Qiu Plenary Speaker at American Statistical Association Research Conference

Dr. Peihua Qiu, Chair and Professor of the Department of Biostatistics, was the plenary speaker for the 37th American Statistical Association Research Conference on Quality and Productivity held in Tallahassee July 26-29. In his conference opening presentation titled “Big Data? Statistical Process Control Can Help!”, Dr. Qiu introduced some recent statistical methodologies for process control and monitoring, their potential for handling data-rich applications involving data streams, and the current challenges in the interface of big data and statistical process control. He was honored with a crystal plaque during the conference banquet.

(pictured: Dr. Peihua Qiue)

Submitted by Deana Nance

Biostatistics Welcomes Dr. Matt Hitchings

Please welcome Dr. Matt Hitchings. He recently completed a postdoctoral research associate position with Professor Derek Cummings in the Department of Biology at the University of Florida. His research focuses on the evaluation of interventions against infectious diseases, particularly in the context of epidemics and emerging infectious diseases. His interests include using transmission models to explore the strengths and weaknesses of different trial designs in outbreak settings and incorporating infectious disease modeling into the design and analysis of randomized trials. In addition, he is currently involved in conducting observational studies of vaccine effectiveness for COVID-19 vaccines in Brazil and the US. 

(pictured: Dr. Matt Hitchings)

Submitted by Deana Nance


Promotions for PHHP Faculty Members

The following College of Public Health and Health Professions faculty members were successfully reviewed for promotion for the 2020-2021 cycle. Congratulations to these individuals on the well-deserved recognition of their significant academic accomplishments and contributions to our teaching, research and service missions:

(pictured left to right) 

Dr. Sarah McKune – promoted to Research Associate Professor
Dr. Emily Plowman – promoted to Professor and awarded tenure
Dr. Mattia Prosperi – promoted to Professor
Dr. Kathryn Ross – promoted to Associate Professor and awarded tenure

Submitted by Lauren H. Guidi


Congratulations Drs. Stephenson & Wormington!

This past semester, we said goodbye to two of our phenomenal PhD students, Dr. Caroline Stephenson and Dr. Alexis Wormington, who both successfully defended their dissertations allowing them to graduate with their PhDs in Summer 2021. We wish them both luck in their endeavors and look forward to hearing all of their accomplishments as UF EGH Alumnae!

(pictured: Drs. Caroline Stephenson and Alexis Wormington)

Submitted by Brynn Dalton

Paper Co-Authored by John Lednicky Featured in the USDA-ARS Annual Report on Science

“Under-the-radar dengue virus infections in natural populations of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes,” a paper co-authored by Dr. John Lednicky of EGH and EPI, was featured in the USDA-ARS Annual Report on Science. The ARS Annual Report on Science contains a collection of ARS research accomplishments that demonstrates ARS’s impact on the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.

(pictured: Dr. John Lednicky)

Submitted by Brynn Dalton


The Department of Epidemiology Welcomes Dr. Chichetto, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Natalie Chichetto is a formally trained social worker and epidemiologist who comes to UF from Vanderbilt University where she most recently served as a Research Instructor. Dr. Chichetto completed her PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Florida and a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Chichetto’s primary focus as an epidemiologist is investigating the health implications of common behavioral health syndemics, particularly concurrent unhealthy alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and depressive symptoms. Dr. Chichetto’s primary career goal is to reduce cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions associated with behavioral health conditions. She is specifically interested in bridging the gap between mechanistic research and implementation science by focusing on biologically informed pathways (e.g., the gut microbiome) for interventions to reduce inflammation, and by extension, end organ disease (e.g., CVD) in those with syndemic behavioral conditions.

(pictured: Dr. Natalie Chichetto)

Submitted by Cierara Parker

The Cottler-Lab PANDEMIC Grant

The Cottler Lab has been involved in two important issues of our time—prescription opioid overdose and COVID-19. In April 2020, the Cottler team became NIDA’s Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) and has already received 4 supplements to date including the recently funded US Poison Control Center analysis and Wastewater Toxicology (with the Dept of EGH and 4 US sites) to monitor drug trends. In July, the Cottler Lab, as the Community Engagement arm of the CTSI, was awarded PANDEMIC -- a $6M grant from CDC to increase vaccination uptake among populations with COVID skeptism and system distrust. Drs. Striley, Rasmussen, Lopez-Quintero as well as IFAS, FSU, the DOH and a national CAB partner to further transform the science of community engagement.  

