Environmental and Global Health

MHS in One Health Students Complete Capstone Projects

Jesse Johnson, an online MHS in One Health student, interned with the Florida Department of Health for his capstone project this spring semester. His internship focused on a One Health approach to controlling the Central Florida Hepatatis A virus outbreak. Through community partnerships, outreach efforts, and a targeted focus on sanitation and education, Seminole County was able to drop out of the top five affected counties in Florida. After completing his internship, Johnson was offered a full-time position on the team to continue his work combatting health issues in Florida.

For Kristen Wilson’s capstone experience, she completed a research project under the guidance of Dr. Samantha Wisely with the UF Ecology and Conservation Department. Wilson’s work addressed the distribution of ticks in rural, peri-urban, and urban areas in Gainesville and what the findings imply for the future of public health work surrounding pathogens in ticks.

(pictured from left: Dr. Samantha Wisely, Kristen Wilson, Jesse Johnson, and Dr. Joe Bisesi) 

EGH Student Awarded Fellowship

EGH student Andres Manrique was awarded the James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases RISE Fellowship. The fellowship offers students the opportunity to gain valuable public health skills in applied research through collaborations with the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Manrique will work at the CDC for three months this upcoming summer to determine specific environmental risk factors that make individuals more susceptible to the Rabies virus. This is a great opportunity for him to gain experience in the professional world and supplement his current laboratory skills. The department congratulates Manrique.



Professor Cottler Earns Prestigious Mentorship Award

Linda B. Cottler, PhD, MPH, FACE, Associate Dean for Research and Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, was chosen to receive the 2019 Mentorship Award from The College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD). CPDD is the oldest and largest organization in the U.S. dedicated to advancing a scientific approach to substance use and addiction. The Mentorship Award was established in 2000 and is given annually to a member of CPDD who has been an exemplary mentor to developing researchers in the field of drug dependence. Cottler has mentored more than 100 pre-, post-doctoral, and K-award fellows and other trainees who themselves are now making important contributions to research efforts. Cottler is the third female scientist to receive this award, which will be presented during the annual conference to be held in June 2019. Congratulations to Dr. Cottler.

MSE Student Publishes Letter to the Editor in JAMA Pediatrics

Upuli Dissanayake, a Master of Science in Epidemiology student and a graduate intern for the Neuromedicine Interdisciplinary Clinical & Academic Program (NICAP), published a letter to the editor. The article “Additional Data to Explain Childhood Obesity” was published in JAMA Pediatrics, which is a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal that covers all aspects of pediatrics. The article suggests some key factors that could make a difference in data that were not addressed by some authors, for instance, having an estimation of BMI through a self-reported questionnaire or participants not being clinically or physically examined. Read more


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

Hong Takes First Place at PHHP Research Day 2019

Young-Rock Hong won the first place award for his abstract entitled, "Development and Validation of Social Determinants of Health (SDH) Risk Assessment Tool: The HMCVD Index.” Hong and his team of researchers developed a multivariable risk score that systematically synthesizes the effects of SDH factors associated with county-level CVD mortality (the HM-CVD index). The HM-CVD index was proven to be a more effective tool than poverty rate and other area measures for predicting communities with high CVD risk. The department congratulates Hong.


Occupational Therapy

In and Moreira Receive University Scholars Program Awards

This summer, Emily In will start her research journey studying postural control deficits in school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Department of Occupational Therapy. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Zheng Wang. In is a second-year pre-medical undergraduate student majoring in Microbiology. “I am very excited to receive this award. Acquiring research experience at the College of Public Health and Health Professions will help me transition my knowledge set from the dish to human subjects,” In said. In will be working on a project to examine the effect of visual and proprioceptive information on the control of postural ability in children with ASD. In is also interested in addressing the relationships amongst postural instability, diagnostic severity and cognitive ability in children with ASD. This award will lay a solid career foundation for her to pursue future clinical practice opportunities in the health professions.

(pictured from left: Emily In and Dr. Zheng Wang)

Daniela Moreira, a Bachelor of Health Science Honors program student, was awarded a 2019-2020 University Scholars Program scholarship to carry out a mentored research project in Dr. Amber Angell’s lab in the Department of Occupational Therapy. Moreira will conduct Spanish language interviews with Latino families of girls with autism. This project, which will serve as Moreira’s honors thesis, is part of a larger project in Angell’s lab that aims to address gender, racial, and ethnic disparities in autism diagnosis. Girls are under-identified with autism compared to boys, yet little autism research has focused on females, and even less is known about Latina girls with autism. Understanding how Latina girls are distinctly affected by autism is a critical first step in addressing disparities. In addition to her Spanish fluency, Moreira brings to the project a complex understanding of culture and disability, and a passion for addressing health disparities for underserved populations.

