Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Robison Awarded First Place Poster Presentation at Dysphagia Research Society Meeting

Raele Robison was awarded First Place Poster Presentation for her research presentation, “An Examination of Lingual Physiologic Reserve in Individuals with ALS,” at the Dysphagia Research Society (DRS) meeting in Baltimore. Robison is a third-year doctoral student in the Rehabilitation Science program under the mentorship of Dr. Emily Plowman. This event is an international conference for swallowing and swallowing disorders and a prestigious award for those in the field of dysphagia.

Tabor First PhD Graduate of Swallowing Systems Core Lab

It is with immense pride that the department congratulates Dr. Lauren Tabor on successfully defending her doctoral dissertation in the Rehabilitation Science program and becoming the first PhD graduate of the Swallowing Systems Core. Tabor has been an extremely productive member of the Neuromotor Speech and Swallowing Restoration (NSSR) side of the laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Emily Plowman. Tabor and Plowman met at the University of South Florida where they began their relationship as mentor-mentee and collaborators. Tabor has multiple publications and has presented nationally and internationally on her work in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She now works at the Phil Smith Neuroscience Institute at Holy Cross Hospital where she will continue to serve patients as a clinical researcher.



Datta Selected for NSF-CMBS Advisory Board

Dr. Susmita Datta, a professor in the Department of Biostatistics, was recently selected to serve on the National Science Foundation’s Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences Regional Conference Series (NSF-CMBS). Her term is for five years and will begin immediately. These conference series consist of five-day conferences each of which features a distinguished lecturer delivering 10 lectures on a topic of important current research in one sharply focused area of the mathematical sciences. Board members will recommend speakers and venues, help refine proposals and provide feedback on the major changes to conference program solicitations. Congratulations Dr. Datta.


Clinical and Health Psychology

CHP Doctoral Students Awarded Stephanie Nicole Ross Foundation Scholarship

Elle Wiggins and for the second year, Charles Moreno, were awarded two of three scholarships by the Stephanie Nicole Ross Foundation. Three $1,000 scholarships are awarded to graduate students studying psychology, cognitive or behavioral science, or any related field in the state of Florida in order to help students pursue their academic goals.

2016 CHP Alumnus Receives Division 40 Early Career Pilot Grant

Dr. Jacob Jones, a 2016 CHP graduate, is the recipient of the Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (Division 40, APA) Early Career Pilot Award. His project, entitled “The gut-brain axis in Parkinson’s disease: Influences of microbiota on cognition and white matter,” is based on observations that early signs of PD pathology (alpha synuclein/Lewy body aggregates) are detected in the GI tract years before motor symptoms manifest. He will be testing the novel hypothesis that microbiota abundance (particularly in taxa associated with immune responses) will be associated with cognitive impairment and decreased white matter integrity in individuals with PD.

Jones is currently a neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow at UCLA. He received his PhD from UF in 2016, after completing a clinical internship at Brown University. At UF, he was a graduate student in the neuropsychology track and mentored by Dr. Dawn Bowers and the neuropsychology faculty.


Dean's Office

PHHP Convocation 2018

The UF College of Public Health and Health Professions recognized outstanding students and graduates at the college’s annual convocation ceremony on May 5. Students and their families gathered to celebrate the completion of their degrees and the next step in their academic and professional careers. The college’s departments and programs presented students with awards and scholarships. Students graduating magna cum laude and summa cum laude — high and highest honors, respectively — received their honors cords at the ceremony.

