COPH alum Captain Gabrielle Moore tackles COVID-19 and more

| Academic & Student Affairs, Featured News, Monday Letter, Our Alumni

It was her mother who suggested a career in public health to Gabrielle Moore, a 2013 USF College of Public Health (COPH) graduate who received an MPH in epidemiology.

“In my last semester of senior year of college, I thought I would pursue medical school—but I didn’t feel quite ready yet,” said Moore, who graduated from Christopher Newport University with a degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. “My mother, who is a registered nurse, recommended I research public health.”

And so she did.

After graduation, Moore, now a captain (major select) in the US Air Force, was accepted into the F. Edward Hébert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program and commissioned at Joint Base Langley-Eustis Air Force Base in Hampton, Va. 

The military was appealing to her because it paid for her graduate education and gave her job security with the opportunity to travel. “I came to visit USF for a tour and fell in love with the overall atmosphere,” said Moore. “The COPH community was tight-knit and supportive, which is what I felt was important for pursuing my studies there. Plus, studying near the beach was a big draw!”

While at the college, Moore had an internship with the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories in Tampa. Initially, she performed influenza surveillance and later segued that into work on a grant surrounding norovirus surveillance. “But most importantly I was able to shadow laboratorians there, asking tons of questions of course,” she said.

Gabrielle Moore takes time out for a vacation to Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Moore)

Moore’s first public health job came at Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, where she served as a public health officer for the 88th Air Base Wing. 

“My first assignment was geared toward learning about military public health and all of the programs we run, which depending on the base, can be about 17 different programs,” said Moore, who also holds a graduate certificate in infection control from the COPH. “So I spent a lot of time with our public health technicians, nurses and leadership to learn from them and understand the role of the public health office on base.” 

From there, Moore took on a number of other public health roles with the Air Force, stateside and abroad. One her most memorable assignments, she says, was serving her country from an undisclosed area in Southwest Asia. “During this deployment, I learned a lot about myself,” she said. “People depended on the expertise and professionalism of myself and my team to stay healthy throughout their deployment. Without a healthy food/water supply as well as adherence to sanitary practices, individuals could become ill and jeopardize the efforts they were sent to the location for. My team and I ensured these sources were safe so individuals didn’t have to worry and could focus on their jobs. It was stressful at times, yet it was my proudest professional achievement.”

During her current deployment with the Task Force COVID at Shaw Air Force Base, Moore was recognized/coined for outstanding performance by the former chief of staff of the Air Force. (Photo courtesy of Moore)

Moore is currently finishing up her stateside deployment as chief of public health under the surgeon general directorate for Task Force COVID, 15th Air Force, at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, SC. “I found this deployment so interesting because it involved various collaborations with multiple areas of expertise and other branches of the military,” Moore explained. “My team and I specifically provided medical screenings and briefings and monitored the health of task force members who were sent to any of the 13 states within FEMA Regions III and IV.” 

Up next for Moore is an assignment to Spangdahlem Air Base in Spangdahlem, Germany, where she’ll be the public health flight commander for the 52nd Fighter Wing. “It’s a role similar to director of a local public health department,” commented Moore. “I will be moving this fall so it will be a whole new venture tackling COVID at another base in Europe.”

Moore likens learning about COVID and ways to battle it to a huge stage production. 

“Before you have any access to the backstage, you know very little about what happens. But it isn’t until you work behind the scenes that you understand how everyone and everything comes together,” she said.  “In this case, the productions have been the COVID-19 response to states in need of support. I was not sent to any other locations outside of Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, but I was prepared to travel if my expertise was needed in another state.”

Moore’s plans for the future include a doctoral degree and “who knows what else,” she answered. “Maybe I’ll make some of those other childhood dreams of becoming a scientist or getting into academia become a reality.”

Alumni Fast Five

What did you dream of becoming when you were young? 

I was a bit all over the place…a doctor, scientist and college professor were on the top of my list.

Where might we find you on the weekends? 

Lounging in the house or traveling with my French Bulldog, Beau.

What is the last book you read? 

I’m currently reading “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” by Angela Duckworth.

What superpower would you like to have? 

Language—to be able to read and speak every and any language.

What’s your all-time favorite movie? 

“Outbreak.” I saw the movie as a child and wanted to wear the BSL-4 lab positive pressure suit. Thankfully, no one in my family judged.

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health