Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Unlimited: A Creative Response to Living with ALS

On Saturday, July 15, the UF Harn Museum of Art hosted “Unlimited: A Creative Response to Living with ALS,” an event highlighting the role of creative endeavors in the lives of patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and their caregivers. Dr. Emily Plowman, Associate Professor in SLHS, served as a medical expert for the event’s panel discussion. In addition to discussing her research on the impact of respiratory muscle strength training in patients with ALS, Dr. Plowman contributed to other conversations salient to the ALS community, including the relationship between art and wellbeing and caregiver support. The event showcased works from artists Michel Rae Varisco and Sandra Murphy-Pak who have both used art as a meditative outlet in their journeys with the disease. Their works will be exhibited at the Harn Museum through September 10. Read more

 (left to right: Dr. Emily Plowman, artist Michel Rae Varisco, UF neurologist Dr. James Wymer)

Luck of the SLP

Dr. Humbert presented as a guest speaker at the 2017 Biennial Conference organized by the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT) in Dublin, Ireland this year. The theme was “Celebrating our Profession: Reflecting, Learning, Advancing.” Dr. Humbert embodied this in her presentation about the advances in the interpretation of instrumental dysphagia evaluations and the evidence in dysphagia rehabilitation.

Study of Hearing Protection by Ebselen Published in The Lancet

A report of a clinical trial conducted at UF was published in the general medical journal, The Lancet. “In this double-blind, placebo–controlled study we documented the safety and effectiveness of an experimental drug, a formulation of ebselen, in reducing a temporary hearing loss in healthy young adults,” explains Dr. Scott Griffiths, one of the study’s authors. The researchers created temporary small changes in hearing sensitivity using a specially constructed and calibrated music program delivered through a personal music player. Participants underwent repeated testing to track any changes in hearing that the music exposure might have created. The reduction in temporary hearing loss achieved in this study supports the model of ebselen’s action in the inner ear. It remains to be determined if this drug may protect against more dangerous noise exposures producing greater and more permanent changes. Read more



Welcome to Three New Faculty Members

Dr. Natalie Dean- Assistant Professor

Dr. Dean received her PhD in Biostatistics from Harvard University in May 2014. She received her MA in Biostatistics from Harvard University and her BA in Biology and Mathematics/Statistics from Boston University. She worked as an external statistical consultant for the World Health Organization’s HIV department. Since January 2015, she conducted research as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Biostatistics at UF with Professor Ira Longini. In this position, she assisted in the design and analysis of a Phase III Ebola vaccine trial in Guinea, along with other projects on analyzing and modeling Ebola and Zika outbreaks, planning dengue serosurveys, and designing vaccine trial strategies for emerging pathogens. 

Areas of research for Dr. Dean include infectious disease surveillance, survey design, clinical trials, and vaccines. In her free time, Dr. Dean enjoys cooking, Zumba, and spending time with her husband, Ethan.

Steven Foti- Clinical Assistant Professor

Steven Foti joined the department on July 1, 2017 as a Clinical Assistant Professor. He will receive his PhD in Statistics Education from the University of Florida in early August 2017. He previously received his MS in Statistics from the University of Florida and his BS in Applied Mathematics & Statistics and Physics from Clarkson University. He has spent the past four years as a graduate school fellow in the School of Teaching and Learning at UF. During this time he was an instructor of mathematics content and teaching methods in the Unified Elementary ProTeach program and of AP Statistics at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School. He has been in teaching roles for the past eight years.

As a researcher, Foti is involved in the NSF-funded Levels of Conceptual Understanding of Statistics (LOCUS) project, which led to the development of statistics assessments that he continues to utilize in his research on how students understand variability. Areas of interest for Foti include statistical literacy, research and evaluation methodology, and assessments. In his free time, Foti enjoys cycling in local charity rides, collecting mechanical watches, and exploring everything Gainesville has to offer.

Dr. Zhiguang “Caleb” Huo- Assistant Professor

Dr. Huo joined the department on July 14, 2017 as an Assistant Professor. He received his PhD in Biostatistics from the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests lie in both statistical methodology and its applications to genomics and bioinformatics. For methodological research, he is particularly interested in genomic data integration, variable selection in high-dimensional data, Bayesian methods, optimization and statistical computing. For collaborative research, he has worked extensively on bioinformatics and high-throughput data in the field of cancer and psychiatry diseases. He has a broad interest in a wide range of data and is currently actively seeking collaborations with other people to better understand/analyze their hypothesis/data. He is teaching a course on Biostatistical Computing. In his spare time, he enjoys running, cycling, and swimming.


