Descriptive Epi

Indiana Epidemiology Newsletter
January 2008

  Descriptive Epi is a new feature in the Indiana Epidemiology Newsletter to highlight epidemiologists and those practicing epidemiology in Indiana. If you are aware of anyone deserving recognition, please contact the Epi newsletter staff at .

Name: Pamela (Pam) R. Pontones

Photo of Pam Pontones at her computer.Position: Director, Surveillance and Investigation

Education: B.A. Biology, Indiana University Bloomington (IUB), 1988; M.A. Microbiology, IUB

How did you get started in public health?

I originally was pre-med, intending to pursue a medical career as an OB/GYN. My stomach did not agree, but I did not want to abandon medicine, so after some career counseling discovered medical microbiology. I liked both the medical and detective aspects to that field. As I was graduating with my master’s degree, I attended a job fair at IUB and received some information on the ISDH Laboratories. I interviewed at several research laboratories but liked the medical aspects more than research, so I interviewed at the ISDH. I started as a Microbiologist IV at the ISDH Virology Laboratory on July 30, 1990. I have loved public health ever since.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Our work team. The people on our team make work fun and get results, period. They continually raise the bar and set examples of what can be achieved. Another very rewarding aspect of my job is the ability to have a positive impact on many people, whether through outbreak investigation, disease prevention education, leadership training, or collaboration with other partners, within and outside of the ISDH.

What is a typical day like for you?

Typical? There is no typical, really. I usually have a packed schedule with meetings and projects to complete, but that can change at a moment’s notice, from an unexpected phone call to someone walking into my office. If you are easily bored, like me, this job is perfect—you never really know what is going to happen until it happens. We plan and anticipate, react and respond.

What is your ideal vacation?

Sitting on a sunny, warm beach, watching my boys play in turquoise waves and reading a good book. Another would be to visit England with my family and visit the places my husband and I traveled during our first anniversary.

Favorite hobby?

Flower gardening. It’s lots of work but relaxing, and the outcome is beautiful.