SPH news

Posted Date: July 9, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Scott Walters

Scott Walters, PhD

Researchers from UNT Health Science Center (UNTHSC) and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) have been awarded a two-year, $650,000 National Institutes of Health (NIH) R34 grant to develop and test a novel smartphone-based alcohol treatment for homeless adults.

Scott Walters, PhD, Professor and Chair of Health Behavior and Health Systems at the UNTHSC School of Public Health, and Michael Businelle, PhD, OUHSC Associate Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Director of the Stephenson Cancer Center’s mHealth Shared Resource, report that approximately 33% of homeless adults in the U.S. have an alcohol use disorder (8 times greater than the general population), resulting in shorter life expectancy, higher healthcare utilization and costs, increased rates of illness and greater risk of interpersonal violence.

“Alcohol treatment is common in homeless shelters, but compliance is typically very poor,” Dr. Walters said. “If we knew what things were leading people to drink and drop out of treatment, we could use that information to develop better quality interventions for this underserved population.”

Businelle Michael

Michael Businelle, PhD

This project will be the first to combine geolocation, self-reported psychosocial variables, such as stress and urge to drink, and objectively measured alcohol use to identify real-time events that lead people to drink.

“Alcohol use is strongly affected by triggers: for instance, emotions, the surrounding environment and social setting. We’re using smartphones to pinpoint moments when a person is at increased risk for relapse or heavy drinking and identify which combinations of stressors are especially problematic. This information can then be used to intervene during risky moments to reduce the chances of drinking,” Dr. Walters said.

This project has three phases.

First, smartphone-based surveys and passive sensing will be used to collect data.

Second, this data will be used to create a risk algorithm and tailored treatment messages that anticipate and intervene to prevent alcohol use.

The final phase will test the newly developed app among homeless adults enrolled in shelter-based alcohol treatment. Self-reported alcohol use will be verified using a transdermal alcohol sensor.

“Alcohol use is almost always measured in-person, during lab or clinic visits. But people’s recall of their drinking is often inaccurate, making it difficult to understand the complicated street-level interactions that drive heavy alcohol use,” Dr. Businelle said. “Capturing moment-to-moment data will provide a better understanding of the drivers of unhealthy drinking, and this information may be used to create interventions that are tailored to the individual in real-time.”

Posted Date: June 25, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Suicide Story Stock ImageThe recent high-profile suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain have brought wide attention to a serious and growing public health concern in the U.S.

New CDC data reports that suicide rates have increased by 30 percent since 1999, and a UNT Health Science Center alumnus points out that for every suicide that occurs, there are approximately another 25 more attempts being made by individuals across the U.S.

“The numbers, and the fact that they continue to rise, are staggering,” said Deepak Prabhakar, MD, MPH, a 2006 graduate of the UNTHSC School of Public Health, who now serves as Director of Psychiatric Education for Henry Ford Health System and as President of the Michigan Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “It’s important to also note that in more than half of all suicide cases, the individuals were never diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and did not receive much needed specialty mental health care.”

Untreated depression, anxiety, hopelessness, trauma, family or financial stresses, job situations and substance abuse can all put a person at risk, he said.

“Do we know all the reasons? No. First, there is a societal stigma about talking with a doctor that often keeps people from sharing these types of feelings. Access to care is a factor, as well as the time it can take to get an appointment with a provider; but there could be other underlying issues. If a person is using alcohol or drugs, he or she might not be in the state of mind to even recognize that help is needed and to seek resources,” he said.

Feelings of hopelessness and isolation, Dr. Prabhakar said, are at the top of reasons for considering suicide.

“In this age of social media, online communications and texting,” he said, “isolation can be a major factor. A lot of one-on-one, personal interaction has been replaced.  Just because someone is on social media and has hundreds of friends doesn’t mean they have a person they can talk to freely.”

There is no typical profile for a person who may be at risk of suicide – individuals of all demographics can be at risk. In general, more women attempt suicide, while more men die of suicide, and the highest rates now come from among the age group of 45 to 54, with ages 15-24 also at a rate of very high concern.