(pictured from left: Daniela Moreira and Dr. Amber Angell)


Physical Therapy

DPT Students Participate in Federal Advocacy Forum

The department was well-represented at the American Physical Therapy Association’s 2019 Federal Advocacy Forum where two DPT students participated in the three-day conference held March 31 through April 2.

Hannah Belles, a second-year DPT student, and Alyse Hausman, a first-year DPT student, joined research assistant professor Elisa Gonzalez-Rothi, DPT, PhD, in Washington, D.C., where they attended meetings at Senator Rick Scott’s office and met with Gainesville’s congressman, Ted Yoho. Hausman was awarded a travel grant on behalf of the Florida Physical Therapy Association to attend the forum.

 (pictured from left: DPT students Hannah Belles and Alyse Hausman at Senator Rick Scott’s office)

PT Faculty Receive APTA Awards

The department is pleased to announce that three faculty members will be receiving awards in June at the American Physical Therapy Association NEXT Conference and Exposition in Chicago. The achievements of Meryl Alappattu, PT, DPT, PhD, Jason Beneciuk, PT, DPT, PhD, MPH, FAAOMPT, and Emily Fox, PT, DPT, PhD, NCS, are most notable.

Alappattu has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the Margaret L. Moore Award for Outstanding New Academic Faculty Member, which recognizes a junior faculty member who demonstrates distinct expertise and knowledge through scholarly activities, teaching excellence, and commitment to the physical therapy profession.

Beneciuk will be receiving the Chattanooga Research Award, which recognizes an author or team whose published work in the Physical Therapy Journal (PTJ) presents an innovative study or a theoretical model and discussion of its impact on future clinical practice or physical therapy research.

Fox will receive the Eugene Michels New Investigator Award, which recognizes physical therapists who have engaged in independent or collaborative research efforts within 10 years of completing their most recent physical therapy professional degree.

(pictured from left: Meryl Alappattu, Jason Beneciuk, and Emily Fox)


Public Health

MPH Program Offers Competitive Edge

The Master of Public Health Program is recognized for preparing students for the professional world. Recently, two graduating MPH students, Pamela Sanchez and Omari Richins, have been selected for prestigious post-graduate positions.

Pamela Sanchez, a student in the epidemiology concentration, was selected as a summer intern with the Introduction to Cancer Research Careers Program at the National Cancer Institute, or NCI. Omari Richins, whose concentration is in public health management and policy, was selected as a community health fellow with the Mat-Su Health Foundation in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough of Alaska. Read more

(pictured from left: Pamela Sanchez and Omari Richins)

MPH Spring Social

On April 6, a great time was had by all at the MPH Spring Social where the Master of Public Health program celebrated the close of the school year with graduating and current students. 


Rehabilitation Science

Butera Receives Frederick Family Scholarship

Katie Butera, a Rehabilitation Science PhD student, was recently chosen as the recipient of the 2018-19 Frederick Family Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded annually to a PhD student who treats others with positive regard, dignity and respect, shows dedication and service to the profession, and is self-reliant and dedicated to the pursuit of his or her doctoral degree. Butera was nominated by her mentors, Emily Fox, PT, DPT, PhD, NCS, research assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, and Steven George, PT, PhD, professor at Duke University School of Medicine.

“Overall, Katie rises to the top of graduate students with regards to her dedication, passion and enthusiasm,” Dr. Fox said. Butera also received letters of support from additional Department of Physical Therapy faculty members: Jason Beneciuk, PT, DPT, PhD, MPH, FAAOMPT, Joel Bialosky, PT, PhD, FAAOMPT, OCS, Bill McGehee, PT, PhD, and Mark Bishop, PT, PhD, FAPTA.  

Three RSD Students Present at AOTA

The Rehabilitation Science Program represented UF in New Orleans for the American Occupational Therapy Association’s 2019 Annual Conference and Expo held April 4 through April 7. Three RSD students, Jaewon Kang, Marci Schneider, and Sharon Medina, received travel awards on behalf of the RSD program and presented their research at the conference.

Kang and Schneider were chosen out of more than 300 research posters and selected as “young scientists”. They completed 15-minute presentations on their work, followed by a brief Q&A session. Additionally, Medina presented three posters during the conference.

