One alum’s journey from high school science teacher to infection preventionist

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The daughter of a family physician and physician assistant, Caitlin Crews-Stowe says she was always interested in health and science, and in particular, infectious diseases. “I used to read books on outbreaks when I was in elementary school,” says Crews-Stowe, who graduated the USF College of Public Health (COPH) in 2007 with an MPH. Crews-Stowe concentrated in global communicable diseases and, in 2009, received a graduate certificate from the COPH in infection control.

Caitlin Crews-Stowe, MPH. (Photo courtesy of Crews-Stowe)

“Disease control and epidemiology are probably two of the most interesting things to me about public health,” she said. “As we’ve seen in the past two years, poor disease control and lack of understanding of the epidemiology of a pathogen can have catastrophic results.”

Crews-Stowe was a high school science teacher and cheerleading coach when she decided to pursue her MPH. She knew she wanted to continue working while getting her degree, so a program that offered evening and online classes was essential.

“I got really excited researching the COPH program because all of the classes were in topics I was interested in,” she said, “and many of them were held in the evening. The flexibility of the classes allowed me to [puruse my degree] and still make a living. I’m proud of completing both my degree and graduate certificate in two years while working full time.”

Crews-Stowe, left, at ID Week, an annual infectious disease and epidemiology conference. (Photo, taken pre-COVID-19, courtesy of Crews-Stowe)

With her degree in hand, Crews-Stowe began work as an infection preventionist—first part time at Moffitt Cancer Center, then later at various hospitals, including Florida Hospital in Celebration, Fla., and Lakeland Regional Medical Center, in Lakeland, Fla.

Among other things, Crews-Stowe monitored isolation and hand-hygiene compliance, provided staff and patient education on infectious diseases and performed infection and outbreak monitoring.

In 2014, Crews-Stowe left Florida for Carrollton, Georgia, to oversee infection prevention for four hospitals with the Tanner Health System. From there, she began work at Healthcare Corporation of America, overseeing health care associated infection prevention reporting.

In 2016, Crews-Stowe made the transition to the industry side of health care.

“First, I was a clinical science liaison [providing clinical representation and input to new product development and marketing strategies] and later I was a clinical affairs research manager,” she said.

Crews-Stowe, center, accepting an award for clinical excellence from PDI Healthcare, a former employer. (Photo courtesy of Crews-Stowe)

Today, Crews-Stowe, who is pursuing her PhD in health sciences at Nova Southeastern University and teaches biostatistics, epidemiology and health science research at South University, is vice president of clinical affairs for ActivePure Medical, a company based in Dallas, Tex., that manufacturers air and surface disinfecting products for health care systems.

“My role is to generate laboratory and real-world clinical evidence to support our products,” she explained. “I work closely with hospitals and academic centers to assist with protocol development, study management and data analysis. Traditionally, infection prevention has really focused on controlling disease transmission through cleaning and disinfection of hands and surfaces. But I think we are really starting to realize the impact that controlling pathogens via other methods can have. I’m helping develop evidence in an exciting field that can potentially help not only those in a health care setting, but also in a community setting.”

Crews-Stowe’s immediate goal is to finish her dissertation (her topic is short-term outcomes of patients who develop central-line associated bloodstream infections) and then either stay in the medical device industry or possibly pursue an academic teaching career.

“One of the things I love about my job is the ability to work with emerging technology in an underserved space,” Crews-Stowe said. “I love the positive contribution I get to make to the hospitals I work with. I learned so much at the COPH—not just the educational content, which I still use regularly—but the exposure I had to different careers and research interests. It’s all been invaluable.”

Alumni Fast Five

What did you dream of becoming when you were young?

A medical examiner

Where can we find you on the weekends?

Hiking, spending time with my 9-year-old daughter or working on my dissertation

What is the last book you read?

“Atomic Habits,” by James Clear

What superpower would you like to have?


What’s your all-time favorite movie?

“The Other Guys”

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health