Dear School of Public Health students, faculty, and staff:
I am delighted to welcome you all to the start of a new academic year and to celebrate the many new members of our wonderful school. Joining us this fall are 234 new students across our graduate and undergraduate programs. We are privileged that you all have chosen Georgia State and the School of Public Health. I look forward to the opportunity to meet each of you in the weeks and months ahead. We have also added seven new faculty and eight new staff to our ranks. Please join me in extending a sincere and heartfelt welcome to each of them.
The School of Public Health continues to grow and achieve distinction through its accomplishments. Over the past year, student enrollment reached a new high of 780 students, with undergraduate enrollment increasing by 53%. We conferred 73 undergraduate and 119 graduate degrees, totaling a record number of 192, and our Doctor of Public Health degree program launched with an impressive inaugural class. Our faculty led five successful study abroad programs in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, India, Japan, and Uganda, and for the third year in a row, a public health student won the university-wide Three Minute Thesis (3MT™) Competition. Our research impact includes prolific scholarship by our faculty and $9.8 million in sponsored funding, with recent large grants in smoking prevention, sexual violence prevention, and mindfulness-based intervention, and a highly competitive and prestigious CDC-funded award to establish a Prevention Research Center focused on migrant and refugee health in Clarkston, Georgia. With over $30 million in pending grant applications, the School is poised for continued development along a strong, upward trajectory. These achievements reflect the talent and commitment of our students, faculty, and staff.
In the year ahead, our major focus will be to optimize operational functions and to strengthen the School’s infrastructure. This priority is grounded in an effort to ensure the School is positioned for long-term, sustainable growth and will be informed by organizational assessments and evaluation. In March of this year, we underwent an external review by three nationally respected deans of public health as part of the USG-required Academic Program Review to assess operations and functioning. Beginning in April and throughout the summer, we initiated a listening tour with key School of Public Health stakeholders to identify existing opportunities and challenges. Through student feedback, we learned that increased focus is needed on course scheduling and availability, academic and career advising, school-wide communications, and additional opportunities for student engagement outside the classroom. Faculty feedback has highlighted the need to enhance the School’s research support infrastructure and to further develop our academic departments to better promote student and faculty success. We are beginning to address these shared concerns, and this work will continue throughout the year as we provide further opportunities for input on the direction and future of the School. We will embark on completing a school-wide self-study (to be completed by September 2020) as part of our reaccreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health. External facilitators will lead us in completing a SWOT analysis, and we will continue the tradition of surveying faculty, staff, and graduating students to assess satisfaction and opportunities for improvement. All of these initiatives will be anchored by a focus on our core functions—providing first-rate academic programs that translate to impactful public health careers and producing cutting edge research that advances health and wellbeing locally and globally.
As we focus on strengthening the School, we will also begin to envision the future and contemplate long-term aspirations. What are our unique strengths? Are there forward-thinking innovations and other strategic opportunities that could be leveraged to raise the School’s profile, reach, and impact? How can we build on recent success and forward momentum? Your active participation will be crucial to answering these questions.
As we endeavor to elevate the School to new heights, we should remember that our School is endowed with incredible resources. We have a bright, talented, and diverse student body, a faculty of highly trained researchers, educators, and leaders, and a team of professional and committed staff. Over the past 15 years, we have grown from a fledgling academic unit with a single degree program, 30 students, and a handful of faculty and staff. Today we are a nationally accredited school of public health with 6 stand-alone and dual-degree programs, 780 students, and 125 faculty and staff. We have much to be proud of. Through our collective efforts, the School of Public Health is prepared for remarkable achievement in the years ahead.
I look forward to working with each of you this year.
Rodney Lyn, Ph.D., MS
IN THIS ISSUE
With expertise ranging from disability health disparities to methods for meta-analysis, seven new faculty were welcomed to the School of Public Health this fall.
Dr. Amanda Gimore, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development and department of Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences, comes to Georgia State University from the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Nursing. She earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Washington in 2015. Dr. Gilmore’s specializations include prevention of alcohol and drug use, sexual assault, and sexual risk behaviors among high-risk groups, reducing barriers to accessing treatment through technology-based interventions, and secondary prevention programs for individuals who experienced recent sexual assault. She is also affiliated with the department of Psychology and the Center for Research on Interpersonal Violence in the College of Arts & Sciences.
