Dean's Office

Diversity and Inclusion Committee Unveils 2020-2021 Strategic Plan

The College of Public Health and Health Professions held a town hall meeting focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion on September 30, 2020.  In this meeting, the PHHP Diversity and Inclusion Committee presented their 2020-2021 strategic plan and Dean Perri presented a new faculty recruitment plan. If you missed that meeting, please view the recording at this link and consider providing your feedback here. The full strategic plan can be downloaded here and the one-page executive summary here. This meeting was hosted as a webinar in order to accommodate the capacity of the students, faculty and staff in the College.  This format had several technical limitations because of capacity needs. Thanks for your patience as we try out new communication formats! 

Beginning November 2020, please be on the lookout for the newly named PHHP Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee’s monthly newsletter!  As part of our strategic plan, we are implementing multiple methods of listening and communication with the College.  Stay tuned! 

Submitted by Dr. Rachel Yoho



Dr. Xinrui Zhang Recognized as Outstanding Alumni

Congratulations to Dr. Xinrui Zhang on being one of PHHP's 2020 Outstanding Alumni!

Xinrui Zhang, PhD, is a senior principal biostatistician at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. In this role, she is responsible for planning and execution of exposure-response and exploratory biomarker analyses to support multiple oncology compounds. She also contributes to implementation of modern and innovative trial/experimental designs, statistical models and data exploration methodologies to optimize dose finding and drug development.

To read more about PHHP 2020 Outstanding Alumni, click here.

(pictured: Dr. Xinrui Zhang)

Submitted by Melissa Stabel 

Dr. Susmita Datta to Serve on Committee, Board of Trustees

Professor Susmita Datta, PhD, has been elected to serve in the regional committee (RECOM) of the Eastern North American Region (ENAR) of the International Biometric Society for the 2021-2023 term. Dr. Datta was also elected as one of the three Board of Trustees member of the International Indian Statistical Association (IISA) for 2020-2022 term.

(pictured: Dr. Susmita Datta)

Submitted by Melissa Stabel


Clinical and Health Psychology

Doctoral Student Erin Ferguson Receives Award

Erin Ferguson has been awarded the Donald D. Price Memorial Publication Award by the UF Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health for her excellent work!

This review’s goal, published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, was to propose a testable mechanistic model of pain as an antecedent to substance use that may guide future research and inform clinical practice. The resulting Catastrophizing, Anxiety, Negative Urgency, and Expectancy (CANUE) model highlights several modifiable risk factors for engaging in self-medication of pain via substance use, including high levels of pain catastrophizing, fear of pain, and pain anxiety; exaggerated pain-related negative affect; high levels of negative urgency; and strong substance-related outcome expectancies (e.g., for pain reduction/coping). Addressing these conceptualized moderating factors via targeted behavioral and psychological intervention may help to disrupt the pain-to-substance use pathway and support the establishment of more adaptive pain-coping responses. The full article can be read here.

(pictured: Erin Ferguson)

Submitted by Melissa Naidu

Dr. Jessica Payne-Murphy Awarded ABPP Board Certification

Jessica Payne-Murphy, PhD, has achieved the award of ABPP specialty board certification in Clinical Health Psychology from the American Board of Clinical Psychology. This board certification attests to her excellence in meeting the advanced education, training and professional standing established by the specialty, as well as examination by peers in the specialty attesting to the demonstration of practice in the specialty.

(pictured: Dr. Jessica Payne Murphy)

Submitted by Melissa Naidu


Environmental & Global Health

Dr. Sarah McKune Selected as the University of Florida’s
2020 Junior Faculty International Educator of the Year

Sarah McKune, PhD, was selected from a pool of competitive applicants to represent the University of Florida International Center as the 2020 Junior Faculty International Educator of the Year. Due to the pandemic, there will be a pre-recorded virtual ceremony which will be released on Monday, November 16, 2020 at 5:30PM. The video will be available at UFIC’s YouTube Channel and will remain there for future viewing for those who would like to honor Dr. McKune for her engagement and work in support of international education.

(pictured: Dr. Sarah McKune)

Submitted by Brynn Dalton




Dr. Vaddiparti Receives Grants in India and Florida

Krishna Vaddiparti, PhD, research assistant professor in Epidemiology, received two grants. The first, funded by the International Center of Responsible Gaming, will explore the association between problematic gambling, depression and suicidal ideation and behavior in Sikkim, India. The second, funded as part of the statewide Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research, will utilize ecological momentary assessment to study post-traumatic stress disorder-related sleep disturbances and other symptoms among patients on medical marijuana in north central Florida.

