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Tara Kirk Sell, PhD

  • Assistant Professor

Departmental Affiliations

Contact Information

621 E. Pratt Street
Suite 210
Baltimore, Maryland 21202


Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security profile

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PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2016
MA, Stanford University, 2005
BA, Stanford University, 2005


Dr. Sell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and a Senior Associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She conducts research to develop a greater understanding of potentially large-scale health events such as disease outbreaks, bioterrorism, natural disasters, or radiological/nuclear events.

Dr. Sell’s work focuses on improving public health policy and practice in order to reduce the health impacts of disasters and terrorism. She works on qualitative and quantitative research analyses and uses this research to assist in the development of strategy and policy recommendations. Her primary research interests include biosecurity and biodefense, public health preparedness, emerging infectious disease, federal funding and budgeting, and nuclear preparedness policy and practice.

She also serves as an Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Health Security (formerly Biosecurity and Bioterrorism).

Honors and Awards

US Olympian and Silver Medalist, 4x100 Medley relay

Former World and American Record Holder, 100m Breastroke

  • biosecurity
  • biodefense
  • public health preparedness
  • emerging infectious disease
  • federal funding
  • nuclear consequence management
  • Zika
  • Ebola
  • communication
  • risk
  • public health policy
  • emergency response

Selected Publications

  • Sell TK, Boddie C, McGinty EE, Pollack K, Smith KC, Burke TA, Rutkow L. News Media Messages about Ebola and Their Implications for Risk Perception in the United States. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2017;23(1):108-111.
  • Sell TK, Boddie C, McGinty EE, Pollack K, Smith KC, Burke TA, Rutkow L. News Media Coverage of U.S. Ebola Policies: Implications for Communication During Future Infectious Disease Threats. Preventive Medicine. 2016; 93:115–120.
  • Sell TK, McGinty EE, Pollack K, Smith KC, Burke TA, Rutkow L. US State-Level Policy Responses to the Ebola Outbreak, 2014-2015. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2016 Feb;41(1):3-40.
  • Sell TK, Watson M. Federal Agency Biodefense Funding, FY2013-FY2014. Biosecur Bioterror. 2013 Sept; 11(3): 196-216.
  • Harnessing Technology to Address Global Catastrophic Biological Risks
  • Persuasive Communications about Risks from and Response to Zika