Sherrilene Classen, PhD, MPH, OTR/L, FAOTA, FGSA, the college’s Outstanding Alumna of the Year, served as the event’s distinguished speaker. She is a professor and chair of the college’s Department of Occupational Therapy, and an extraordinary professor at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa. She received a master’s in public health with a concentration in epidemiology from the college in 2004. Read more

(left: PHHP Dean Michael Perri presents Dr. Sherrilene Classen with the Outstanding Alumna of the Year award, right: Lance Reccoppa receives his honors cords from Dr. Michael Moorhouse, director of the bachelor's in health science program)

Blue Receives Career Educator Award

Dr. Amy Blue, associate dean for educational affairs in the College of Public Health and Health Professions, associate vice president for interprofessional education in the UF Health Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, Social and Behavioral Sciences program director, and clinical professor in the Department of Environmental and Global Health, received the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) Career Educator Award in April 2018. This award recognizes one individual from the southern region annually who displays a compelling record of educational scholarship for at least the past five years, ongoing educational leadership and significant involvement in enhancing educational programs at an academic institution, collaboration with others to enhance teaching effectiveness and the quality of educational programs, and strong professionalism values. Congratulations to Dr. Blue.

(left to right: Dr. Amy Blue, Dr. Sonia Crandall, past chair of AAMC SGEA)


Environmental and Global Health

EGH Students Make ‘Blue Ribbon’ Strides in Combatting Antibiotic Resistance

In the era of emerging antibiotic resistance, two clinical and translational science predoctoral fellows (TL1) from the Departments of Environmental and Global Health and Medicinal Chemistry, are leading the way to find viable treatment options to combat respiratory and urogenital tract bacterial infections.

Marissa Valentine-King (left) and Katherine Cisneros (right) joined forces to test a library of novel antimicrobial compounds against urinary clinical isolates of both human and animal mycoplasma strains. Through their research efforts, the pair were able to identify several compounds that were effective against M. pnemoniae, M. genitalium, or M. capricolum. Their work advances research on potential treatment options for mycoplasmas that cause common infections.

Valentine-King and Cisneros recently presented their findings at the Translational Science 2018 conference in Washington, D.C., where they received a Blue Ribbon award for scoring in the top 25% of posters among TL1 trainees.  

Researchers Solve Chlamydia Mystery; Reveal Possible New Drug Target

A research team led by Dr. Tony Maurelli in the Department of Environmental and Global Health has solved another long-standing mystery of Chlamydia, the leading bacterial cause of sexually transmitted infections in the U.S.

Almost all bacteria, including Chlamydia, make a cell wall composed of unusual chemical components. These building blocks are not found in humans so enzymes used to construct the cell wall are excellent targets for antibiotics, like penicillin. One unique building block is D-glutamate, the mirror image of one of 20 amino acids used to make proteins in all living organisms.

In this pivotal study, Maurelli’s team solved the mystery of how Chlamydia makes D-glutamate by analyzing more than 200 Chlamydia genomes to identify the genetic code for proteins used to make this building block. They discovered that Chlamydia uses an unexpected enzyme, diaminopimelate epimerase (DapF). This discovery points to a potential novel target for anti-chlamydial drug development without harming the host. Read more



Epidemiology MSE Student Earns Spot in NICAP Summer Internship Program

The Neuromedicine Interdisciplinary Clinical and Academic Programs (NICAP) comprises leaders, faculty, residents, fellows, staff, and both undergraduate and graduate interns. Founded in 2010 by Dr. David Guzick and UF Health leadership, this program strives to create the ideal patient experience. Epidemiology MSE student Upuli Dissanayake was recently awarded a graduate lead internship position on the Reduce Variation Team, which is one of four different teams, each with different aims all geared toward improving physician and patient hospital experiences through different interventions and studies. During this internship, students rotate across clinical, administrative, and quality improvement arenas in the neurosurgery and neurology departments. The hope is that the programs implemented by NICAP will play a crucial role in changing and improving the culture of UF Health. The department is incredibly proud of Dissanayake for earning a spot in this prestigious internship program.

