Humans of the U: Kimberley Shoaf

When I first came to the U as an undergraduate, I was on the pre-professional track in the health education and health promotion department in the College of Health. I spent a year and a half in Peru on a humanitarian mission and returned with a new perspective, realizing that medicine takes care of one person at one time, and I wanted to do something that would make a larger impact and focus on the health of the population.

After getting my bachelor’s degree in health education, I went to UCLA to work on my master’s and doctorate in public health, focusing on global health, particularly in resource-poor settings. While at UCLA, the Northridge earthquake took place and that ended up becoming my dissertation. My focus shifted from general global health to emergency public health, which at the time was not really a field. I became a faculty member at UCLA and started one of the first graduate programs in emergency public health. We had a full curriculum for training public health professionals to be the experts in emergencies and disasters at the state and local health departments.

Currently, I am a professor of public health and am functioning as the director for the health and safety branch of the university’s incident management team. When we were asked to test all students every week for coronavirus, the federal government and the state provided additional resources to help us get that started.

This is a great opportunity, but we want everybody on campus to know that simply getting a test once a week is not going to make this pandemic go away. We still need to do all of the other things like wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, staying a minimum of six feet away from those outside of your household and avoiding activities that are going to increase the risk of spreading this virus. We still need to do contact tracing, quarantining and isolation. Testing is not just an easy way to get out of this virus, but rather another way we are trying to protect this campus.”

— Kimberley Shoaf, professor in the Division of Public Health and branch director of the health and safety branch of the university’s incident management team