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Staff Bios

Joshua W. Akers, MD

Assistant Medical Examiner

Josh was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri before going to Truman State University in Kirksville Missouri where he majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry.  He then went to the American University of the Caribbean on the island of St. Martin for medical school, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center for Anatomic and Clinical pathology residency.  Followed by forensic pathology fellowship at the Cook County Office of the Medical Examiner in Chicago Illinois.

Josh is board certified in Anatomic, Clinical (2017) and Forensic pathology (2018).  His fields of interest include Cardiovascular pathology, toxicology and wound patterns.  He has been working as the Assistant Medical Examiner of Polk County since July of 2018.

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Megan Rausch, RN

Medicolegal Death Investigator

Megan moved to Des Moines in 2007 and began working for the Polk County Medical Examiner’s office in September of 2010. She graduated from Mount Mercy College in 2007 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice. She also works at Iowa Methodist Medical Center on the Adult Oncology Unit. She became an ABMDI Registry Level Certified Medicolegal Death Investigator in March of 2011 and became Board Certified in July of 2014.

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Amy Williamson, RN

Medicolegal Death Investigator

Amy graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1981 with her Bachelor of Science of Nursing degree. Her nursing career started in Oskaloosa, Iowa and moved to Weatherford, Oklahoma for approximately 6 years. After living here, she wanted to experience other parts of the country. Her next stop was Westwood, New Jersey and family had her return to Iowa one year later. Settling in the Des Moines area she started working at Mercy Medical Center. Amy assisted with the development of the Sexual Assault Response Team in Polk County and continues to be a volunteer responder for the mid Iowa SART team. In 2007 she obtained a Forensic Nursing Certificate from Kaplan University. In 2010 she received her Masters in Criminal Justice from the University of Phoenix. Amy joined our team at the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office in June 2010 as a part time/on call MDI. She became a full time MDI in April of 2011. She became an ABMDI Board Certified Medicolegal Death Investigator in March of 2015. Amy enjoys spending any free time that she can spare with her husband, three sons and especially her aging parents. Gardening is her favorite hobby.

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John Carter, RN

Medicolegal Death Investigator

John Carter began working for the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office in October of 2012 as a part time MDI. He became full time in April of 2015. He graduated from Excelsior University in 1998 with an Associate of Science in Nursing degree, and also holds Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Master of Public Administration degrees from Drake University. John worked as an RN in the Emergency Department at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, and served as the Hospital Preparedness Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Public Health. He currently does preparedness consulting through his own company, Emergency Preparedness Consulting LLC. John is also a Reserve Police Officer for the Des Moines Police Department. He became an ABMDI Board Certified Medicolegal Death Investigator in March of 2018.

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Jill Cooper, RN

Medicolegal Death Investigator

Jill began working for the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office in June of 2017. She graduated from Allen College of Nursing in 2000 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.  She also works at Iowa Methodist Medical Center for LifeFlight. She became an ABMDI Registry Level Medicolegal Death Investigator in March of 2019.

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Cory Russo, D-ABMDI

Medicolegal Death Investigator

Cory was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. She moved to Las Vegas after high school to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for the Forensic Science program and to compete on the UNLV Boxing Team. She graduated in 2007 with Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Psychology. She completed her undergraduate internship with the Clark County Coroner/Medical Examiner’s Office. She worked as a scribe/tech for 3 major hospital emergency departments in Las Vegas. She was also a certified personal trainer, boxing coach, Krav Maga practitioner, and played semi-professional women’s tackle football. While completing pre-medical coursework she became a published author on a groundbreaking HIV research project identifying protein-protein interactions and drug targets with professors from UNLV and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She attended Touro Medical School in Henderson, NV and graduated in 2012 with a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Health Sciences which consisted of first year medical school courses and a research thesis. Her research thesis involved identifying child homicide injury, demographic, and judicial patterns. She then worked as a Coroner Investigator for Clark County. Following her time in Las Vegas, she lived in Phoenix, AZ where she completed a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management. She worked in the NICU at Primary Children’s Medical Center as a Health Unit Coordinator before relocating to Des Moines, IA in 2016 where she attended Des Moines University for one year before becoming a full time MDI with the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office. She became an ABMDI Registry Level Certified Medicolegal Death Investigator in March 2019. She enjoys spending time with her fiancé, 2 children, and pets. She loves traveling, laughing with her mom, writing and performing spoken word, volunteering, playing sports, and staying active.