(pictured from left to right: Dr. Linda Cottler, Dr. Catherine Striley, Dr. Catalina Lopez Quintero, Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, Tamara Millay, Zoe Martusewicz)

Submitted by Cierara Parker

The Rising Star Award

Dr. Dongyu Zhang has been selected as the “Rising Star” by AGS/NIA/ACC U13 Conference: Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease and awarded the conference scholarship. The conference will be held at Washington, DC on Oct 18-19. Its mission is to heighten research attention on emerging geriatrics clinical issues related to cancer and cardiovascular disease. The Rising Star will be invited for an in-person one-on-one mentoring meeting and be recognized during the conference. 

(pictured: Dr. Dongyu Zhang)

Submitted by Cierara Parker


HSRMP Welcomes New Assistant Professor, Yulia Levites Strekalova, PhD, MBA

The Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy would like to introduce the department’s new Assistant Professor, Dr. Yulia Levites Strekalova. Dr. Strekalova joins the department from UF’s College of Journalism and Communications, where she served as Research Assistant Professor and Grants Development Director. Dr. Strekalova also continues to serve as the Director of Educational Development and Evaluation for the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute and Grant Writing Coaching Director for the National Research Mentoring Network.  She has a unique blend of experience and expertise in health communication and health education research, biomedical educational program planning and evaluation, and research-practice integration. Her current research projects investigate team culture, processes and outcomes of interprofessional and interdisciplinary teamwork, and the use of data and technology in healthcare delivery. Welcome to the team Dr. Strekalova!

(pictured: Dr. Yulia Levites Strekalova)

Submitted by: Lance Jackson

Dr. Mainous’ Study Finds That Patients with Severe COVID-19 Twice as Likely to Require Future Hospitalizations

According to the CDC, more than 2 million Americans that have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since August 2020. Dr. Arch Mainous, Professor in HSRMP, and a team of UF Health researchers found that patients who recovered from a severe case of COVID-19 were twice as likely to require future hospitalizations for other illnesses. This study is one of the first to explore serious outcomes among people who have recovered from the disease and reinforces the need for vaccines in every eligible person, especially those who are at high risk for developing a severe case. 

Please see the link below for the article:


 Submitted by: Lance Jackson


New OTD and BHS-OTD Students Attend Orientation

The Department of Occupational Therapy welcomed a new class of Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) students during orientation on August 17 and 18. During the first day, students attended orientation at the HPNP Building in small groups. They had the opportunity to meet Dr. Christine Myers, program director, and get to know each other through an icebreaker activity. Students then went on small group tours of the academic health center led by second-year students. On the second day, students met on Zoom as a large group. Second-year students, Natalie Douglas and Rachel Narzissenfeld (co-chairs of the Orientation Committee), facilitated activities and student presentations.

Submitted by Betsy Westra

Community Clients Donate Time to Enrich OTD Student Learning

First year students in the UF OTD program had the opportunity to communicate their professional identity and occupational therapy role and demonstrate their developing clinical skills of musculoskeletal assessment through client-centered care and therapeutic use of self with community clients. Client satisfaction surveys included comments such as:

• “Most impressed with how considerate they were with each other and helpful.”

• “For beginners, I loved their enthusiasm!”

• “Wonderful interviewing of my personal factors and background.”

• “Very good cooperation with each other. Good explanations. Courteous. Made sure I was comfortable.”

• “A great experience for them and for me!”

• “The students were all very nice and competent. I highly recommend them!”

(pictured: OTH6435 summer 2021 Class of 2023 with Bruce Summers, Rick Kiser, Ansley Piazza, Taylor Roberts, Gabe Frank, Marty Crum, Debbie Taylor, and Nancy Summers)

Submitted by Betsy Westra


Beneciuk Featured in JOSPT Podcast

Jason Beneciuk, PT, DPT, PhD, MPH, a clinical research scientist at Brooks Rehabilitation and a research assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, was recently featured as a guest on the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy’s JOSPT Insights podcast, “Episode 47: Implementing Quality Research into Quality Clinical Practice, with Dr. Jason Beneciuk.”

In this episode with host Clare Ardern, PT, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of JOSPT, Dr. Beneciuk talks about the art and science of quality clinical practice in musculoskeletal rehabilitation and offers practical solutions to the everyday challenges of applying research to practice.

Listen to the full podcast here: https://bit.ly/JB_JOSPT_Podcast

(pictured: Dr. Jason Beneciuk)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

Rose Receives $1.2M VA Grant

Dorian Rose, PT, PhD, research associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and clinical research scientist of the Brooks/UF-PHHP Research Collaboration, was awarded a $1.2M grant funded by the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Service.

