Dean's Office

Superior Accomplishment Award Recipients

Superior Accomplishment Awards reflect dedication and performance above and beyond expectations. Award winners were nominated by colleagues or supervisors and reviewed by a committee of HSC peers. PHHP is honored to have 11 award winners this year from various departments across the college! Congratulations to all our award recipients!

• Ms. Francesca Antoine, Health Services Research, Management and Policy

• Ms. LuzMaria Escoto, Clinical and Health Psychology

• Ms. Amanda Gillis, Clinical and Health Psychology

• Ms. Mary Gipson, Epidemiology

• Ms. Lauren Guidi, Dean’s Office

• Dr. Lisa King, Clinical and Health Psychology

• Ms. Katherine Pizarro-Gutierrez, Dean’s Office

• Dr. Emily Plowman, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

•  Ms. Jaclyn Scott, Physical Therapy

• Ms. Robyn Smith, Dean’s Office

• Ms. Ikiah Young, Health Services Research, Management and Policy

(pictured top row, clockwise: Francesca Antoine, Emily Plowman, Lauren Guidi, Robyn Smith, LuzMaria Escoto, Mary Gipson, Jaclyn Scott, Katherine Pizarro-Gutierrez, Lisa King, Ikiah Young)

Submitted by Kevin Jackson

PHHP Research Day 2021

The college's 34th annual Research Day was held on February 11. This was the first year that the event was held virtually. Research Day had over 75 presentations and included a Keynote Presentation from Dr. Vikram Patel, of the Harvard Medical School, on transforming mental health globally. More information on the event can be found here.

First place award winners were Elisabeth Rymer, “Effects of Ovariectomy on Auditory Brainstem Response Wave Amplitudes in CBA/CaJ Mice Across the Lifespan”; Nicole Fitzgerald, “Test-Retest Reliability and Cross-Cultural Applicability of DSM-5 Adopted Diagnostic Criteria for Ketamine Use Disorders”; and Sarah Nutley, “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury among University Students: Prevalence of Risk Behavior and Variation by Substance Inhaled”. A full list of award winners can be found here.

Congratulations to all students, faculty, and staff who made this such a successful event!

(pictured from top: Elisabeth Rymer, Nicole Fitzgerald, and Sarah Nutley)

Submitted by Aubrey Bonsal

PHHP DEI Week 2021

The college’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee will host a celebration and training week March 8-12 featuring invited speakers, panels, workshops and a poster session focused on the theme, “Connections and Communities.” All members of the community (faculty, staff, students, researchers/postdocs and affiliates) are invited to present research, lesson plans, service projects, community engagement plans, professional development and similar projects. Poster session abstracts should be submitted by Friday, February 26 at https://forms.gle/gJefDBpuBSaz7f8j8

Submitted by Jill Pease



Natalie DelRocco receives "Best Poster Award"

Natalie DelRocco, a 3rd year PhD student in Biostatistics, earned the “Best Poster Award” in the 2020 Florida American Statistical Association Poster Competition. Her poster, titled “An Enhanced Prognostic Index for Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL): A Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Report” presented a new prognostic index for relapse risk amount B-ALL patients motivates undergoing methodological research investigating the value of incorporation into current clinical risk stratification. Congratulations, Natalie!

(pictured: Natalie DelRocco)

Submitted by Melissa Stabel

Dr. Foti Selected for Model Development Group

Steven Foti, PhD, MS, Clinical Assistant Professor, was been nominated by PHHP to apply to join the new UF Task Force on Fairness and Equity in Assessment. He was selected to be a part of their Model Development Group. The Fairness and Equity in Assessment Task Force is a group of faculty, staff, students, and administrators from across the university who were nominated by their peers to address the development of guidelines and models of fairness and equity in assessment for UF.