Epidemiology PhD Graduates Earn Prestigious Awards at Convocation

Three Epidemiology doctoral students graduated on May 4th: Jacob Ball, Vicki Osborne, and Sheldon Waugh. Both Ball and Waugh have accepted positions at the Army Public Health Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and Osborne will be working at the Drug Research Safety Unit in Southampton, U.K. Osborne and Ball both received awards at the PHHP Spring Convocation. Dean Michael Perri presented Osborne (Linda Cottler, Mentor) with the Dean’s Scholar Award, one of the most prestigious honors the Dean’s Office gives in recognition of exceptional students’ accomplishments. Ball (Jim Chen, Mentor) received the Sam and Connie Holloway Scholarship/Fellowship Endowment, another prestigious award given in the college to deserving students who embody exemplary leadership and academic excellence. The department is so proud of the newly graduated class of epidemiologists and is excited to see where their careers take them.


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

Congratulations MHA Graduates

The Department is delighted to congratulate 30 Master of Health Administration students on their graduation. Of those students, 90% graduated with a fellowship or full-time employment. MHA graduates accepted prestigious fellowships and jobs with organizations such as Kaiser, Tenet, Johns Hopkins, Emory, and Tampa General Hospital.

MHA Student Recognized with Presidential Service Award

Karen Cohen, a graduating student in the Master of Health Administration program, was a recipient of UF’s Presidential Service Award. Cohen was recognized, along with two other PHHP students, at a ceremony held on April 23 at the Earl and Christy Powell University House. She is active in UF’s chapter of the national service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega and volunteers for multiple organizations including Relay for Life, Boys and Girls Club, Alachua County Humane Society, Noah’s Endeavor, and Ronald McDonald House. Cohen also coordinated service events as the service chair for the Health Administration Student Association.


Occupational Therapy

Young Inducted into Delta Omega Honor Society

Mary Ellen Young, PhD, clinical professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, was inducted into Beta Upsilon, the UF Chapter of Delta Omega, the national Public Health Honor Society on May 3. A rehabilitation counselor by training, Dr. Young’s public health focus is on capturing the “lived experience” of people with disabilities in order to inform policy and service delivery systems. Her expertise is in qualitative research, particularly those methods that give voice to individuals who are not often heard in the debates about access to care. Her research involves clinical populations and caregivers of people with stroke, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and cancer. She serves as a mentor to both faculty and students on the application of qualitative methods, particularly constructivist grounded theory. She is the qualitative research consultant in the CTSI Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design Program (BERD) and co-facilitator of the Qualitative Research Colloquium in the Health Science Center. Congratulations Dr. Young.

OT Welcomes Last Class of Students for Masters in Occupational Therapy

On May 14, the Department of Occupational Therapy welcomed the last class of Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT) students. The students will complete three semesters on campus, followed by two semesters of fieldwork, and graduate in December of 2019. The MOT Program graduated its first class in 2003 and has been an accredited program for almost 15 years. The department is currently transitioning to the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree making these students the last class to graduate with the MOT degree. Welcome Gator OT class of 2019.


Physical Therapy

DPT Commencement and Award Presentations

On May 3, over 400 guests arrived to watch 69 Doctor of Physical Therapy students graduate and receive their white coats. Dr. Sharon Dunn, president of the American Physical Therapy Association, delivered the Barbara C. White Lecture.

Several students received awards, including:

• Thad Boucher – Martha C. Wroe Outstanding Clinical Student – Recognizes a graduating student who has completed all clinical affiliations demonstrating outstanding clinical performance.

• Dino Medic – The Dr. Mark H. Trimble Memorial Scholarship – Recognizes an outstanding student in orthopedics who demonstrates a strong commitment to learning, initiative, and self-reliance in his/her studies.

• Janeen McCormick Blythe – Scholastic Achievement Award – For excellence in academic performance throughout the DPT Program from 2015 – 2018. McCormick Blythe was the only student to graduate with a 4.0.

Additionally, Erienne Blanchard, PT, DPT, CMPT, CFC, received the Outstanding Clinical Educator of the Year Award for displaying excellence in clinical instruction and dedication to the education of entry-level PT students.

(pictured: 69 Doctor of Physical Therapy students receiving white coats on May 3 during graduation dinner at the Touchdown Terrace)

DPT Student Participates in Federal Advocacy Forum

Hannah Belles, a first-year doctor of physical therapy student, visited Washington, D.C., from April 29 to May 1 to be a part of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Federal Advocacy Forum. Belles was one of 77 students from across the U.S. who came together to advocate for the physical therapy profession alongside other physical therapists and physical therapist assistants.

