Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

SLHS Welcomes New Faculty

The Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences welcomes four new faculty members. Drs. Jill Raney and Krista Fitzgerald joined the Doctorate of Audiology (AuD) program. Dr. Candice Adams-Mitchell and Ms. Yary Sewell are part of the Faculty 500 Initiative and will contribute to the undergraduate programs. The department looks forward to working with these new faculty members and wishes them the best as they settle into their new positions.

(pictured from left: Dr. Jill Raney, Dr. Krista Fitzgerald, Dr. Candice Adams-Mitchell, and Ms. Yary Sewell)

Submitted by Aaron McEnery

Robison Awarded NIH Grant

Raele Robison, an RSD doctoral candidate under the mentorship of Dr. Emily Plowman, was awarded a NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) F99/K00 Award from NINDS. This award is a five-year mentored grant that will include finishing her doctoral degree with Plowman to investigate the impact of homeostenosis of the tongue in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and will then allow her to complete a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Nicole Pulia at the University of Wisconsin for three years.

(pictured from left: Dr. Emily Plowman and Raele Robison)

Submitted by Aaron McEnery



Qiu Receives an NSF Grant

Congratulations to Dr. Peihua Qiu, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics, who received a prestigious NSF grant with the title “Longitudinal Modelling and Sequential Monitoring of Image Data Streams.” This is a three-year project with the starting date of August 1, 2019. The project aims to develop new statistical methodologies for checking whether the distribution of the underlying longitudinal process of an observed image sequence changes over time. It has broad applications in medical imaging studies, environment monitoring, and many other areas.

Submitted by Melissa Stabel

Welcome Wei Xue

Please welcome Dr. Wei Xue who joined the Department of Biostatistics as a Research Assistant Professor. Xue received her master’s degree in statistics from the University of Florida in 2003. She worked as an informatics consultant in the biomedical research informatics core at Michigan State University (MSU), and received her PhD degree in epidemiology and biostatistics at MSU in 2016. Xue will be working in support of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute biostatistics and epidemiology research design program and the biostatistical consulting lab in the department.

Submitted by Melissa Stabel


Clinical and Health Psychology

Guenther Appointed to Serve as Chair on UF Health Shands Hospital EAC

Dr. Robert Guenther has been appointed to chair the UF Health Shands Hospital Ethics Advisory Committee (EAC). The EAC is a group administered through the hospital to provide a support structure for the provision of ethics consults to staff and inpatients. The EAC strives to provide ongoing education in bioethics to staff, trainees, and faculty throughout the UF Health Science Center via topical presentations and case reviews. Members also participate in community outreach efforts to increase awareness of bioethical concerns among Florida residents.

Submitted by Melissa Naidu

Ross Receives NIH R01 Award

Dr. Kathryn Ross has received a five-year R01 award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to evaluate innovative methods of providing extended-care support to promote long-term weight loss maintenance. During the two-year trial period, the study will closely track participants’ mood and thoughts/behaviors that have been hypothesized to predict weight change. The results of this study may have important treatment implications for preventing weight regain after initial weight loss, and will further contribute additional foundational knowledge regarding which predictors of weight change might be used to aid the development of personalizable weight management programs.

Submitted by Melissa Naidu


Dean's Office

Blue Selected to Serve on National Occupational Therapy Certification Board

Amy Blue, PhD, the College of Public Health and Health Professions’ dean for educational affairs and UF Health’s associate vice president for interprofessional education, has been selected to serve on the board of directors of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

The board of directors is responsible for establishing the strategic vision and management oversight for the organization. Blue joins 17 other board members, including Joanne Foss, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, a professor emerita of the UF department of occupational therapy. Read more

Submitted by Mary Keramidas



Smith Receives Dissertation Grant Award

NIDA predoctoral fellow Nathan Smith received a dissertation grant award from the National Center for Responsible Gaming. The grant supports the inclusion of a specific aim on social isolation, drug use, and gambling in Smith’s dissertation research titled, “Social Isolation and Gambling Problems in 10-17 Year Olds.” The data comes from mentor Dr. Linda Cottler’s 2018 three-state study of non-oral administration of prescription stimulants (SNAPS) with 1,800 10-17 year-olds in which Smith was a site coordinator. Analyses will identify risk factors for the relationship between social isolation and gambling problems among youth. 

Submitted by Jacolyn Chamberlain

Dorestil Promoted to HealthStreet Director of Operations

Beatrice Dorestil, MPH, has served as HealthStreet’s Lead Community Health Worker (CHW) and Volunteer Coordinator since June 2018. She has assisted in the training of dozens of volunteers and interns and has helped in enrolling hundreds of community members for health education, community services, and participation in research. Her experience enables her to partner with diverse community members and to collaborate with local non-profit organizations, healthcare providers, and governmental agencies to help improve equity and reduce health disparities in the communities HealthStreet serves. The department congratulates Dorestil on her outstanding performance and achievements. 

