PHHP Research Day 2023

Two people talking in front of research poster.
Photos by Louis Brems

The University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions held its 36th Annual Research Day on February 9. The college’s undergraduate, master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral trainees submitted a record 108 abstracts.

The event took place in the HPNP Complex after being held virtually in 2021 and 2022.

“Having it in the building highlighted the community aspect of the event,” said Amanda Kastner, an academic programs coordinator in the college. “I saw students, staff, faculty — all different people from the college really showed up.”

Students presented their research in poster and speed presentations throughout the afternoon.

“Participating in the speed presentations gave me a new perspective on how research can be shared, critiqued and improved upon,” said Adaeze Anamege, M.S., a first-year Ph.D. student in epidemiology. “As a graduate student, I sometimes struggle to communicate my research to people outside my field in a manner they can comprehend. However, watching various presentations from graduate students across the college helped me generate some new ideas on ways to improve dissemination of future research. I also appreciated the fact that I was able to start meaningful conversations and meet potential research collaborators who are students from other departments. These are people I otherwise would not have met had it not been for Research Day.”

Dr. Marsha Davis
Dr. Marsha Davis, dean of the University of Georgia College of Public Health, presented the keynote.

This year’s PHHP Research Day was also a first for clinical and health psychology doctoral student Taylor Swanson.

“It was awesome seeing the wide variety of research that is being done by undergrad and grad students within the college,” Swanson said. “Research Day was also my first experience presenting a flash talk; this is a great opportunity offered to grad students to build on their professional development. Overall, the day felt very unifying, as I was able to meet people in other PHHP departments, share research interests and ideas, and learn about areas of research I have been unfamiliar with!”

Marsha Davis, Ph.D., dean of the University of Georgia College of Public Health, presented the keynote, “Pursuing Understanding: The Keys to Successful Community Participatory Research.” Davis previously served as the college’s associate dean for outreach and engagement, where she coordinated efforts aimed at building the capacity of Georgia’s public health workforce and fostering partnerships to improve community health. She is the founding organizer of the college’s annual State of the Public’s Health Conference and the UGA Public Health Leadership Academy, two programs designed to build the capacity of the public health workforce.

During an awards ceremony at the event’s close, the college announced six Research Day award winners who will each receive funds to support conference travel.

group holding award certificates
PHHP Research Day award winners Jori Waner, Hailey Inverso, Tinu Olarewaju, Xiaoxiao Wen, Wenjie Zeng and Nicole Fitzgerald.

Basic, Foundational and Pre-Clinical Research category winners

(Three-way tie for first place).

  • Hailey Inverso, Ph.D. student, clinical and health psychology. “Seeing Eye-to-Eye: Associations Among Adolescent-Caregiver Discordance on Reports of Youth Sleep, Demographic Characteristics, Anxiety, and Depressive Symptoms in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease.” Mentor: David Janicke.
  • Jori Waner, Ph.D. student, clinical and health psychology. “Connecting memory and functional brain networks in older adults: A resting-state fMRI study.” Mentor: Adam Woods
  • Xiaoxiao Wen, Ph.D. student, epidemiology. “Blood DNA methylation predicts differential metabolic outcomes induced by different types of weight-loss interventions: an epigenome-wide association study.” Mentor: Jinying Zhao.

Applied, Clinical and Community Research category winners

  • First: Wenjie Zeng, Ph.D. student, epidemiology. A novel classification criterion for childhood Sjögren’s disease developed by combining machine learning and causal discovery approaches.” Mentor: Panayiotis (Takis) Benos
  • Second: Nicole Fitzgerald, Ph.D. student, epidemiology. “Prevalence and Correlates of Self-Reported Novel Psychoactive Substance Use among Adults in 13 US Cities, 2021–2022: Results from National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Surveillance.” Mentor: Linda Cottler
  • Third: Tinu Olarewaju, Ph.D. student, rehabilitation science, neuromuscular plasticity. “Walking Rehabilitation Impacts Recovery of Trunk Control in Adults with Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury.” Mentor: Emily Fox

The PHHP Office of Research approached the event as an opportunity to focus not just on the intersection of students, faculty and staff, but also on the intersection of public health and health professions, said Adam Woods, Ph.D., the college’s associate dean for research. Posters and presentations showcased the breadth of research conducted in the college as well as the impact at local, national and sometimes global, levels.

“PHHP Research Day was such a great opportunity to reconnect and learn about each other’s research within the college,” said Alex Rodriguez, M.P.H., a doctoral student in social and behavioral sciences in the college’s public health Ph.D. program. “I am so thankful to be a part of such a welcoming and collaborative community at the University of Florida.”

PHHP Research Day
woman in audience smiling at PHHP Research Day
man gesturing toward poster at PHHP Research Day
woman posing in front of poster at PHHP Research Day
woman talking and gesturing at PHHP Research Day
two people talking in front of poster at PHHP Research Day
three men in conversation at PHHP Research Day
PHHP Research Day
PHHP Research Day