SPH Alumni

Alumni in the News

MPH Alumnus Recognized for Efforts in Winning National Award for Shelby County School

Kyle Kuusisto (MPH, 2011), Physical Activity Specialist at Shelby County Schools' STEAM Academy led the school's efforts to be recognized with the Gold Award from the Alliance For A Healthier Generation. His school was one of only ten schools nationally to receive the Gold distinction! Details may be found here.

For more information on Kyle's work, check out the blog here.

Kyle also hosts a podcast called Future of Food which focuses on topics of food news, and food justice, and can be accessed by clicking here!

MPH Alumnae Recognized at Tennessee Public Health Association for Top Poster

Obrenka Thompson (MPH, 2017), a Health Equity Fellow at the Metro/Nashville Public Health Department, was recognized as the first author of one of the top five posters at the Tennessee Public Health Association annual meeting. Ms. Thompson's poster was titled, "Wise Moves and Health Equity: Evaluating and Identifying Barriers to a Workplace Wellness Program using a Qualitative approach." Ms. Thompson is pictured third from left in the photo.

obrenka thomspon alumni


Alumni Spotlight


Elizabeth Booker Houston, MPH (2017), JD - Presidential Management Fellow, Regulatory Counsel, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

In 2017, Elizabeth was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow and chose a position with the FDA. She works in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in the Division of User Fee Management and Budget Formulation. Her role is to make policy decisions and help draft guidance concerning user fees for brand name and generic drugs as well as biologics.

"The University of Memphis gave me the training and education I needed to pursue a career in public health law. Being able to earn my JD and my MPH concurrently made me a competitive candidate for a federal career right here in our nation's capital. But more importantly, the School of Public Health gave me confidence and encouraged my goals every step of the way."

alumni carney

Ginger Carney, MPH (2011), RDN, LDN, IBCLC, RLC, FILCA (Fellow, International Lactation Consultant Association), FAND (Fellow, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), Director Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

As Director of Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services, Mrs. Carney Directs activities of the department and coordinates with all areas of the hospital to ensure excellence in nutritional care of patients. This includes coordinating quality activities and developing standards, policies and procedures for clinical nutrition care and for compliance with Joint Commission standards. Mrs. Carney manages the performance of departmental administrative and clinical staff, directs nutrition research, ensures the inservice, training, and education of staff, and serves as a clinical resource for Food Services. This includes participating in institutional and professional activities to promote the profession, the department and the organization.

 "Obtaining my master's degree from the University of Memphis School of Public Health has allowed me to move forward in my career with an enhanced understanding of how I can help to improve the quality of services I am able to offer at my institution as well as how I can better contribute as a healthcare professional in the Memphis community. Through my affiliation with the SPH, I have made contacts for future networking and professional growth, and have enjoyed developing wonderful relationships with faculty, classmates, and others at the university. My experience has definitely been a positive one and something I would encourage for those who may be considering an advanced degree in the versatile field of public health!"

leah reish alumni

Leah Reish, MPH (2017) - ASPPH / NHTSA Public Health Fellow

"I am an ASPPH/NHTSA Public Health Fellow. My employer is the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), but the fellowship is located at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in Washington, DC. I am in the Impaired Driving Division where I am delegated assignments by my mentor while working on my own projects that revolve around alcohol- or drug-impaired driving.

The Master of Public Health program at the University of Memphis gave me epidemiology, program management, and other competencies to face real-life public health issues like traffic safety. I am grateful to be a small part of this essential public health topic and thank the Memphis School of Public Health for equipping me to face the challenges of making our modes of transportation safer."

 alumni varnumMarshall Varnum II, MPH (2015) - Associate Chemist, Alion Science and Technology, Inc. / ESAT Contractor,    USEPA Region IV / SESD

"I am responsible for planning and carrying out PM 2.5 and other Criteria Air Pollutant Audits around the whole South East as a contractor for the EPA.