(pictured: Dr. Krishna Vaddiparti)

Submitted by Abigail Hummel

Subedi Receives AHA Fellowship

Epidemiology doctoral student Pooja Subedi received an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship for her proposal, “Telomere length, DNA methylation, and CVD risk: transethnic meta-EWAS in four large prospective cohorts.” Mentored by professor in Epidemiology Dr. Jinying Zhao, Ms. Subedi will use data from four large cohort studies of cardiovascular disease in the United States to conduct a meta-analysis of epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) of telomere length and to test the association between epigenetic markers of telomere length and incidence of cardiovascular diseases. This is the first large meta-analysis of EWAS of telomere length that includes American Indian participants.

(pictured: Pooja Subedi)

Submitted by Abigail Hummel


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

HSRMP Welcomes New Faculty Member and
PHHP MPH Program Director, Dr. Julia Varnes

Dr. Julia Varnes will be joining the College of Public Health and Health Professions as the MPH Program Director and Health Services Research, Management and Policy as a Clinical Assistant Professor starting January 4, 2021. Dr. Varnes completed her PhD here at the University of Florida in the College of Health and Human Performance and, has since, served as a lecturer for the Department of Health Education and Behavior. She carries a variety of practical experience and specialties in the area of public health with her primary interests including health promotion planning and evaluation, motivational interviewing, and student development and professional preparation.  Welcome to the team, Dr. Varnes!

(pictured: Dr. Julia Varnes)

Submitted by Lance Jackson

Xie Zhigang Article Featured in
International Journal of Medical Informatics

Xie Zhigang, an HSRMP PhD Student, published an article entitled “Electronic Wearable Device and Physical Activity among US Adults: an Analysis of 2019 HINTS Data” in the International Journal of Medical Informatics. Mr. Zhigang, along with faculty members Drs. Jo and Hong, conducted a study that analyzed the impact that wearable devices have on promoting physical activity in the US adult population.  The full article can be found here.

Article submitted by Lance Jackson

Dr. Mainous Appointed to New Roles on
Family Medicine Editorial Boards

Dr. Arch Mainous, professor in Health Services Research, Management and Policy, received new editorial positions in two popular family medicine and primary care journals. Dr. Mainous was appointed as the Chief Editor for Family Medicine and Primary Care, a scientific specialty section of Frontiers in Medicine and Frontiers in Public Health. He has also been appointed to the Editorial Board of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

(pictured: Dr. Arch Mainous)

Article submitted by Lance Jackson


Occupational Therapy 

UFOT Welcomes New Post-Doc Student, Dr. Robin Wei

Dr. Jiajun (Robin) Wei joined the Department of Occupational Therapy as a Post-Doctoral Associate on October 1, 2020. Dr. Wei received a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University at Buffalo, New York in 2019. His research interests include trust in automation, computational modeling of human behaviors, judgment and decision making. At UFOT’s Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation (I-MAP), Dr. Wei will be working on a project that utilizes artificial intelligence to identify and address driving safety issues for people with Parkinson’s Disease when they interact with Autonomous Vehicles.

(pictured: Dr. Robin Wei)

Submitted by Betsy Westra

Dr. Classen and Collaborators Receive Federal Grants

Sherrilene Classen, PhD, and collaborators received two cutting edge federal grants to continue investigations related to driving performance in two medically-at-risk groups.

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research awarded Dr. Classen with a Field Initiated Research Project to study the Driving Performance of People with Parkinson's Disease via Autonomous Vehicles. The goal is to improve the driving performance of drivers with Parkinson’s via the use of in-vehicle technologies.

The NIH, (National Institute on Drug Abuse), awarded Dr. Classen and Dr. Nicole Ennis with an R-21 to study Medical Marijuana Use and Driving Performance: A Test of Psychomotor Functioning in Adults 50 and Older. The goal is to assess the effect of medical marijuana on response time, attention, and executive functions in adults 50 years and older.

(pictured: Dr. Sherrilene Classen, Dr. Nicole Ennis)

Submitted by Betsy Westra


Physical Therapy 

Dr. Schack-Dugre Presents at ELC 2020

Earlier this month at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Educational Leadership Conference 2020, Judi Schack-Dugre, PT, DPT, MBA, EdD, Director of Clinical Education, collaborated with directors of clinical education from four other Doctor of Physical Therapy programs in Florida to investigate and compare the perceptions of users for two validated student clinical assessment tools – Clinical Internship Evaluation Tool (CIET) and the Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI).

The study, entitled “Student and clinical instructor perceptions comparing the CIET and CPI,” occurred during the final clinical experience for the Class of 2020. While the presence of COVID impacted the data collection, UF was able to collect data and fulfill the study criteria through the final clinical assessment.

