Skip Navigation

NASA Executive and American Military University Graduate Dr. J.D. Polk to Address American Public University System Class of 2016 Commencement

Charles Town, W. Va., April 5, 2016American Public University System (APUS) today announced that Dr. J.D. Polk will present the keynote remarks at its 2016 graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies, June 18 at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., respectively, at the Gaylord National Hotel in National Harbor, Md.

J.D. PolkDr. Polk is a senior medical officer with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer in Washington, D.C.  A 2005 graduate of American Military University’s (AMU) Space Studies graduate program, he received an alumni award in 2007 and was recently appointed to APUS’s Board of Trustees. In addition, in 2010 he led a NASA team of experts sent to Santiago, Chile, to support the Chilean government's effort to rescue 33 trapped miners.

“We are extremely proud to have one of our successful graduates address the APUS class of 2016,” said Dr. Wallace E. Boston, APUS president and chief executive officer. “Dr. Polk’s accomplished career is an inspiration to all our adult learners who aspire to similarly distinguish themselves.”

Prior to joining NASA, Dr. Polk was dean of medicine for Des Moines University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. He previously served as the acting assistant secretary for Health Affairs and chief medical officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), after serving as the principal deputy assistant secretary for health affairs and deputy chief medical officer. Before joining DHS, he was the chief of space medicine for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Ohio’s state emergency medical services director, and chief of Metro Life Flight in Cleveland, Ohio.

In addition to the APUS Board of Trustees, Dr. Polk has served on the board of directors for the Red Cross of Greater Iowa, ChildServe of Iowa and American Association for Physician Leadership.  He has also served on the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, is a fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians, and an associate fellow of the Aerospace Medicine Association.

Dr. Polk received his degree in Osteopathic Medicine from the A.T. Still University in Kirksville, MO. He completed his residency in emergency medicine with Mt. Sinai Hospital via Ohio University and his aerospace medicine training at the University of Texas Medical Branch, and is board-certified in both emergency and aerospace medicine. He holds a Master of Science in Space Studies from American Military University, a Master’s in Medical Management from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, and a Master's Certificate in Public Health from the University of New England.

Dr. Polk has been extensively published in the fields of emergency, disaster and space medicine, and medical management. He is a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, and affiliate associate professor and senior fellow in George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. In addition, he has received numerous recognitions, including citations from the FBI, White House Medical Unit, Association of Air Medical Services and U.S. Air Force, along with the NASA Center Director’s Commendation, NASA Exceptional Service and Achievement Medals, and National Security and International Affairs Medal.

About American Public University System

American Public University System, recipient of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education and four-time recipient of the OLC Effective Practice Award, offers more than 190 online degree and certificate programs through American Military University and American Public University. More than 65,000 alumni worldwide have benefited from APUS's relevant curriculum, affordability, and flexibility in pursuing and earning degrees in such areas as business, information technology, and security and global studies. For further information, visit

Contact Info

Brian Muys

Brian Muys

Associate VP Public Relations