Hart Publishes Research on How Public Health Professionals Use Twitter

Clinical Assistant Professor in Epidemiology Mark Hart, EdD, recently had his research featured on the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) website. In his two-part series on Twitter and Public Health, published in Journal of Medical Internet Research Public Health and Surveillance, Dr. Hart examined public health professionals’ Twitter behavior by surveying the professionals and analyzing their tweets’ content. Dr. Hart found that public health professionals use Twitter for networking and professional development in various ways, including for continuing education, connecting and collaborating with colleagues, conducting informal research, and crowdsourcing ideas for work. Dr. Hart also found that public health professionals frequently tweet public health-related tweets even from their personal accounts. These public health-related tweets often relate to the themes of informing and educating, monitoring health statuses and trends, social justice, or professional development. Congratulations to Dr. Hart for the well-deserved publicity his work is receiving.

Varma Appointed to Healthy Start Board of Directors

Research Assistant Professor in Epidemiology Deepthi Varma, PhD, MPhil, MSW, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Healthy Start of North Central Florida Coalition. Florida’s Healthy Start initiative provides for universal risk screening of all Florida’s pregnant women and newborn infants to identify those at risk of poor birth, health, and developmental outcomes. The goals of Healthy Start are to reduce infant mortality, reduce the number of low birth weight babies, and improve health and developmental outcomes. As part of the North Central Florida Coalition, Dr. Varma will be helping lead the charge to provide quality maternal and child health care in 12 counties in North Central Florida. The department is incredibly proud of Dr. Varma for this honor and cannot wait to see how she works to improve health care and health outcomes for the next generation of Floridians.

Epidemiology PhD Students Lead Student Organizations

Sadaf Milani (left) is president of PHHP Doctoral Student Council (DSC). In the past, DSC has hosted panel discussions and social events. The DSC is also looking for suggestions for future events. Events are open to all PhD students.

Vicki Osborne (middle) is treasurer of Alpha Epsilon Lambda (AEL), the national graduate and professional school student honor society. AEL inducts students with GPAs in the top 35% of their colleges. AEL will also offer travel scholarships starting in fall 2018.

Denny Fe Agana (right) is president of Beta Upsilon, the University of Florida Chapter of Delta Omega, the Honorary Society in Public Health. Members can be inducted as students, alumni, or faculty. There are over 70 Delta Omega chapters in the world, with over 14,000 elected members.

The department is incredibly proud of these students and their leadership roles.


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

HSRMP Hosts the Annual Gator Healthcare Forum

In a collaboration with the Florida Blue Center on Health Care Quality and the North Florida Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy hosted the Annual Gator Healthcare Forum on January 12 at the UF Reitz Union. Participants included students and faculty from across UF's Health Science Center, as well as faculty and students from three other universities. The full agenda can be seen here: http://www.cvent.com/d/kvqtqx/6X. Keep a lookout for a Save the Date for next year's event.

HSRMP Graduates Two PhD Students

Congratulations to Ara Jo, MS, PhD (left), and Shenae Samuels, MPH, PhD (right). Both students graduated on Friday, December 15 from the department's PhD program in Health Services Research and both have accepted new positions starting in January. Jo accepted a position in HSRMP as a clinical assistant professor. Samuels accepted a position as an assistant professor at Texas Tech University. The department is proud of these students and wishes them the very best in their futures.


Occupational Therapy

Classen Co-convenes Pre-conference Workshop at Annual Transportation Research Board’s 2018 Conference

Dr. Sherrilene Classen co-presided with Dr. Don Fisher over a Transportation Research Board scientific session in Washington, DC, on Sunday Jan 7. The session, entitled “Fitness to Drive: The Role of Driving Simulators,” showcased great presentations on older drivers with and without dementia, teen drivers with and without ADHD, and drivers with Parkinson's or stroke.