(pictured: Dr. Steven Foti)

Submitted by Melissa Stabel


Clinical and Health Psychology

Francesca Lopez Receives Dissertation Award from APA SCN/EAC, Diversity F31 from NIH/NIA

Francesca Lopez, M.S., a doctoral student, has been named one of the 2020-2021 recipients of the APA Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (SCN) Education Advisory Committee (EAC) Dissertation Award for her project entitled “Cognitive Correlates of Mitochondrial Function in Older Adults.” The Dissertation Award provides $1250 for direct research costs and to present her findings at the American Psychological Association Conference.

Francesca also received funding for an NIH F31Kirschstein Individual Research Fellowship Diversity award for a project entitled “Cognitive Correlates of Mitochondrial Function in Older Adults.” Funded by the National Institute on Aging, her study will examine phosphorous (31P) magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) markers of brain energy metabolism in regions of interest (i.e., frontal, temporal) and its relationship with domain-specific cognition (i.e., executive, memory) in older adults at-risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Broadly, these findings have the potential to inform future investigations of mitochondrial mechanisms underlying age-related cognitive decline.

 (pictured: Francesca Lopez)

Submitted by Aliye Karakoyun

Gabriel Cartagena Earns APA/APAGS Distinguished Graduate Student 2021 Award

Gabriel Cartagena, MS, has earned the 2021 American Psychological Association/American Psychological Association of Graduate Students Distinguished Graduate Student in Professional Psychology Award. This is a national award recognizing graduate students dedicated to improving community health and combating health disparities by going above and beyond to meet patient needs through the practice of psychology. Gabriel will receive a monetary award and address the 2021 APA convention in Washington DC regarding systemic inequality and the field of psychology.

(pictured: Gabriel Cartagena)

Submitted by Aliye Karakoyun


Environmental & Global Health

Dr. Nelson Featured in UF Health News

Eric Nelson, PhD, MD, recently had his MotoMeds program featured in UF Health News. MotoMeds is a pediatric call center and mobile medicine delivery service run as a University of Florida research initiative. The story focuses on the challenges and obstacles the MotoMeds team has overcome to provide proper medical assistance to patients in Haiti. Check out the story at the UF Health Newsroom here.

(pictured: Junior Simon, MotoMeds driver)

Submitted by Brynn Dalton

SARS-COV-2 Virus Isolated from Air Within a Car

UF Researchers, Dr. John Lednicky among them, have sampled the virus that causes COVID-19 from air within a car. The car was driven by a positive case of COVID-19 with mild symptoms who was not wearing a mask. “We were able to retrieve this virus from the infected person’s air space, and then we propagated the virus in cell cultures,” says Lednicky, further proving the importance of wearing a mask, especially in public spaces. Read the full story here.

Submitted by Brynn Dalton



Dr. Cheng Receives NCI R37

Ting-Yuan (David) Cheng, PhD, MHS, assistant professor in Epidemiology, received an R37 from the National Cancer Institute (R37CA248371). This project will continue Dr. Cheng’s work to elucidate the inter-relations between modifiable factors of energy imbalance (obesity and physical inactivity) and activation of the target of rapamycin pathway (mTOR). Although behavioral interventions leading to weight reduction have shown a potential to reduce breast cancer recurrence and mortality, the biological mechanisms between obesity and breast cancer outcomes are not clear. This study will illuminate the potential for promoting energy balance and using mTOR inhibitors as a combination strategy to improve clinical outcomes.

(pictured: Dr. Ting-Yuan (David) Cheng)

Submitted by Abigail Hummel

Dr. Hu Publishes ExWAS of
COVID-19 Mortality in the United States

Hui Hu, PhD, assistant professor in Epidemiology, recently published in The Science of the Total Environment. Dr. Hu and his co-authors, including current and incoming Epidemiology PhD students Yi Zheng and Xiaoxiao Wen, examined the associations between long-term exposures to 337 environmental variables and nationwide county-level COVID-19 mortality. The study found that long-term exposures to air pollution (i.e., NO2, benzidine), food environment (i.e., county-level percent of students eligible for reduced-price lunch), and vacant land were associated with COVID-19 mortality. This work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award 1R21ES032762.

