Convocation

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Convocation signifies the formal opening of the 2021-2022 academic year. All students, faculty and staff are asked to participate virtually.

Live Stream

Key Note Speaker

U.S. Air Force Capt. Ashley Rutherford '12

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Capt. Ashley Rutherford serves as a public health consultant, theater epidemiology team member and director of the Public Health Officer Course for the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM), 711th Human Performance Wing, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

USAFSAM is the premier institute for education and worldwide operational consultation in aerospace and operational medicine. Also, among other services, USAFSAM manages a $20 million aerospace and operational medicine research portfolio.

Rutherford is a native of Savannah, Georgia. Following graduation from Stetson University, she received master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy - health care research and management from the University of Central Florida, which led to early career work at the University of South Carolina’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program.

In spring 2017, Rutherford was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force Medical’s Biomedical Science Corps. During the next three years, she was a public health flight commander in Charleston, South Carolina, assisting on improvements for the Air Mobility Command’s Transport Isolation System platform. Also, was a public health and medical intelligence officer at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

At the end of June 2020, she returned to the States and joined the USAFSAM team, where she analyzed 40,000 COVID cases and protected the health of 9.5 million Department of Defense beneficiaries, among many other duties. In addition, she was an investigator for the congressionally mandated fighter-pilot cancer study, which examined exposures over 35 years for 412,000 officers, encompassing nine cancer types. Further, as a Surgeon General representative, she deployed supporting COVID-19 vaccination missions for eight Federal Emergency Management Agency sites, which immunized 2.4 million civilians in less than 3 months.

Currently, Rutherford is conducting COVID-19 research involving the analysis of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated service members, including factors such as breakthrough cases, symptom severity and immunity.  She also lectures in USAFSAM’s Public Health Apprentice, Public Health Officer, Operational Entomology, Contingency Preventive Medicine, Residency in Aerospace Medicine and Epidemiology courses.

In the future, Rutherford would like to combine her epidemiology research and medical intelligence backgrounds into assignments at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Joint Special Operations Command or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to help the U.S. military better forecast and prepare for future threats.