(pictured: conveners and participants of the pre-conference workshop)

The Repurpose Project at UF

An interdisciplinary team led by Dr. Sherry Ahrentzen was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to research design and technological innovations for retrofitting existing housing for people with disabilities. The goal is to develop innovative ways to adapt and repurpose spaces and fixtures in existing housing so that it is affordable, accessible, and aesthetically pleasing. This study will use virtual reality to allow people with disabilities to experience and test the designs without the need for physically constructing prototypes.

Team members:

• Sherry Ahrentzen, Nichole Campbell and Bill O’Dell, Shimberg Center for Housing Studies

• Sherrilene Classen and Linda Struckmeyer, Department of Occupational Therapy

• Stephen Bender, School of Architecture

• Erin Cunningham, Department of Interior Design

• Xiaojie Lu, Robert Ries and Ravi Srinivasan, M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Construction Management

• Randy Cantrell, UF/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences

(left to right: Dr. Bill O’Dell, Dr. Ravi Srinivasan, Dr. Erin Cunningham, Dr. Randy Cantrell, Dr. Nicole Campbell, Dr. Robert Ries, Dr. Sherry Ahrentzen, Dr. Linda Struckmeyer, Dr. Sherrilene Classen, Stephen Bender, Xiaojie Lu)

Classen Contributes to National Blueprint

Dr. Sherrilene Classen has participated with Canadian colleagues in a new National Blueprint for injury prevention in drivers with arthritis, launched as a guiding document for teams interested in advancing research, training curricula, practices and policies to support drivers with arthritis. This blueprint is directed towards the health and wellness needs of the over 4.6 million Canadians diagnosed with arthritis who want to continue to drive. Read more

(pictured: Dr. Sherrilene Classen and Canadian colleagues affiliated with the Canadian Association for Occupational Therapists in Ottawa, Ontario Canada who contributed to the National Blueprint)

MOT Graduation Reception and Awards Ceremony

The Department of Occupational Therapy hosted the Master of Occupational Therapy Class of 2017 Graduate Reception and Awards Ceremony on December 15. Graduating students participated in a pinning ceremony to welcome them to the profession of occupational therapy and Ms. Lori Spivey, At-Large Director for the University Alumni Association, addressed the class. Awards were presented to three outstanding students: The Alice C. Jantzen Award for Excellence in Occupational Therapy was presented to Jennifer Lotz for outstanding academic and clinical performance throughout the program; Taylor Rappaport received the Ann Sirmyer Ballard Memorial Award for Outstanding Graduate for her high academic achievement, excellence in clinical performance, and outstanding leadership; the Jane Slaymaker Memorial Award was presented to Zachary Pindar for his potential for community-based practice and service. Congratulations to the Class of 2017.

(left to right: Jennifer M. Smith, Ms. Emily Pugh, Cristina Gutierrez, Kathleen Brockmeyer and Dr. Sherrilene Classen)


Physical Therapy

Hardesty Named CSM Scholarship Winner

Kelly Hardesty, a third-year DPT student, has received the 2018 Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) conference scholarship funded by Kaiser Permanente Northern California Orthopaedic Residency and Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency programs. Kaiser Permanente’s physical therapy education programs aim to enhance the learning experience for future practitioners, so this scholarship will allow Hardesty to attend American Physical Therapy Association’s CSM conference in New Orleans in February. The scholarship is awarded to second- or third-year physical therapy students interested in pursuing a career in orthopaedic, neurologic, geriatric, or sports physical therapy.

Bishop Testifies Before Florida Senate Committee

Dr. Mark Bishop testified before the Florida Senate Committee on Health Policy in January as part of a panel on the opioid crisis. His position was to advocate on the efficacy of physical therapy as an alternative treatment for pain. As the only non-pharmacological provider to speak on this panel, the hope is to generate new ways in thinking about current methods of treating chronic pain.