Dr. Alexander Kirpich, a biostatistician and an assistant professor in the department of Population Health Sciences, comes to Georgia State University from the University of Florida, where he also earned his Ph.D. in biostatistics in 2015. His research interests and goals are in application of statistical methods to public health research questions and policies and to address statistical challenges, such as missing data, asymptomatic infections, underreporting, and noise. Dr. Kirpich is also a member of the Biostatistics Research Team.
Dr. Justin Luningham, currently a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University, will begin his role as a research assistant professor in the department of Population Health Sciences on November 1, 2019. He earned his Ph.D. in quantitative psychology from the University of Notre Dame in 2018. At Emory, he develops quantitative methods for integrating functional genomic data into genome-wide association studies and works on applications of advanced methods to the study of psychiatric and behavioral genetics.
Dr. Karen Nielsen, assistant professor of Biostatistics in the department of Population Health Sciences, comes to Georgia State University from the University of Michigan’s BioSocial Methods Collaborative. She earned a Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Michigan in 2017. Her research interests include the development and application of new statistical techniques for modern data challenges, such as integrating and interpreting multiple data sources with differing timescales, and adapting existing techniques to new use cases. Dr. Nielsen is also a member of the Biostatistics Research Team.
Dr. Terri Pigott, professor in the department of Population Health Sciences, comes to Georgia State University from the Loyola University Chicago where she was formerly the associate provost for research and professor of research methodology. She earned a Ph.D. in measurement, evaluation and statistical analysis from the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on methods for meta-analysis, including power, missing data and individual participant meta-analysis. Dr. Pigott holds a joint appointment in the College of Education & Human Development.
Dr. Susan Snyder, assistant professor in the department of Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences, comes to Georgia State University from the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania. Dr. Snyder served as an associate professor and director of the Health Economics Research and Evaluation Core in her former role. She earned a Ph.D. in economics from Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Dr. Snyder previously held various positions at Georgia State from 1992 – 2000, including research associate for the Georgia Health Policy Center.
Dr. Erin Vinoski Thomas is a research assistant professor in the Center for Leadership in Disability and the department of Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences. She previously served as a Disability and Health Fellow with the National Association of County and City Health Officials, as well as a research associate in the Center for Leadership in Disability from 2012 – 2015. She earned a Ph.D. in public health sciences from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2019. Dr. Vinoski Thomas’ research focuses on disability health disparities, with an emphasis on identifying and promoting holistic health behaviors particularly among women and girls with disabilities.
From Maryland to Madagascar, the School of Public Health welcomed new and returning students from 26 U.S. states and 29 countries for the 2019 – 2020 academic year.
Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH)
- 464 students
- 22 average age
- 81% female
- 19% male
- 76% Georgia residents
- 21% non-residents
- 3% international
- Countries represented: Chad, Gambia, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Korea, Sri Lanka, United States, and Vietnam
Master of Public Health (MPH)
- 246 students
- 27 average age
- 76% female
- 24% male
- 74% Georgia residents
- 15% non-residents
- 11% international
- Countries represented: Angola, Botswana, China, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Tunisia, Ukraine, United States, and Venezuela
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
- 23 students
- 38 average age
- 74% female
- 26% male
- 87% Georgia residents
- 13% non-residents
- 0% international
- Countries represented: United States
Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health (PhD)
- 47 students
- 35 average age
- 85% female
- 15% male
- 60% Georgia residents
- 19% non-residents
- 21% international
- Countries represented: China, Georgia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Korea, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam
Since April 2019, the School of Public Health has welcomed eight new staff members to the team and announced new roles for several current staff.
- Sharrill Bell, Research Associate I, Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences
- Michaela Cotner, Research Coordinator II, Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences
- Brian Greer, Director of Development, Dean’s Office
- Ruschelle Leone, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences
- Zach Massey, Postdoctoral Research Associate
- David Oesterle, Program Coordinator, Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences
- Melissa Osborne, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development
- Homma Rafi, Director of Communications, Dean’s Office
- Lacell Joseph, Accreditation and Certification Manager, Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development
- Elizabeth McAdam, Accreditation and Certification Manager, Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development
- Josephine Mhende, Research Associate I, Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences
- Brenda Muñoz, Bilingual Community Services Specialist II, Center for Leadership in Disability
The School of Public of Health is excited to announce completed renovations in the Urban Life building. Across the second and third floors, a total of eight classrooms have been updated with new technology and flex space options to enhance instructional effectiveness.
