Dean's Office

2020 PHHP Outstanding Alumni

On November 13, 2020, the College of Public Health and Health Professions hosted the Outstanding Alumni Awards & Reunion. The online event engaged past awardees while celebrating the induction of new Outstanding Alumni to the group. More about the awardees can be found here. Congratulations to the newest Outstanding Alumni!

2020 Award Recipients

Dr. Frank Bandiera
Dr. Thomas S. Bundt
Dr. Chris Delcher
Dr. Alexandra D. Hill
Marty Huegel, PT, MEd
Dr. Elizabeth Brestan Knight
Dr. Orit Shechtman
Dr. Hannah W. Siburt
Dr. Heather Simpson
Dr. Sarah K. White
Dr. Judith Wingate
Dr. Xinrui Zhang
Dr. Zvinka Z. Zlatar

Submitted by Kevin Jackson



Dr. Natalie Dean Published in Science, Participates in COVID-19 Panel

Natalie Dean, PhD, co-authored a perspective piece for Science magazine on how to interpret data emerging from COVID-19 vaccine efficacy trials, "Understanding COVID-10 vaccine efficacy." It can be read in full here.

Dr. Dean also recently participated in a panel, along with senior faculty in our field. “Role of Statisticians in a Pandemic” was coordinated by ENAR and included topics like advisory work, research and science communications surrounding COVID-19.

(pictured: Dr. Natalie Dean)

Submitted by Melissa Stabel 


Environmental & Global Health

Dr. Afsar Ali Featured in Story on Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Afsar Ali, PhD, MS, was recently featured in an investigative story done by CBS Tampa on Vibrio vulnificus, a flesh-eating bacteria that is found in warm brackish sea water. Since 2008, the Florida Department of Health has reported 420 cases of Vibrio vulnificus. "It is definitely going to be a public health threat. The reason is, particularly in Florida, that we depend on the tourism and our population, almost 20 percent to 25 percent population is 65 and over," said Dr. Ali. Read more about vibrio vulnificus and the stories of those who were affected by it here.

(pictured: Dr. Afsar Ali)

Submitted by Brynn Dalton

Nima Madani Presents at the Annual Southeast Society of Toxicology

Nima Madani, a 4th year PhD Student in the One Health concentration working under the mentorship of Dr. Sabo-Attwood, presented his research at the annual Southeast Society of Toxicology Conference. Mr. Madani's research is centered on analysis of chemical fingerprints in water samples from various locations, including Haiti, Sri Lanka and North Carolina. Using this approach he has uncovered the presence of numerous and interesting pharmaceuticals that he is now investigating in more detail to better understand the potential for exposure and adverse effects that they may pose.

(pictured: Nima Madani)

Submitted by Brynn Dalton



Drs. Xinguang Chen and Catherine Striley Elected to Faculty Senate

Xinguang (Jim) Chen, MD, PhD, professor in Epidemiology, and Catherine Striley, PhD, MSW, ACSW, MPE, research associate professor in Epidemiology, were elected to represent the Department of Epidemiology on UF’s Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate is the legislative body of UF and provides a forum for the mutual exchange of ideas between senior officers and faculty. Dr. Chen is serving his second term on the Senate.

(pictured from left: Dr. Xinguang (Jim) Chen, Dr. Catherine Striley)

Submitted by Abigail Hummel

Ilozumba Publishes in Journal of Nutrition 

Epidemiology doctoral student Mmadili Ilozumba had her manuscript, entitled “Associations between Choline Metabolites and Genetic Polymorphisms in One-Carbon Metabolism in Postmenopausal Women: The Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study,” accepted for publication in the Journal of Nutrition. Mentored by assistant professor in Epidemiology Dr. Ting-Yuan (David) Cheng, Ms. Ilozumba analyzed the associations of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in six genes involved in choline and folate metabolism with plasma concentrations of choline, an essential dietary nutrient and three choline metabolites. This study helped to elucidate the role of genetics in choline metabolism and will contribute important knowledge to the field of precision nutrition.

(pictured: Mmadili Ilozumba) 

Submitted by Abigail Hummel


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

Dr. Datta Publishes Two Papers in the
Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research

Santanu Datta, PhD, MBA, MS, along with researchers from Duke University, examined the health and economic impacts related to increased utilization of the Duke Smoking Cessation Program that resulted from the addition of two new referral methods to the Traditional Referral (patient referred based on a clinic visit). The new methods included Best Practice Advisory (provider referral based on electronic health record alert) and Population Outreach (patients contacted directly from list of smokers generated from electronic health record). The group collaborated to see which referral methods proved to be effective in increasing utilization for the smoking cessation program. Utilization varied by method. 

