Professor Sam Wu and Associate Professor Yang Yang Awarded UF Term Professorships

Congratulations to two Department of Biostatistics faculty members, Sam Wu, PhD, and Yang Yang, PhD, who are both recipients of the UF Term Professorships. The University Term Professorships are awarded to recognize recent contributions and reward faculty achievements based on an assessment of academic accomplishments. These awards also provide incentives for continued excellence.

PhD Student Tyler Grimes Receives Travel Award

Congratulations to first year PhD biostatistics student, Tyler Grimes, who received a travel award from the International Society for Computational Biology to attend the 25th Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology and the 16th European Conference on Computational Biology. This conference will be held in Prague, Czech Republic from July 21 to July 25, 2017. Tyler’s paper, titled “Predicting Survival Times for Neuroblastoma Patients Using RNA-Seq Expression Profiles” is the result of joint research efforts with Drs. Susmita Datta, Alejandro Walker, and Somnath Datta. The paper analyzes a challenge data set for Critical Assessment of Massive Data Analysis track. The paper also received the highest level of award which includes travel compensation and the opportunity to give a 20-minute presentation during the conference. Based on the presentation, Tyler will have the chance to compete for a one-year membership to F1000Prime, a free journal publication in F1000Research, and the prestigious CAMDA trophy. 

Robert L. Parker, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor

The Department of Biostatistics is pleased to announce Dr. Robert L. Parker has joined the department in the capacity of clinical assistant professor.

Dr. Parker received his PhD in Statistics from the University of Florida in May 2017. He received his MS in Mathematics from Mississippi State University and his BS in Mathematics from Millsaps College. He has spent the past five years as a graduate teaching assistant in the Statistics Department at UF, where he was the instructor for several introductory statistics courses and as an adjunct instructor with Santa Fe College, Department of Mathematics. He has been in a teaching capacity for the past seven years. 

Areas of research for Dr. Parker include probability theory, stochastic processes, laws of large numbers for Banach space valued random elements, Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC), and Bayesian methods. In his free time, Dr. Parker enjoys reading, playing tennis, and spending time outdoors with his two dogs, Abby and Zoe. Welcome Dr. Parker!


Clinical and Health Psychology

Dr. Shellie-Ann Levy Wins a Three-Year Grant from Alzheimer Association

Dr. Levy, a newly hired clinical assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Health and Psychology, was awarded an Alzheimer’s Association grant entitled, “Engaging Diverse Populations in Behavioral Interventions for MCI.” This pilot study has been funded for three years and will examine the barriers to recruitment, enrollment, and retention of older African Americans to a successful and already established cognitive rehabilitation program HABIT® (Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking). The HABIT® program is designed to prevent progression in individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

Fedele Wins CTSI Pilot Grant

Faculty member David Fedele’s application to the Translational Pilot Program of the University of Florida’s Clinical and Translational Research Institute has been funded. The award is for a $15,000 pilot project entitled, Engaging Rural Communities in Asthma Care.” The project summary states, “Pediatric asthma affects over 8% of youth and is a leading cause of pediatric emergency department visits and school absences. Youth diagnosed with asthma residing in rural areas are at-risk to be socioeconomically disadvantaged, medically underserved, and face restricted access to quality healthcare, particularly asthma specialists, increasing their likelihood of poor asthma outcomes.”

Scott and Thompson Win Poster Award

On April 15, 2017, 225 students, faculty, and community members gathered at the Reitz Union at the University of Florida for the 12th Annual Conference of the Social Sciences: From Social Problems to Social Promise. Bonnie Scott, a doctoral student in CHP, and her undergraduate assistant placed third in the Outstanding Poster Competition for their poster entitled, "Changes in Functional Independence Over 3 Years in De Novo Parkinson’s Disease Motor Subtypes."

(left to right: Bonnie Scott, Sable Thompson)


Dean's Office

PHHP Faculty Members Awarded Tenure and Promotion

The following College of Public Health and Health Professions faculty members were awarded tenure or promotion from the University of Florida for the 2016-2017 cycle. Congratulations to these individuals on the well-deserved recognition of their significant academic accomplishments.

Top row, left to right

• Dr. Joel Bialosky - promoted to Clinical Associate Professor of Physical Therapy

• Dr. John Kairalla - promoted to Research Associate Professor of Biostatistics

• Dr. Eben Kenah - promoted to Associate Professor of Biostatistics with tenure

Bottom row, left to right

• Dr. Donovan Lott - promoted to Research Associate Professor of Physical Therapy

• Dr. Dorian Rose - promoted to Research Associate Professor of Physical Therapy

• Dr. Brenda Wiens - promoted to Clinical Associate Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology

PHHP Faculty Members Receive UF Term Professorships

On June 16, over 100 faculty and staff joined Dr. Perri at the PHHP college-wide meeting to honor the 2016 and 2017 recipients of the UF Term Professorships. Congratulations to these individuals who have been recognized by the university for their outstanding scholarly achievements.