Dunleavy Elected to Distinguished Fellowship

Dr. Kim Dunleavy was elected to a Distinguished Fellowship of the National Academies of Practice in Physical Therapy. The National Academies of Practice is comprised of professionals advancing interprofessional health care by fostering collaboration and advocating policies in the best interest of individuals and communities.

UF DPT at Florida Capitol

UF DPT students, faculty and alumni representing the physical therapy profession gathered at the Florida Capitol to meet with lawmakers and their staff in preparation for an early legislative session in 2018. They ran into the Head Gator himself, President Dr. Kent Fuchs. The Gator Nation is everywhere.

Bobbitt Awarded Jimmy Kynes Post-Graduate Scholarship

Congratulations to DPT student and former Gator soccer player Annie Bobbitt who was honored on Florida Field during a football game last season as a recipient of the Jimmy Kynes Post-Graduate Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to students excelling in both academics and athletics.

(pictured: Bobbitt - 3rd from left)


Rehabilitation Science

Alappattu Appointed to Advisory Board

RSD alumna and current Physical Therapy faculty Dr. Meryl Alappattu, was recently appointed to the advisory board for the International Pelvic Pain Society. Her role on the advisory board will be to provide expertise and advice to the IPPS Board of Directors. The mission of IPPS is to serve as an educational resource for health care professionals, optimizing diagnosis and treatment of patients suffering from chronic pelvic pain, collating research in chronic pelvic pain, and recruiting, organizing, and educating health care professionals actively involved with the treatment of patients who have chronic pelvic pain. Congratulations Dr. Alappattu.

Brooks-PHHP Research Collaboration

The Brooks-PHHP Collaboration continues to demonstrate growth over four years in several key areas. Rehabilitation Science and Physical Therapy faculty, Drs. Jason Beneciuk, Emily Fox, Dorian Rose, and Joel Bialosky, have been awarded over $2.8 million in external funding. Over the past four years, members of the collaboration have authored over 90 peer-review manuscripts in approximately 20 different scientific journals and provided more than 125 presentations at national conferences.

(left to right: Beneciuk, Fox, Rose, Bialosky)

Hepple Creates New Course on Skeletal Muscles and Rehabilitation

Dr. Russ Hepple has created a new course which is being offered for the first time during the Spring 2018 semester. Muscle Biology in Aging and Disease: Implications for Rehabilitation will (i) address the impact of aging and various pathological conditions on skeletal muscle, (ii) provide current perspectives on mechanisms driving these changes, and finally, (iii) consider preclinical strategies (e.g., genetic manipulation, small molecule agonists/antagonists, exercise training) for therapeutically targeting the underlying pathophysiology.


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Gordon Publishes in Thrive Global

Eliza Gordon, joint-MPH/PhD in Clinical and Health Psychology candidate, published an article entitled "So You Think You're a Food Addict" in Thrive Global. Written for the general public, the piece gives a straightforward introduction to the controversial concept of "food addiction”, and includes some practical, research-based suggestions. Read more

Chhabria Publishes in Journal of Oral Oncology 

Karishma Chhabria, a 4th year SBS PhD candidate, published an article as first author in the Journal of Oral Oncology in December 2017. The paper, coauthored by Dr. Giselle Carnaby of the UCF Department of Internal Medicine entitled "Psychometric validation of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale in Head and Neck Cancer patients," validates the CES-D scale for use in head and neck cancer patient populations. These patients suffer the highest rates of depression as compared to any other cancer. The study results confirms the reliability and validity of this scale as a depression measure in this population. Chhabria intends to further this work by studying psychosocial factors such as depression and fear in head and neck cancer patients for her dissertation. Read more

SBS Students Attend Peace4 Communities Gathering

Brandy Stone (SBS MPH student) and Lindsey King (SBS PhD candidate) attended the first Peace4 Communities Gathering hosted by Peace4Tarpon on Saturday, January 13, 2018 at St. Petersburg College in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Brandy and Lindsey had the opportunity to connect with visionary “Peace4” leaders, such as the founders of Peace4Gainesville and the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, as they shared successes, lessons learned, visions for the future and why they engaged in this unique and powerful work in creating trauma-informed, connected, resilient and peaceful communities. Stone and King, along with Dr. Mark Hart, are currently developing a graduate certificate program in Trauma Informedness and Resilience for Individuals, Communities, and Public Health.

