Environmental & Global Health

EGH Alumna, Dr. Helena Chapman, Named as One of UF’s 2021 #40GatorsUnder40

Helena Chapman, PhD, MPH, an alumna of the PhD in Public Health (One Health) program in the department of Environmental & Global Health, serves as Associate Program Manager for Health and Air Quality Applications in the Applied Sciences Program (Booz Allen Hamilton) of the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters. Dr. Chapman was chosen for the #40GatorsUnder40 award due to her significant impact on environmental health and her impressive professional achievements. Dr. Champan's full biography from the Alumni Association can be found here.

(pictured: Dr. Helena Chapman) 

Submitted by Brynn Dalton

Dr. Rachel Yoho Receives Rising Star Award
from the UF Center for Teaching Excellence

Rachel Yoho, PhD, Assistant Professor and Chair of PHHP’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee, was recognized for her commitment to ongoing educational improvements and excellence by receiving the Rising Star Award from the UF Center for Teaching Excellence. Other recipients of the award and Dr. Yoho's full biography can be found here.

(pictured: Dr. Rachel Yoho)

Submitted by Brynn Dalton



Ms. Jerne Shapiro Honored by
Chapman Society and Gold Foundation

The Chapman Society, the UF College of Medicine chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, has selected Jerne Shapiro, MPH, lecturer in Epidemiology, as UF’s healthcare team member nominee for the Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s National Humanism in Medicine Medal. Ms. Shapiro is being recognized for her immense contributions as the lead epidemiologist of the UF Health Screen, Test & Protect program. Dr. Anthony Fauci will accept the medal on behalf of Ms. Shapiro and the hundreds of other healthcare professionals selected by their institutions who will be honored at the 2021 Annual Gala of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

(pictured: Ms. Jerne Shapiro)

Submitted by Abigail Hummel

Dr. Lopez-Quintero's Lab Students Honored

Ayomide David, 3rd-year undergraduate student in Biology, and Dr. Vinita Sharma, NIDA T32 postdoctoral fellow in Epidemiology, received early career investigator travel awards from the College of Problems on Drug Dependence (CPDD) to attend the CPDD 83rd Annual Scientific Virtual Meeting in June. Cyrus Fatemi, 4th-year undergraduate student in Biology, and Dr. Sharma also received registration waivers to present their research at the virtual 2021 Florida HIV Community, Providers, and Researchers (CPR) Conference in late April. Ms. David, Mr. Fatemi, and Dr. Sharma are all mentored by Catalina Lopez-Quintero, PhD, MD, MPH, assistant professor in Epidemiology.

(pictured from left: Ayomide Davis, Cyrus Fatemi, and Dr. Vinita Sharma)

Submitted by Abigail Hummel


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

Dr. Ashby Walker Receives Graduate Education Diversity Champion Award 

Ashby Walker, PhD, MA, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy, and Director for Health Equity Initiatives at the UF Diabetes Institute, received the 2021 Graduate Education Diversity Champion Award through the UF Graduate School and the Multicultural Association of Graduate Students. This award is driven by student nominations and was developed to recognize faculty who have advanced and enhanced diversity, inclusion, and cross-cultural understanding among the graduate student body and the campus community. Dr. Walker was formally recognized for this award on April 6, 2021 at the Graduate Student Diversity Research Day. Congratulations, Dr. Walker!

(pictured: Dr. Ashby Walker)

Submitted by Lance Jackson

HSRMP Welcomes Kayla Fernandez Cummings

The Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy is pleased to welcome our new Business Manager, Kayla Fernandez Cummings. Ms. Fernandez Cummings graduated from Saint Leo University with a Master’s in Business Administration and has extensive experience in administrative, fiscal, and HR processes. She is coming to us from the UF Department of Housing and Residence Life where she served as the Assistant Director of Conference Services. We are excited to have her join us starting April 26th. Welcome to the team, Ms. Fernandez Cummings!

(pictured: Kayla Fernandez Cummings)

Submitted by Lance Jackson


Occupational Therapy 

UFOT Student Advocates for Inclusive Spaces
in School Makeover

Over the past year, Jenny Ryan, a second year student in UFOT, has volunteered as an OT consultant for Project Makeover, a local nonprofit organization. Project Makeover was founded 10+ years ago at UF. Each year they select a local, low-socioeconomic status elementary school to receive a makeover.

Jenny brought the OT perspective into the school’s makeover this year by designing a sensory table and a wheelchair accessible gardening table at Idylwild Elementary School’s Prairie View Campus. She also created a manual for the sensory table to help guide teachers and other school personnel as they begin navigating this new area.