Deepak Prabhakar

Dr. Deepak Prabhakar

With young adults, Dr. Prabhakar said, contagion could be a worry, “due to entirely avoidable sensationalism and glamorization of suicide in popular media that could send a wrong message, and because hearing about others may prompt troubled kids to think suicide could be an option for them.”

“When a well-known celebrity dies, the impact on the community is far-reaching and opens the door to start talking about suicide,” he said. “It’s important to begin the dialogue, to ask if you think you know someone with these types of feelings, and to listen.”

Are there solutions?

“The reasons behind suicide are very complex, and we don’t often know what’s going on behind the scenes in a person’s life,” Dr. Prabhakar said. “However, people shouldn’t be afraid to ask if they think a friend or loved one might be at risk. It can be hard to talk openly about feelings, but there is a chance to help someone by listening without judgment and offering support.”

Adolescents, he said, often drop hints if they are considering suicide, so it’s important to tune in to those signals.

Emphasizing this recommendation is UNTHSC Assistant Professor Karen Bell, PhD, who has studied and consulted on suicide prevention for adolescents and college-age students.

Dr. Bell, a faculty member in the UNTHSC School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems, said that around 90 percent of students talk to their friends about their problems, and 80 percent are apt to talk to family members, “making it critically important for social networks to communicate with each other and serve as a gatekeeper to get potentially suicidal people to helping resources that can keep them safe.”

Resources are available through the American and International Foundations for Suicide Prevention, and phone counselors can be reached at anytime by calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

New efforts are also being made to screen for suicide risk through primary care providers.

“This is important, not just because many individuals with depression or suicidal thoughts never reach out to a psychologist or psychiatrist, but also because of the huge shortage of mental health professionals in today’s workforce,” Dr. Prabhakar said. “By using clinical interview and screening tools at the primary physician’s office – which can be as simple as asking just a few key questions about how a person is doing or feeling – we can hopefully identify and connect earlier with at-risk individuals. With appropriate help, there is hope and people do get better.”

Posted Date: June 19, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Usphssymposium2018

 

Dr. Dennis Thombs, Dean of the UNTHSC School of Public Health, recently spoke to a capacity crowd of more than 1,200 attendees at the 2018 United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Scientific and Training Symposium in Dallas.

The SPH was chosen as this year’s Academic Partner for the event, which brings U.S. Public Health Service members together with health professionals from across the country for continuing education, to build peer relationships and to gain valuable information on advances in health care and public health.

Key government leaders represented on the program included the Assistant Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services, ADM Brett Giroir, MD, and U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, MD, MPH.

As one of the event’s opening presenters, focused on this year’s theme of “Ensuring Health for Generations to Come: Science Matters,” Dr. Thombs had an opportunity to share information on academics and research at UNTHSC and ways that faculty, students and alumni are helping to find solutions for improved public health and a healthier nation.

A number of SPH researchers were also invited to speak at select breakout sessions, including:

  • Scott Walters, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems: “m.chat: Integrating Health Coaching and Technology with Vulnerable Clients
  • Erika Thompson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “A Social Determinants of Health Approach to HPV Vaccination among Young Adult Women, National Health Interview 2016
  • Marcy Paul, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “#PPEPtalk Texas – A Life Course and Peer Preconception Health Education Program in Texas
  • Erica Stockbridge, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems:Public Health/Private Healthcare Sector Initiatives to Forward Domestic Tuberculosis Elimination
  • SPH student Jialiang Liu with Menghua Tao, PhD, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology: “Comparison of Micronutrient Intakes by Body Weight Level among African American and Hispanic Women
  • Dana Litt, PhD, Associate Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems:I Tweet, Therefore I Am: Examining the Relations Between Alcohol-related Twitter Content and Alcohol Cognitions and Alcohol Use among Young Adults
  • Melissa Lewis, PhD, Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “Evaluating Personalized Feedback Intervention Framing with a Randomized Controlled Trial to Reduce Young Adult Alcohol-related Sexual Risk Taking
  • Harvey Brenner, PhD, Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “Impact of Patient and Hospital Economic Resources on Patient Safety and Hospital Mortality
  • SPH student Leslie Allsopp with David Sterling, PhD, CIH, ROH, Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology: “Estimating School Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution, to Inform Siting of Lower Cost Air Monitors and Support Measures to Reduce Risk

