New faculty member joins SIA from the White House

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Herbert O. Wolfe has joined Penn State as professor of practice in the School of International Affairs (SIA) and associate director of the University’s Center for Security Research and Education (CSRE). Wolfe arrived at Penn State in September from the National Security Council (NSC) staff at the White House and will begin teaching at SIA in the spring 2019 semester.

Wolfe, who holds a Ph.D. in biodefense and an M.S. in public health science and physician assistant studies, served as the director for medical preparedness policy for the NSC, where he led medical and public health preparedness policy activities for the assistant to the president for national security affairs and the deputy assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. In this role, he collaborated with departments and agencies and multiple NSC and Executive Office of the President offices to address policy issues relating to biodefense and biosecurity, domestic chemical defense, defense of food and agriculture, environmental health, medical intelligence, domestic medical resilience, and emergent global health challenges.  Wolfe also served as the federal co-chair on the InterAgency Board’s Health, Medical and Responder Safety Subgroup.

With Wolfe on the faculty, SIA will offer a new course, Global Health, and bring back a popular elective—Hazards, Disasters, and International Affairs—which was previously taught by Professor John Kelmelis, who retired from Penn State in 2016.

“We are excited to have Professor Wolfe join the SIA faculty as a professor of practice,” said Hari M. Osofsky, dean of SIA and Penn State Law. “His tremendous expertise and policy experience in global health, security, and disaster response will be a wonderful resource for our students and the Penn State community. We also welcome the opportunity to deepen our partnership with the Center for Security Research and Education.”

At CSRE, Wolfe will work closely with Director and retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral James W. Houck and representatives of CSRE’s member units in planning and executing the center’s strategic mission, which includes helping to bring Penn State faculty together from diverse disciplines for collaborative research around security-related topics.

“Herb Wolfe has more than 25 years of federal service working across nine departments and agencies,” said Houck, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at SIA. “We are fortunate to have his expertise on issues including public health preparedness and response; weapons of mass destruction; intelligence policy; and federal research and development practices.”

Prior to his move to the White House, Wolfe served as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,  Veterans Health Administration’s chief audit executive, providing independent and objective oversight for the organization’s $66 billion annual budget and 300,000-plus employees through proactively identifying system vulnerabilities, overseeing and implementing enterprise risk management assurance activities, and leading all internal audit functions across the clinical, business, and financial domains of the global VA health care system.

Immediately prior to his appointment at the VA, he served as senior adviser to the director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a role in which he provided strategic direction and vision, advanced environmental health priorities, and helped to ensure the department fulfilled its critical mission of using the best science in taking responsive public health actions to prevent and mitigate harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances. He served as the senior agency official forward deployed to Flint, Michigan, in 2015, leading the public health response to the water crisis. 

Wolfe served on active duty in the U.S. Public Health Service as a physician assistant from 1998 to 2002, completing his family medicine residency at the Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, Oklahoma. Wolfe began his federal career in 1993 as a biological sciences laboratory technician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS). 

Wolfe’s Ph.D. in biodefense is from George Mason University and his M.S. is from Lock Haven University. He also holds a B.A. in biology from Lycoming College.

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