The SPH was simply a life altering experience. It was tough but very rewarding. It gave me a chance to Network with people who in turn helped me get into the Career I have today. It is without a doubt and 100 percent certainty that I would not be where I am today if not for Dr. Levy and the SPH Family!!!"

brian mckinnon alumni

Brian J. McKinnon, MD, MBA, MPH (2016), FCPP, FACS, Associate Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Otolaryngology, Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Drexel University College of Medicine

"In the last year have initiated a number of clinical research studies since arriving, looking at a range of topic in otology, laryngology, and pediatric otolaryngology. I had a very good learning experience in the program, and would strongly encourage those interested in pursuing an MPH to consider doing so at University of Memphis. I certainly can say I began using the skills learned during the time even before I completed the degree."


alumni hand

Sarah Hand, MPH (2016) - Research Study Coordinator, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, College of Medicine

 "I organize, plan, and manage the operational activities for an NIH funded smoking cessation study. The MPH Program at Memphis allowed me to gain knowledge in so many areas of public health while also fostering personal growth. The coursework and professors in SPH prepared me extremely well to thrive in my current role as a study coordinator, and I know that preparation will translate to any job or role I take going forward."

alumni shukura

Shukura Ayoluwa Umi, MPH (2017) - Project Coordinator, University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center
"I am managing two projects ; one studying what healthy behavior influences affect single cancer survivors and another studying ways to observe and experiment how communities can manifest into cultures of physical activity and what barriers to address , along the way.

This position is really exciting because, I consider it, to be an extension of my public health program. I am learning so much and getting more in depth experiences: such as writing IRB applications, collecting data, data analysis and publishing study findings.

My experience with the School of Public Health was a growing and uplifting one. I had some difficulties with two courses, my first semester, and due to my less science and more social science background. Both professors, were sensitive, understanding and made "our weekly office visits", enjoyable and impactful. My second year, was easier to manage and exposed me to more constructs and topics, I was excited and interested to learn, then to apply in real time, public health issues."

alumni kordab

Nada Kordab, MPH (2015), DDS - Dentist, Access Dental

"I had an amazing experience during my Master's in Public Health! I was surrounded by great faculty who have a passion to teach at the University of Memphis."




alumni dallas

Ronald Dallas, MPH, PhD (2014)  - Clinical Research Scientist, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

"I'm currently a Clinical Research Scientist at St. Jude in the Dept. of Infectious Diseases. A large part of my work entails supporting institutional and senior faculty research initiatives. In my role, I design/develop therapeutic and non-therapeutic clinical trials as well as provide grant writing and analytical support. I also serve as the principal or co-principal investigator on institutional and multi-site studies such as HIV medication adherence, the human microbiome among pediatric populations, epidemiology of infectious diseases among immunocompromised hosts, and improving precision diagnosis of acute infectious diseases.

One thing I really appreciated about the program was the non-traditional course scheduling, which allowed me to continue working in a setting that offered me valuable hands-on experience that I may not have received if I would have had to make the decision between continuing my education or my job. I also enjoyed and benefited from the multiple disciplines and educational/career backgrounds of both students and faculty in the SPH."

alumni savoryRichard S. Savory, MPH, OD, FAAO - Associate Professor, Southern College of Optometry

"An optometrist by profession, I joined the faculty at Southern College of Optometry (SCO) upon retiring from the US Navy in July, 2006. In addition to clinical and laboratory responsibilities, I am currently the instructor of record for the Public Health (and Ophthalmic Optics) courses required as part of the SCO curriculum.

I graduated from the University of Memphis (UM) with my Masters in Public Health (MPH) in August, 2012. My Public Health "niche" at SCO is certainly a direct result of my Memphis degree. I found the MPH program challenging and rewarding yet ultimately "doable" despite working full-time. In addition, contacts I made during my course work at UM have helped me facilitate worthwhile collaborations between SCO and UM and have enabled me to participate in both local and national Public Health organizations since graduation."

alumni shahinShahin Alan Sameiei, MPH (2011) - Manager, Research Data & Studies, DefEx Institute of Technology

"As the Manager of Research Data & Studies at the Center of Excellence for Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K Center) at the University of Memphis, I support the mobile health/mobile sensing research efforts coordinated through our nationally spanning, interdisciplinary research collaboration. These research efforts include studies occurring at 10+ research sites, consist of several thousand research participants, and are sponsored by millions of dollars in research funding. More information can be found at https://www.md2k.org.

My experience with the School of Public Health's MPH program was phenomenal. The opportunities that I had for academic and experiential development have fostered an array of skills that have supported my career and personal growth. Moreover, I relish the many enduring relationships that were forged with my graduate student cohort, faculty, and staff."

Agatha Asemota, MPH (2011), JD, MS (Biology), CCEP (Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional through the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics) - Director of Healthcare Compliance, AtriCure Inc.

