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In Memoriam: Valerie Williams

Image of MSMR Logo 800 x 480. In Memoriam: Valerie Williams

It is with great sadness that the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report shares the news of the recent death of our colleague, Valerie Williams. Ms. Williams, a senior scientist employed by General Dynamics Information Technology, had served as a writer and editor for the MSMR since February 2016. Valerie Williams was an exemplary scientist and committed editor who made important contributions to the journal during her tenure.   

Ms. Williams had an astoundingly broad skill set that made her critical to the MSMR’s production over the last seven years. She co-authored over 40 original MSMR manuscripts encompassing a broad range of surveillance topics related to the health of military service members. She was also expert in patiently and diligently shepherding external MSMR submissions through the publication process. She invariably strengthened these external manuscripts through her exceptional editorial acumen and commitment to scientific excellence. She took as much care with the minutiae of table footnote punctuation during final copy edits as she did in rigorously scrutinizing the methods and analysis of initial manuscript submissions.   

She was always willing to step in where needed. She served “double duty” as production editor when the position was vacant, and this remarkable commitment to ensuring continuous production, no matter what it required of her, meant that she was an indispensable resource for every member of the editorial staff. Despite the incumbent challenges in producing a monthly peer-reviewed journal, she faced these challenges with humor and positivity while demonstrating an unwavering focus and commitment to ensuring the scientific accuracy and editorial excellence of the MSMR.   

Ms. Williams’s dedication to the MSMR and her colleagues never flagged. Her final project for the MSMR, in addition to her normal editorial duties, was to lead the preparation of MSMR’s technical application to the NIH’s National Library of Medicine for full indexing of this journal on PubMed Central. This process involved the creation of numerous sample files according to extremely precise criteria, requiring meticulousness, diligence, and patience.   

Prior to joining the MSMR staff, Ms. Williams had a productive research career at the Truth Initiative in Washington, DC; the University of Massachusetts Medical School; and the Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, among others. Her work and publication record at these institutions focused primarily on tobacco control, mental health, and juvenile justice. She held master’s degrees in epidemiology and biological anthropology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and environmental science from the University of Virginia.

In addition to being an exemplary scientist, committed editor, and dependable colleague, Valerie Williams was highly esteemed as an individual. Perhaps her most outstanding quality was her compassion and concern for others, which manifested in her unwavering willingness to aid her colleagues in whatever way she could. Her conscientiousness was unequaled. She was also a person of great wit, insight, and humor who will be greatly missed by her AFHSD colleagues. We were enriched by her presence. Our deepest sympathies go to her family.

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