“It was very exciting for our school to serve as this year’s Academic Partner and to meet with so many public health, health care and government representatives from around the country who are making a difference in the lives of others,” Dr. Thombs said. “Many of our alumni pursue careers with the U.S. Public Health Service, making this opportunity even more meaningful as we reconnected and they shared details on their experiences in the field.”

Posted Date: June 14, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Heads Up May 2018Robyn Remotigue has spent more than 20 years in the field of research administration, using her background, talents and enthusiasm since 2013 to develop the Office of Research Services for the UNTHSC School of Public Health (SPH).

This summer she is being honored for her dedication to the field with a prestigious distinguished service award from the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA).

Remotigue, who serves as SPH Director of Research Services, has been named as the 2018 NCURA Julia Jacobsen Distinguished Service Award winner, recognizing her “sustained and distinctive contributions to NCURA that have, in turn, had a positive effect on the entire research community,” said NCURA President Georgette Sakumoto.

The award will be presented in August at the organization’s 60th annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Each year, no more than five research administrators across the United States are selected for this honor, from among NCURA’s more than 7,000 members.

Remotigue has been a member of NCURA for 16 years, having served on the organization’s faculty for Level II Critical Issues in Research Administration traveling workshops, as a member of the NCURA Education Scholarship Fund Select Committee, and currently as Co-Chair for this year’s NCURA annual meeting.

Since joining UNTHSC, she has worked across the university with faculty and leadership to build an infrastructure within the SPH supporting and guiding compliance and funding initiatives, research collaborations, and grant proposal submissions and administration.

One success of the SPH program has been creation of The WriteStuff, a series of bi-weekly sessions for non-tenured and tenure track faculty to present on grant proposals currently in development, to gain constructive peer feedback from the group.

The WriteStuff has been instrumental in encouraging collaboration among the faculty, providing a venue for sharing new ideas and boosting the number of proposal submissions,” said Dr. Dennis Thombs, Dean of the School of Public Health. “This is important to the university’s research program and our efforts to advance public health solutions.”

“Our school congratulates Robyn on this year’s NCURA distinguished service award, reflecting her leadership and visionary approach to the field of research administration and UNTHSC public health research,” he said.

Posted Date: June 11, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Cathleen KearnsDevang Agravat, MPH (Biostatistics), who graduated in May from the UNTHSC School of Public Health (SPH), received four employment offers from well-respected research institutes around the country, selecting the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice as his place to be.

Devang recently moved to the Dartmouth College community in New Hampshire to begin his new responsibilities as a Research Analyst, working with Medicare data management and analytics.

Before choosing Dartmouth, he considered offers from the University of Michigan/Michigan Medicine’s Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy; the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins; and Arizona State University’s Center for Health Information and Research.  He had interviewed with other institutions as well, but narrowed his search down to this select few.

The current job, he said, seems like the right fit and should also provide opportunities for future career growth.

“During the interviews, I saw that I liked the Dartmouth team structure, and the supervisor was a good match for me,” he said. “Also, the work I completed during my SPH graduate internship is in line with the type of role I will take on at Dartmouth.”

“I am familiar with the software systems used at Dartmouth, and there are opportunities to move up and grow into team leadership and statistical management. This is a place where I see myself contributing on a long-term basis,” he said.

With an undergraduate degree in dentistry, Devang was introduced to UNTHSC by an MPH alumnus who was working in Washington, D.C.

“He recommended the UNTHSC School of Public Health. Originally I thought about exploring Epidemiology, but quickly found myself drawn to Biostatistics; the program is very good at providing students important statistical knowledge, and I really liked working with the numbers and data, seeing how they impact public health research and policy,” he said.

