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Crystal Watson, DrPH, MPH

Senior Scholar, Associate Professor

Professional Profile

Dr. Watson is a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research focuses on public health risk assessment, crisis and risk-based decision making, public health and healthcare preparedness and response, biodefense, and emerging infectious disease preparedness and response. She is currently focused on the US and international response to COVID-19.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Watson has led or coauthored a series of influential reports related to contact tracing, reopening businesses, and the US criminal justice system. She has produced and contributed to a series of risk assessments on the topics of mass gatherings, business reopening, and university operations during COVID-19. Dr. Watson is also working with the World Health Organization to understand and estimate COVID-19 burden of disease around the world.

From 2012 to 2013, Dr. Watson served as Program Manager for the Integrated CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] Terrorism Risk Assessment program of the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.

Since joining the Center in 2004, Dr. Watson has led a variety of projects and authored many peer-reviewed articles and reports, including articles on biological threat characterization; risk assessment; federal decontamination plans for a wide-area biological attack; federal, state, and local medical response to Hurricane Katrina; and the National Hospital Preparedness Program. Her work also focuses on supporting national and global health security. She was a member of the Center’s joint external evaluation team that conducted an assessment of Taiwan’s capacities and capabilities under the World Health Organization International Health Regulations. Dr. Watson also serves as an Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Health Security.

Dr. Watson earned a DrPH in Health Policy and Management in 2017 and an MPH in 2009, both from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She earned a BA in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology in 2004 from the University of Colorado at Boulder.