Alumni Awards 2017: Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D. ’06, Public Policy

Published: Sep 20, 2017

In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each honoree in more detail here on our blog. Today, meet Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D. ’06, public policy, the current Deputy Surgeon General of the United States and our Outstanding Alumna in the Social and Behavioral Sciences.


Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D. ’06, public policy, currently serves as the Deputy Surgeon General of the Unites States. She is a Rear Admiral (RADM) in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps. In her role as Deputy Surgeon General she advises and supports the Surgeon General regarding operations of the USPHS Commissioned Corps and in communicating the best available scientific information to advance the health of the nation. She served as Acting Surgeon General from April 2017 through September 2017.

RADM Trent-Adams has held various positions in the Department of Health & Human Services, working to improve access to care for poor and underserved communities. As a clinician and administrator, she has had direct impact on building systems of care to improve public health for marginalized populations globally. She states, “The greatest success of my career has been the opportunity to assist in building programs both domestically and internationally, to serve the underserved.”

RADM Trent-Adams career spans 30 years of public service. She has served on commissions for the United Nations and the World Health Organization, worked to develop HIV/AIDS treatment plans in the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa, and presented her research on HIV, healthcare delivery, public health, nursing and emergency preparedness worldwide. Prior to joining the USPHS, RADM Trent-Adams was a nurse officer in the U.S. Army.

Trent-Adams holds a bachelor’s in nursing from Hampton University and a master’s in nursing and health policy from the University of Maryland at Baltimore. She was inspired to pursue her doctorate at UMBC by its “outstanding academic programs” and “the caliber of the policy faculty,” including Dr. Nancy Miller, Dr. Marvin Mandell, Dr. Kevin Eckert, Dr. Chris Hewitt, and Dr. Cheryl Miller. She often returns to campus to speak to classes and participate in panel discussions, and maintains a mentoring relationship with several undergraduate and graduate students.

As for life outside of work, she says, “I am blessed with a husband who is supportive of my career…[and] we have two amazing daughters who keep life interesting! My extended family keeps me grounded by accepting me for who I am, and constantly remind me that I am still a country girl from Virginia.”


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