Alma College alumna Jamie Blow has spent the last 32 years keeping communities around the globe safe from infectious diseases transmitted by insects.
Army Entomologist Colonel Jamie Blow ’84 prefers to “work in the shadows” as she tries to protect communities from infectious diseases.
Blow serves as the director of the Pest Management Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (EI&E) and the head of the Armed Forces Pest Management Board (AFPMP). She identifies as the lead for vector surveillance and control.
In part, Blow works with insects — but these insects are not your typical “cute bugs.” They are deadly organisms that can and will transmit diseases and parasites from one animal or plant to another. These are insects that can flip a country upside down, leaving lasting effects on communities across the globe.
Traveling the World
Blow has been on the front lines helping protect troops from a host of illnesses transmitted by insects, including the Zika virus, malaria, leishmaniasis, dengue fever and Lyme disease.
Her role also allows her to spend time working behind the scenes. For Blow, this is exactly what she prefers.
“If I’m doing my job right and people are doing what they should do, nobody knows I’m doing anything, and that’s what the preventative process is all about,” she says.
Throughout her career, Blow has been able to travel the world. She’s spent hours kicking a soccer ball around with orphans in Afghanistan and countless months setting up an Army medical research unit in the Republic of Georgia allowing Army scientists to work to develop measures to protect soldiers from infectious diseases.
Taking a Different Path
Blow credits her undergraduate experience with teaching her to use critical thinking when approaching each and every task in her field.
“I use the principles learned at Alma College to get where I’ve gotten today because I’m able to take what I know and use that to step beyond and not just sit back and accept any answer,” remarks Blow. “Alma taught me to think outside of the box. Our work cannot be placed in a box, so I consistently challenge my staff to do things that are innovative or different in order to be successful.”
Blow admits to being an Alma College graduate who took a different path. She encourages atypical students to find opportunities that lead to bigger ones.
“You might not realize an opportunity at first, but what you accomplish can lead you to something bigger and better,” Blow states.
In her most recent visit to Alma, Blow delivered a presentation to students on the effects of vector borne diseases on global public health. She also spent time with the women’s basketball program, a sport she played during her time as a Scot.
“It’s always good to come home,” says Blow. “Coming back to Alma every so often helps remind me of why I do what I do. So when I find myself in the middle of Iraq or Afghanistan it helps me say, ‘This is why I do this, so you guys can live here without worrying.”