 Top row, left to right

• Dr. Mark Bishop – Associate Professor of Physical Therapy

• Dr. Dawn Bowers – Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology

• Dr. Robert Cook – Professor of Epidemiology

• Dr. Karen Hegland – Assistant Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

• Dr. David Janicke – Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology

Middle row, left to right

• Dr. Andrew Judge – Associate Professor of Physical Therapy

• Dr. Andrew Kane – Associate Professor of Environmental and Global Health

• Dr. Song Liang – Associate Professor of Environmental and Global Health

• Dr. Kenneth Logan – Associate Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

• Dr. Volker Mai – Associate Professor of Epidemiology

Bottom row, left to right

• Dr. Michael Marsiske – Associate Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology

• Dr. A. Daniel Martin – Professor of Physical Therapy

• Dr. Orit Shechtman – Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy

• Dr. Samuel Wu – Professor of Biostatistics

• Dr. Yang Yang – Associate Professor of Biostatistics

Not pictured

• Dr. Michael Robinson – Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology


Environmental and Global Health

Wind Likely an Important Ecological Factor in Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie

In a study published in the June issue of PLoS One, Dr. Song Liang and his team reported for the first time that wind is likely an important ecological factor, in addition to well-known nutritional and other environmental factors, associated with Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Lake Erie. Based on previous work, they used satellite (MERIS) data to derive 10 years of historical information on Chlorophyll a (Chl-a) and characterize spatiotemporal variability of Chl-a over the west Lake Erie area. They further developed a model using Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines (MARS) to explore factors associated with the dynamics of Chl-a in the region. They found that wind, typically regarded as a phenological factor, and other commonly known ecological factors such as solar radiation, water temperature, and nitrogen concentration, exhibit significant correlations with the observed dynamics of Chl-a despite spatial and temporal variations. The findings offer important information for current knowledge gaps of causes and predictions of HABs and future research.

EGH Postdoctoral Associate Maha Elbadry Publishes Paper on Malaria Prevalence During Pregnancy in Haiti

The presence of malaria during pregnancy in Haitian populations has not been well documented, despite the long history of malaria in Hispaniola. Maha Elbadry, a post-doctoral associate in the EGH department has led a team of international researchers in Haiti to investigate the prevalence of malaria in pregnant populations across the country. The team used a highly sensitive molecular assay designed by Dr. Elbadry to detect malarial infections even at low levels. The study, accepted for publication in the Journal of Tropical Medicine and International Health, showed exceptionally high prevalence of malaria infections among pregnant women in the country which varied by location, suggesting a need for focal intervention plans to support malaria elimination efforts. Click here to view the full manuscript.



Dr. Hui Hu Receives AHA Grant in First Year as Faculty

Research assistant scientist in Epidemiology Hui Hu, PhD, graduated from the Epidemiology PhD program in August 2016 and immediately re-joined the department as faculty. Now, less than one year later, he has received his first grant from the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA’s Scientist Development Grant program aims to support highly promising beginning scientists in cardiovascular and stroke research. Dr. Hu’s project entitled, “The Total Environment and Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy: A Precision Public Health Approach,” will determine the associations between natural, built, and social environmental factors (the total environment) and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Uncovering these associations will allow Dr. Hu to build predictive models of risk factors for hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Congratulations to Dr. Hu on receiving his first grant so early in his career. The department cannot wait to see his inevitable future successes!

MSE Graduate Wins New Investigator Award from APIC

Marko Predic, an MSE graduate in the class of fall 2016, recently won a New Investigator Award for an abstract submitted to the Association of Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) 2017 Annual Conference. The APIC Abstract Sub-Committee recognizes abstracts that demonstrate exemplary scientific merit and are of high interest and relevance to the infection control community. Mr. Predic’s abstract entitled, “Risk Factors for Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae Infection,” will be published in the American Journal of Infection Control online, and he will receive a stipend to attend the APIC 2017 Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon, in June. Mr. Predic currently works as an infection control preventionist at UF Health Jacksonville. Congratulations to Mr. Predic on his well-deserved achievement.

