imaging the World, which deploys low-cost portable ultrasound machines to resource-constrained areas. The images are obtained by volume-based ultrasound (cine clips) and sent for remote interpretation. The long-term project will create an improved, sustainable, and cost-efficient approach to diagnostic imaging. Merry is the project manager for the breast ultrasound component, aiming to increase early detection and treatment of breast cancer in Uganda. She is a radiology resident at UCSF and will begin a breast imaging fellowship at Northwestern University in July.

Married: Dawn Hall 07MPH and Ryan Holman on Oct. 9, 2010. She is a behavioral scientist at CDC in the Division of Cancer Prevention. The couples lives in Smyrna, Ga.

Married: Maurice Johnson Jr. 07MPH and Angela Clements 08MPH on July 30, 2011, at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta. Angela is an HIV health educator for Inova Health System in Springfield, Va., and Maurice is a research analyst for Westat in Rockville, Md. The couple lives in Arlington, Va.

Married: Samantha Freeman 08L/MPH and Oran Ebel on Oct. 30, 2011, in New York City. She is a contracts specialist in the grants office at NYU School of Medicine.

Alumni Deaths

Patricia A. Nathan 84MPH of Tutu, the Virgin Islands, in August 2011 at home of pancreatic cancer. The family held a celebration of life ceremony with festive colors. Survivors include her parents, Godwin and Victoria Stevens; a daughter and son-in-law; two grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, and godchildren.

Samee Charlotte Ellerbee 11MPH of Thomaston, Ga., on Aug. 2, 2011, of cancer before completing her MPH degree. She was a pharmacist who graduated from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy in 1974. Among other positions, she worked at Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Ga., for 17 years and retired in 2008. While there, she became a certified diabetes educator and coached diabetes patients after her retirement. Survivors include her husband, Steve; her brother, Clay Smith; and three nieces.

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