(pictured: Brandy Stone - 2nd row, 3rd from right; Lindsey King - back row, 4th from right)


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Hegland Among Experts in Parkinson’s Foundation Webinar

In collaboration with the American Congress of Rehabilitation (ACRM), the Parkinson’s Foundation recently developed a professional course, entitled “Let’s Talk About Parkinson’s: How Can Speech and Language Pathologists Deliver the Best Care?” The course, now available online at Parkinson's Foundation SLP online course, includes five modules that span the continuum of care for people with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Hegland was honored to be invited to participate as a presenter in the course’s motor speech and swallowing modules. Other distinguished presenters included Dr. Nina Browner (neurology module), Dr. Leslie Mahler (language/cognition module), Ms. Lori Campbell (patient perspective), Dr. Michelle Ciucci (swallowing module), and Dr. Jessica Huber (speech module).

(pictured: Dr. Hegland - 3rd from left)

SLHS Well Represented at 12th Annual ACNS Meeting

The 12th annual meeting of the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Society (ACNS) was held January 4-6 in Tampa and was organized by the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory and the UF Hearing Research Center under the direction of Dr. Andrew J. Lotto, Professor, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. The meeting promotes research on perception of complex sounds, including speech and music, and brought together presenters from across the United States and Europe. The department had a strong showing with presentations by Drs. Andrew Lotto, Susan Nittrouer, Kathy “Nico” Carbonell, Ken Logan, and Ianessa Humbert. In addition, Audiology graduate students, Megan Hill and Jonathan Hirst, presented a poster of their work on the possible auditory basis of common structures in pop music. This meeting has become a popular outlet for work in auditory neuroscience and will return to its home base in Gainesville next year.

 (pictured: Dr. Carbonell)

Logan Appointed to AJSLP Editorial Board

Kenneth J. Logan, PhD, was recently appointed to serve a one-year term on the editorial board of the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (AJSLP), which is one of six journals that the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association publishes. AJSLP primarily publishes clinically relevant research that spans a range of issues in speech-language pathology and swallowing. Dr. Logan was selected to the editorial board for his expertise in the area of speech fluency, which includes disorders such as stuttering and cluttering.



Biostatistics Postdoctoral Associate Recognized by UF International Center

Diana Rojas Alvarez, MD, PhD, was honored in November by the University of Florida International Center. The International Student Awards Ceremony recognizes students who have exemplary academic records and a wide range of other accomplishments.

A Colombia native, Dr. Alvarez graduated with a doctoral degree from the Department of Epidemiology in August 2017 and is currently working as a postdoctoral associate at the Center for Statistics and Quantitative Infectious Diseases in the Department of Biostatistics. Her doctoral research explored the epidemiology and transmission dynamics of mosquito borne viruses, such as Dengue and Zika, in Latin America and evaluation of interventions that help to prevent these diseases, including vaccines and vector control. She serves on two World Health Organization technical working groups and is part of the Zika group of the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study, or MIDAS, network of the National Institutes of Health. Congratulations Dr. Alvarez.

Welcome to New Faculty Members

Dr. Rhonda Bacher (left) joins the Department of Biostatistics as Assistant Professor. She earned her PhD in Statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in July 2017. Dr. Bacher is excited to trade in her snow shovel for sunblock and return to the University of Florida where she earned a BS in Mathematics and a BS in Statistics. Her research involves the development of statistical methods and computational tools for analyzing genetics and genomics data. Dr. Bacher has collaborated with numerous scientists including experts studying stem cells, yeast cells, and pancreatic islets. She is enthusiastic to work alongside scientists of varying disciplines and extend research to translational projects. Dr. Bacher is passionate about statistical genomics and the potential discoveries that can be unlocked through collaborative research.

