Alumni Profile

Dr. Marlo Cavnar Vernon ’01

Franciscan Magazine Homepage > Autumn 2021 > Dr. Marlo Cavnar Vernon ’01

Alumni Profile

Dr. Marlo Cavnar Vernon ’01

Dr. Marlo Cavnar Vernon has made caring for mothers and babies her mission.

Autumn 2021 | Maura Roan McKeegan

In This Article

Class of 2001

When Marlo Cavnar Vernon ’01 entered Franciscan University, she knew she wanted to study health care.

“I loved the idea of helping to heal the person,” she remembers.

Then she took a course in the sociology of public health, where she learned about the rates of low-birthweight babies and discovered her career path: preventive health, especially for mothers and babies.

“I always had a heart for moms and babies, and that became the passion I wanted to focus on.” She went on to earn a master’s in public health in 2003 from the University of South Carolina, with a focus in maternal and child health, and a PhD in applied health science in 2018 from Augusta University. Marlo has spent nearly two decades researching and teaching preventive health, including obesity prevention, maternal and child health, suicide prevention, substance abuse awareness, cancer prevention, and more.

“It’s preventing the disease, and it’s helping someone live with it the best they can,” she explains.

As assistant professor in Cancer Population, Control, and Population Health at Georgia Cancer Institute, Marlo has won awards from the American Public Health Association, the American Association of Cancer Research, and the Georgia Public Health Association.

In 2018, she entered a contest held by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau to develop an innovative tool to help mothers remotely monitor their pregnancies. She was inspired to enter the contest after losing her cousin a year earlier to preeclampsia in the 38th week of pregnancy. Marlo’s entry— VidaRPM, a tool that empowers pregnant and postpartum women to regularly monitor blood pressure, weight, and mental health symptoms—was one of four national finalists.

Marlo also cares for mothers and children by serving as chair of the board at Hope House, Inc., a nonprofit that enables mothers to stay with their children while receiving residential substance abuse treatment.

A native of Dallas, Marlo lives with her husband, David, their five children, and assorted goats, pigs, sheep, chickens, and other animals on a farm in Georgia. For fun, the Vernons waterski.

“As the years go by,” she says, “I learn more and more about what it is that I love to do and why God put me here.”

Dr. Marlo Cavnar Vernon received the 2021 Dr. John J. Carrigg Alumni Award for outstanding success in the field of education.


Maura Roan McKeegan is the author of Saved by the Lamb: Moses and Jesus and other Catholic children’s books.

Go to Top