The University of Florida International Center honored a College of Public Health and Health Professions faculty member and several graduate students during International Education Week, held November 12 to 16. Krishna Vaddiparti, Ph.D., M.P.E., M.S.W., a research assistant professor in the UF department of epidemiology at PHHP and the College of Medicine, was named the college’s International Educator of the Year.
At the International Student Achievement Awards Ceremony, Ayodeji Otufowora received the Scarborough-Maud Fraser Award, which carries a $1,000 award. Alan Salvador Alonso, Ke Ding, Shabnam Medhizadah, Olga Munoz and Jia Qi were awarded certificates of excellence.
As the training coordinator for UF’s Fogarty Indo-US Training Program on Chronic Non-Communicable Disorders, Vaddiparti has assisted more than 30 Indian fellows, including many who have come to the UF campus for research training, through all aspects of their training experience. He has also planned 12 skills-building workshops held in India, bringing together 1,300 scholars from across the country to provide training in various aspects of research, including ethics, epidemiology and assessment development.
“Being an alum of Fogarty training, I truly believe in contributing to building a cadre of next generation scientists in India and am cognizant of the needs of trainees visiting the U.S. for training,” Vaddiparti said. “Most of our trainees are first time visitors to the States, and I serve as an anchor to all of them and ensure seamless transition and successful training.”
Vaddiparti’s international research contributions include serving as co-principal investigator on a large study of mental health and alcohol problems among people living in Jammu and Kashmir, a state in northern India. Along with Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H., a dean’s professor and chair of the department of epidemiology, and Catherine Striley, Ph.D., M.P.E., M.S.W., a research associate professor in the department, he was a principal investigator on the Haiti Health Study, a study of non-communicable diseases among urban and rural residents. He spent several weeks in Haiti, training community health workers and guiding fieldwork.
“What sets Dr. Vaddiparti apart is his unwavering positive attitude, passion for helping people, commitment to advancing research collaborations and determined work ethic,” said Cottler, the college’s associate dean for research.
The International Student Achievement Awards Ceremony recognizes students who have exemplary academic records and a wide range of other accomplishments.
Alan Salvador Alonso is a master’s student in public health with an epidemiology concentration. He is originally from Mexico and received his medical degree in Cuba. His research interests include infectious diseases, specifically focused on HIV in the Hispanic population. He is a member of UF’s student conduct and conflict resolution committees. He is mentored by Mattia Prosperi, Ph.D., MEng, an associate professor in the department of epidemiology.
Ke Ding is a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program and a native of China. Her research interests include treatment adherence in pediatric populations and factors that impact the development and quality of life among youth with weight issues. Outside of her studies, she helps to organize colloquiums as a member of the department of clinical and health psychology’s education advocacy committee. She is an active member of the American Psychological Association’s Society for Health Psychology, serving on the communications committee for the student advisory board, and as the student liaison for the society’s publication and communications committee. She is mentored by David Janicke, Ph.D., a professor in the department of clinical and health psychology.
Shabnam Medhizadah is a doctoral student in the rehabilitation science program who hails from Canada. Under the supervision of Sherrilene Classen, Ph.D., M.P.H., OTR/L, a professor and chair of the department of occupational therapy, Medhizadah’s research focuses on fitness to drive, screening, assessments and interventions for medically at-risk drivers across the life span. She is a member of UF’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation.
Ayodeji Otufowora, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, is a doctoral student in the department of epidemiology and a graduate of UF’s master’s in public health program with a concentration in health management and policy. His research explores health disparities among racial-ethnic minorities in relation to mental health and substance use. He is a volunteer community health worker at UF HealthStreet and serves the university as an epidemiology Ph.D. student representative, an executive board member of the PHHP Doctoral Student Council, a member of the Student Health Care Center’s Student Health Advisory Board and as a graduate student senator for UF student government. Otufowora is mentored by Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Olga Munoz is a doctoral student in public health with a One Health concentration in the department of environmental and global health. A veterinarian who was born in Ecuador to a Russian mother and an Italian-Ecuadorian father, Munoz seeks to engage communities in her research on small farmer systems in the Caribbean. Under the mentorship of Ilaria Capua, D.V.M., Ph.D., Munoz plans to gather data on antibiotic, pesticide and herbicide use, and information and monitoring of the main diseases afflicting these systems. She is a member of UF’s One Health Center of Excellence where she helps to organize seminars and symposia. She is also a member of the Emerging Leaders in Science Policy and Advocacy.
Jia Qi, a native of China and a licensed physician in that country, is pursuing a master’s degree in epidemiology. His research interests include clinical trials and epidemiological disease studies. His thesis is focused on a cross-sectional study that examines the association of adipose tissue distribution with Type 2 diabetes among women living with breast cancer. His mentor is Ting-Yuan (David) Cheng, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology.