Dean's Office

Faculty Tenure and Promotion Awardees

Please join us in congratulating the following PHHP faculty members who have achieved important milestones in their academic careers. We are extremely proud of these individuals whose hard work and significant accomplishments have been recognized by the university.

Awardees (top to bottom, left to right):
Dr. Yueh-Yun Chi, (biostatistics) was promoted to the rank of Research Associate Professor
Dr. Vonetta Dotson, (clinical and health psychology) was awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor
Dr. Steven George, (physical therapy) was promoted to the rank of Professor
Dr. Xiaomin Lu, (biostatistics) was promoted to the rank of Research Associate Professor
Dr. Volker Mai, (epidemiology) was awarded tenure
Dr. Carolynn Patten, (physical therapy) was promoted to the rank of Professor
Dr. Yang Yang, (biostatistics) was awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor


Environmental and Global Health

 PhD Student Sarah White Published in the Journal of Clinical Virology

Sarah White, a third year Environmental and Global Health PhD student, published her research on the presence of antibodies to influenza D virus in humans in the Journal of Clinical Virology. Influenza D virus is a novel type of influenza virus first isolated in 2013 from pigs and cows. It is distantly related to influenza A and B viruses. Recent influenza D virus research has focused on cattle, thought to be the primary reservoir of the virus. But with access to archived serum samples from cattle-exposed workers in north central Florida, Sarah along with her advisor, Dr. John Lednicky, pursued a novel exploratory study to gain insights on the zoonotic potential of influenza D virus. Seroprevalence among individuals working with cattle in north central Florida was approximately 94%, with the national seroprevalence among cows being closer to 88%. Results indicate that exposure to cattle and likely influenza D virus elicits an immune response, but human influenza D virus infection remains unknown. The group hopes this research fosters interest in studying influenza D virus as a potential emerging zoonotic pathogen. Read more


The Department of Environmental and Global Health Student Council

The Environmental and Global Health Department has developed a new Student Council that serves to provide valuable feedback to the faculty and promote student involvement within the department, university, and greater Gainesville community. All representatives are dedicated students of our doctoral and masters degree programs. The group meets once per month and each student participates on subcommittees that focus on educational, service, and social activities. New initiatives for Fall 2016 include student-organized voluntary community service efforts, enrichment workshops, and the creation of resources to assist with international students in transitioning to UF.  

Student Council Members:

• Recruitment and Retention Success: Yaser Alsahafi, Emi Moore, Christopher Pierson

• Educational Programs: Mirna Amaya, Jennifer Bouland, Haley Johnson, Felipe Sanchez

• Social and Service Events: Amanda Buerger, Lindsey Laytner, Alyssa Simons, Sara Townsend



Epidemiology Welcomes Yan Wang, PhD, Research Assistant Scientist

Dr. Yan Wang started as a Research Assistant Scientist with the department on July 1. Dr. Wang received her PhD in Child and Family Studies from Syracuse University in 2013, and joined the Department of Epidemiology as a postdoctoral research associate in 2014. With an interdisciplinary perspective arising from training in both psychology and epidemiology, her research focuses on using advanced methodology to investigate the complex etiological processes involved in risk behaviors, especially alcohol/tobacco use and sexual risk behaviors among youth and vulnerable populations such as rural residents and persons living with HIV/AIDS. She has worked on a number of NIH funded projects including studies looking at: mental health and risk behaviors among urban, rural-to-urban migrants, and rural residents in China, alcohol use among persons living with HIV/AIDS in Florida; and sexual risk behaviors analyzed through advanced quantum modeling. We are excited to have Dr. Wang as part of the team.

 Two New T32 Trainees

Amy Elliott and Zachary Mannes have joined the University of Florida Substance Abuse Training Center in Public Health as predoctoral trainees. Amy Elliott earned her MS in Epidemiology in May and is now a PhD student in Epidemiology. The focus of her research in the program will be comorbidities between substance use disorders and anxiety/depressive disorders. Zach Mannes has an MS in Clinical Psychology and is currently a PhD student in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology. His research interests are biopsychosocial determinants of substance misuse in underrepresented populations and the development and implementation of interventions to address substance misuse for medically underserved populations.

Congratulations to Three Epidemiology PhD Graduates

This summer three Epidemiology doctoral students have passed their dissertation defenses and will be graduating, bringing the total to 17 graduates. On June 30, Emeka Okafor (left) defended his dissertation titled “Marijuana Use Among HIV-Seropositive and HIV-Seronegative Men: Long Term Trends, Predictors of Use and Impact on Cognitive Function”. Emeka will soon be leaving Gainesville for a prestigious postdoctoral position at UCLA. Nancy Seraphin (center) completed her dissertation defense on July 14 studying “Tuberculosis Acquisition and Transmission among Persons of Haitian Descent Living in Florida”. Nancy will remain at the University of Florida as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Medicine – Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine. Hui Hu (right) presented his dissertation titled “Neighborhood Environment and Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy” on June 17 and will be joining the faculty of our department as an Assistant Research Scientist in late August. We are very proud of their hard work and look forward to their future contributions.


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

Mainous Study on Prediabetes in Healthy Weight Adults Believed to Be the First of Its Kind

Dr. Arch G. Mainous, III, PhD, Chair, Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy, published a paper in the Annals of Family Medicine on prediabetes in healthy weight adults. It is believed to be the first study looking at this issue. The findings are cause for concern, because under current guidelines, these individuals would likely not be screened for the condition. Co-authors incude Rebecca Tanner, MA, Ara Jo, MS and Stephen Anton, PhD. Read more

Recent MPH Graduate and Incoming PhD Student Receives Award

Danielle Scheer, a 2016 graduate from the Master's of Public Health program and an incoming Health Services Research PhD student, received the 3rd Annual Rene Jahiel Best Poster Award for the Disability Research Interest Group at the Academy Health Annual Research Meeting. Congratulations Danielle!


Rehabilitation Science

Rehabilitation Science PhD (RSD) Program Student Poster Presentations and Awards

Abhinandan Batra received a Best Poster award at the New Directions in Biology and Disease of Skeletal Muscle Conference in Orlando, Florida for his poster titled "Relationship between Cardiac Muscle Involvement and Lower Limb Muscle Composition in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)". In addition to receiving a cash prize award, his next grant submission to the Muscular Dystrophy Association will be fast-tracked. Batra is mentored by Physical Therapy Department Professor and Chair Dr. Krista Vandenborne.

Joseph Wasser presented a poster titled “Kinematic Factors Associated with Shoulder Pain in Youth Archers at the American College of Sports Medicine 63rd Annual Meeting, 7th World Congress on Exercise in Medicine and World Congress on the Basic Science of Energy Balance. This internationally renowned, comprehensive sports medicine and exercise science meeting is attended by more than 6,000 professionals from around the world. Wasser received a $250 travel award from the Rehabilitation Science program to share his work. Wasser is mentored by Dr. Heather Vincent, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, College of Medicine.

Laura Zdziarski was recently awarded the Jerry Rhea/Atlanta Falcons Scholarship from the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Research and Education Foundation. Zdziarski, mentored by RSD faculty member Dr. Heather Vincent, also received a P.E.O. International Scholar Award in recognition of her high level of academic achievement.



Physical Therapy

Butera Named as a PODS I Scholarship Recipient

Katie Butera, a second year Rehabilitation Science PhD student, mentored by Associate Professor and DPT Director Dr. Steven George, has been awarded a Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) I Scholarship from the Foundation for Physical Therapy and supported by the Neurology Section Endowment Fund.

Lentz Awarded 2016 Viva J. Erickson Award

Trevor Lentz, a third year Rehabilitation Science PhD student, mentored by Dr. Steven George, has been selected by the Foundation for Physical Therapy Board of Trustees to receive a 2016 Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) II Scholarship in the amount of $15,000. This scholarship has been designated as the 2016 Viva J. Erickson Award and recognizes outstanding academic and leadership achievement. The award is given in honor of Viva J. Erickson, PT, an accomplished physical therapist and leader within the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). The pool of applicants for this opportunity was extremely competitive and Lentz’s application was deemed to have among the most outstanding potential.

These awards will help further Butera's and Lentz's dissertation research.

Student Led GAiTOR Challenge Program Successfully Take On the Challenges of the Florida Summer

Doctorate of Physical Therapy student organizers of the GAiTOR Challenge program are changing up the program’s normal routines to stave off the sunshine state’s steamy, stormy summer weather. The students are creating personalized workout plans for all participants in this student-run program which is partnered with the Alachua Department of Health. Summer sessions have been hosted in the air conditioned library at Fred Cone Park and offer education on health needs and inquiries in an effort to promote physical activity to local Gainesville residents. More information on this program can be found at http://pt.phhp.ufl.edu/outreach/gaitor-challenge/ and through program advisor Physical Therapy Department Associate Professor Dr. Kim Dunleavy.


