Saskia Popescu, PhD
Epidemiologist, Assistant Professor – Biodefense
George Mason University
Dr. Popescu is an infectious disease epidemiologist and infection preventionist with a focus on hospital biopreparedness and the role of infection prevention in health security efforts. She is an expert in healthcare biopreparedness and is nationally recognized for her work in infection prevention and enhancing hospital response to infectious diseases events.
She holds a PhD in Biodefense from George Mason University, a Masters in Public Health with a focus on infectious diseases, and a Masters of Arts in International Security Studies, from the University of Arizona. Saskia is an Alumni Fellow of the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative (ELBI) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Health Security. She is also an external expert for the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), and a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship at George Mason University. In 2010, she was a recipient of the Frontier Interdisciplinary eXperience (FIX) HS-STEM Career Development Grant in Food Defense through the National Center for Food Protection and Defense. During her work as an infection preventionist, she managed Ebola response, a 300+ measles exposure resulting in an MMWR article, and bioterrorism preparedness in the hospital system. More recently, she created and disseminated a gap analysis for a 6-hospital system to establish vulnerabilities for high-consequence diseases, helping to guide the creation of a high-consequence disease initiative to enhance readiness at the healthcare level. Her assessment and leadership regarding healthcare biopreparedness efforts has resulted in several peer-reviewed literature. She is certified in infection prevention (CIC), hospital preparedness through FEMA’s NIMS, and pandemic preparedness from the DHS Center for Domestic Preparedness. Dr. Popescu’s research has focused on roadblocks for non-state actor utilization of bioweapons, antimicrobial resistance, US healthcare vulnerability to infectious disease outbreaks and surveillance. Her research on food security was awarded a Department of Homeland Security Career Development Grant, and her dissertation research investigates the cultural, economic, and political drivers for infection prevention utilization in the US and applies a political economy lens to address market failures that ultimately translate to poor infection control practices and how that affects American health security.