“The Federal Advocacy Forum was an incredible opportunity to be a part of positively changing our profession,” Belles said. “I felt like we were actually creating change by influencing those writing the policy. The meetings I took part in were full of thoughtful questions and engaging discussions showing me that these people truly care about our opinion on how we as physical therapists want to see change occur.”

(left to right: Hannah Belles, DPT student, alongside Dr. Elisa Gonzalez-Rothi in Washington, D.C., for the Federal Advocacy Forum)


Public Health

Public Health Honor Society Induction

The UF Chapter of Delta Omega, the national Public Health Honor Society, held its annual luncheon and inductions of new members on May 3 at Sweetwater Branch Inn. This year’s faculty inductee was Dr. Mary Ellen Young from the Department of Occupational Therapy and the Social and Behavioral Sciences program. Six new alumni members were inducted: Kendra Auguste (MPH in PHMP, ‘13), Janet Brishke (MPH in SBS, ’08), Maria Mejia de Grubb (MPH in PHP, ’10), Emily Jones (MPH in Epi, ’13), Ian Kracalik (MPH in Epi, ’12), and Chad Neilsen (MPH in Epi, ’09). Eleven new student members were inducted: Heather Anderson (MPH in PHP, ’17), Meera Chandra (MPH in PHP, ’18), Carlyn Ellison (MPH in SBS, ’18), Andre Espaillat (MPH in PHP, ’18), Phillip Hahn (MPH in Epi, ’17), Romina Hennig (MPH in PHP, ’17), Emily Klann (MPH in Epi, ’18), Donald Neiffer (MHS in One Health, ’17), Jazmine Quintana (MPH in SBS, ’18), Veronica Richards (MPH in Epi, ’18), and Brandace Stone (MPH in SBS, ’18). Jeff Feller, CEO of WellFlorida Council, was recognized with the Public Health Champions Award.

(pictured: 2018 Delta Omega Student Inductees with PHHP Dean Michael Perri)


Rehabilitation Science

RSD Students Receive High Honors at PHHP Spring Convocation

Four Rehabilitation Science PhD students were recognized for their accomplishments during the PHHP Spring Convocation on May 5. Shabnam Medhizadah and Caitlin Banks won the Outstanding Paper Award for the impactful research they conducted during their previous academic year. Lauren Tabor received the $500 Dean's Scholar Award for academic and scholarly achievements. Additionally, Shakeel Ahmed was the recipient of the Frederick Family Scholarship and will be rewarded up to $2,000. Faculty selected Ahmed as the scholarship recipient because he treats others with positive regard, dignity and respect, displays dedication to the pursuit of knowledge in the profession, and shows dependability and self-initiative in the pursuance of an advanced research degree.

(left to right: Dr. David Fuller, Shabnam Medhizadah, Caitlin Banks, Lauren Tabor, Shakeel Ahmed)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Blair Awarded Scholarship

On May 5, second year SBS MPH student Samari Blair was recognized at the annual PHHP Convocation as a UF Health Shands Auxiliary Scholarship recipient. Blair was one of five students awarded the scholarship for the 2018-2019 academic year. The scholarship is highly competitive and is awarded to both undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Public Health and Health Professions who actively demonstrate their dedication to academics and service.

King Wins Graduate School Doctoral Dissertation Award

Congratulations to SBS doctoral candidate Lindsey King who is a recipient of the University of Florida Fall 2018 Graduate School Doctoral Dissertation Award. This competitive award allots $9,000 to the recipient plus funds for three credits of tuition/fees for the Fall 2018 semester in support of her dissertation research titled, “An Ecological Examination of Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Building Community Initiatives.” King works under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Hart and is co-mentored by Drs. Amy Blue, George Hack, Raffaele Vacca, and Carol Lewis.