Epidemiology Faculty Honored by MPH Students on Public Health Day

On Public Health Day 2017, the culminating experience of the University of Florida MPH program, two Epidemiology faculty were honored by the Public Health Student Association (PHSA). Founded in 2003 as an organization for MPH students, PHSA is dedicated to the purpose of facilitating community, service, and opportunity for students in the College of Public Health and Health Professions. Cindy Prins, PhD, MPH, CIC, CPH, clinical assistant professor in Epidemiology, assistant dean for educational affairs for PHHP, and director of the MPH Program, received the Public Health Award for Faculty Excellence. Linda B. Cottler, PhD, MPH, FACE, dean’s professor and founding chair in Epidemiology and associate dean for research and planning for PHHP, received the Locksmith Award for Being the Key to Success. Congratulations to Drs. Prins and Cottler on their well-deserved awards, and congratulations to the MPH graduates on their Research Day presentations and on the completion of their degrees.

(left, Dr. Cindy Prins, right, Dr. Linda Cottler)


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

MHA Class of 2015 Graduate Appointed Chief Operating Officer

Madison Workman, MHA, was appointed as the new Chief Operating Officer of Coral Gables Hospital. Madison graduated from the UF Master of Health Administration program in 2015 and began working at the North Shore Medical Center, a sister hospital of Coral Gables. Madison has been responsible for a variety of roles in operations and financial management in his previous positions. He will now be responsible for the implementation of all operational goals and strategic initiatives. This is a huge achievement for Madison. The department is very proud to have him as a part of the Gator Nation!

Tamara Herchel Presents at the Association of University Programs in Health Administration

Tamara Herchel, M Ed, assistant MHA program director, presented at AUHPA’s annual meeting in Long Beach, California on Thursday, June 15. Ms. Herchel and three collaborators facilitated an interactive discussion with participants about identifying unique needs within their own programs, designing trailblazing program initiatives from concept to incorporation, addressing perceived challenges in implementing new program initiatives, and assessing the value and effectiveness of new programming. The session highlighted innovative, experiential learning opportunities recently integrated into the presenters’ curriculum and the benefits of their respective activities received by their students. Ms. Herchel represented the college and the MHA program very well. Congratulations Tammy!


Occupational Therapy

OT Appoints Driver Rehabilitation Specialist

Dr. Luther King is a Chicago native who earned a Masters of Occupational Therapy degree from Chicago State University in 2008 and a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Governors State University in 2016. He has worked for 9 years as a clinician and driver rehabilitation specialist. Dr. King, who has a passion to advance evidence based practice in the field of driver rehabilitation, joined the OT faculty as a clinical assistant professor on June 1. Dr. King will be involved in driving rehabilitation research projects as well as contributing to the department’s education and service mission. Welcome Dr. King, the department wishes you a productive and meaningful tenure at the University of Florida!

Dr. Orit Shechtman Receives 2017 University Term Professorship Award

Dr. Shechtman, an associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, was among sixteen faculty members in the College of PHHP awarded the University Term Professorship in recognition of outstanding scholarly achievements which have contributed greatly to the reputation of UF. Her scholarly achievements revolve around teaching excellence. Specifically, she has won the UF Teacher of the Year Award in 1997-1998; the College of Health Professions Teacher of the Year Award and the UF Health Science Center Division Superior Accomplishment Award in the same period; the College of PHHP Teacher of the Year Award in 2005-2006 and again in 2015. She was honored by students in the Bachelor of Health Science Program with “The 2005-2006 Most Outstanding Faculty Member” and by the Student Occupational Therapy Association with the “The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Occupational Therapy Education.” Congratulations Dr. Shechtman—the OT Department is proud of you!

OT Summit of Scholars: OT RSD Student Ranks Third in National Student Research Poster Competition

At the 6th Annual Occupational Therapy Summit of Scholars, Boston MA, June 1-3, 2017, Ms. Shabnam Medhizadah, a first year PhD student in the UF RSD Program, won third place in the national student poster competition. Ms. Medhizadah's mentors on the project were Dr. Sherrilene Classen from the University of Florida and Dr. Andrew Johnson from the University of Western Ontario. Her poster entitled, “Constructing and Validating the Short Form Fitness-to-Drive Screening Measure,” focused on the development of the 32-item short form Fitness-to-Drive Screening Measure that identifies at-risk older drivers using caregiver responses. Exploratory factor analysis and classical test theory techniques were used to reduce the number of items in the tool from 54 to 32. Pearson's r and receiver operating characteristics curve results indicated the tool had good predictive validity and could discriminate between drivers that passed or failed the on-road assessment. Congratulations Shabnam!


Physical Therapy

Three Physical Therapy Department Faculty Named as University Term Professors

Dean Michael Perri announced the College of Public Health and Health Professions recipients of the University Term Professors at the college-wide faculty and staff meeting earlier this month. Three physical therapy department faculty members have been named as University Term Professors: Professor A. Daniel Martin, PT, PhD, FACSM, and Associate Professor Mark Bishop, PT, PhD and Andrew Judge, PhD. The award recognizes recent contributions to the college and provides incentives for continued excellence in research and teaching.

(left to right: Dr. Danny Martin, Dr. Mark Bishop)

PT Students Receive American Physiological Society Award

T32 trainee and Physical Therapy graduate student Latoya Allen and graduate student Juan Santiago Moreno have been awarded the The American Physiological Society (APS) Minority Travel Fellowship Award.  Both are mentored by Dr. Gordon Mitchell. The awards were presented at the annual Experimental Biology Conference held in Chicago. Formed in 1987, the APS Minority Travel Fellowship Program names undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral fellow, and faculty awardees at minority institutions on behalf of the APS Porter Physiology Development and Minority Affairs Committee.

Allen also presented two posters at the conference entitled, "Phrenic Motor Neuron Survival Caudal to C2 Hemisection" and "Phrenic Motor Neuron Expression of Receptors Known to Elicit Phrenic Motor Facilitation after Daily Acute Intermittent Hypoxia." Moreno presented a poster entitled, "Repetitive Acute Intermittent Hypoxia Affects Lesion Volume after Cervical Spinal Injury" and made an oral presentation entitled, "Six Months of Repetitive Acute Intermittent Hypoxia Drives Serotonergic Axon Growth Through a Spinal Injury."

(left to right: Juan Santiago Moreno, Latoya Allen)

DPT Students Help Undergraduates Explore the Physical Therapy Profession

The Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) students head into another busy summer of academics and extracurricular scholarly activities. Most recently, a group of DPT students coordinated physical therapy activities for undergraduates participating in the Robert Wood Johnson Summer Health Professions Education Program. The program is a six week residential program allowing undergraduate students to explore and gain a greater understanding of the demands and scope of various health professions.

(pictured: DPT students supervising physical therapy activities for residential program participants)


Rehabilitation Science

Fuller, Mitchell Labs Active at the Experimental Biology 2017 Conference

The Experimental Biology 2017 Conference was recently held in Chicago and featured many familiar UF faces, including PhD in Rehabilitation Science (RSD) Program Director David Fuller, PhD and Rehabilitation Science and Physical Therapy Professor Gordon S. Mitchell, PhD, and numerous members of their laboratories. Dr. Fuller and post-doctoral associate, Dr. Sara Turner, served as moderators for a Featured Topic session at the meeting entitled, "Respiratory Muscle Control: Beyond the Diaphragm.” RSD student Michael Sunshine presented, "Intraspinal Microstimulation to Activate Respiratory Muscles and Respiratory Phase Resetting."

Dr. Mitchell chaired a symposium entitled, “Bench to Bedside: Central Neuromodulation in the Control of Breathing in Animals and Humans.” 

Dr. Fuller also chaired a symposium and helped wrap up the conference with a performance at the closing banquet in the Third Reviewer band, which consists of respiratory physiologists, four of whom (like Dr. Fuller) were former University of Wisconsin post-docs.

(pictured: members of the Third Reviewer band at the Experimental Biology 2017 Conference in Chicago, Dr. Fuller is seated second from the right)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

SBS Doctoral Student Attends National Conference on Health Disparities

SBS second year doctoral student, Brittney Dixon, attended the 10th Annual National Conference on Health Disparities held May 3-6, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Brittney was a participant in the Student Research Forum and presented a poster presentation entitled, “A Social-Ecological Perspective of the Rural-Urban Obesity Disparity in the United States.” She is mentored by Dr. Kathryn M. Ross, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor in Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology. Brittney was awarded a hotel/travel award from the conference and a travel scholarship from the Florida Education Fund McKnight Doctoral Fellowship program. 


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Dr. Emily Plowman Invited Keynote Presenter at Speech Pathology Australia Convention

Dr. Emily Plowman was the invited keynote presenter at the recent SPA convention in Sydney, Australia. Dr. Plowman presented to the audience recent research outcomes in the area of dysphagia and speech rehabilitation to over 1,000 participants. Read more

Clinical Educator Appreciation Night

On June 21, 2017 the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences hosted a reception to thank external preceptors who supervise students in speech-language pathology and audiology training programs. Pictured is Elizabeth Robuck accepting a Certificate of Appreciation from Lori Ferraro, supervisor for clinical placements, and Susan Nittrouer, department chair.


(left to right: Elizabeth Robuck, Lori Ferraro, Susan Nittrouer)