Sharing the passion: SPH program directors bring energy, enthusiasm to their new roles


Published: April 22, 2016

Karen Bell, PhD, and Martin Ostensen, JD, MBA, MHA, each found their passion for public health as UNT Health Science Center students.

Now, both have accepted faculty leadership roles within the School of Public Health (SPH), where they will be helping to inspire and teach public health leaders of tomorrow.

Dr. Bell has been named Assistant Professor and Director of the school’s MPH-Community Health program, and Ostensen will take on the role of Assistant Professor and MHA Program Director.

Dr. Bell completed her MPH degree in 2004 and went on to receive her PhD in Health Studies from Texas Woman’s University in 2015. She worked for the City of Fort Worth as a Health Education Specialist from 2004 to 2007 and began working as Assistant Dean for Campus Life at TCU in 2007. She has been involved in a number of community organizations, including the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society, and served on the board of the Tarrant Area Food Bank for six years.

“I have had a lot of fulfilling moments in my professional career, yet I feel that some of my best work was when I served the community of Fort Worth as a health education specialist,” Dr. Bell said.

“My SPH education and training equipped me for that work and I am very excited about the chance to return to the school to help facilitate that type of academic and professional development for future public health practitioners,” she explained.

Ostensen, who graduated from the SPH MHA program in 2015, is also looking forward to working with students in his new role.

“As to why I want to teach, I can think of a few reasons,” he said.  “Teaching graduate level students is fun, creative, demanding, interesting, challenging, fulfilling.  I am learning so much.  I enjoy challenging smart students to learn and experience more, and I enjoy being part of a formative experience.”

Ostensen had been teaching Public Health Law and Intro to Health Management & Policy prior to assuming his new position, and now will also be teaching Health Care Law, as well as Professional and Academic Development courses, while guiding the continued growth of the school’s MHA program.

“Teaching and mentoring in public health aligns with my personal values, one of which is a commitment to justice, and public health is about justice,” he said.

Prior to working on his MHA at UNTHSC, Ostensen completed MBA degrees from Cornell University and Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada, and his law degree from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.  Born in Oslo, Norway, he also attended school in Australia, bringing an international approach to his view of public health, law and health care administration.