Scott Olesen

I am a team lead in the US CDC’s new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics. CFA’s goal is to enable timely, effective decision-making to improve outbreak response using data, modeling, and analytics.

My background is in data science and epidemiology, including in infectious disease, microbiome science, microbiology, antibiotic resistance, statistics, computing, and mathematical modeling. I have developed skill sets in facilitation, technical communication, and project management.

Work history

During 2021–2022, I was at Biobot Analytics, where I built the Epidemiology Group. The goal of that team is to connect wastewater-based data streams with public health actions. Biobot performs Covid-19 monitoring for places like Boston, MA. You can learn more by watching my career chat with Vivify Space Club!

During 2020–2021, I was a part-time Research Analyst at CNA, a nonprofit research institute that provides objective analysis to Federal, state, and local government. At CNA, I helped advise the US Navy, Federal agencies, and state and city officials, especially on their Covid-19 responses.

As an independent epidemiological consultant with Dr. Yonatan Grad, I co-designed a model used to inform the design of the National Basketball Association’s “bubble” for the 2020 play-offs.

Before Covid-19, I was Scientific Director at OpenBiome, a non-profit stool bank based in Boston. OpenBiome provides material for fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) for use in treating C. difficile infection and for research.

Educational background

I did my postdoctoral training with Yonatan Grad at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, where I focused on antimicrobial resistance, and my PhD with Eric Alm at MIT, where I worked in environmental microbiology, human microbiome science, and clinical trial design.

At MIT, I was a founding member of MIT’s Biological Engineering Communciation Lab, where I co-led the development of the first CommKit, a guide to communication tasks designed by scientists for scientists. I was also a founding member of the MIT Biological Engineering REFS, a peer-to-peer conflict management and mentoring program, and a Diversity Chair on the department’s graduate student board. During my postdoc I served as the President of the Harvard Chan Postdoc Association and served on the School’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion.


I’m trying to visit all the Japanese gardens in the US. Read about my progress.