(pictured: Dr. Hui Hu)

Submitted by Abigail Hummel


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

Drs. Beau de Rochars, Mainous Begin SHAPE Project in Haiti

Valery Beau De Rochars, MD, MPH, and Arch Mainous, PhD, MA, recently traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to break ground on a new research project designed to improve the nutritional disparities in Haitian prisons. The SHAPE project, funded by the US Department of State, takes a deeper look into the nutritional needs of inmates at two of the country’s national prisons. Dr. Mainous and Dr. Madsen are working with several partners, including the University of Haiti School of Medicine and the Health through Walls organization, to provide the facilities with nutritional consultants and dietary support. During their travel, Drs. Beau De Rochars and Mainous were able to meet with prison officials and carry out the initial processes of their initiative. We look forward to hearing about their future accomplishments in their new project!

(pictured: Dr. Arch Mainous (far left) and Dr. Beau de Rochars (3rd from right) with affiliates of the SHAPE project)

Submitted by Lance Jackson

Dr. Kates Featured in
"Teaching Beyond the Podium" Podcast

Rick Kates, PhD, MBA, was recently featured in the “Teaching Beyond the Podium” Podcast to provide insight on how he uses infographics as a way for students to effectively and creatively communicate what they are learning in his courses. In the podcast, Dr. Kates explains the advantages of implementing the creation of infographics as a learning mechanism for students and gives professors tips on how to incorporate infographics into their courses. With this tool, he hopes to provide students with an effective method of communicating ideas and ignite creativity in their learning. A link to the recording is provided here.

(pictured: Dr. Rick Kates)

Submitted by Lance Jackson


Occupational Therapy 

5th Annual Sandra Edwards Colloquium

The 5th Sandra Edwards Colloquium, hosted by the UF Department of Occupational Therapy on February 6th, had 207 virtual attendees from the US and Canada. Dr. Susan Stark, Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, provided the keynote: “Home Modification to Promote Function and Prevent Falls” – which situated the rest of the conference ideally addressing the theme “Aging in Place: Best Science for Best Practice in Occupational Therapy.” UF researchers, OT faculty, and colleagues from other institutions led the symposiums on healthy aging and aging for special populations—and PhD students had an opportunity to present research posters.

(pictured from left: Dr. Susan Stark and attendees at the virtual Sandra Edwards Colloquium)

Submitted by Rebecca Harty

Dr. Kramer Receives Recognition from
National Organizations 

Jessica Kramer, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, has received the American Occupational Therapy Foundation Mid-Career Research Excellence Award. This award recognizes one scholar each year whose research accomplishments contribute to advancing knowledge in the field of occupational therapy and improve practice and health. Dr. Kramer was recognized for her integration of participatory research methodologies with youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities into rigorous, best practice methods for assessment and intervention development and evaluation. Congratulations Dr. Kramer!

(pictured: Dr. Jessica Kramer)

Submitted by Rebecca Harty


Physical Therapy 

Dr. Smith Receives James Dunleavy
Distinguished Service Award

Congratulations to Barbara Smith, PT, PhD, assistant professor, for receiving the James Dunleavy Distinguished Service Award at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). This award acknowledges and honors an outstanding APTA Acute Care member whose contributions have been of exceptional value. Dr. Smith chairs the Florida Physical Therapy Association Acute Care Special Interest Group and has demonstrated notable leadership in advancing the interests, objectives and strategic plan of APTA Acute Care. She has utilized her time and talent in APTA Acute Care office and committee work, propelling the group and its membership in achieving their goals. Dr. Smith is truly deserving of this award! Read more here.

(pictured: Dr. Barbara Smith)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

Imaging DMD Team Makes Strides in
Muscular Dystrophy Research

Using MRI methods to measure changes in muscle, the iDMD research team found that boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who were treated with an investigational gene therapy had lower fat infiltration than boys receiving standard treatments.

The findings of lead author Rebecca Willcocks, PhD, assistant professor, and senior author, Krista Vandenborne, PhD, distinguished professor and chair, were published in JAMA Network Open. It can be read in full here.