(pictured: Kang giving a presentation titled, “Validity and Reliability of the Korean Version of the Activities of Daily Living-Focused Occupation-Based Neurobehavioral Evaluation (A-ONE)")


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Campbell Testifies Before Florida House of Representatives Subcommittee

Mary Campbell, a second year SBS MPH student, testified in front of the House Health Quality Subcommittee last week. Campbell is completing her internship with Planned Parenthood. She attended Lobby Days on March 19-20 with select Planned Parenthood interns and volunteers, where they attended a legislative session. Campbell and Planned Parenthood lobbied against a parental consent bill placing restrictions on minors seeking abortion. Campbell and other Planned Parenthood members also met with senators, representatives, and their aides. They ended the weekend by attending a press conference on the Dignity Bill which grants menstrual products for incarcerated women.

Bodner Publishes in Journal of Oncology Practice

SBS MPH alumnus Samantha Bodner’s special project for the Master of Public Health program was published in the Journal of Oncology Practice under the title “Improving Documentation of Distress in Veteran Patients for Hematology/Oncology Clinics.” This paper was authored with Arpan Patel, MD, and Priya Gopalan, MD, PhD. Bodner and her co-authors conclude that quality of care can be improved upon through standardizing patient distress in medical records.


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Hearoes Fundraising

Hearoes for Hearing is the University of Florida’s National Student Speech-Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) philanthropy. This charity directly benefits cochlear implant patients at the UF Health Speech and Hearing Center. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, approximately 28 million Americans have a hearing impairment. The purpose of Hearoes for Hearing is to raise money to help purchase new test materials and therapy materials in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences for habilitation and rehabilitation, audiological tests, and provide loaner equipment for both the children and adult patients. Additionally, Hearoes for Hearing strive to spread awareness about hearing loss throughout the Gainesville community.

Thanks to all of the sponsors and supporters, this year Hearoes for Hearing has raised a total of $8,054. Some of the fundraising events include a benefit concert, Hearing Awareness Week (featuring free hearing screenings, A Quite Place movie night, ASL bingo, and a Halloween party for kids from the Cochlear Implant Program), an ice cream social, relay race, and the High Dive food truck rally.



Brumback Selected as a Fellow of the ASA

Babette Brumback was selected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA). This is a prestigious accomplishment. The contributions that are considered in selecting ASA Fellows are published works, position held with employer, ASA activities, membership and accomplishments in other societies, and professional activities. Brumback will be recognized July 30 at the Joint Statistical Meeting (JSM) in Denver. The awards ceremony will be held at the Denver Convention Center during the ASA President’s Address and Founders and Fellows Recognition. The department congratulates Dr. Brumback on this accomplishment.

Biostatistics Spring Social

The Department of Biostatistics held a spring social on March 19. Activities included awards to students, faculty and staff, and a farewell to Dr. Meenakshi Devidas.

Devidas dedicated 21 years to UF including 11 years in the department. She is wished continued success in her new position with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a member of the Department of Global Pediatric Medicine.

Presented awards included Outstanding Dissertation Research (You Lu), Outstanding Student Support (Kristen Cason), Outstanding Teacher (Caleb Huo), PhD Preliminary Exam (Mingjin Liu), Online MS Outstanding Student (Heshen Wang), and MS Outstanding Student (Yian Guo and Ye Yuan). The spring social was a wonderful time of fellowship for all.

(pictured from left: Dr. Meenakshi Devidas and department chair Dr. Peihua Qiu)


Clinical and Health Psychology

CHP Doctoral Student Wins Award at PHHP Research Day 2019

Chantel Ulfig has won 3rd place at the College of Public Health and Health Professions’ 32nd Annual Research Day for her project “The Effects of a Cognitive Behavioral Intervention on Worry about Cancer Progression among Women with Gynecologic Malignancies.” Ulfig will receive an engraved plaque, a certificate, and a $500 travel award.

CHP Faculty Coauthor Chronic Pain and Brain Aging Study

Ronald Cohen, PhD, Adam Woods, PhD, and Eric Porges, PhD, are amongst the coauthors for a new study from the UF Institute on Aging. The study has found accelerated brain age of older adults with chronic pain. More research is needed to determine whether the pain causes the brain to age or if an older brain heightens someone’s experience of pain.

Dr. Cohen is a Professor in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology and Director of the UF Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory (CAM). Dr. Woods is the Assistant Director of the CAM Center and an Assistant Professor in the department. Dr. Porges is an Assistant Professor in the CAM Center and the department. 

(pictured from left: Dr. Cohen, Dr. Woods, and Dr. Porges)