When K.A. Kelly McQueen, M.P.H. student, came to the School of Public Health (SPH) last fall, her intention was to study international health and humanitarian crises, but her goals changed on her first day of school, Sept. 11.
“That event and the later anthrax letters made me want to explore the relationship between health and international terrorism and domestic issues, specifically bioterrorism,” said McQueen, who is an anesthesiologist.
Now, she has learned she is one of two scientists to be named a Nuclear-Threat Initiative/American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow in Global Security. McQueen will spend one year in Washington, D.C., helping to plan the federal government’s response to threats of bioterrorism.
Al Teich, director of AAAS’s science and policy programs and chair of the selection committee, said in a press release, “We had many excellent candidates, but Kelly impressed the committee with her initiative and energy and her humanitarian work.”
The AAAS global security fellowship was created in response to Sept. 11 and is funded by the Nuclear-Threat Initiative (NTI), a nonprofit organization that works to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. It is co-chaired by former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn and CNN founder Ted Turner.
McQueen has been involved in international medical volunteer work since she attended the University of Vermont College of Medicine more than a decade ago. There, during her second year of study, she traveled to the Dominican Republic to serve in a Catholic Mission Hospital.
Since then, she has carved out time from her practice for medical missions. She has taught the basics of anesthesiology to medics in Tanzania, consulted on obstetrical anesthesia in Russia, and provided anesthesia for hundreds of children requiring repair of facial deformities in China, Jordan, Brazil, and Peru. In 2001, she worked for Doctors Without Borders in Sri Lanka.
McQueen is particularly interested in health care and children. While in medical school, she led a community-based research project evaluating young children’s knowledge of and attitudes about AIDS. The results were widely published and presented to medical and psychiatric associations, as well as to educators and parent advocacy groups. She wrote a children’s book based on the project, “What’s a Virus Anyway?: The Kids’ Book About AIDS,” which was used to develop an educational video and elementary school curriculum introducing concepts about HIV and other infectious diseases.
“Like many people who have gone to medical school, I want to help people,” said McQueen. “Participating in humanitarian aid magnifies that interest.”