Stories of Care, Courage, Practice and Progress

An illustration of a head with a scribble in the middle and dots overhead The 17 accounts that follow are of Amherst alumni on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. These health care workers and scientists are helping others and chasing the truth during a time of chaos and suffering.

Our subjects include an epidemiologist whose artificial societies model the spread of disease, rumors and fear. They include a chief of infection control who planned for the safe movement of people through her hospital. They include a critical care nurse and an emergency physician whose hearts broke when the families of dying patients could not be in the room. The work and words of these alumni reveal great compassion and competency.

The lengthy interviews on which these brief stories are based took place in April and May, which means they represent a particular moment in what will be a years-long response to this novel coronavirus. They also represent only a small number of the Amherst alumni involved in that response. To others who are involved in various ways: please tell us your story at magazine@amherst.edu.

Illustrations by Lucy Jones


A black and white photo of a man in a medical mask A Better Kind of Care

As told to Geoffrey Giller ’10

Dr. Mike Woodruff ’91, senior medical director, Office of Patient Experience, Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City


A black and white photo of an older man with glasses holding a dog Sequencing the Virus

As told to Rand Richards Cooper ’80

Rick Bushman ’80, chair of the microbiology department, University of Pennsylvania


An illustration of two hands reaching out and touching “I See People on the Worst Day of Their Lives”

As told to Geoffrey Giller ’10

Dr. Anna Meyendorff ’09, attending physician in emergency medicine, Swedish Medical Center, Seattle


A black and white photo of a woman smiling with a forest in the background “We Knew It was Serious Back in November”

As told to Mary Elizabeth Strunk

Dr. Bevin L. (Sell) Dolan ’99, infectious disease specialist and internist, Delaware Valley Infectious Disease Associates, Wynnewood, Pa.; infectious disease educational coordinator, residency program at Lankenau Medical Center; medical director of the infection control and prevention committee, Chestnut Hill Hospital



A woman in a doctor's coat and a young child holding a sign that reads White Coats for Black Lives Remember the Spiritual Side

As told to Katie Bacon ’93

Dr. Leslie Sanchez-Goettler ’93, hospitalist (board-certified in internal medicine) near Portland, Ore.; also holds a master’s degree in theology from Yale and one in philosophy from Cambridge University in England


A colorful abstract illustration of yellow, green, red and blue shapes Why the Food System Matters

As told to Rand Richards Cooper ’80

Dr. Peter Rabinowitz ’78, co-director, MetaCenter for Pandemic Preparedness and Global Health Security, University of Washington


A man with glasses and a face mask around his neck A Case That Will Stay with Him Forever

As told to Geoffrey Giller ’10

Dr. Shane Ruter ’98, clinical assistant professor in emergency medicine, University of Washington, Seattle


A black and white photo of a woman in a lab coat looking intensely at the camera The Pandemic Is a Spotlight

As told to Mary Elizabeth Strunk

Dr. Ingrid Katz ’93, associate faculty director, Harvard Global Health Institute; assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital


An illustration of a head with a scribble in the middle and dots overhead Her Inside Accounts Went Viral

As told to Geoffrey Giller ’10

Dr. Meredith Case ’10, third-year resident in internal medicine, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center


A black and white photo of a bearded man in a study in front of bookshelves Think Statistically, Test Strategically

As told to Rand Richards Cooper ’80

Dr. David Schriger ’80, professor and vice chair of emergency medicine at UCLA; associate editor of JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association


A black and white photo of a woman looking intensely into the camera The ER Is Empty. That's Not Good.

As told to Geoffrey Giller ’10

Dr. Natasha Brown ’11, third-year resident in emergency medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami


An illustration of two n95 masks “The N95 Small Mask Is the Toughest to Find”

As told to Mary Elizabeth Strunk

Dr. Stephanie Clegg ’12, orthopedic surgery resident, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester


A black and white photo of a woman smiling at the camera They Swab-Tested Entire Nursing Homes

As told to Mary Elizabeth Strunk

Selena Xie ’09, president, Austin (Texas) EMS Association


An illustration of a head with rays and spot surrounding it The Purpose of Fear

As told to Rand Richards Cooper ’80

Joshua Epstein ’76, H’10, P’17, professor of epidemiology, New York University School of Global Public Health; director, NYU’s Agent-Based Modeling Laboratory; author of Agent_Zero: Toward Neurocognitive Foundations for Generative Social Science


Two doctors in masks in an operating room “Good People Will Be Needed More Than Ever”

As told to Mary Elizabeth Strunk

Two anesthesiologists found themselves working together in the COVID ICU at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  


A black and white photo of a nurse in an operating room To Be Present for Sacred Moments

As told to Geoffrey Giller ’10

Nelltje Berens Prosise ’99, critical care registered nurse, John Muir Health, Concord, Calif.


An illustration of a red house with a cross for a window Patients Will Have New Expectations

As told to Mary Elizabeth Strunk

Dr. Rob Moskowitz ’95, emergency room physician and corporate medical director, Contessa Health, Nashville, Tenn.