Clinical and Health Psychology

Doctoral Student Wins 2017 APA Travel Award

CHP student Sarah Szymkowicz has won the 2017 American Psychological Association Travel Award. The award is meant to help defray expenses in attending the 2017 APA Convention in Washington, D.C. this August. ​Sarah will be presenting preliminary data from her Early Career Pilot Study Award, entitled “Age-Related Mechanisms of Emotion Anticipation and Perception.” She will be at a poster session on Thursday (8/4) at 10 am, and then she will give a “Data Blitz” Talk on Friday (8/5) at 8 am.

CHP Faculty Member Elected to APA Division Leadership

Michael Marsiske was selected as President Elect of Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging) of the American Psychological Association. Beginning in August 2017, Marsiske will serve a three-year term. The Division on Adult Development and Aging (Division 20) of the APA strives to advance the study of psychological development and change throughout the adult years. Marsiske has a long association with the Division. Starting as student affiliate in 1988, Marsiske later served in leadership roles for the Division from 1995-2015. He moderated the Division’s listserv, and also designed and hosted its first website, running both until 2015.


Dean's Office

Career Resource Center Embedded Liaison

The start of fall semester is just around the corner. Help your students get a leg up on job and grad school prep by using CRC’s mock interview service. Faculty and staff have been involved with the CRC by creating virtual mock interviews located in Gator CareerLink. Mock interviews are a tool that can be used to help students practice for entrance to graduate school, internships, and full time employment. Sara Gould will work with you to develop the questions and then the recording and uploading process is done on her end – to be used for assignments or professional development experience. Occupational Therapy, Health Administration, and Speech-Language Pathology have been created so far. If interested in a virtual mock interview for your class/industry, requests can be submitted directly via email at SaraGo@crc.ufl.edu.

If interested in a presentation for your class or student organization this coming fall covering topics including, but not limited to, interviewing strategies/professionalism, creating resumes/CVs/personal statements, job/internship search strategies, and negotiating a job offer, requests can be submitted directly via email at SaraGo@crc.ufl.edu.


Environmental and Global Health

EGH Postdoctoral Fellow Awarded Travel Grant

Natasha Weatherspoon-Griffin, an EGH postdoctoral researcher, was awarded a travel grant to attend the Wind River Conference on Prokaryotic Biology in Estes Park, CO in June 2017. A key feature of this historic conference is to maximize participation of early career scientists and facilitate interactions with established investigators. This international meeting brings together researchers who investigate the biology of prokaryotic and lower eukaryotic organisms including the basic and translational properties of bacterial pathogenesis. Natasha presented a poster about her ongoing work to characterize recently emerged strains of Shiga toxin-producing Shigella flexneri with epidemiological links to the island of Hispañola. These strains pose a threat to public health since similar Shiga-toxin producing bacteria have been directly associated with bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome, a severe and life-threatening kidney damaging sequela. One of the aims of Natasha’s work is to determine the mechanism by which the toxin is released from bacterial cells since earlier work demonstrated that the toxin is not released via known secretion mechanisms.

Tania S. Bonny Successfully Defends Dissertation

EGH would like to congratulate One Health PhD student Tania S. Bonny on her successful dissertation defense. Tania’s dissertation titled, “Refinement and Integration of PCR-Based Detection and Classic Virus Isolation Methods for Improved Aerovirology, Arbovirology, and Infection Control Virology Risk Assessments,” focused on the detection, isolation and identification of various viruses, including human respiratory viruses and arboviruses from a variety of human specimens and environmental samples. Specific areas of her research included: (a) Evaluation of the efficiencies of the SKC BioSampler and that of a newly developed device, the Viable Virus Aerosol Sampler (VIVAS), for the collection of virus aerosols in indoor settings, (b) Evaluation of the importance of frequently touched classroom surfaces in contact transmission of respiratory viruses, (c) A pilot study to discover potential viral respiratory pathogens in local bats and (d) Identification of pandemic arboviruses in Haiti.



