School of Public Health

Campus community says goodbye to Dr. David Sterling, age 65

Sterling DavidThe campus community mourns the passing of UNTHSC School of Public Health Professor David Sterling, PhD, CIH, ROH, who said goodbye surrounded at home by family after a courageous and lengthy battle with cancer.

Dr. Sterling was a beloved Biostatistics and Epidemiology Department professor who touched the lives of many students and contributed in important ways to the field of public health and the good of the community over a career that spanned more than 35 years.

He joined UNTHSC in 2008, serving in different roles over the last 11 years, including Research Fellow with the UNTHSC Institute for Patient Safety; Interim Chair, Department of Epidemiology; Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health; Research Affiliate with The Texas Prevention Center and Center for Community Health; Director, Doctoral PhD Program in Public Health Sciences; and School of Public Health P&T Committee.

For 18 years, Dr. Sterling led the Asthma 411 initiative, a comprehensive, school-based program to improve outcomes for children with asthma. He first initiated Asthma 411 in St. Louis between 2002 and 2008 with support from the CDC. One of his most noted accomplishments at UNTHSC was the continued development, adaption and dissemination of Asthma 411 in Fort Worth for students in grades pre-K through 12.

In 2013, a two-school, two-year pilot of Asthma 411 was conducted in Fort Worth. Based on positive outcomes the program was expanded, is now adopted by 10 districts with over 230,000 students, and is supported by a consortium of area healthcare partners.

In 2018, the Asthma 411 team was recognized with a Fort Worth Business Press Healthcare Heroes award for the work being done to address the high rates of this growing national public health concern, by educating school-based healthcare providers, parents and caregivers on asthma management strategies for both home and school.

Dr. Sterling was named as a Fellow of the American Industrial Hygiene Association in 2017.

He was honored with the UNTHSC President’s Award for Educational Excellence in 2011 and was inducted into the Delta Omega national honorary society for public health in 2012.

With a PhD in Environmental and Occupational Health Science, an MS in Environmental Health and Industrial Hygiene, and a BS in Biological Sciences, Dr. Sterling began his career as a Research Chemist at the Illinois Institute of Technology, ITT Research Institute, in Chicago in 1984. His work addressed industrial hygiene, ambient and indoor air quality, asbestos, odor science and hazardous waste and materials.

He joined the faculty at Old Dominion University, College of Health Sciences, in 1987, serving as Assistant Professor and Assistant Director for Programs in Environmental Health, College of Health Sciences.

From 1993 to 2008, he served on the faculty and as Program Director of the graduate Environmental and Occupational Health concentration at Saint Louis University School of Public Health and Social Justice, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine. He was also founder and Co-Director for the Midwest OSHA Educational Training Center at Saint Louis University.

Dr. Sterling was a member of the American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygiene, the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology and the International Society for Exposures Science.

In 2011, he was appointed to the National Board of Public Health Examiners’ committee overseeing design of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Certification in Public Health (CPH) exam.

He regularly served on National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other grant peer-review committees and served on the editorial board of the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health.

His numerous publications have focused on topics including asbestos-exposed workers; Parkinson’s disease in welders; air pollution and health; and NICHD-funded National Children’s Study research into the effects of environmental exposures on health from birth to age 16.

In what has been called one of the most comprehensive studies into environmental contamination from metal mining, Dr. Sterling and a team of physicians, scientists and students conducted five years of research into La Oroya, Peru, where a metal smelter mining lead, copper, zinc, silver and gold has been in almost continuous operation since 1922.

Of all his achievements, Dr. Sterling seemed most proud of his work in mentoring students to their own personal success. Over the years, he provided guidance and support to lead students toward meaningful careers in public health and research, as well as academic honors, national awards and publication in many peer-reviewed journals.

“We all hope to leave behind a legacy,” said UNTHSC School of Public Health Dean Dennis Thombs, PhD, “and one of the true measures of a person’s success is what is given to others during our lifetime. Dr. Sterling will be greatly missed by the campus community and all those he touched over his life and his career.”

Messages and condolences for the family can be delivered to the School of Public Health Dean’s office, EAD 749.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that those wishing to honor Dr. Sterling’s memory consider a contribution to the Asthma 411 program. Please visit, choose “Give Now,” then use the “Designation” drop-down box for “Other” and specify “Asthma 411 in memory of Dr. David Sterling.”



Sterling David 2
School of Public Health

Partnerships in service build stronger community

By Sally Crocker

Community Partners Group Honorees


Great things happen when community partners work together, and the collaborations between the UNTHSC School of Public Health and various local organizations continue to grow stronger as more is done to impact the community in different ways.