Dr. Subharup Guha (right) joins the Department of Biostatistics as Associate Professor. He received his PhD in Statistics from Ohio State University in 2004. From there, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Professors Louise Ryan and Yi Li in the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health. From 2007 to 2017, he was a faculty member in the Department of Statistics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Dr. Guha’s methodological research interests include statistical computing, nonparametric Bayesian methods, high dimensional inference, and computational methods for Big Data. His collaborative research has been in the areas of epidemiology, health surveillance, neuroscience and cancer genomics.


Clinical and Health Psychology

CHP Alumna Receives APA Grant

Dr. Sarah Westen is the 2018 recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Division 54 Drotar-Crawford Pediatric Psychology Postdoctoral Research Grant. This is the inaugural Drotar-Crawford award and honors the many contributions made by Denny Drotar to the field of pediatric psychology. Dr. Westen’s proposed study will examine the impact of sleep on objective measures of blood glucose and self-report diabetes related distress, as well as other diabetes related psychosocial outcomes in youth with type 1 diabetes. This competitive research grant is for $10,000.

CHP Faculty Appointed to APA Continuing Education Committee

Nicole Ennis, PhD, Assistant Professor, has been appointed to the American Psychological Association (APA) Continuing Education Committee (CEC) for a three-year term. The CEC works with two different offices within APA, the Office of Continuing Education Sponsor Approval (CESA) and the Office of Continuing Education in Psychology (CEP). The Office of CESA provides administrative support related to the process of approving organizations that wish to offer CE credit, provides educational and technical assistance, and facilitates research in the area of CE. The Office of CEP is responsible for the independent study program, online programs, and programs offered for CE credit at APA Convention. The CESA and CEP are both housed organizationally within the APA Education Directorate.

CHP Doctoral Student Awarded International Fellowship

Out of 11 applicants, Liselotte de Wit (mentor: Glenn Smith, CHP Department Chair) has been awarded €65.000 (approximately $77,000) from Alzheimer Netherlands to fund her research.

This fellowship supports promising Dutch researchers in any phase of their career to obtain meaningful research experience abroad and establish international research collaborations between leading institutes and researchers in the field of Alzheimer’s disease. Reviewers of de Wit’s application state that although she is still in a very early research career, she already has relevant publications in the dementia field and her CV shows her to be a promising researcher.

As part of this project, de Wit will set up a collaboration with Roy Kessels, PhD, at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. de Wit’s proposed project aims to investigate implicit memory and its neural correlates as predictors for Memory Compensation Training responsiveness in persons with mild cognitive impairment.​

CHP Emeritus Faculty Publishes in Special Issue of American Psychologist

Professor Emeritus in CHP and former department chair, Ronald Rozensky, PhD, ABPP, has co-written an article that was published in a special issue of the American Psychologist, celebrating the 125th anniversary of the American Psychological Association (APA). The article details the recent history of education in psychology. Read more

CHP Doctoral Student Wins Research Award

Jessica Zakrzewski (mentors: Carol Mathews, MD, 2016 Brooke Professor and Vice Chair for Strategic Development, Psychiatry, and William Perlstein, PhD, Clinical and Health Psychology) has been selected for the 2018 Student Liaison Committee Research Award. The International Neuropsychological Society (INS) Program Committee and Student Liaison Committee (SLC) selected Ms. Zakrzewski’s abstract to receive the INS SLC Research Award. The distinction recognizes her abstract as one of the best research submissions at the INS Annual Meeting by a student or trainee. Ms. Zakrzewski’s abstract is entitled, “Effect of Treatment on Neurocognitive Function in a Treatment Seeking Sample of Individuals with Hoarding Disorder.” The Washington, DC, program awards, including the SLC Research Awards, will be presented during the INS Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, February 14.

