SPH news

Posted Date: June 19, 2015

Three Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences MPH students in the UNTHSC School of Public Health have recently received national scholarship awards.

Kikelomo  (Kike) Akintunde and Emanehi (Ema) Iyioriobhe were invited to attend the recent American Industrial Hygiene Association’s AIHce2015 Conference in Salt Lake City, where Kike received a $4,000 scholarship from the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation and Ema was presented a $2,000 scholarship from the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

Student Obioma Ilouga was also recently awarded a $5,000 Workcare Safety and Health Scholarship from the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Posted Date: June 19, 2015


School of Public Health (SPH) adjunct instructor Melissa Oden has found a unique way to bring real-world perspectives to her students’ work in the Maternal and Child Health MPH degree program.

As students wrapped up the spring semester in Dr. Oden’s Human Sexuality and Health class in May, they shared their final presentations with community judges representing non-profit, health care, educational and other related organizations. Judges helped evaluate and recommend grades based on the ideas presented, professionalism, research and impact of the projects.

Ten presentations were made, covering such topics as:

  • Prevalence and risks of “sexting,” and its relation to other high-risk sexual behaviors
  • Effects of body image on sexual health among adolescents
  • A new idea to help locate and rescue international sex trafficking victims
  • Breaking the cycle of intergenerational teen pregnancy
  • Sex trafficking among minors in the United States
  • Revenge porn: weaponizing sex in digital form
  • The effects of clothing choices on stereotyping in the professional environment
  • Sexual health of youth in foster care
  • Sexuality education for the younger ages
  • The physical and mental implications of why people have sex: a modern look at a complex topic

Business entrepreneur Sue Wallace, one of the judge panelists, said she was “fascinated to hear the students’ views on several difficult topics regarding human sexuality.”

“I was impressed by their brilliant minds in addressing these tough subjects,” Ms. Wallace noted. “I applaud Dr. Oden for helping to open their thought processes and assist and challenge them to ‘think outside the box’ when addressing these critical issues that face our societies today.”

Jorge Urby from Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dallas, stressed the importance of this class “because it exposes students to a topic that many people find taboo but that needs to be discussed and understood better.”

“Giving presentations in front of a panel of professionals is a great learning experience for students,” Urby noted, “especially since they will be doing more of that as they continue with their career trajectory.”

Other judge participants were educational consultant Dr. Calvin Lawrence; Dr. Matthew Weaver, formerly with United Way of Tarrant County; and Ms. Dina Davis, former Vice President of Program Development with Girls Inc. of Tarrant County.

In addition to serving as an adjunct instructor in the SPH Department of Behavioral and Community Health, Dr. Oden is the school’s Public Health Practice Experience Liaison.

Posted Date: June 16, 2015

Research_Schmooze_1The UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health and Texas Prevention Institute took their third “Research Schmooze” out to the community when they recently partnered with the Cook Children’s Center for Children’s Health for anetworking event at Pappasito’s Mexican restaurant.

The purpose was to network on topics impacting early childhood development, mental health, obesity/healthy lifestyle, oncology and environmental exposures on children’s asthma.

Thirty-two participants joined in table-topic discussions, generating ideas for joint projects and research collaborations.

According to Center for Children’s Health Senior Vice President Larry Tubb, “The Research Schmooze was a great opportunity for bringing UNTHSC together with Cook Children’s, to address some of the highest-priority children’s health issues in our community today. The Center’s goal is to create collaborations that will allow us to make North Texas one of the healthiest places to raise a child, and partnerships with organizations like UNTHSC are key to helping reach that goal.”

With data collected and analyzed by UNTHSC research teams, the Cook Children’s Health Care System presented Community-wide Children’s Health Assessment & Planning Surveys (CCHAPS) in 2008 and 2012 to identify specific health issues affecting children in the local six-county area. Counties studied were Tarrant, Wise, Parker, Johnson, Hood and Denton. A “Share One Thing” online discussion board was also developed, inviting community members to join in and offer their own ideas for improving children’s health.

“After two successful, internal Schmooze events that brought our own faculty and researchers together, it seemed like a natural next step to move out into the community to explore important local issues with partners like Cook Children’s,” said UNTHSC Research Manager Robyn Remotigue, CRA.

Posted Date: May 29, 2015

Eight Master of Health Administration (MHA) students shared their summer internship experiences with faculty, staff and fellow students at a recent debriefing at the UNTHSC School of Public Health. Students shared details of their projects and assignments, lessons learned and the value gained. The opportunities helped students sharpen their skills in research, reporting, analysis, project management, leadership, professionalism and presentation, communication and other specialized areas.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Trevino-Dawson, who served as this summer’s MHA internship advisor, the program allowed students to “fully engage” in the organizations they worked with, taking on large-scale assignments, managing real-world responsibilities, finding their own answers to business challenges and contributing to their organization’s overall team.  The internships also provide networking opportunities and often lead to full-time positions with the companies.