(pictured: Jenny Ryan)

Submitted by Betsy Westra

UFOT Department Celebrated OT Month Virtually in an AOTA Alumni Reception

April is Occupational Therapy Month. UF OT celebrated OT month with 40 participants during the Alumni event held in conjunction with the American Occupational Therapy Association annual conference. Although we could not physically be together, we had excellent social engagement via zoom on the evening of April 7, 2021. Among 40 participants, we engaged with our special guests, Dr. Craig Velozo (2020 Eleanor Clarke Slagle lecturer), Dr. Joanne Foss (UFOT professor emerita) and Mr. Frank Gainer (UFOT Advisory Board Chair and Alumnus). Our OTD students organized a “kahoot” with virtual prizes—and Dr. Pomeranz, our MC, assured a fun evening for all.

(pictured: Virtual AOTA Alumni Reception)

Submitted by Betsy Westra


Physical Therapy 

PT Alumna Named Gator100 Honoree

The Department of Physical Therapy is happy to honor alumna and business owner, Melissa Cere, MPT ’02, for joining the University of Florida’s Gator100 for the second time. Kinetix Physical Therapy, a private practice owned by the Cere’s, is one of the world’s 100 fastest-growing, Gator-owned businesses for 2021.

Kinetix was founded by Melissa Cere, DPT, MPT, and Tony Cere, PT, DPT, MSE ’11, and has steadily grown to become a leading provider of physical therapy and wellness services in the Gainesville area. Kinetix is also a valued partner of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, consistently providing exceptional clinical experiences for DPT students.

This recognition is well-deserved!

(pictured from left: Drs. Melissa and Tony Cere)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

DPT Students Recognized at Presidential Service Awards

University of Florida Doctor of Physical Therapy students and a community member associated with the program were recognized at the 2021 UF Presidential Service Awards Ceremony.

Danielle Butler, a Community Advocate at the Gainesville Housing Authority, received the Advocate of the Year Award. This award recognizes community partners who have gone above and beyond in promoting UF students to pursue service and leadership opportunities. Read more about Ms. Butler here.  

Ellen Waidner, third-year DPT student, received the Outstanding Service Award for Graduate/Professional Students at UF, and fellow cohort members Ashley Tringas, Paul Auth, Alyse Hausman, and Alyssa Morrison were honored with Presidential Service Awards. Read more about the Presidential Service Awards here.

Congratulations to those who were recognized!

(pictured from left: Will Atkins, Danielle Butler, President Kent Fuchs, Ashley Tringas, Paul Auth, Ellen Waidner, Alyse Hausman, and Alyssa Morrison)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Rehabilitation Science 

Rawan Albhadi Successfully Defends Dissertation

Rawan Albhadi, MS, successfully defended her doctoral dissertation titled “The Effect of Hip Abductor Strengthening Exercises on Postural Control and Gait Following Total Knee Arthroplasty” on Tuesday, April 13.

During her pursuit of a doctoral degree, Rawan received the University of Florida International Center’s Achievement Award, which highlights the accomplishments of international students studying at the university.

For her future plans, Rawan has accepted an assistant professor position at King Abdulaziz University.

Congratulations, Rawan!

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

Research Connection Presents: Dr. Emily Fox

Learn about spinal cord injury rehabilitation with Emily Fox, PT, DPT, PHD, research associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, during The Research Connection virtual seminar on Tuesday, April 27, starting at 7 p.m. EST.

Dr. Fox’s presentation, titled “Strategies to Augment Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation: Promoting Breathing and Walking Recovery,” will discuss new strategies to promote neuroplasticity, early clinical outcomes, and next steps in translation to spinal cord injury clinical care.

You can register for the seminar here.

(pictured: Dr. Emily Fox)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Social & Behavioral Sciences

Karah Mechlowitz Awarded Fellowship

Karah Mechlowitz, a 3rd year PhD candidate in SBS, was awarded a Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship through the UF Center for African Studies to study Afaan Oromo this summer. Summer FLAS fellowships provide students the opportunity to intensively study an African language. Karah will be studying beginning Oromo through a language program based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She hopes to use this opportunity to grow as an independent researcher dedicated to community-based research in Ethiopia. Congratulations, Karah!

(pictured: Karah Mechlowitz)

Submitted by Dr. Lindsey King

SBS Hosts Virtual Cafés to Keep PhD Students and Faculty Connected 

SBS faculty recognized the challenges PhD students were experiencing not being engaged due to COVID-19. Therefore, SBS decided to host monthly virtual cafés, organized by Katherine Pizarro-Gutierrez, to keep PhD students and faculty connected. Attendees are asked to grab a cup of their favorite beverage to simulate the real coffee house experience. Dr. Walker kicked off the first café in October by sharing her career journey. Dr. Pomeranz spoke in November on ethics, Dr. King in December on interviewing, and Dr. Wood in February on time management. Dr. Ross led the discussion in March on self-care and Dr. Dixon in April about transition from student to faculty.  

Submitted by Dr. Lindsey King


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences 

Audiology Program Partners with The Villages

The AuD program just completed an Affiliation Agreement with the The Villages in Wildwood, Florida. Beginning in May 2021, students in the AuD program will have the opportunity to complete clinical practicums at one of its clinical sites. Students will gain experience in working alongside other professionals who are focused on hearing and balance issues in their patients. 

Submitted by Aaron McEnery