Both articles are published in the Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research:

Health benefits and economic advantages associated with increased utilization of a smoking cessation program

Comparison of referral methods into a smoking cessation program

(pictured: Dr. Santanu Datta)

Submitted by Lance Jackson

Dr. Arch Mainous’ Study Shows Flu Vaccination Might Lessen Severity of Some COVID-19 Cases

Arch Mainous, PhD, and a team of UF Health researchers analyzed how the flu vaccine from the prior year influenced the severity of COVID-19 for people contracting the disease between March and August 2020.  People who received an influenza vaccination were nearly two-and-a-half times less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and three times less likely to be admitted to the ICU. The study suggests that the protective effects resulting from the vaccination bolster the immune system more generally, helping to control the invasion of COVID-19 even though it is a different disease than the flu. More information on the study can be found here

Article submitted by Lance Jackson


Occupational Therapy 

Occupational Therapy Well-Represented in  AHEC Scholars Program

The Department of Occupational Therapy congratulates doctor of occupational therapy students named as Florida AHEC Scholars: Samone Cowart (Class of 2022), Kaylin Cullinane (Class of 2021), Amanda Diaz de Arce (Class of 2022), Abigail Donofrio (Class of 2022),  Rachel Ferguson (Class of 2022), Ariel Harris (Class of 2022), Tiffany Henderson (Class of 2021), and Rebekah Schachner (Class of 2022). The Florida Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network selects 150 health professions students to participate in the program each year. Scholars in the two-year program receive a stipend, online education and interprofessional training focused on primary health care service delivery.

(pictured from top left: Samone Cowart, Kaylin Cullinane, Amanda Diaz de Arce, Abigail Donofrio, Rachel Ferguson, Ariel Harris, Tiffany Henderson, Rebekah Schachner)

Submitted by Betsy Westra

Dr. Zheng Wang Receives R21 Award 

Zheng Wang, PhD, has received an R21 Award from the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Echoing the 2020 strategic plan of the NIMH, NICHD, and NINDS on examining neurodevelopmental illness trajectories across the lifespan, this funded project is designated to evaluate aging-associated neuromotor decline in middle-to-older aged adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This project reflects a collegial effort of the Neurocognitive and Behavioral Development Lab, the UF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and the Departments of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, Neurology and Statistics. This study will provide foundational knowledge regarding the neurophysiological mechanisms of aging in ASD. This study led to a large-scale R01 submission to the NINDS in June, 2020.

(pictured: Dr. Zheng Wang)

Submitted by Betsy Westra


Physical Therapy 

Wienkers Selected as Kuhns Award Recipient

The Clinical Education team recently selected Brittany “Britt” Wienkers as the recipient of the Rolf and Anne Kuhns Endowment for PT Scholarship award. Each year the team meets to review student performance during their first clinical experience as well as in clinical labs and discusses potential candidates for the scholarship.

Britt was selected for the DPT class of 2021 for demonstrating consistent outstanding performance in her first full-time clinical experience, and for showing promise as a future clinician of excellence. The team also took into consideration Britt’s demonstration of consistent professional behavior and empathy toward patients, peers, coworkers, and faculty and staff. Read more about the scholarship here.

Congratulations, Britt!

(pictured: Britt Wienkers)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

DPT Students Present at Pro Bono Network Conference

On Nov. 13 – 15, faculty and Doctor of Physical Therapy students from the Department of Physical Therapy attended and presented at the Pro Bono Network Conference, which was held virtually for the first time.

UF DPT students presented the quality improvement and innovation projects they completed as part of their community engagement groups or for final year Health Promotion courses.

There were seven presentations from the Class of 2021 REACH groups, including virtual presentations and poster sessions from Children on the Go and Equal Access Clinic.

Read more about their presentations here

(pictured from top left: DPT students Paul Auth, Alyse Hausman, Gabriela Lin, Alyssa Morrison, Ashley Tringas Kayce Whitbeck)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Rehabilitation Science 

Congratulations to Fall Graduates

A big congratulations to our Fall 2020 Rehabilitation Science Doctoral graduates, Kelly Hawkins and Michael Sunshine! On Oct. 27, Kelly Hawkins successfully defended her dissertation, entitled “Walking Control after Stroke and the Feasibility of Transcutaneous Spinal Direct Current Stimulation during Locomotor Training after Spinal Cord Injury.” On Nov. 5, Michael Sunshine successfully defended his dissertation, entitled “Electrical Activation and Analysis Paradigms for Restoration of Breathing.”