Submitted by Jacolyn Chamberlain


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

HSRMP Welcomes New MHA Program Director

Dr. Keith Benson joined the department on July 1 as the Master of Health Administration (MHA) Program Director. Benson comes from Winthrop University where he was the Director of Graduate Studies as well as the Healthcare Management Program. He has a PhD in Health Policy and MHA from Penn State University. He served over eight years in the U.S. Air Force and has experience in health care management, military public health, and medical intelligence. Read more

Submitted by Francesca Antoine


Occupational Therapy

OT Welcomes Four New Faculty

The following new faculty members joined the Department of Occupational Therapy this summer:

Chiung-ju “CJ” Liu, PhD, OTR, Associate Professor:  Liu’s research focuses on identifying key factors related to late-life disability and designing effective interventions to promote aging in place.

Jessica Kramer, PhD, OTR/L, Associate Professor:  Kramer’s research draws upon theoretical concepts and methodologies from occupational therapy, disability studies, education and rehabilitation. 

John Kramer, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor:  Kramer’s work focuses on involvement of families in employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), knowledge translation and aging family caregivers of people with I/DD.

Heidi Horwitz, MEd, OTD, OTR/L, Clinical Assistant Professor and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator:  Horwitz has 10 years’ experience as a fieldwork educator with the focus of her doctoral project on fieldwork educators’ clinical reasoning skills.

For full faculty biographies, please visit here

(pictured from left:  Drs. CJ Liu, Jessica Kramer, John Kramer and Heidi Horwitz)

Submitted by Betsy Westra

OT Researcher Leads Study on Health Outcomes in Girls with Autism Across Florida

Dr. Amber Angell, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, was awarded an R41: Autism Secondary Data Analysis Research Program award from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). Angell’s team includes Dr. Jennifer Elder from the College of Nursing, Dr. Baiming Zou from the Department of Biostatistics, and Dr. Deepthi Varma from the Department of Epidemiology, along with a team of investigators from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. They will study co-occurring medical and behavioral conditions in girls and young women with autism spectrum disorder using the OneFlorida Data Trust, a repository of statewide healthcare data for more than 15 million Floridians. The project is a critical first step in identifying and addressing health and healthcare disparities among girls and women with autism, who are receiving increased attention as an understudied, underserved population.

Submitted by Betsy Westra


Physical Therapy

DPT Students Receive INSPIRE Scholarships

A big congratulations to second year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students, Jack DeLoach, Ashley Tringas, and Kayce Whitbeck for receiving the Interdisciplinary Related Services Personnel Preparation for Early Childhood program scholarship.

As INSPIRE scholars, they will be trained to treat children with high-intensity needs who have significant disabilities or multiple disabilities. Additionally, the scholarship program will cover one full year of tuition for each student.

(pictured from left: Jack DeLoach, Ashley Tringas, and Kayce Whitbeck)

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

DPT Welcomes New Faculty

This summer the Department of Physical Therapy welcomed Shakeel Ahmed, PT, PhD, a clinical assistant professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. Ahmed has more than five years of clinical experience and 10 years of teaching experience in cardiopulmonary physical therapy and acute care rehabilitation. His teaching responsibilities in the DPT program include cardiopulmonary physical therapy and principles of disease. The department wishes him a warm welcome as the fall semester begins.

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Public Health

Alum Omari Richins Touches Base from Alaska

Omari Richins, MPH in PHMP 2019, was selected as a community health fellow for a one-year fellowship with the Mat-Su Health Foundation in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough of Alaska. After graduating in May, he traveled to Alaska to begin the fellowship. Richins says the new job has been a huge learning curve but he is really enjoying the foundation, his colleagues, and the work they are doing. He adds that Alaska is gorgeous. See more pictures from Richins of his journey so far. 

Submitted by Mary Keramidas

MPH New Student Orientation

The Master of Public Health program welcomed the 2019 cohort of MPH students with two days of orientation activities on August 15 and 16. The MPH program wishes all of the students a successful start of the semester. See more pictures

Submitted by Mary Keramidas


Rehabilitation Science

RSD Welcomes New Faculty

It’s an exciting time in the Rehabilitation Science Program as six college faculty members join the curriculum:

(pictured top to bottom, left to right)

• Lori Altmann, PhD, associate professor

• Kenneth Logan PhD, CCC-SLP, associate professor

• Federico Pozzi, PT, MA, PhD, assistant professor

• Sterling Sheffield, PhD, AuD, CCC-A, assistant professor

• Susan Nittrouer, PhD, professor and chair for the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

• Yonghee Oh, PhD, assistant professor

Each faculty member will supervise and teach doctoral students or coordinate courses within the program. Read more 

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott

Wersal Awarded Wentworth Military Academy Scholarship

RSD doctoral student James Wersal was recently awarded the Kyle Seitsinger Wentworth Military Academy Service to Country Scholarship.

To be eligible for this scholarship, a recipient must demonstrate clear academic goals, extraordinary leadership skills, and a passion to positively impact the community and country through service. Additionally, the selected individual must embody and demonstrate the core values of Wentworth Military Academy which are teamwork, honor, integrity, respect, and duty.

Submitted by Jaclyn Scott


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Dixon Attends Symposium

Brittney Dixon, a PhD student in Public Health with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences, was invited to attend the Rising Stars in Health Related Sciences Symposium hosted by the Indiana University School of Public Health in July. The symposium focused on networking, science, mentoring, and career development for underrepresented minority scholars who are rising stars in health-related sciences. Indiana University fully funded her travel for this program. Congratulations to Dixon for this achievement.

Submitted by Mary Keramidas