Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Scientist Professional Advisory Committee

Executive Board 2018–2019

Chair: CAPT Jennifer Thomas


CAPT Jennifer (Jennie) Thomas is the Lead of the Biological Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory in the Laboratory Preparedness and Response Branch of the Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at CDC. Prior to joining the BRRAT Laboratory, CAPT Thomas was a Microbiologist in the CDC Meningitis Laboratory (2007-2016). While there, she developed and led validation of real-time PCR assays for detection of Neisseria meningitidis species and 6 Haemophilus influenzae serotypes. She worked closely with WHO-AFRO and ministries of health to transfer these technologies and to help establish real-time PCR based bacterial meningitis surveillance networks in the least developed countries in West and Central Africa. She continued to support introduction and evaluation of a new, epidemic-ending meningitis vaccine in the “African Meningitis Belt” through her laboratory leadership in the Surveillance in Central Africa (SURVAC) and MenAfriNet Projects. CAPT Thomas’s public health emergency response work includes deployment for CDC to its Influenza Diagnostics Team for the H1N1 Pandemic Response (2009); to Mali for Ebola response (2014); to Niger and Oregon for meningitis outbreaks (2015-2016); and as an agency-level leader in the Zika response (2016).  CAPT Thomas has extensive laboratory and public health emergency response leadership and is passionate about laboratory capacity building via development of cutting-edge pathogen detection capabilities, mentoring, and preparedness through strong public health partnerships.


CAPT Thomas completed her B.A. in French at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia (1995).  She earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics and completed her dissertation on the “Genetic Basis for Nongroupable Neisseria meningitidis” at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia (1997-2002). After graduation, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University where she studied genetic regulation of virulence in enteropathogenic E. coli (2002-2004). She was an Adjunct Professor at Edison College and a Visiting Instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida, where she was also a Research Associate investigating inhibition of influenza virus binding to mammalian cells (2004-2006).  In 2006, CAPT Thomas joined CDC as a Microbiologist in the Poxvirus Laboratory to study monkeypox virus virulence factor regulation. She commissioned into the United States Public Health Service in 2007. She served on PHS Rapid Deployment Force 3 for seven years, deploying for Operation Foothold (2011), Hurricane Irene (2011), and Major Flooding Louisiana (2016). CAPT Thomas has been actively involved in SciPAC, including as a Recruitment, Readiness, and Retention Subcommittee member (2014-2015), the Science Subcommittee Co-chair (2012-2014), and as Category Day Subcommittee Social Team Lead (2014-2015). She became a SciPAC Voting Member in 2015 and served as Co-Chair of the Mentoring Subcommittee (2015-2016) and Chair of the Policy (2016-2017) and the Rules and Membership (2017-2018) Subcommittees. She is the first laboratory scientist to serve as SciPAC Chair in over a decade.

Vice Chair: CDR Loren Rodgers


CDR Loren Rodgers completed his Ph.D. in Biology in 2008 at the University of California San Diego, specializing in molecular pathogenesis. Subsequently, CDR Rodgers was commissioned into the US Public Health Service, serving as a Vaccine Reviewer and Regulatory Project Manager at the US Food and Drug Administration in Rockville, Maryland. In his next assignment, CDR Rodgers was attached to the Ohio Department of Health as a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, where he contributed to 17 outbreak investigations, including leading a multidisciplinary partnership to document a novel cause of pertussis-like illness. Beginning in 2012, CDR Rodgers joined the CDC Immunization Services Division, where he led development and operation of a novel vaccine surveillance system that aggregates and analyzes approximately one billion de-identified vaccination records annually, enabling rapid studies of vaccine usage. CDR Rodgers is currently a Team Lead, where he supervises public health scientists, medical epidemiologists, and programmers in evaluating and improving aspects of the national health information technology infrastructure related to vaccination.  Throughout his career, CDR Rodgers has additionally contributed to ten domestic and international TDYs/deployments, including leading disease surveillance among displaced persons in Haiti and leading teams of Ebola contact tracers in Guinea.

Since his call to active duty, CDR Rodgers has served SciPAC in a variety of leadership roles, including service as Executive Secretary, and on the Visibility Subcommittee (Chair, Co-Chair, Newsletter Editor in Chief, PHS Combined Category Newsletter Board), Category Day Subcommittee (Keynote Speaker Deputy Team Lead), and Science Subcommittee.

Immediate Past Chairperson: CDR Robin Toblin


CDR Robin Toblin obtained a joint Ph.D. in clinical psychology and MPH in epidemiology from the University of Southern California. She commissioned into the US Public Health Service through the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she was assigned to the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention and published on such topics as children’s strangulation activity and opioid overdoses. After EIS, CDR Toblin went to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where she helped start an epidemiology program. Subsequently, she became a clinical research psychologist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) where she published the first epidemiologic data for the Army on topics including grief, energy drink use, and chronic pain and opioid use. She subsequently served as the branch chief of WRAIR’s Research Transition Office, the Department of Defense (DoD) gold standard for knowledge translation through bridging the gap between research and operations. In May 2018, CDR Toblin became the Associate Director of the Division of Population Health Science at the Office of Science in the Center for Tobacco Products at the Food and Drug Administration. She oversees the division’s tobacco regulatory science program (a budget of over $80 million) and supervises 4 branches.


