Dr. Diana Cervantes
Assistant Professor and Director, MPH Epidemiology Program
Education & Experience:
I received an Honors Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree, both in Biology, with an emphasis in microbiology from The University of Texas at Arlington. During both my undergraduate and graduate studies, I conducted research in retrovirology and parasitology, which sparked my interest in public health.
After earning my graduate degree, I worked as a bioterrorism response microbiologist for Tarrant County Public Health in Fort Worth, Texas, for six years. During that time, I was charged with establishing one of the first Laboratory Response Network laboratories (biosafety level 3) in Texas, focused on performing environmental sampling and testing for agents which could be used in bioterrorism, such as anthrax and ricin, as well as performing diagnostic testing for emerging infectious diseases such as brucellosis and West Nile virus. I earned the MPH degree with a concentration in Epidemiology from the UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health.
After completing the MPH, I began working as an epidemiologist at Tarrant County Public Health, spending five years conducting numerous infectious disease investigations, and outbreak response and control activities in both community and healthcare settings.
I also completed the Doctor of Public Health degree with a concentration in Epidemiology from UNT Health Science Center, and then served as Chief Epidemiologist for the Texas Department of State Health Services, Health Service Region 2/3, which provides services to 49 counties in North Texas.
In that position, I was charged with leading a team of seven epidemiologists to implement infectious disease surveillance and prevention and control activities responding to major public health issues, including Ebola response in Dallas and one of the largest mumps outbreaks in the United States.
Due to the increasing role of public health in patient safety initiatives, I also wanted to gain experience working in an acute care facility, so I then took on the position of Infection Prevention Manager at Baylor Scott and White All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, where I led team members in detecting and preventing healthcare-associated infections and meeting hospital infection prevention accreditation standards.
In my current position as Assistant Professor and Director of the MPH Epidemiology Program at UNT Health Science Center, I share my experiences in both the public and private sectors to prepare a new generation of practicing epidemiologists.
Teaching Areas & Public Health Interests:
I have been actively involved in public health practice for over 17 years, with a focus on infectious disease epidemiology.
As an educator, I am committed to ensuring my students are prepared to enter the workforce by bringing real public health scenarios and issues I have experienced in practice into my courses.
I teach courses focused on the application of infectious disease epidemiology, including Public Health Surveillance, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Principles of Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Medicine, and Introduction to Data Management and Statistical Computing.
As Director of the UNTHSC MPH Epidemiology program, I strive to provide students with a balance between the strong academics provided through their degree program, networking and other educational opportunities, to help them gain experiences that will assist in their career direction and opportunities.
Professional Activities & Awards:
I am an active member of the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and the Texas Public Health Association (TPHA).
I am currently Co-Chair of the Tarrant County Infection Prevention Council.
I served as a subject matter expert for the Texas Midwifery Board in the establishment of Waterbirth Guidelines, which detail infection prevention measures for waterbirth.
In 2014, I was awarded the North Central Texas Emergency Preparedness Regional Service Award in recognition of my role in the Ebola Response in Dallas, Texas.
I am certified in Public Health (CPH), Infection Control (CIC) and am also a Technologist in Molecular Biology MB(ASCP).
My interests include applied epidemiology, infectious disease prevention and control measures, outbreak characterization and management, and healthcare-associated conditions and patient safety. I am also interested in infectious disease epidemiology in the geriatric population.