Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H., a professor and chair of the University of Florida department of epidemiology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine, was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in public health from Thailand’s leading research university, Chulalongkorn University.
Chulalongkorn’s president Bundhit Eua-arporn, Ph.D., cited Cottler’s expertise in public health, her reputation and achievements, which serve as a role model and a standard for others to follow. Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided at the ceremony held Oct. 20 at Chulalongkorn’s campus in Bangkok.
In her research, Cottler has focused on underrepresented populations. Her studies, which have been funded by the National Institutes of Health continuously since 1989, include the development of culturally reliable and valid measures for identifying substance use and psychiatric disorders and their risk factors; innovative methods for conducting national surveys of high risk behaviors; and community-based, peer-delivered interventions to reduce HIV risk behaviors and substance abuse. She has conducted several studies in countries such as Afghanistan, Australia, Haiti, India, Kenya and Taiwan.
Cottler also serves as PHHP’s associate dean for research and the founding director of HealthStreet, a community engagement program that seeks to reduce disparities in health care and improve access to research studies among people who are medically underserved by meeting people out in the community and linking them to services and research opportunities. She is the recipient of several awards, including the American College of Epidemiology’s 2015 Special Award for Outstanding Contributions Through Systemic Epidemiologic Approaches to Improving Health, and the Scientific Achievement Award from the National Center for Responsible Gaming.
Cottler began working with Chulalongkorn University in 2005 when she was a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis. She served as Washington University’s ambassador to the president of Chulalongkorn to recruit scholars, and has continued to work with Chulalongkorn after joining UF.
In 2013, the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions established a partnership with the College of Public Health Sciences at Chulalongkorn University to include an exchange of faculty members and students for study, teaching and research. Graduate and undergraduate students from both institutions have participated in the exchange. In addition, Chitlada Areesantichai, Ph.D., an assistant dean at Chulalongkorn’s College of Public Health Sciences, recently spent six months at UF, conducting research with Cottler’s team and learning about HealthStreet’s operations. This led to a proposal submitted to Chulalongkorn’s president for a HealthStreet program in Bangkok, which Chulalongkorn is preparing to launch in 2017.