Posted Date: June 4, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Dr. Lee

Dr. Lee (right) and students processing mosquito samples in the UNTHSC lab

While most people do everything they can to avoid mosquitos in the summer, medical entomologist Joon-Hak Lee, PhD, goes out of his way to track them down.

Dr. Lee, an Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health, has spent the last six mosquito seasons researching the insects’ activities and predicting trends for the City of Fort Worth, in an effort to keep the community informed on the risk of West Nile virus (WNV).

Five days a week from May through October, Dr. Lee and student researchers can be found placing traps around town, collecting mosquitos and analyzing them back at the UNTHSC-campus lab. While there are other viruses like Zika and Chikungunya that can be transmitted by mosquitos, the threat of WNV is by far the most pressing concern in Texas and the local Tarrant County area, Dr. Lee said.

This year, 50 mosquito-monitoring sites are active across the city, with another 12 trapping stations set up at parks, including the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, Fort Worth Zoo and the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge.

Mondays are reserved for setting the traps, with pickup and processing on Tuesdays. Mosquito samples are analyzed in the lab on Wednesdays, and updates are provided to Fort Worth officials each Thursday via conference calls and written reports.

“It’s a consistent approach throughout the summer,” Dr. Lee said, “so that local residents can be alerted if they need to take extra precautions when planning their outdoor activities.”

Communications for the public – through signage, emails, news briefs, neighborhood association meetings, even door-to-door campaigns if warranted – are generally the first methods used when the threat of mosquito-borne infection is high, before pesticide spraying is employed. The City’s website also offers a list of tips for keeping mosquitos away when spending time outside.

“The goal is to protect and prevent,” Dr. Lee said. “The City’s mosquito surveillance relationship with UNT Health Science Center over the last six years demonstrates an ongoing commitment to protecting citizens and being ready to take action as needed for their health and safety.”

Posted Date: May 25, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Marissa TanUNT Health Science Center dual-degree student Marissa Tan, who graduates this month with both a D.O. degree and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH), has received the U.S. Public Health Service Award for Excellence in Public Health, in recognition of her work to promote health equity through academics, research and volunteerism.

This national award is given to medical students who are public health champions in advancing the U.S. Public Health Service mission to “protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the nation” and who are helping to address public health issues in their communities.

Since 2012, the Excellence in Public Health Award has been given by the USPHS to visionary medical students who are advancing initiatives to improve social justice.

Prior to beginning her studies in the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) and the School of Public Health, Tan worked for AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) at a public housing authority in Reading, Pennsylvania, where she developed resources, mobilized partnerships and informed/measured programming to increase public housing residents’ access to wellness opportunities for improving nutrition and physical activity.

While at UNTHSC, she was involved as a graduate research assistant for “Better Me Within,” a community-based participatory research program working with Dallas churches to reach African American women at high risk for obesity-related chronic illnesses.

Through her epidemiology elective at the CDC, Tan also assisted in projects related to One Health Zoonotic Disease Prioritization; the 2017 Brucella RB51 raw milk outbreak in North Texas; and emergency response efforts for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

“Being able to add the MPH to my medical degree was important, because I had seen up close the barriers to health that vulnerable populations face when I worked for VISTA,” Tan said. “Beyond the individual patient, there are larger determinants of health, like social, environmental and economic factors, and I wanted to study those alongside my medical courses, in pursuit of health equity.”

Following graduation, Tan will pursue a residency in preventive medicine with a transitional year in Cooperstown, New York, and then Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore.

Posted Date: May 21, 2018

By Sally Crocker

UsphsUNT Health Science Center has been selected as this year’s Academic Partner for the 2018 United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Scientific and Training Symposium, to be held June 4-7 in Dallas.

This conference, which annually draws more than 1,200 U.S. Public Health Service members and health professionals nationwide, offers an opportunity for attendees to gain continuing education credits, build peer relationships, and learn about advances in the fields of health care and public health.