Pictured from left to right (back row) are Garrett Boland, who presented his experiences on LoopBack Analytics;Kent Palmore and Matthew Stabe, who discussed their experiences with Baylor Health Care System – Office of Patient Centeredness; and (front row) Shilpa Chhadwa, who interned with Genesis Physician Group; Karyssa Bowers, who shared her experiences with Pioneer ACO-North Texas Specialty Physicians; Alexis Hunter, who interned with Baylor Family Medical Center-Waxahachie; and SriLakshmi Gummadi, who interned with North Texas Area Community Health Center, Inc. Chelsea Hart, who interned with Texas Health Resources Southwest Hospital, also shared her experiences via online video.

Posted Date: May 26, 2015
With grant funding from pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Boehringer Ingleheim, the SPH, UNTHSC’s Office of Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) and the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) will cooperatively pilot a new children’s asthma management program in two East Fort Worth schools this fall. Working with the school-based clinics at Eastern Hills Elementary and Forest Oak Middle School, the program aims to improve the way children’s asthma is managed both in school and at home.
According to David Sterling, PhD, SPH professor and chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, asthma is the most common chronic childhood illness and most prevalent cause of childhood disability. Of Tarrant County children ages 0‐14, approximately 75,500 have asthma. By age nine, Sterling notes, 25% of the county’s children have been diagnosed with asthma, with a disproportionate number of cases occurring among the county’s African American children.
“Asthma is a growing national problem, contributing to more than 14 million lost school days a year across the U.S.,” Sterling says.  “It’s been well documented that children with asthma are absent more often, and excessive school absences are a strong predictor of disrupted learning and premature dropout rates.”
Locally in our community, the problem was brought to light when a Cook Children’s Health Care 2009 Community‐wide Children’s Health Assessment & Planning Survey (CCHAPS) identified elevated asthma prevalence of approximately 18.59 percent in Tarrant County, a rate double the national average of 9 percent and significantly greater than Texas’ average of 8.8 percent.
This new initiative will focus on educating school-based healthcare providers, teachers and community-based primary care clinicians, as well as young patients, their parents and caregivers. Children will learn to manage their asthma at home and in school, to ultimately reduce school absences, asthma-related 911 calls from schools and resulting emergency visits, school clinic visits, and hospital admissions or readmissions.
It is hoped that this fall’s pilot will be used to launch a self-sustaining program that can be rolled out district‐wide across the FWISD and replicated in other communities in the future.


Posted Date: May 13, 2015

Milam_Moore_sons_178x300Congratulations to Erin Milam-Moore, Senior Administrative Associate in the School of Public Health, for earning Rookie of the Year honors in the 2015 Fort Worth Admin Awards, sponsored by Core24. The honor recognizes those new to the profession who have the greatest potential to succeed.

Milam-Moore re-entered the work force less than two years ago after rearing and homeschooling her children, wrote her nominator, Sharon Homan, PhD, Chairman and Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

“Her ability to juggle multiple tasks with competency, humor and kindness is phenomenal,” Homan said. “She attributes this to the ‘job training’ she received at home.”

Not only does Milam-Moore excel in people, administrative and technical skills, she also “demonstrates excellent informal leadership that builds culture and purpose, such as rallying us together for FitWorth challenges, baseball games, birthday celebrations, and welcoming and supporting our students,” Homan said.

“She is tenacious in learning the complicated and multiple systems for hiring, payroll approval, international visa processes, procurement, budget approvals, updating web information, and course evaluation system … and proactive in building UNTHSC’s values-driven culture focused on solutions!”

See the video honoring all UNTHSC finalists

The award was presented during a May 8 luncheon at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel, attended by Milam-Moore and UNTHSC’s other four finalists:

  • Gayanne Clemens—Achiever Award, given for successfully managing and completing a significant project that had a positive company-wide impact.
  • Ashlee Dickerson—Administrative Excellence in Healthcare Award, recognizes those who support organizations including health care providers, hospital systems, physician groups, pharmaceutical companies and medical device suppliers and vendors.
  • Essence Ragland—Above the Call Award, honors those who go above and beyond in delivering an exceptional first impression and who serve internal and external customers with professionalism, enthusiasm and care,.
  • Cheryell Williams-Price—Community Champion Award, given for demonstrating commitment to serving others in their community and working internally to inspire employee volunteerism, community service and good corporate citizenship.

Kudos to them all!

Posted Date: May 12, 2015

Lee_Berumen_x350Congratulations to the School of Public Health (SPH) and Texas Prevention Institute (TPI) faculty and staff who were recently recognized by UNT Health Science Center for their tenure and commitment to the university for five or more years.

Pictured are Dr. Joon Lee, Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and Nellie Berumen, Executive Assistant in Behavioral and Community Health.

Berumen celebrates her 20-year anniversary, and Dr. Lee celebrates 10 years.

Recognized with 5-year awards were Kim Linnear, Associate Director of the TPI’s Center for Community Health; Dr. Melissa Oden, Behavioral and Community Health adjunct instructor and Public Health Student Practice Experience Liaison; and Dr. Susie Mikler, 2014-2015 Fulbright Scholar and Assistant Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

Posted Date: April 30, 2015

Make plans now to attend the 6th annual North Texas Health Forum, sponsored by the UNT Health Science Center (UNTHSC) School of Public Health. This year’s theme is “Childhood Obesity: Accomplishments and Challenges.” The event will be held on the UNTHSC campus during National Public Health Week on April 4 and 5, 2013, and is free and open to the public.