Two years ago, local organizations were invited to campus to meet with SPH faculty and staff for networking and exploring community engagement and volunteer service opportunities, as well as ways of working together on research, special projects and other initiatives benefitting North Texas citizens.

Community Partners Klocek
Carol Klocek honored by SPH

That year, the SPH contributed 500 hours of community service to various agencies and programs, and since the matches and partnerships were formed, SPH community service has continued to build in a major way, jumping 168% in 2019 to more than 1,330 contributed service hours.

In recognition, partnering agencies and SPH faculty and staff who went above and beyond in their community service commitments during 2019 were recently honored at a follow-up event for all they are doing to make North Texas healthier.

Two special partner awards were presented to community leaders representing the Center for Transforming Lives and JPS Health Network.

Carol Klocek, CEO of the Center for Transforming Lives, was honored for her leadership and commitment to helping local women and their children escape poverty and homelessness.

The Center works to break the cycle of generational poverty for Tarrant County women with children though homeless services, early childhood education and financial education. Under Klocek’s leadership since 2009, the Center has expanded to serve thousands of women and children, and the agency’s operating budget has grown to more than $9 million with nearly 100 full-time employees.

Klocek was nominated by SPH faculty member Erika Thompson, PhD, for her organization’s work as well as her willingness to collaborate on research and service learning projects with SPH students.

Community Partners Rohit
Community partner honoree Dr. Rohit Ojha with SPH Dean Dennis Thombs

Also honored as an Outstanding Community Partner was Rohit P. Ojha, DrPH, who directs the Center for Outcomes Research at JPS Health Network.

A 2010 DrPH graduate of the SPH, Dr. Ojha was recruited by JPS in 2016 to establish the Center and serve as its Director.

His department studies the clinical, lifestyle and behavioral factors that can impact health outcomes of underserved populations. The goal is to build a healthier community for individuals and families across the JPS service area.

Working with Tarrant County Public Health and other area healthcare organizations and providers, Dr. Ojha’s team also collaborates with UNTHSC, offering learning and research project opportunities for SPH epidemiology and biostatistics graduate students.

Dr. Ojha was nominated for his award by SPH Biostatistics and Epidemiology Chair Sumihiro Suzuki, PhD.

In addition to the Outstanding Community Partner awards, SPH faculty and staff honored as heroes for their extra community service efforts during 2019 included Dr. Dana Litt, Danielle Rohr, Dr. Erica Stockbridge, Dr. Erika Thompson, Dr. Misty Smethers, Dr. Thad Miller and recent UNTHSC retiree Ywanda Carter.








Community Partners Group Honorees
School of Public Health

SPH Epidemiology students honored at 2019 APHA conference

By Sally Crocker

Mahbuba Khan
Mahbuba Khan with her award-winning poster

Two SPH epidemiology students were honored for their work at the recent American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting and expo in Philadelphia.

The event’s theme was “Creating the Healthiest Nation: For science. For action. For health.”

The annual conference represents one of the largest annual gatherings of public health professionals in the U.S.

Thousands attend, and thousands of new abstracts are presented each year, making the APHA annual meeting one of the most influential meetings in public health.

Recently, two UNTHSC School of Public Health Epidemiology students, under the mentorship of faculty member Karabi Nandy, PhD, received national recognition for their work.

Nandy Ashvita Garg
Dr. Karabi Nandy with Ashvita Garg

The Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) Program Planning and Awards Committee presented the ATOD Award for Outstanding Student Poster to Epidemiology doctoral student Ashvita Garg for her presentation on “Correlates of Intent to Quit Smoking Among Dual Users of Electronic and Combustible Cigarettes: A Population Based Sample of the United States.” Epidemiology doctoral student Noah Peeri and Biostatistics master’s student Bingchun Wan were also involved in this work.

2019 MPH Epidemiology graduate Mahbuba Khan was selected as winner of the Best Student Abstract award by the Caucus on Homelessness Poster Section Committee for her abstract, “Factors Associated with Medication Adherence Among Persons in Permanent Supportive Housing,” based on the work of UNTHSC’s technology-assisted health coaching program. SPH faculty members Dr. Rajesh Nandy and Dr. Scott Walters were also involved in this work.

“We are very proud of the APHA honors these students received,” said Dr. Dennis Thombs, SPH Dean. “The awards represent hard work and important studies in public health, and the annual APHA conference is most certainly a significant opportunity for presenting that work.”

Nandy & Ashvita Garg