Alumna Sam McKeever addresses the environmental issues impacting health in underserved communities

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“What interests me most about public health is the intersection between health and place. There are many interesting geographic variables that influence health outcomes,” said USF College of Public Health alumna Sam McKeever.

After earning her master of science in public health (MSPH) degree with a concentration in global communicable diseases in 2014, McKeever began her international career tackling health issues related to environmental factors around the world, particularly those caused by mosquitoes.  

Sam McKeever explains the use of bed nets to individuals impacted by Hurricane Dorian, Abaco, Bahamas, 2020. (Photo courtesy of McKeever)

Her journey started as a malaria country officer with the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Windhoek, Namibia, in 2015.

“This position afforded me the opportunity to assist in drafting surveillance and control recommendations for the national malaria control program and Ministry of Health,” she said.

From there she came back stateside as an assistant vector ecologist for the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito Vector Control District in West Covina, Calif. where she assisted in conducting West Nile virus surveillance for the San Gabriel Valley.

McKeever says it’s her work as a geographic information science (GIS) and entomology consultant for PAHO/WHO in the Eastern Caribbean Islands, Bahamas and Washington, D.C. that has been most rewarding for her as a public health professional. 

“My proudest professional achievement was assisting the Bahamian government with developing an emergency vector-borne disease surveillance and control plan during my deployment in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian,” she said.

In fact, in 2021 PBS featured her work conducting arbovirus surveillance post Hurricane Dorian in 2019, highlighting McKeever’s vital role in the Bahamas determining the potential for an outbreak of dengue, malaria and other diseases.

Sam McKeever conducting surveillance of potential mosquito breeding grounds that lurk within post Hurricane Dorian debris. (Photo source: PBS)

McKeever, who was born in Chicago but raised in Tampa, Fla., is currently serving as program manager at TEPHINET, a division within the Task Force for Global Health, an affiliate of Emory University.

She’s managing projects that prepare field epidemiologists to mobilize to national and international public health emergencies.

“This includes increasing their deployment opportunities by connecting them to partners, increasing their training, and documenting their successes,” she said.

McKeever, who also earned her bachelor’s degree from USF in international relations with double minors in political science and geography in 2011, said she loves the energy and diversity of the team she is currently working with.

“The opportunity to work with a program that focuses on growing field epidemiology training programs and their alumni across the world is what attracted most to my current position,” McKeever said.

Sam McKeever teaching geographic information systems (GIS) to government public health workers for enhanced dengue surveillance in Roseau, Dominica, in 2019. (Photo courtesy of McKeever)

McKeever said her time as a USF COPH student helped to lay the proper career foundation she needed.

While a COPH student, she completed an intensive thesis on the rise of urban agriculture in Accra, Ghana, and it’s connection to the proliferation of the Anopheles gambiae , a malaria vector mosquito, and its breeding sites.

“The MSPH program at USF introduced me to new and crucial research skills that I went on to utilize in other positions,” she said. “Since graduating from my MSPH program, I have utilized geographic information systems to support various nations in developing effective vector-borne disease surveillance/control in emergency and non-emergency settings.”

McKeever said she’s also thankful for the support and mentorship she received as a student, especially from Dr. Ran Nisbett and Dr. Anna Parsons.

“Dr. Nisbett’s passion for tropical and community health in Liberia deeply inspired me to pursue career opportunities that allow me to work directly with disadvantaged communities,” she said. “Dr. Parsons’ unwavering dedication to women’s health inspired me to develop side projects post-graduation that empower marginalized women.”

McKeever plans to stay on the path of prevention in the future as well.  

“My future aspirations include continuing to work in global health and supporting underserved communities and countries,” she said. “My public health practice is global health. My passion is strengthening the public health workforce internationally.”

Alumni Fast Five:

What did you dream of becoming when you were young?

A doctor.

Where would we find you on the weekend?

Hiking in Northern Georgia.

What is the last book you read?

“The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe,” by Peter Godwin.

What superpower would you like to have?


What’s your all-time favorite movie? 

My all time favorite movie is “Liars Dice.”

Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health