Elizabeth Wood awarded UF Junior Faculty International Educator of the Year

collage of photos of Elizabeth WoodThe University of Florida International Center awarded Elizabeth Wood, D.H.S., M.P.H., its 2021 International Educator of the Year award in the junior faculty category. She was recognized at a ceremony held November 16 in honor of International Education Week.

The College of Public Health and Health Professions’ director of public health outreach and a clinical assistant professor in the department of environmental and global health, Wood’s international scholarship has focused on engaging populations through community-based participatory research methods to provide voices to marginalized populations. She conducts fieldwork in countries such as Haiti, Tajikistan and Jordan, providing opportunities for UF undergraduate and graduate students to work alongside her.

“Dr. Wood is already a star in global health education, particularly in the area of integrating fieldwork with didactic training in low and middle income countries,” said Tara Sabo-Attwood, Ph.D., chair of environmental and global health and the associate dean of faculty development, cultural affairs, and wellness programs. “She brings sustainable vision to her approach and is able to pivot and accommodate challenges that commonly occur in such settings (and a pandemic!). She continues to build a strong network of global partners and infrastructure that she brings to the classroom.”

This past spring, Wood collaborated with Mona El-Shokry, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medical microbiology and immunology at Ain Shams University in Cairo to create a virtual exchange. Undergraduate students in Wood’s global public health course were able to work collaboratively with Ain Shams University students during the five-week program.

“Collaborations such as this are important, especially now when travel is limited due to COVID-19,” El-Shokry said. “Intercultural exchange through meaningful dialogue broadens students’ global perspective and creates global citizens — which is what Liz personifies. Through this virtual exchange, Liz was able to bring Egypt to her students and vice versa.”

Wood has served as a public health consultant for an international project designed to build more robust, gender-responsive and nutrition-sensitive programs that is led at UF by Sandra Russo, Ph.D., the director of program development and federal relations at the International Center. Wood has integrated Master of Public Health, Bachelor of Public Health and Bachelor of Health Science students into the project’s field-based research, which has generated five peer-reviewed publications and presentations at national and international conferences.

During her time as director of the college’s Bachelor of Public Health program, Wood worked with faculty in the department of environmental and global health to create an undergraduate study abroad opportunity in Haiti. In 2018, she led eight undergrads from various UF majors in a study of water insecurity and reproductive health in urban and peri-urban areas in Haiti.

“Through both her teaching in global health and research, Dr. Wood sparks an interest in public health locally, nationally and globally among undergraduate, graduate and professional students across colleges,” said Heather A. Stark, M.D., M.P.H., an adjunct research professor and lecturer who has mentored by Wood during her M.P.H. studies. “Dr. Wood is remarkable at identifying the strengths in almost every student so that they feel empowered and motivated.”

Wood also serves as a faculty advisor for several student organizations with an international focus, as an advisor for UF’s Global Health Case Competition and the director for the Global Health Institute within the Centers for Pre-collegiate Education and Training.

“I hope to continue my work creating global citizens who demonstrate global self-awareness, cultural humility, and personal and social responsibility,” she said.