UNTHSC School of Public Health faculty and students will be presenting at the symposium, which will focus this year on “Ensuring Health for Generations to Come: Science Matters.”

The theme is intended to showcase initiatives and activities that address upstream influences on health and help protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the nation and future generations.

Presenters from the UNTHSC School of Public Health will include:

  • Scott Walters, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems: “m-chat: Integrating Health Coaching and Technology with Vulnerable Clients
  • Erika Thompson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “A Social Determinants of Health Approach to HPV Vaccination among Young Adult Women, National Health Interview 2016
  • Marcy Paul, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “#PPEPtalk Texas – A Life Course and Peer Preconception Health Education Program in Texas
  • Erica Stockbridge, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “Public Health/Private Healthcare Sector Initiatives to Forward Domestic Tuberculosis Elimination
  • SPH student Jialiang Liu with Menghua Tao, PhD, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology: “Comparison of Micronutrient Intakes by Body Weight Level among African American and Hispanic Women
  • Dana Litt, PhD, Associate Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems:I Tweet, Therefore I Am: Examining the Relations Between Alcohol-related Twitter Content and Alcohol Cognitions and Alcohol Use among Young Adults
  • Melissa Lewis, PhD, Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “Evaluating Personalized Feedback Intervention Framing with a Randomized Controlled Trial to Reduce Young Adult Alcohol-related Sexual Risk Taking
  • Harvey Brenner, PhD, Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “Impact of Patient and Hospital Economic Resources on Patient Safety and Hospital Mortality
  • SPH student Leslie Allsopp with David Sterling, PhD, CIH, ROH, Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology: “Estimating School Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution, to Inform Siting of Lower Cost Air Monitors and Support Measures to Reduce Risk

Posted Date: May 15, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Wiley Ppeptalk

College student Tassanee Harris isn’t planning to start a family anytime soon, but she’s taking steps now to help ensure that when she’s ready, she can be at her healthiest, to give her future children the best start possible.

Harris, a junior at Paul Quinn College, a Historically Black College in Dallas, is an advisory board member for #PPEPtalk, a Peer Preconception Education (PPE) program led by a UNT Health Science Center public health team, funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Sponsored by a state grant since 2015, the program is managed by Principal Investigator Marcy L. Paul, PhD, Assistant Professor in the UNTHSC School of Public Health, and PPE Project Coordinator Lesley Jimenez, MA, MPH, CPH.

So far, the program has reached more than 900 students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) in Texas, using peer relationships to spread preconception information and Life Course health messages, in an effort to break the cycle of infant mortality among African Americans.

Unthsc Ppeptalk“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH), the national link to our program, launched a campaign in 2007, “A Healthy Baby Begins with You,” to raise awareness and address the troubling rates of infant mortality among African Americans, focusing on the steps women and men of childbearing age should take to improve their health,” Dr. Paul said. “Data shows that infants born to African American mothers are more than twice as likely to die during their first year of life, and research indicates that by improving a woman’s overall health throughout her lifetime, birth outcomes, and the health of her children and their children can be improved.”

PPE uses a “train the trainer” approach, certifying student peer educators, who then introduce programs and activities on their campuses related to physical and mental health, sexual health, healthy relationships and preconception wellness.

“The goal is to get the campus healthy before they decide they are ready to start a family and have kids,” Harris said.

At Paul Quinn, the program has been important in helping students who live away from home who might not always practice healthy behaviors.

“We offer stress relief programs. We distribute condoms and host speakers on sexual health. We host ‘Get into Shape’ events, yoga classes and nutrition programs where we talk about eating healthy on a college student’s budget,” Harris said. “Our most successful events have been Campus Open Mic Nights, where students have the voice. Anyone can take the microphone to talk about mind, body and soul in any way they want; people sing, dance, share poetry, it’s up to them, and it gets pretty creative.”

The programs have been so well received on campus, Harris said, that their PPE group won Paul Quinn Organization of the Year for 2017.

“The program is much needed on our campus as well as the community, and it’s currently in the works to also reach out to surrounding zip codes near our school,” she said.