As Director of Healthcare Compliance, Mrs. Asemota provides guidance, based on federal, state, local or international laws and regulations to company employees whose job functions interact with health care professionals or organizations.

"I have told many people that my educational experience at U of M was one of the best that I have ever had. Every professor challenged me and required focus and attentiveness to public health issues. The training was intense but appropriate. I really enjoyed my time in this program."

alumni harrisJamie Adams Harris (2013), MPH - Curriculum Development and Training Specialist, Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women and the Spence and Becky Wilson Children's Hospital

"I manage a grant from the State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services Building Strong Brains Initiative. The purpose of the grant is to educate physicians and allied health professionals about the long term health effects of adversity in childhood. Though there were other sites across Tennessee that received Building Strong Brains grants, Baptist was the only site chosen to create curriculum specifically focused on health professionals. We have hosted live training events, created web-based learning modules, and are hosting an all-day Symposium this Spring. Additionally, we are creating a full 3-credit hour course on Adverse Childhood Experiences and their effects on lifelong health and wellness. This course will be disseminated to institutions of higher learning across the State of Tennessee.

My experience in the MPH program at U of M was wonderful! The faculty were incredibly accomplished in their respective fields of study. They made the coursework interesting and relevant, no matter your concentration. Since graduating, I have had the opportunity to reach out to SPH instructors professionally and have been so impressed with their level of support and enthusiasm for the pursuits of graduates."


cheyenneCheyenne Medlock (MPH, 2016) has accepted a full-time position at Le Bonheur Community Health and Well-Being as the Outreach Coordinator for Be Proud! Be Responsible! Memphis! Having worked with the Shelby County Health Department since graduation, Ms. Medlock writes, "This success is very much due to the phenomenal education I got during my MPH."

alumni grimesStephanie Grimes (MPH, 2016) entered medical school in August, 2016). "Getting my Master's in Public Health a the University of Memphis allowed me to learn the human side of health and health behaviors, which will help me to be a better physician in serving my patients. The MPH program was the key for me to gain a full scholarship to medical school."


alumni matthewsChris Mathews (Dual MSW/MPH, 2016). "After taking Epidemiology and Biostatistics, I developed a strong foundation in research methodology that I can apply to Social Work. Another benefit is that public health approaches issues from a macro-level, allowing me to work on policy issues."



alumni emetaromChigozie Emetarom
(MPH, 2010) is a medical student at Central Michigan University and currently serves as Vice President of the Student National Medical Association CMED Chapter.  She will assume the Presidency for the chapter next academic year.  Additionally, Ms. Emetarom reports that she was recently accepted into the Clinical and Translational Research program at Harvard this summer and is one of only six candidates.

chee alumniChee Lam (
MPH, 2012). After completing a fellowship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in August 2015, Mr. Lam has been hired as a Public Health Advisor with the CDC Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, and is currently assigned to work in New York City. During his fellowship, Mr. Lam participated in CDC's Ebola response. He was initially detailed to CDC headquarters for approximately three months, and then spent a month in Liberia during the re-emergence of the outbreak there in July.

Stephanie Grimes

Caroline Hamilton
(MPH, 2015). Ms. Hamilton is currently working for the Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare System in the Primary Care Group in a managerial role. A 2008 graduate of Lambuth University, she looks forward to utilizing the experience and education gained through the MPH program to aid in creating the ideal patient experience through the delivery of affordable and accessible care. She is currently working with a Methodist initiative of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the Patient-Centered Medical Home, to ensure that the primary care group emphasizes care coordination and communication to make the experience "what the patient wants it to be." Medical homes can lead to higher quality and lower costs, and can improve both patient and provider experience of care.

alumni obrenkaObrenka Thompson (MPH, 2017) was awarded a Health Equity Fellowship with the Office of Minority Health as part of the Youth Health Equity Model of Practice (YHEMOP). This program supports the future design, implementation, and evaluation of federal and public health workforce programs and policies, specifically as they relate to the engagement of emerging health professionals. Ms. Thompson has been placed at the Metro Public Health Department in Nashville, TN and will be completing a department-wide Health Equity Assessment related to a Health in All Policies approach that benefits the community.


Rob Meister (MPH, 2011). Mr. Meister is currently employed as a statistician with Integrity Management Services, LLC in Alexandria, Virginia. His responsibilities include helping detect Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Rob credits Professor George Relyea with providing him the requisite skills for this position. "Professor Relyea's course in large data sets, employing sampling techniques, was the key that got me in the door."