Polyxeni Potter, MA, ELS Managing Senior Editor
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
On the eve of the announcement that Polyxeni Potter will be retiring from CDC in December 2013, Art in Science: Selections from Emerging Infectious Diseases, published by Oxford University Press, was introduced as an Amazon.com offering. The book, long in the making, is a visual tour of disease emergence and a culmination of Poly's efforts toward a multidisciplinary approach to communicating the threat of emerging infections globally. This level of directed energy and creativity is not unusual for Poly. She has long exhibited living proof that people who come in small packages can contain gigantic abilities. We salute Poly, the "single engine dynamo," Joe McDade later recruited to be the founding managing editor of Emerging Infectious Diseases, as she moves on from a sterling career at CDC. We confidently await her upcoming contributions in art and science and more.
Looking back for a bit, we learn that Poly was born and raised on the island of Cyprus and has traveled many roads since her early life there. She came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar to study at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. She earned a Master's degree from Purdue University, and taught English at Georgia State University for 10 years before accepting a position at CDC in 1987 as writer-editor in the National Center for Infectious Diseases. Within 2 years she was the center's chief of editorial services. During her tenure in that position, she introduced desktop publishing and online editing. In 1995, Poly started her work with Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC's first peer-reviewed publication, among a handful of journals fully online. Now a flagship CDC publication with a high impact factor, the journal contributes substantially to the biomedical literature. During her tenure, Poly introduced new vocabulary to CDC's publishing environment: web-based manuscript submission and peer review, eXtyles, XML, CrossRef. The journal, long listed in the Library of Medicine's Index Medicus and in Current Contents, has full content in PubMed Central and many other databases.
But Poly's innovations went beyond the managerial and publishing areas. Educated in literature and the arts and with a keen interest in communication nurtured here at CDC, she sought to synthesize these other disciplines with the public health content of the journal by improving readability and expanding into broader web audiences. One of the ways was linking the science content of the journal with art and life through full-color fine art covers and a well-read commentary linking the art with the monthly science theme.
Poly established and served as Associate Editor for a new category of articles called "Another Dimension." This popular category includes essays, short stories, or poems on issues related to science and the human condition, the unanticipated aspects of epidemiologic investigations, and of the ways in which people perceive and cope with infection and illness. This section is intended to evoke compassion for human suffering and to expand the science reader's literary scope.
Poly has published widely and been recognized by a number of organizations. She is certified by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences; member of the Federal Publishers Committee; cofounder and charter president of the CDC/ATSDR Communicators Roundtable; past president of the Southeast Chapter of the American Medical Writers Association; editorial board member, reviewer, and covers editor for Science Editor, journal of the Council of Science Editors; and editorial board member for the African Journal of Laboratory Medicine. In the broader Atlanta community, she taught Greek for many years and is involved in art museum activities.
Poly has been long married to her soul mate and best friend, Morris Potter, DVM, MS (EIS Class of 1974-1976), who also recently retired from CDC and is eager for her to join him for some serious R&R. The couple has two adult children, Alexia and Elliott, who would like to see their parents a little more.