Project Coordinator Jimenez travels the state to connect with the nine Texas HBCU’s, and the students themselves communicate across campuses to share ideas that have worked for them.

“The question we are often asked is, if I’m not planning to have a baby, why would I care,” Jimenez said. “Students are surprised to learn how their health behaviors now can impact the future, and for male students, it also involves building awareness of how they, too, are a part of preconception health.”

Dallas neonatologist Terri L. Major-Kincade, MD, has been involved with PPE since 2012, helping to develop the curriculum with March of Dimes, leading workshops and serving as faculty and mentor.  She was the first to present PPE in Texas when she trained students at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.

“Some of the biggest accomplishments of the program so far have been the sheer number of students we have been able to train and the number of HBCU’s we have made connections with,” she said. ”One of my favorite classes involved the football team at Texas College in Tyler. It was really cool to see football players getting excited about playing the Life Course Game, holding tiny preterm baby models, learning about sexual health and how it affects babies, and offering suggestions for increasing awareness on campus from the male point of view. Since the program joined UNT Health Science Center, we have been able to reach even more students and bring in additional institutions across Texas to help share the message.”

Posted Date: May 9, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Sph Students 2018

The UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health (SPH) recently recognized 2017-18 academic year student, faculty, staff and alumni accomplishments at its annual End of Year Celebration.

At the ceremony, Brandon Hoff, MPH – Maternal and Child Health (MACH) concentration, was admitted into the Alpha Sigma Chapter of Delta Omega national public health honor society, which recognizes demonstrated academic excellence, leadership, activity, commitment and exemplary work in the field of public health.

Dr. Witold Migala, Chapter President, said, “As a MACH student, Brandon’s goal was to learn, be a leader among his peers, and use his critical understanding of public health as the foundation for his medical school goals. Mr. Hoff’s academic achievements are stellar; he has also taken advantage of the many SPH opportunities that have added to his MPH educational and practical experiences, toward the DO degree he will pursue in the fall.”

Dr. Migala also named this year’s community inductee, Mayor Betsy Price, into the honor society, for her longstanding commitment to public health initiatives in the Fort Worth community, including the Blue Zones Project, Smoke Free Fort Worth, The Fort Worth Safe Communities Coalition, Bike Share, Safe Roads Initiative and Childhood Literacy programs.

Dr. Fifonsi Gbeasor, MPH ’08, was named as this year’s alumni inductee into Delta Omega, to recognize her outstanding work in public health since completing her UNTHSC degree.

Dr. Thombs & ShlesmaSince graduating from the SPH, Dr. Gbeasor has received a certificate in Gerontology from the Universite’ de Lille 2, France, and is currently working on her PhD and a public heath residency from the Universite’ de Lome’ Public Health Department, Universite de Lome’, Togo.

“Dr. Gbeasor demonstrates a strong commitment to improving the health of others through public health activities and initiatives,” Dr. Migala said. “She has also dedicated time to helping future students learn about public health, and she brings a unique, international perspective to her practice.”

Dr. Misty Smethers from the SPH faculty was also inducted into Delta Omega, for her dedicated service to student success and the mission of the SPH.

“In leading the Office of SPH Academic Services, she is focused on helping students achieve their greatest public health potential,” Dr. Migala said.

With a wide range of experience, research and academic accomplishments, Dr. Smethers has worked at UNT Health Science Center for 12 years and for the SPH for the last nine years, serving as an advocate for student needs and encouraging quality and achievement. She has previously been honored as Outstanding Staff Member by the UNTHSC Public Health Student Government Association (PHSGA) in 2016, 2014 and 2010, and was named as Outstanding PHSGA Advisor in 2010.

