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Monica Schoch-Spana, PhD

Senior Scholar, Senior Scientist

Professional Profile

Dr. Schoch-Spana, a medical anthropologist, is a Senior Scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a Senior Scientist in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Since 1998, she has focused her public health career on generating and applying evidence to advise policymakers and practitioners on how to collaborate with private citizens, businesses, and faith- and community-based groups in efforts to manage catastrophic health events, both effectively and equitably. Her areas of expertise include community resilience to disaster, public engagement in policymaking, crisis and emergency risk communication, and public health emergency management (readiness/response/recovery).

During the COVID-19 pandemic response, Dr. Schoch-Spana has worked diligently to translate social scientific insights into actionable recommendations for policymakers and practitioners, including most recently as co-Principal Investigator for CommuniVax—a national ethnographic research coalition whose expert advisory group and 6 local teams are partnering with communities of color to tackle COVID-19 vaccine access and acceptance issues and to put equity at the center of the pandemic recovery process. She has also collaborated in generating an ethical framework for the allocation of COVID-19 vaccines, advanced understanding of the pandemic’s mental health challenges, contributed to decision-making guidance for governors on safe reopening strategies, consulted on crisis standards of care and their communication to the public, and spotlighted the need for a transformative pandemic recovery process focused on the whole person.

Dr. Schoch-Spana’s national advisory roles include currently serving on the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the US Environmental Protection Agency and on the Resilient America Roundtable of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), which she also formerly cochaired. She also serves on the NASEM Committee on Community Engagement in Southeast Texas: Pilot Project to Enhance Community Capacity and Resilience to Floods and served on the NASEM Committee that planned the March 2022 workshop, “Building Public Trust in Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (PHEPR) Science.”

Dr. Schoch-Spana has helped guide the direction of policy and practice in public health emergency management such that planning and operations are more behaviorally realistic and contribute to health equity; public health communicators are better equipped to meet the population’s informational needs in an emergency; citizens have more venues to contribute their practical, intellectual, and ethical inputs to readiness and response endeavors; and national and local communities are striving to withstand and learn from disasters, rather than merely respond to them.

From 2003 to 2017, Dr. Schoch-Spana worked at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Health Security; prior to that she worked at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, starting in 1998. She received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Johns Hopkins University and a BA from Bryn Mawr College.


Monica Schoch-Spana, PhD


  • Medical anthropology
  • Community resilience
  • Community engagement
  • Health equity


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