Two Epidemiology Faculty Awarded UF Term Professorships

Professor in Epidemiology Robert L. Cook, MD, MPH, and Associate Professor in Epidemiology Volker Mai, PhD, MPH, recently received Term Professorship Awards from the UF Office of the Provost. The awards are based on assessment of academic accomplishment and a distinguished career that places awardees among the leaders in their discipline. Drs. Cook and Mai have both been with UF since 2007. In addition to their appointments with the Department of Epidemiology, Dr. Cook is the Director of the Southern HIV & Alcohol Research Consortium (SHARC) and the SHARC Center for Translational HIV Research at UF, and Dr. Mai is an associate member of both the Emerging Pathogens Institute and the UF Health Cancer Center. Congratulations to Drs. Cook and Mai on this outstanding and well-deserved accomplishment.

(left to right: Dr. Volker Mai, Dr. Robert Cook)

Department of Epidemiology Well Represented at CPDD Annual Meeting

The College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) 79th Annual Scientific Meeting was held this June in Montréal, Canada. Eleven representatives from the Department of Epidemiology attended the meeting, including PhD students Amy Elliott, Verlin Joseph, Shivani Khan, Yiyang Liu, Sadaf Milani, Vicki Osborne, and Mirsada Serdarevic; post-doctoral T32 trainees Dr. Micah Johnson and Dr. Henry Young; and faculty members Dr. Linda Cottler and Dr. Catherine Striley. The group presented a total of four oral presentations and 10 posters, covering such diverse topics as prescription misuse, opioid epidemiology, marijuana and cannabinoids, polydrug use, and criminal justice. Dr. Cottler was also honored for completing her three-year term as Treasurer of CPDD. The department is extremely proud of our faculty, students, and trainees and the research they presented at this elite conference. Congratulations to all!

Dr. Yan Wang Organizes Symposium at APS Annual Convention

At the 29th Association for Psychological Science (APS) Annual Convention in May in Boston, MA, research assistant scientist in Epidemiology Yan Wang, PhD, organized a symposium to discuss recent developments in and applications of cusp catastrophe modeling. Entitled “Capturing the quantum changes in human behavior: From solution to application of the cusp catastrophe modeling,” the symposium included four presenters across universities, including Dr. Wang and Bin Yu, a PhD student in Epidemiology. Professor in Epidemiology Xinguang (Jim) Chen, MD, PhD, served as discussant for the symposium. The discussion led to the development of a new mathematical approach to this modeling technique, and the presenters are working to develop a statistical package to facilitate the use of this method. Congratulations to Dr. Wang on her contributions to this complex research method, and thank you to the department for supporting the symposium through the Chair’s Travel Award.


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

HSRMP Well Represented at AcademyHealth

The department had several presentations at this year's AcademyHealth Annual Research meeting:

• Three PhD students, Ivana Vaughn, MPH, Young-Rock Hong, MPH, and Ara Jo, MS, presented their research.

• Nicole Marlow, MPH, PhD, attended as the department's faculty representative and as co-author on Young-Rock's presentation.

• Young-Rock Hong received the award for the Best Student Abstract at the Quality and Value Interest Group meeting which took place on the first day of the meeting.

• Arch G. Mainous, III, PhD, was co-author on an oral presentation which received a Best Abstract award.

(top left to right: Ivana Vaughn, Young-Rock Hong; bottom left to right: Dr. Nicole Marlow with Young-Rock, Ara Jo)

MHA Student Receives AUPHA Scholarship

Ciera Hall, MHA Class of 2018, is the recipient of the 2017 Bachrach Family Scholarship from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration. Ciera was selected from among 49 highly competitive applications. Ciera is currently completing a summer internship at the University of Colorado Denver. She has been both a Quality Improvement intern and a Patient Access Coordinator with UF Health during her first year of the program. Congratulations Ciera!


Occupational Therapy

UF Launches Doctoral Degree in Occupational Therapy

The Department of Occupational Therapy has received approval from the Board of Governors to implement the Doctor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Florida, effective Fall 2018. The program will be added to the state university system academic degree program inventory effective Spring 2018. Read more

First of Its Kind Driving Simulation Book Released

Dr. Sherrilene Classen is the editor of the newly published book Driving Simulation for Assessment, Intervention, and Training: A Guide for Occupational Therapy and Health Care Professionals.This book includes 29 co-authors and 25 chapters which are divided into seven sections, including: Nature and the Scope of Driving Simulation; Developer and Practitioner Relationship; Fidelity; Driving Simulators in a Clinical Setting; Driving Simulation for Teens, People With Physical Disabilities, Older Adults, and Those With Neurological Conditions; Driving Simulation and Vehicle Automation; and Transferability, Documentation, and Ethics. The book, a core text book for driving rehabilitation professionals, is available through AOTA Press.