Students named to the Dean’s List by Dr. Dennis Thombs, SPH Dean, were Upendra Chaudhary, Phoebe Chi, Christian Chukwuma, Jessica De Hoyos, Christopher Dievi, Laura Abasi Feghali, Tasneem Hasan, Brandon Hoff, Deepti Joshi, Hannah Ligon, Jennifer Liou, Danielle Lynn, Michael McClure, Armando Moreno, Jessica Mussatto, Sarah Paetz, Kim Rahebi, Laci Sherman, Mandy Spadine, Kathleen Spangler, Stephanie Spohr, Marissa Tan, Maureen Thomas and Calvin Wimmer.

Laura Phipps was presented with the Dean’s Award for Scholarly Excellence in Academics, and Shlesma Chhetri received the Dean’s Award for Scholarly Excellence in Research.

This year’s Leon Brachman Award was presented to Lily Metzler. The award is given annually to a public health student in the MPH or MHA program demonstrating exemplary academic achievement in his or her graduate course of study. The award is named in honor of the community leader and philanthropist who helped establish the UNTHSC School of Public Health in 1999.

The 2018 Kenneth Cooper Award winner was Yuhan Huang. This award – presented to an outstanding MPH or MHA student demonstrating excellence and quality in the application of research methods in preparation for the thesis or other research activities – is named for best-selling author and internationally known health/wellness guru Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, who started the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas in 1970 and pioneered the concept of preventive medicine and healthy lifestyle.

Drs. Bell & SuzukiCurtizia Alexander was presented with the Bob Crow Award, named for the former executive director of the Texas charitable Amon G. Carter Foundation and past member of the school’s Steering Committee, recognizing an outstanding MPH or MHA student with exemplary leadership and service to the school and community.

The UNTHSC Public Health Student Government Association also presented honors, highlighting faculty and staff members for going above and beyond in support of SPH students.

“Each year, the PHSGA recognizes faculty and staff who have supported students through quality teaching, research, advising and service,” said student representative Armando Moreno on behalf of PHSGA. “These awards were voted on by the student body and serve to acknowledge faculty and staff who have worked hard over the last year and have consistently gone out of their way to ensure student success.”

Recognized were Dr. Wonseok Choi for Outstanding Faculty in Teaching, Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems; Dr. Brad Cannell for Outstanding Faculty in Teaching, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology; Dr. Melissa Oden for Outstanding Faculty Member in Research, Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems; Dr. Alisa Rich for Outstanding Faculty Member in Research, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology; Dr. Katherine Fogelberg, Outstanding Faculty Advisor, receiving this award for the second year in a row; and Beth Hargrove as Outstanding Public Health Staff Member.

The following individuals were thanked for their service over the year as 2018 SPH Student Ambassadors, assisting and serving as a resource for panels, tours, interview days and other events; some also worked as part of the Admissions Office team during the year: Luvleen Dharni, Vaishu Garapati, Rusty Gordon, Priscilla Kha, Ayianna Kennerly, Sarah Matthes, Laura Mayfield, Kimberly Morris, Jessica Mussato, Sana Nashikkar, Tony Nnaka, Natalie Requenez and Maureen Thomas.

Students recognized for their help in welcoming peers to the new school year, assisting with scheduling issues, helping to guide peers through mid-terms and preparations for finals, assisting with event planning and working on SPH Academic Services communications throughout the year were Sarah Paetz, Crystal Bui, Curtizia Alexander, Esther Galadima, Alice Miank, Elizabeth Velarde, Hector Rodriguez, Natalie Requenez and Vaishu Garapati.

This year a new award was presented for SPH Faculty and Staff Recognition, to honor SPH faculty for excellent/impactful teaching, research or service, and SPH staff for major contributions to the school and their department over the previous 12 months. Candidates were nominated by their peers, with award selections made by a committee of non-administrative faculty and staff.

Honored for Excellence in Teaching were Dr. Karen Bell and Dr. Karabi Nandy.

Dr. Marcy Paul was recognized for Excellence in Service, which honors individuals who have made a measurable impact on public health, policy or practice.

The Excellence by Staff award went to Ms. Terry Voss. This presentation honors outstanding performance by a School of Public Health staff member for contributions to the community and others, or noteworthy efforts that go above and beyond workplace duties and expectations.