PHHP Research Day 2022

The UF College of Public Health and Health Professions held its 35th annual Research Day on February 10. By popular demand, the event was once again held in a virtual format and featured three-minute speed presentations by 56 graduate students and postdoctoral/clinical fellows and associates held across concurrent sessions.

Award winners included:

Health Professions category

First place
Kayla Borges headshotKayla Borges
“Temporal Binding Window between Three Different Sensory Modalities: Auditory, Visual and Tactile”
Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
Mentor: Yonghee Oh, Ph.D.

Second place
Nicole EvangelistaNicole Evangelista
“Estimates of Education Quality Reduce Race/Ethnicity Differences in MoCA Classification of Cognitive Impairment”
Department of Clinical and Health Psychology
Mentor: Adam Woods, Ph.D.

Third place
Bishop, Grayson headshotGrayson Bishop
“Vocoder Training in Normal Hearing Listeners for Cochlear Implant Simulations”
Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
Mentor: Sterling Sheffield, Au.D., Ph.D.

Public Health category

First place (tie)

Amber O’Connor
“Azobenzene Disperse Dyes Illicit Cytotoxicity in Lung Cells Relevant to Allergic Airway Disease”
Department of Environmental and Global Health
Mentor: Tara Sabo-Attwood, Ph.D.

Rainey, Andrew headshotAndrew Rainey
“Assessment of the Mass Balance Equation for Estimating Community-Level Prevalence of COVID-19 via Wastewater-Based Epidemiology”
Department of Environmental and Global Health
Mentor: Anthony Maurelli, Ph.D.

Nicole FitzgeraldThird place
Nicole Fitzgerald
“Sequencing Temporal Patterns of Polysubstance Use among Persons Who Use Cocaine, Alcohol, and Marijuana: A Back-Translational Approach to Inform Rodent Models”
Department of Epidemiology
Mentor: Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.E.

Winners received customized glass awards and travel awards to fund participation in professional conferences.

View presentations 

Mona Hanna-Attisha
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP served as the speaker for an interactive keynote. She is the founder and director of the Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, an innovative and model public health program in Flint, Michigan.

A pediatrician, scientist, activist and author, Hanna-Attisha has testified four times before the United States Congress and was awarded the Freedom of Expression Courage Award by PEN America. She was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and recognized as one of USA Today’s Women of the Century for her role in uncovering the Flint water crisis and leading recovery efforts, and most recently, received the 2020 CDC Foundation’s Fries Prize for Improving Health. She is the author of the widely acclaimed and bestselling book, “What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City.”

PHHP graduate students led a question and answer “fireside chat” with Hanna-Attisha. When asked how she found the strength to keep fighting for Flint residents in the face of government denials and blame shifting, Hanna-Attisha said what kept her going was continually grounding herself in her “why.” For her, that is the children of Flint. She encouraged the audience to find their own “why” to drive their work.

“What is the reason you get up in the morning and what keeps you up at night?” she asked.

Hanna-Attisha discussed some of the science-based interventions that have been put in place to support Flint residents. These include expanded Medicaid, mental health services, trauma-informed care, nutrition support and early childhood services. Another element critical to healing and the health of a community is justice, she said.

“This is something we don’t often think about in health and public health: the role of justice,” she said. “For me, as a physician, I’ve come to think of it as a wound. The crisis was a wound and it’s not going to heal without some element of justice.”

She also described some of the strategies employed to help regain the community’s trust and involve community members in developing policy. Through thousands of surveys, meetings and town halls, the community identified the issues they wanted academics to work on, Hanna-Attisha said.

“To this day, the community remains a partner and drives a lot of the work,” she said. “They’re a part of faculty interview committees and research projects so everything is done in this humble, shoulder-to-shoulder way.”

Hanna-Attisha’s partners include a director of community engagement and implementation, a parents advisory group and a youth advisory committee that has named themselves the Flint Youth Justice League.

“A lot of our work is making sure that we elevate the voices of our community and that’s one of the ways you rebuild trust with a community that has had their trust severed,” she said. “It takes a long time to rebuild trust, but it’s doing things in partnership, especially in communities where their voices were usurped, making sure that participatory democracy is a part of the path forward.”