The Department of Occupational Therapy Honors Wendy Holt

Wendy Holt, OTR/L, CHT, a longstanding adjunct instructor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, is retiring. In July, Wendy was honored by her colleagues in the OT Department for her 13 years of dedicated service which included clinical instruction and fieldwork supervision to our MOT students. Wendy, the OT Department is so thankful for your rich contributions to our program. Thank you again, and happy retirement!


Physical Therapy

Velasco Awarded Ben Brown Physical Therapy Scholarship

Monica Velasco, a first-year DPT student, has been awarded the 2016-2017 Ben Brown Physical Therapy Scholarship, which is sponsored by the Florida State Elks Association. Velasco received her award at the May 25 – 28 Florida State Elks Association (FSEA) Annual State Convention which was held at the Orlando World Center Marriott. The Ben Brown Physical Therapy Scholarship is highly competitive; annually, one award recipient receives a $10,000 scholarship for each of his/her three years in the UF DPT program. Read more

(left to right: Past FSEA State President Jim Hurst, Monica Velasco, and scholarship benefactor Ben Brown)

Liu Named VA Health Professional Scholarship Winner

Second-year DPT student Winston Liu has been named the recipient of the VA Health Professional Scholarship Program award. To increase the number of Physical Therapists in the Veterans Administration and the United States, this program awards scholarships to students pursuing a program of study leading to a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. After completion of his education, Liu will serve as a full-time clinical Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facility employee for at least two years.

Cranmer Receives Scholarship

Marnie Cranmer, a Class of 2018 DPT student, received the Kappa Kappa Gamma Mary Maxwell Gates Scholarship, donated from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Cranmer was actively involved in Kappa Kappa Gamma as an undergraduate at UF. The organization awards four scholarships nationwide each year to alumnae in honor of Mary Maxwell Gates, who was a dedicated community volunteer and loyal member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Recipients are chosen based on academic achievement and involvement.


Rehabilitation Science

Butera, Hawkins Receive PODS Scholarships

Mentored by Dr. Emily Fox, RSD students Katie Butera and Kelly Hawkins will receive the Foundation for Physical Therapy’s 2017 Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) Scholarships. As part of the Foundation’s Doctoral Opportunities for Clinicians and Scholars (DOCS) Program, the scholarships fund post-professional doctoral students, who, having completed one full year of coursework, wish to continue their studies or have entered the dissertation phase of their post-professional doctoral program.

Hawkins received a PODS I award for her projected entitled “Neural and Behavioral Control of Complex Walking Tasks in Adults Post-Stroke.” This $7,500 award supports the coursework phase of post-professional doctoral studies prior to PhD candidacy.

Butera received a PODS I scholarship last year and this year, after being admitted to PhD candidacy was awarded a PODS II scholarship for her project “Pain as a Nervous System Disease.” This $15,000 award is supported by the Neurology Section Endowment Fund.

(left to right: Katie Butera, Kelly Hawkins)

Allen Named as a Bryan W. Robinson Endowment Recipient

Mentored by RSD and PT faculty member Dr. Gordon Mitchell, Neuromuscular Plasticity Program (NMPT) T-32 trainee and graduate student Latoya Allen has been named as a Bryan W. Robinson Endowment recipient. Allen received a $500 grant towards continued research studies into her topic of “Plasticity in Respiratory Circuitry: Impact of Cervical Spinal Cord Injury and Intermittent Hypoxia.” One hundred percent of the contributions to the Bryan W. Robinson Endowment are used for education and research resulting in more than $750,000 in funding since 1983.

Streeter Receives Experimental Biology 2017 Conference Award

Post-doctoral fellow Kristi Streeter, mentored by RSD Program Chair Dr. David Fuller, was recently awarded the Central Nervous System Research Recognition Award at the Experimental Biology 2017 Conference. The award was based on her abstract entitled “Intermittent Hypoxia Enhances Connectivity between Cervical Spinal Interneurons” and her accompanying statement describing the significance of this research. As an awardee, Streeter was given the opportunity to give an abstract-centered oral presentation, followed by her research poster presentation. Streeter also launched a new program for graduate students called "Graduate Student Ambassador Program,” organized the 8th Annual Trainee Highlights Breakfast for the Respiration Section, and co-chaired a symposium called "Kick-start your funding: Looking beyond NIH and NSF.”