Additionally, Dr. Vandenborne and the research team received a new five-year, $6.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to support their continued efforts to develop MRI biomarkers for individuals with DMD, and to expand the study to include people with Becker muscular dystrophy.

(pictured from left: Dr. Rebecca Willcocks and Dr. Krista Vandenborne)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Rehabilitation Science 

Rehabilitation Science PhD Program Welcomes Two New Students

Congratulations to Michael Sunshine, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, and Rehabilitation Science alumnus, and David Fuller, PhD, professor and Rehabilitation Science PhD program director, for publishing their work, “Restoration of breathing after opioid overdose and spinal cord injury using temporal interference stimulation,” in Nature Communications Biology. Read it in full here.

The new preclinical research, which was highlighted in The Academic Times, demonstrates a novel method to restore breathing following opioid overdose or spinal cord injury using temporal interference, a form of electrical stimulation. Read more about their work here. Well done Dr. Sunshine and Dr. Fuller!

(pictured from left: Dr. Michael Sunshine and Dr. David Fuller)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

16th Annual Neuromuscular Plasticity Symposium

On Friday, March 19, for the 16th annual Neuromuscular Plasticity Symposium, the Department of Physical Therapy and the Rehabilitation Science PhD Program are excited to host three experts in the field of neuromuscular plasticity and rehabilitation: Monica Perez, PT, PhD; Henriette van Praag, MA, PhD; and Rachelle Crosbie, PhD.

The symposium will be hosted on ForagerOne, an online symposium platform. Guests are encouraged to watch the keynote presentations from 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST, and attend the poster session from 2 to 4 p.m. EST. Attendees will have the ability to interact with the poster presenters.

To streamline your experience, please create a ForagerOne account here.

Find event details on the symposium webpage here.

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Social & Behavioral Sciences

Tyrus Fleetwood Receives Benton Award

Tyrus Fleetwood, a second year MPH SBS student, was the recipient of the 2021 John Joseph Benton M.D. Humanitarian Award and Scholarship. The award is given to a student who exemplifies a commitment to better the health and lives of children and who demonstrates integrity, compassion, good scholarship, and a good sense of humor. Fleetwood has been involved in several community outreach initiatives and has mentored youth from underserved populations. His ultimate goal when working with children is helping them live with an empowered mindset. He is currently interning with the Florida Health Justice Project.

(pictured: Tyrus Fleetwood)

Submitted by Dr. Lindsey King

Dr. Walker Published in Diabetes Care

Ashby Walker, PhD, assistant professor in SBS and Health Services Research, Management and Policy and Director of Health Equity Initiatives at the UF Diabetes Institute, was a contributing author on an article featured in the January 2021 issue of Diabetes Care. The article was titled “A decade of disparities in diabetes technology use and HbA1c in pediatric type 1 diabetes: A transatlantic comparison.” Dr. Walker was part of an international working group looking at disparities in technology use in diabetes. The research was led by Dr. Ananta Addala of Stanford University and Dr. Reinhard Holl from the University of Ulm, ZIBMT, Ulm, Germany. The article can be read in its entirety here.

(pictured: Dr. Ashby Walker)

Submitted by Dr. Lindsey King


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences 

NSLHA and SLHS Host 43rd Annual G. Paul Moore Symposium

The National Student-Language-Hearing Association, in coordination with the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences (SLHS) held the 43rd annual G. Paul Moore Symposium on February 4-5, 2021. The Symposium honors Professor Moore, former Department Chairperson and a pioneer in studying the human larynx and voice production. Speakers were Drs. Melissa Hall and Kristin Letlow from UF Health, and Dr. Jenna Luque from The University of South Florida. Over 250 people, including UF students, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists attended the presentations. BHS-CSD students Rachel Berman and Jessica Smith led a student team in planning the event. 

(pictured: BHS-CSD senior Rachel Berman, director, and junior Jessica Smith, assistant director, at 2021 Symposium)

Submitted by Aaron McEnery