Second floor: Rooms 201, 202, 216, and 230
Third floor: Rooms 311, 325A, 325B, and 330
The Office of Academic Assistance and Career Services has received a full renovation and refresh with new carpet, furniture, paint and two additional offices to better serve our growing student body.
Third floor: Suite 300
A new, dedicated event space and conference room have been created, allowing the School to host more high-profile events and meetings.
Second floor: Room 231 and event space adjacent to 230
The Finance and Grants & Contracts teams have relocated to their new office space on the second floor, as well.
Second floor: Rooms 226, 227, 228, and 229
There are two additional classrooms on the second floor currently undergoing renovations that will be available in Spring 2020.
An article by Dr. Gerardo Chowell and doctoral student Amna Tariq, entitled A novel sub-epidemic modeling framework for short-term forecasting epidemic waves, was recently published in BMC Medicine’s spatial epidemiology research collection. Based on the model in this article, the team, in collaboration with Dr. James “Mac” Hyman of Tulane University, produces short-term forecasts of the weekly incidence trend of the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). An updated Ebola incidence forecast of the epidemic, also based on the World Health Organization’s External Situation Reports, is published weekly. Click here to learn more.
Julia Neighbors, director of Prevent Child Abuse Georgia housed in the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development, spoke at the Voices for Georgia’s Children’s Closed Door meeting entitled “Initiatives, Policy, and Actions: A Conversation About Georgia’s Efforts to Ensure Child Safety and Healthy Development.” Neighbors presented on the major initiatives in Georgia supporting child safety, abuse prevention, and healthy development, including: the State Plan for Child Abuse Prevention, Essentials for Early Childhood, Strengthening Families, System of Care State Plan (IDT), Injury Prevention. The meeting’s audience included state legislators, funders and partners.
Prevent Child Abuse Georgia invites members of the public to offer comments on the revision of the state of Georgia’s plan for preventing child abuse at a series of meetings around the state. Attendance at the meetings is free of charge and open to the public. Click here to learn more.
Dr. Carlos Pavão presented and conducted workshops in Savannah, Georgia this summer. His first engagement was for the Georgia Chapter of the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists’ annual meeting. His presentation on CDI (Clinical Documentation Improvement) and the overlap with social determinants of health also discussed the upcoming Medicaid changes and clinic documentation procedures. Dr. Pavão was asked to cover the new changes and work through possible challenges. He also conducted two workshops for the 13th Annual Georgia School of Addictions Studies, where he presented on 1) innovative evaluation approaches to better understand the changing faces of rural communities and 2) why bisexual and transgender populations overlooked within the LGBTQ spectrum.
Alumni in Public Health
Dr. Priscilla Oliver was named the new president of the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)’s Board of Directors. She received her Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from the Georgia State University Policy School (now the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies) in 1981 and her Ph.D. from the Georgia State University College of Education & Human Performance (now the College of Education & Human Development) in 1989. Dr. Oliver is currently a Senior Life Scientist with the Office of the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Atlanta. She joined the NEHA in 1993, and since then, has served as Co-Chair, Chair and Technical Advisor of the Hazardous Materials and Toxic Substances Section. She also received the NEHA Presidential Citation and letters of appreciation for her longtime service to the NEHA Technical Editorial Advisory Board and as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Environmental Health. In 2014, NSF International named Dr. Oliver the recipient of the distinguished Walter F. Snyder Environmental Health Award, honoring her four decades of significant and lasting contributions to environmental and public health through education, leadership, dedication and community service. Click here to learn more.
Syretta Shealey was named a recipient of the inaugural 40 Under 40 in Public Health by the de Beaumont Foundation. A native of Georgia, Shealey holds a Bachelors degree from Georgia State University and a Master of Public Health in community health from DePaul University. Over the last seven years, she has worked to improve the health of hundreds of thousands of youth across Chicago. Starting her public health career as a program facilitator with the Teen Outreach Program, Shealey empowered high school students to develop skills in healthy decision making necessary for them to become thriving adults. Through this evidence-based youth development program, she not only educated young people on comprehensive sexual health education, but also coordinated efforts in helping students implement service learning projects in collaboration with local nonprofits within the city, totaling more than 13,000 hours of service. Shealey has made it her personal mission to improve the health of Chicago’s students. She actively volunteers as a member of the Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League and Link Unlimited President’s Advisory Board. Click here to learn more.