Read more about their research and accomplishments during their time as RSD students here.

(pictured from left: Kelly Hawkins, Michael Sunshine)

 Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

Dr. Beneciuk Presents Online Pain Management Webinar

On Tuesday, Dec. 1 from 5-6 p.m., Jason Beneciuk, DPT, PhD, research assistant professor and Brooks Rehabilitation researcher, will be presenting a free online pain management webinar for health care providers working with adults ages 50+ with pain.

The presentation, entitled “Approaching Pain Using Psychologically Informed Practice,” will focus on psychologically informed practice, a secondary prevention approach that first aims to identify individuals at high risk for transitioning to chronicity and then provides tailored treatment to reduce that risk.

Please register here. 

(pictured: Dr. Jason Beneciuk) 

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Social & Behavioral Sciences

SBS Makes an Impact at
APHA Annual Meeting

Several SBS students, faculty, and alumni attended the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting in October, which was held virtually due to COVID-19. Dr. Lindsey King and Kelsea LeBeau presented their research on collaborative partnerships within a trauma-informed community. Gaia Zori presented on the association between county sex education policy and adolescent sexual health outcomes. Cary Carr presented on community resident-identified risk and protective factors for elder health and Sarah Collins presented on community residents’ perspectives on men’s/father’s risk and protective health factors. SBS alumni, Dr. Kanathy Haney, moderated a sex worker panel, and Drs. Sabrina Islam and Karishma Chhabria presented their research.

(pictured clockwise from top left: presentations by Dr. Lindsey King, Kelsea LeBeay, Cary Carr, Dr. Kanathy Haney, Sarah Collins, Gaia Zori)

Submitted by Dr. Lindsey King

Dr. Brittney Dixon Featured in UF Thomas Earth Systems Institute Science and Me Program

Brittney Dixon, PhD, MPH, CPH, clinical assistant professor in SBS and the Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy, was recently featured in the UF Thompson Earth Systems Institute Creative B: Science and Me Program, linked here. This program aims to share underrepresented scientists’ stories through a six-week, interactive personal workshop, where participants learn to share their personal journeys about becoming the experts they are today. In the video, linked here, Dr. Dixon discusses her path to becoming a public health scientist dedicated to improving health and quality of life of underserved and vulnerable populations.

(pictured: Dr. Brittney Dixon)

Submitted by Dr. Lindsey King


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences 

Justine Dallal York Awarded 2020 Neal Pitts Foundation Fellowship

Justine Dallal York was the recipient of the 2020 Neal Pitts Foundation Fellowship Award in Speech-Language Pathology. Justine is a doctoral student who is mentored by Dr. Emily Plowman and is studying swallowing dysfunction in individuals undergoing lung transplantation.

This award was established by the Neal Pitts Foundation in 2011 and aims to support fellowship to a student pursuing a doctoral degree in the domains of speech, language, swallow or hearing science. Notably, recipients are selected on the basis of scholarly merit, meaningful evidence of future potential to advance the field of speech-language pathology and demonstrated leadership skills. Well done, Justine! 

(pictured: Justine Dallal York)

Submitted by Aaron McEnery

Dr. Emily Plowman Wins Best Oral Presentation

Emily Plowman, PhD, won Best Oral Presentation at the 2020 Virtual European Society of Swallowing Disorders Congress for her talk, entitled “Incidence, Risk Factors and Associated Morbidity of Dysphagia in Cardiac Surgical Patients." Co-authors included four SLHS undergraduate and graduate students, as well as colleagues in surgery and otolaryngology.

(pictured: Dr. Emily Plowman and her lab)

Submitted by Aaron McEnery



PHHP Wellness’ WellConnect Program

Thank you to all faculty, staff and students for participating so far in the Promoting Happy Healthy People’s WellConnect program. Every Friday we are implementing a Team-Ups event as an opportunity for people to connect with their colleagues across PHHP. This week we are doing a Scavenger Hunt for both on-campus and off-campus, and you can work in teams or solo! More information, checklists and submission directions can be found here.

Submitted by Brynn Dalton