CDR Toblin has been an active member of SciPAC since 2007 when she commissioned into the Commissioned Corps. She presented her EIS research at her first category day in 2008. At the same time she became involved in JOAG, and in 2009, she became the JOAG liaison for SciPAC. She chaired the JOAG Membership Committee and, in 2010, she was on the JOAG Executive Committee as the Financial Liaison. CDR Toblin concurrently became active in PsyPAG serving as Executive Secretary in 2010, and over the next few years, starting several new committees (Science, Advocacy) and new initiatives (weekly jobs list and the CV, which was the foundation for the SciPAC Bibliography). She also became heavily involved in Category Day planning serving as the lead for the social, the discussion panel, and the keynote speaker in different years. CDR Toblin was appointed as a SciPAC Voting Member in 2013. She served as the Science Subcommittee chair, expanding it to include new functions such as running both the Science and Practice and Journal Club series as well as initiating the writing of the recently published national prevention strategy journal article, and increasing the utility of the bibliography. Subsequently, she became the Category Day co-chair and then chaired the 2016 Category Day in Oklahoma City, where she utilized evaluation data to substantively alter the activities of the day. During this time, CDR Toblin also served as chair-elect (2015–2016), and then chair of PsyPAG in 2016, where she advocated for all psychologists to be members of the Scientist category. CDR Toblin began her second voting member term in September 2016 and served as PAC chair this past year. Highlights of the year included the formation of the Readiness Subcommittee, creation and use of a weekly jobs list, the release of the updated CV guidelines, a substantial increase in the budget through esprit de corps events, a program evaluation of PAC activities, and an improvement in the efficiency of executive board operations.

Executive Secretary: LCDR Alice Shumate

LCDR Shumate.jpg

LCDR Alice Shumate is a researcher at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She serves as the Co-director of the NIOSH Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies, and is the lead for the shipyard and marine terminal research programs within the Center. In this role she develops maritime safety and health research priorities for the Center, and also sets priorities for the National Occupational Research Agenda, which defines occupational safety and health research priorities for the nation. She also provides scientific guidance to NIOSH and extramural researchers, and fosters collaborations among NIOSH researchers, industry, labor groups, and other stakeholders. She is an epidemiologist with experience in occupational health of maritime workers, wildland fire fighters, miners, and emergency responders. She has additional expertise in environmental health epidemiology, including chemical exposures and disaster response. She previously served as a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, the group often referred to as CDC’s “Disease Detectives,” who serve as public health first responders to outbreaks, environmental exposures, and disasters. LCDR Shumate received a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College and an MPH from the University of Washington. She serves as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service, and in addition to her research role at NIOSH serves as a first-level responder for natural disasters and outbreaks both nationally and internationally.

COF Liaison: LCDR Jason Wilken

2016-Wilken.jpgLCDR Jason Wilken commissioned into the Corps in 2012 as a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, after which he joined CDC's Career Epidemiology Field Officer (CEFO) program in CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. Assigned as a CEFO to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control, LCDR Wilken provides leadership and expertise in disease surveillance and epidemiology, particularly in the fields of emergency preparedness, disaster response, and environmental and occupational epidemiology. LCDR Wilken has also deployed for CDC responses to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in Liberia and Zika virus disease outbreak in American Samoa. He holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and an MPH in Epidemiology from Emory University.

LCDR Wilken has previously served with the Science Subcommittee Journal Club team, and then as the Co-Chair and later Chair of the Website Subcommittee. He is the Deputy Commander of the PHS Regional Incident Support Team 9.

SciPAC Chairs 1984–Present
Officer Agency Term                    
RADM Barry L. Johnson CDC 1984-1986
CDR Andrea A. Wargo FDA 1986-1988
CAPT Harry Milman EPA Sep 1988-Aug 1989
CAPT Jerry Johnson USCG Sep 1989-Aug 1990
CAPT John Bartko ADAMHA Sep 1990-Aug 1991
CAPT Derek Dunn CDC Sep 1991-Aug 1992
CDR Stephen Wilson FDA Sep 1992-Aug 1993
CAPT John Pennington FDA Sep 1993-Aug 1994
CDR Roland Garcia HRSA Sep 1994-Aug 1995
CAPT Joe Sun FDA Sep 1995-Aug 1996
CAPT Michael Alavanja NIH Sep 1996-Aug 1997
CDR S. Lori Brown FDA Sep 1997-Aug 1998
CDR Francois Lalonde NIH Sep 1998-Aug 1999
CDR Rebecca Sheets FDA Sep 1999-Aug 2000
CDR Richard Troiano NIH Sep 2000-Aug 2001
CDR Angela González Williams HRSA Sep 2001-Aug 2002
CDR Joe Despins FDA Sep 2002-Aug 2003
CDR Doug Thoroughman CDC Sep 2003-Mar 2004
LCDR Daphne Moffett CDC Apr 2004-Aug 2005
LCDR Ross Spears CDC Sep 2005-Aug 2006
CDR Martin Sanders CDC Sep 2006-Aug 2007
CDR Sara Newman NPS Sep 2007-Aug 2008
CDR Rachel Avchen CDC Sep 2008-Aug 2009
CDR Diana Bensyl CDC Sep 2009-Aug 2010
CDR Matthew Newland HRSA Sep 2010-Aug 2011
CDR Karon Abe CDC Sep 2011-Aug 2012
CDR Ryan Novak CDC Sep 2012-Aug 2013
CDR Nicole Frazer DOD Sep 2013-Aug 2014
CAPT Nisha Robbins DOD Sep 2014-Aug 2015
CDR Matthew Murphy CDC Sep 2015-Aug 2016
CDR Jennifer Adjemian NIH Sep 2016-Aug 2017
CDR Robin Toblin DOD Sep 2017-Aug 2018
CAPT Jennifer Thomas CDC Sep 2018-Present

ADAMHA: Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration
CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
DOD: Department of Defense
EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
FDA: Food and Drug Administration
HRSA: Health Resources and Services Administration
NIH: National Institutes of Health
USCG: United States Coast Guard

Page Last Modified on 3/28/2019

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