The four-year project named the “Brain Reactivity after Variable Exercise,” or the BRAVE study, will continue Dr. Rose’s work on a novel backward walking (BW) intervention intended for maximizing gains to forward and BW speed and dynamic balance post-stroke.

Researchers will also assess brain activity using MRI before and after training interventions to determine if structural and functional brain measurements can predict degree of response to backward walking training.

Read more here: https://bit.ly/DKR_VAgrant

(pictured: Dr. Dorian Rose)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Dallal York Published in Dysphagia

Rehabilitation Science Program and Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences PhD student Justine Dallal York, MS, CCC-SLP, recently published her first-author manuscript in dysphagia. The article, “Discriminant Ability of the 3-Ounce Water Swallow Test to Detect Aspiration in Acute Postoperative Cardiac Surgical Patients,” contains her doctoral dissertation work in cardiothoracic populations. Great work! Read the article here.

(pictured: Justine Dallal York)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

Rehabilitation Science Seminars Begin in September

The Fall Rehabilitation Science Seminar Series will begin September 8th featuring Kelly Hawkins, PT, DPT, PhD, NCS, a research assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy. Dr. Hawkins will kick off the biweekly seminars which are designed to foster interdisciplinary discussions and collaborations. This series will feature both local and external experts in rehabilitation-related research in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech, language, and hearing sciences.

Visit the seminar series webpage to see the full schedule, and sign up for Dr. Hawkins’ talk on the registration webpage.

(pictured: Dr. Kelly Hawkins)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Congratulations to Dr. Kelsea LeBeau

Kelsea LeBeau, PhD, MPH, successfully defended her dissertation titled, “Investigating social support among adolescent and young adult palliative care patients using an online gaming network from a patient perspective” in July 2021 and graduated this summer. Throughout her PhD in public health in the SBS program, she was mentored by Dr. Mark Hart. Dr. LeBeau has accepted a postdoctoral health science specialist position at the Malcom Randall Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Gainesville. SBS is proud of Dr. LeBeau’s hard work and looks forward to her future contributions to the field of public health!

(pictured: Dr. Kelsea LeBeau)

Submitted by Dr. Lindsey King

Dr. Kathryn Ross Promoted to Associate Professor and Awarded Tenure

Kathryn Ross, PhD, MPH, faculty in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology and SBS was promoted to associate professor and awarded tenure during the UF 2020-2021 cycle. Dr. Ross’ research focuses on the prevention and treatment of adult obesity, with particular emphasis on improving the long-term maintenance of weight loss and developing effective behavioral weight management interventions that can be disseminated on a public-health level. She also investigates the integration of newer technology into weight management interventions as a way of lowering cost of treatment delivery and increasing intervention reach. SBS is extremely proud of this accomplishment!

(pictured: Dr. Kathryn Ross)

Submitted by Dr. Lindsey King


Dr. Cara Donohue Awarded the ASHA Research Mentoring-Pair Travel Award

Dr. Cara Donohue was awarded the ASHA Research Mentoring-Pair Travel Award, which aims to support students and post-docs in the field of communication science and disorders by providing them with research career development opportunities. This award will allow Dr. Donohue to attend the ASHA Research Symposium with her mentor Dr. Plowman. This year's research symposium is focused on Health and HealthCare Equity in Communication Disorders. Attending the 2021 Research Symposium will provide Drs. Donohue and Plowman with opportunities to discuss health and health care disparities as they relate to dysphagia management, to identify potential factors that contribute to health and health care disparities, and to examine possible clinical and research applications to promote health equity for improved health outcomes for patients with communication and swallowing disorders. 

(pictured: Dr. Cara Donohue)

Submitted by: Aaron McEnery 

Dr. Matthew Masapollo Awarded Hearing Health Foundation Grant

Dr. Matthew Masapollo was awarded a Hearing Health Foundation grant for a project titled “Contributions of auditory and somatosensory feedback to speech motor control in congenitally deaf 9-to-10-year-olds and adults." Drs. Susan Nittrouer and Yonghee Oh are co-investigators on the grant.  Hearing Health Foundation grants are designed to “accelerate research on the auditory and vestibular systems and enabling investigators to go on to secure NIH and other major grants."

(pictured: Dr. Matthew Masapollo)

Submitted by: Aaron McEnery