This year’s event is designed to inform the community about successful childhood obesity initiatives and the potential for creating positive change in Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

The community portion of the program will open at 6 p.m. on April 4 with keynote presentations and a reception to follow.

The event will continue from 8 a.m. to noon on April 5, with presentations on “The Path to Reduced Childhood Obesity,” followed by a local panel discussion featuring experts representing public health, health care, government, schools and academic research. A continental breakfast will be served that morning.

A student session will also be offered on the afternoon of April 4, giving UNTHSC and other local college students an opportunity for informal conversation and Q&A with the keynote speakers.

Watch for more information to come regarding early registration and speaker updates.

Posted Date: April 23, 2015

Congratulations go to two School of Public Health PhD graduates (December ’14) from the Department of Behavioral and Community Health, who
have accepted very exciting professional positions.

Matt Rossheim is headed to George Mason University, just outside Washington, D.C., to join the faculty as Assistant Professor in the Department of Global and Community Health. During his time with the UNTHSC School of Public Health, Dr. Rossheim has been published in 12 high-impact, peer-reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Public Health,Prevention Science, Traffic Injury Prevention, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, and Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Mayra Rodriguez will be joining the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) as Assistant Professor and Course Director of Epidemiology, Preventive Medicine and Public Health in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. VCOM is scheduled to open its third campus this fall in Auburn Research Park, adjacent to Auburn University in Alabama. While at UNTHSC, Dr. Rodriguez acquired extensive research management experience handling large NIH-funded projects. She has also been published in seven peer-reviewed journals, such as American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Obesity, and Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

Posted Date: April 21, 2015

In 2012, more than 600,000 people were homeless on any given night in the United States.

This population is much more likely to suffer from physical and mental health disabilities. As a result, homelessness accounts for substantial health care and social service costs.

One solution to dealing with the problem of homelessness is permanent supportive housing (PSH), where people receive a rental voucher along with case management services.

To complement those services, a team from the UNT Health Science Center has developed a technology-assisted health coaching program called m.chat, funded by a Texas Medicaid 1115 waiver.

“PSH residents face significant challenges to living independently. Our goal is to help people make changes that will improve their health and well-being,” said Scott T. Walters, PhD, Professor of Behavioral and Community Health at the UNTHSC School of Public Health, who leads the project.

Associate Professor Emily Spence-Almaguer, MSW, PhD, a co-investigator on the project, has found that 73 percent of Fort Worth PSH residents report at least one chronic health condition, most commonly asthma, Hepatitis C, heart disease or COPD. Fifty-five percent have received treatment for a mental health condition, 67 percent report having a history of substance abuse, and 44 percent report both co-occurring substance abuse and mental health concerns.

From this data, m.chat was designed to address behaviors such as diet, exercise, substance use, medication adherence, social support and recreation/leisure. The m.chat program has three features: in-person health coaching, specialized coaching software, and a system of “Chat Bucks” that can be earned for the purchase of health and wellness supplies, such workout gear, a scale, blood pressure monitor or even a discounted YMCA membership. The program is unique in the way that persuasive technology and triggers are used to help motivate and encourage individuals toward more positive health behaviors. The goal is to help people make positive behavior changes and prevent more significant physical and mental health conditions from occurring.

Participants meet monthly with a coach who helps them set health and wellness goals. Goals can be both long- and short-term, defining specific actions a person wants to take, such as losing 10 pounds over six months through a healthy diet and physical activity plan. The m.chat software provides feedback on progress, offers tips and resources, and can send text alerts to remind people about their goals.

57-year-old Hosea S., one of the program’s first participants, has found the Chat Bucks to be a real motivator.

“I’ve traded my bucks for athletic shoes, an MP3 player so I can listen to music while I walk, and even a movie gift card to help me stay busy, fight depression and get out more with others,” he said.

Hosea, who suffers from heart problems, has set goals to eat healthier, walk every morning and stop smoking.

“Already I’m feeling better,” he said.

For 55-year-old Teresa B., the goal has been to lose weight.

“When I started the program, I weighed 306 lbs. and within a month I was down to 293,” she said.

Teresa, who is working on healthier eating habits, a beginning exercise plan, pain management and issues related to manic depression and a history of drug abuse, said she is learning to take care of herself “in a good way, without asking for a pill.”

“I’m on a limited income, and the Chat Bucks have helped me get a discounted YMCA membership. I’m working with my health coach on good days and bad days. I had a lot of friends who never made it to their 50s like me, and I realize now that I should have been taking better care of myself years ago. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance,” she said.

The program was first introduced in December 2014, with approximately 100 individuals already participating.

Dr. Walters’ work in developing Web-based health solutions for vulnerable populations has been recognized in other areas as well, including the MAPIT program for probationers in the U.S. criminal justice system.