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Lorenzo Accepts an ORISE Fellowship in the Office of Minority Health (OMH) in Rockville, MD

Felix Lorenzo is a summer 2016 graduate with a PhD in public health (social behavioral sciences concentration). His dissertation explored cardiovascular health differences in Latino/as of different countries of origin. Felix has accepted an ORISE Fellowship in the Office of Minority Health (OMH) in Rockville, MD. As a fellow, he will work on U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) programs that address disease prevention, health promotion, risk reduction, and barriers to health care for racial and ethnic minorities.  ​


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Bridging the Gap: Translating Research to Clinical Practice

Dr. Karen Hegland (left) and close collaborator Dr. Michelle Troche of Columbia University (right), have been awarded a grant by the Michael J. Fox Foundation to study a novel behavioral treatment for airway protection deficits in people with Parkinson's disease (PD), who often succumb to aspiration pneumonia. Drs. Hegland and Troche developed the treatment based on their preliminary data showing the potential for voluntary up-regulation of reflexive cough in people with PD. This study will be the first to investigate a behavioral treatment for disordered cough in any patient population, representing a significant advancement for the management of patients with airway protective disorders.

Humbert Invited to Present at University of California, San Francisco

Ianessa Humbert, PhD, CCC-SLP provided a one-day course to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) on Critical Thinking in Dysphagia Management. The data presented included preliminary findings that she and her doctoral
student, Alicia Vose MA, CCC-SLP, have collected from a study that investigated accuracy in clinical decision making among SLPs who practice dysphagia management(funded by American Speech Language Hearing Foundation).

(left to right) Jonathan Waller, MA, CCC-SLP (founder of Dysphagia Cafe), Dr. Humbert, and Dan Weinstein, MA, CCC-SLP (Speech Pathology Supervisor, Department of Rehabilitative Services, UCSF).



Doctoral Student, Xinrui Zhang, Receives Student Paper Award

Ms. Xinrui Zhang, received the Jiann-Ping Hsu Pharmaceutical and Regulatory Sciences Student Paper Award at the 2016 Applied Statistics Symposium of the International Chinese Statistical Association held last month in Atlanta.

Ms. Zhang’s paper, entitled “Internal pilot design for repeated measures,” was motivated by the need to design a longitudinal study to investigate the effect of antiretroviral therapy for youth living with HIV. The cross-sectional study to which Ms. Zhang provided statistical support has identified potential contributing biomarkers whose profiles were associated with HIV treatments and immunological health, such as viral load. Planning a clinical trial with biomarkers measured over time requires power calculation for repeated measures and a proper choice of the error covariance matrix. Accurate determination of the nuisance parameters in the error covariance matrix is important to ensure adequate power analysis and sample size selection. The internal pilot design accounts for the uncertainty in specifying the covariance matrix by using a fraction of the data to re-estimate the nuisance parameters and adjust the final sample size.

In the paper, Ms. Zhang sought to extend the internal pilot design to studies with repeatedly measured outcomes, and derived the distribution of the Univariate Approach to Repeated Measures test statistic for final analysis. The methods she developed enable the power and sample size calculation for clinical trials or epidemiological studies with repeated measures of continuous outcome.


Clinical and Health Psychology

Postdoctoral Student, Shellie-Anne Levy, Offered Full Support to Attend Conference

Shellie-Anne Levy, PhD, was selected and offered full support to attend the Advanced Psychometrics Methods in Cognitive Aging Research Conference that was held in June 2016 at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratory. The conference’s overall mission is to expose developing and established researchers to state of the art psychometric and data analytic methods for use in cognitive aging research. Dr. Levy is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow & NIH/NINDS Diversity Supplement Awardee mentored by Catherine Price, PhD, ABPP.

Hungry Parents May Feed Their Kids More, UF Study Finds

In a pilot study of 29 children ages 3 to 6 and their mothers, researchers asked mothers to rate their hunger as well as their child’s hunger prior to a meal. Among women who were overweight or obese, those who rated their own hunger higher also perceived their child’s hunger as higher, and in turn, served their child larger portions of food. Findings appeared in the June issue of the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Because young children have difficulty recognizing when they are full, the more food they are presented at mealtime, the more they are likely to eat,” said lead investigator Sarah Stromberg, a clinical psychology doctoral student in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology. Read more