Congrats on your platform presentation, Dr. Schack!

(pictured: Dr. Judi Schack-Dugre)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

Student Service Group Adapts to Virtual Environment

University of Florida Doctor of Physical Therapy students participate in community engagement activities across the curriculum. One of the Rehabilitation Education Activity and Community Health, or REACH, groups is Children on the Go (COTG).

In COTG, DPT students work with gymnasts and athletes with physical or intellectual disabilities at Balance 180, a local non-profit gym. The students teach the athletes foundational skills while improving motor skills and encouraging them to follow instructions.

When COVID-19 hit Gainesville, COTG had to adapt to the now virtual environment. The student directors of the group, second-year DPT students KK Huffman and Angelina Castelli, explain how they were able to continue to work with the athletes at Balance 180 in this Q&A session.

(pictured: Children on the Go Leadership Team DPT c/o 2022. Back row, left to right: Sarah Davis, Angelina Castelli, Abigail Jones, Shelby Mahaz. Front row, left to right: KK Huffman, Jeanna Heater, Courtney Hersch)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Rehabilitation Science 

Inaugural Open House

All applicants and prospective students are highly encouraged to attend the first Rehabilitation Science Doctoral Program Open House Event. Participants have an opportunity to learn more about the interdisciplinary doctoral program, curriculum, graduate faculty, funding opportunities, degree requirements and application process.

The Open House will be on Friday, October 30 at 4 p.m. via Zoom. Those planning to attend must register beforehand.

 Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

Doctoral Dissertation Defenses

On Tuesday, November 5 at 3 p.m., Rehabilitation Science Doctoral student Michael Sunshine will defend his dissertation, “Electrical Activation and Analysis Paradigms for Restoration of Breathing.”

Michael developed a novel way to electrically stimulate the respiratory muscles for sustaining breathing after opioid overdose or neurological injury. His work was recently accepted for publication in Nature Communications Biology. 

If you would like to support Michael and attend his defense, please email Laura Quintana for the Zoom link.

(pictured: Michael Sunshine)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Social & Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Haney and Kelsea LeBeau Publish Scoping Review on Sex Trafficking in the US

SBS alumna and guest lecturer Kanathy Haney, PhD, along with Kelsea LeBeau, MPH, SBS doctoral candidate, published an article in Evidence-Based Social Work titled “Sex Trafficking in the United States: A Scoping Review.” The article provides recommendations for research and community practice to increase awareness and identification, increase widespread Trafficking Victim Protection Act implementation, reduce risk factors and resulting health disparities, offer services to survivors and prevent trafficking of potential victims. To address the public health issue of sex trafficking, the study calls for multi-disciplinary collaboration to enhance research and intervention efforts for evidence-based and sustainable programs. The full article can be read here.

(pictured: Dr, Kanathy Haney, Kelsea LeBeau)

Submitted by Dr. Lindsey King

Dr. Wood and Sarah Collins Accepted to Virtual Exchange Training Program

SBS faculty Liz Wood, DHS, and Sarah Collins, SBS PhD student, have recently been accepted to the UF International Center’s Virtual Exchange Training Program this fall to learn more about designing and implementing virtual exchanges within the classroom. As COVID-19 has paused most study abroad opportunities, virtual exchanges offer students the ability to connect with international partners on subject-related materials. Dr. Wood and Sarah intend to develop a virtual exchange module with partners in Egypt and Jordan to be implemented this spring.

(pictured: Dr. Liz Wood, Sarah Collins)

Submitted by Dr. Lindsey King


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences 

Dr. Matt Masapollo Receives New Investigator Award

Matt Masapollo, PhD, received a New Investigator Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation to investigate the mechanisms involved in speech motor sequence learning using electromagnetic articulography.

(pictured: Dr. Matt Masapollo)

Submitted by Aaron McEnery

Dr. Yonghee Oh Awarded
2020 New Century Scholars Research Grant

Yonghee Oh, PhD, has been awarded a 2020 New Century Scholars Research Grant from American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation. The grant is entitled “Effects of Steady Background Noise on Segregation of Speech Based on Voice Pitch Differences in Hearing Impaired Listeners”. The goal of this proposal is to investigate a potential rehabilitation approach to sharpen pitch perception in hearing-impaired listeners and improve their speech perception abilities in background noise consisting of multiple talkers. In addition, a computational model of auditory processing will be developed in spectro-temporal domains. This $25,000 grant will fund Dr. Oh’s research on this project for two years.

(pictured: Dr. Yonghee Oh)

Submitted by Aaron McEnery