CHP Doctoral Student is Three-Time Award Winner

Allyson Diggins (mentor: Nicole Ennis, PhD, Clinical and Health Psychology) has won the Dissertation Research Award from the American Psychological Association (APA). The Science Directorate of the American Psychological Association sponsors an annual competition for dissertation research funding. The purpose of the Dissertation Research Award program is to assist science-oriented doctoral students of psychology with research costs. The current program includes 30-40 grants of $1,000 each along with several larger grants of up to $5,000 to students whose dissertation research reflects excellence in scientific psychology.

In addition, Ms. Diggins recently received dissertation awards from the Florida Education Fund and the University of Florida’s Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives. Ms. Diggins’s dissertation, entitled “Understanding Physical Activity Behavior Among Black Female College Students: An Exploration of the Theory of Planned Behavior and PEN-3 Model,” is situated to inform the future development and implementation of physical activity interventions for Black women.


Dean's Office

New CRC Embedded Liaison

Ashley Jacobs is the new Career Resource Center embedded liaison for PHHP, providing customized career development opportunities and industry connections for all students through collaboration with employers, faculty, and staff. She meets 1:1 and in groups with students during career planning appointments, provides customized educational workshops to classrooms and student organizations, and connects students to employers seeking their talent.

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


Environmental and Global Health

EGH Faculty Meet Mayor of Jacmel

Faculty members from the Department of Environmental and Global Health met and spoke with Marky Kessa, Mayor of Jacmel, Haiti during his recent visit to Gainesville. Jacmel is a longtime sister city of Gainesville, and Mayor Kessa was in town to attend the Greater Gainesville International Gala on Saturday, December 9. EGH professor Dr. Anthony Maurelli, met with him to discuss potential research collaborations as well as student cultural visits to Jacmel for the future. Earlier the same day, Mayor Kessa received a tour of the Emerging Pathogens Institute on campus and met with other faculty members of EGH including Dr. Eric Nelson.

EGH Graduate Research Assistant Awarded UFIC RAD Grant

Lindsey A. Laytner, an EGH-One Health PhD student in Dr. Sarah McKune’s lab, was awarded the UF International Center (UFIC) Research Abroad for Doctoral (RAD) Grant to conduct her doctoral fieldwork in Ethiopia, in East Africa. Her work will establish a unique collaboration with the local institution in Harar—Kersa Districts, Haramaya University, where she will work closely with Ethiopian faculty and students to investigate a One Health approach to understanding undernutrition in children under five years in rural Ethiopian smallholder farming households. This research will investigate the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of these households/communities surrounding: nutrition with special attention to animal source food consumption; animal ownership; and animal husbandry and WASH. The main outcome is to understand how these pathways could be potential risk factors for zoonotic diarrheal disease transmission, environmental enteric dysfunction, and reduced linear growth outcomes.

Researchers Link Nanotubes with Influenza Infection

Drs. Tara Sabo-Attwood and John Lednicky led a recent study published in Virology Journal showing that mice exposed to carbon nanotubes produced influenza viral titers that were 63 fold higher compared to those unexposed. They further show that the nanotubes impact several immune parameters that are important for host viral defense mechanisms. This is the first study to link nanotubes with prevalent respiratory infection consequences in the nanotoxicology and virology fields. The group is continuing to uncover the precise molecular mechanisms that are driving such health consequences. These findings provide evidence for a pronounced effect of single-walled carbon nanotubes, or SWCNT, on IAV infection in vivo as evidenced by increased viral titers, exacerbated lung injury, enhanced levels of several cytokines/chemokines and reduction of anti-viral gene expression. These results imply that SWCNT have the capacity to increase susceptibility to respiratory viral infections as a novel mechanism of toxicity. Read more

(left to right: Dr. John Lednicky, Dr. Tara Sabo-Attwood)