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Lisa Stuart, RN

Medicolegal Death Investigator

Lisa grew up in Southeast Iowa. She received her LPN licensure from South Eastern Community College. Following graduation she moved to Lubbock, Texas. While in Lubbock she graduated from Methodist Hospital Medical Center with a diploma in Nursing. Lisa has lived in the Des Moines area since 1989. Since arriving in Des Moines she has been employed at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in the Emergency Department. She is a member of the Iowa Emergency Nurses Association and is nationally certified as an emergency room nurse. Lisa began her career with the Polk County Medical Examiner’s office in 2000 as a part time employee. In 2008 she took a leave to enjoy time with her husband and family and returned July of 2010 as a part time/on-call Investigator. Lisa became a Registry Level Investigator with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators in December of 2007. Lisa enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

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Julie Davis, RN

Medicolegal Death Investigator (PT)

Julie has been employed with the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office since August of 2007 and became a part time MDI in April of 2011. She became an ABMDI Registry Level Certified Death Investigator in October 2008. Julie works for MercyOne as a flight nurse. She also works as an Emergency Department staff nurse at Iowa Methodist Medical Center and Blank Children’s Hospital. She . Prior to becoming a nurse, Julie worked in Ames as a Paramedic Specialist with Mary Greeley Medical Center.

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Michelle Mauro, RN

Medicolegal Death Investigator (PT)

Michelle began with the Polk County Medical Examiner as a full time MDI in January of 2007. She resigned briefly in April of 2010 but then returned as a part time MDI in October of 2012. She graduated from Mercy College in 1997 with a Diploma in Nursing. Michelle became an ABMDI Registry Level Certified Medicolegal Death Investigator in May of 2008. Michelle has worked at the Polk County Health Department, Visiting Nurse Services, Intrust Pediatric Homecare and Mercy Hospital in Pediatrics and Neonatal Intensive Care. Michelle has joined the Polk County Medical Examiner’s team as a part time/on call Investigator.

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Amy Hirth, RN

Medicolegal Death Investigator (PT)

Ann began working for the Polk County Medical Examiner’s office in February 2019. She graduated from Grandview College in 1991 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. She works for MercyOne-Des Moines it the Emergency Department and is a member of the Iowa Emergency Nurses Association. Ann also works for the Des Moines Public Schools as a substitute Nurse and the Polk County Health Department. Ann Joined the Polk County Medical Examiner’s team as a part time/on call investigator.

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Chris Dixon

Medical Transcriptionist

Chris Dixon has been with the Polk County Medical Examiner’s office since August 2004. Chris’ educational background is a certificate in Medical Transcription through Hamilton College in Des Moines, Iowa. Chris is married with two busy young boys. Chris enjoys spending time with her family, reading and attending Broadway musical productions.

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Dawn Walker

Medical Secretary

Dawn started with the Polk County Medical Examiner’s office in May 2010. She has worked as a Medical Secretary since 1988 through Iowa Health System and Broadlawns Medical Center. Dawn has a 25 year old son and 19 year old daughter and enjoys spending as much time as possible with them as well as attending their numerous activities. When Dawn does find free time for herself she enjoys outdoor activities, attending music concerts and theatrical or musical productions.

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Barry Lowe

Forensic Laboratory Assistant

Barry has served as the forensic lab assistant for the Polk County medical Examiner’s office since July of 1991. A native of Des Moines, he graduated from Lincoln High School, and attended Mankato State University (MN), where he majored in biology. Outside of work, Barry enjoys playing golf, attending Broadway shows, Drake women’s basketball games, and listening to all types of music, particularly a cappella.

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Ed Christopherson

Forensic Laboratory Assistant (PT)

Ed has worked for the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office as a part time forensic laboratory assistant since May of 2018.  He was born and raised in the North Iowa area, graduating from North Iowa Area Community College in 2007.  Interested in funeral service, Ed continued his education at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, receiving his Advanced Standing Diploma in Mortuary Science and Funeral Service, becoming a licensed funeral director in 2009.  While serving families in the Mason City area, Ed received his Bachelors of Science degree at Upper Iowa University with an emphasis in Criminal Justice in May of 2011.  In the fall of 2014, Ed’s family moved back to the Des Moines area, and is currently the body donation coordinator for Des Moines University’s Deeded Body Donor Program.   Ed also is a part time embalmer for local funeral homes in the Des Moines area.  He resides in Ankeny with his wife, PK, and daughter, Mollie. 

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Christina Haight

Forensic Laboratory Assistant (PT)

Cristina was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. There, she graduated from medical college at the University of Mogi das Cruzes in 2013. Before she moved to Iowa in 2017 she worked for 4 years as a general practitioner and with palliative care. Cristina started working for Polk county as an on call forensic laboratory assistant in April 2018. While studying to complete her medical boards, she intends to get into an anesthesiology residency program soon. When she has some free time, she likes to travel anywhere with her family, especially with her new baby boy.

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