To walk through Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, is to conduct a delicate balancing act. The foundation is primarily waste and refuse. An open sewage system contaminates the ground with human and animal feces. This lack of sanitation is perhaps the biggest challenge for Joel Montgomery ’92, ’96, ’00, who directs the Centers for Disease Control’s Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response in Kenya and the International Emerging Infections Program.
Dr. Montgomery, right, with Gates Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes, works with the local population to identify, combat, and reduce dengue fever, typhoid, and other potentially fatal diseases. He also trains Kenyan staff on public health issues. “Working with the local staff and watching them grow and mature in their field is a huge added benefit to what I do,” he says. Montgomery earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees from UT Arlington and credits his faculty mentors with helping him succeed. “I’m looking at how diseases interact with human populations and the environment, and I’m seeing the impact of my work as well. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be doing what I am today without UT Arlington.”