Dr. Ashish Joshi named Dean of the School of Public Health at the UofM
Dr. Ashish Joshi has been named dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Memphis, effective Aug. 1. Joshi is currently senior associate dean of Academic and Student Affairs and professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy-New York. He joined CUNY in 2014 as a founding assistant dean of student affairs. In 2016, he was promoted to associate dean of Student and Alumni Affairs. He was appointed to his current position in 2018. More about Dr. Joshi >
Dr. Joshi recently received a tremendous honor at his current institution: the inaugural CUNY SPH Legacy Award.
SPH Recruitment Info Session
The School of Public Health Info Session was held on Thursday, Oct. 27th, 2022.
Donuts with the Dean
The Public Health Student Association invited students to meet with Dean Joshi and enjoy a snack on Thursday, Oct. 20th.
PHSA Faculty/Student Mixer!
In September, the Public Health Student Association sponsored a Faculty-Student Mixer that featured music, games, food, and fun! Enjoy photos from the party (link to Photo Gallery)
SPH well represented at TPHA 2022 Annual Conference
The School of Public Health was honored to be a Gold Sponsor of the Tennessee Public Health Association's 2022 Annual Conference, where several faculty and students presented their research. Dr. Matt Smeltzer presented his work related to the CDC-funded Sickle Cell Registry, PhD student Allison Plaxco presented her COVID-19 research, PhD student Nick Rummel presented his work on refugee health, and Dr. Marian Levy was an invited speaker discussing the future of Public Health. Additionally, MPH alumnus Sarah Boop received the TPHA Member of the Year award. Additional photos may be found here.
Congratulations to Duha Magzoub, MPH, 2022 on Program Coordinator Position at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Duha Magzoub (MPH, 2022) has recently accepted a position as Program Coordinator with the HPV Cancer Prevention Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Duha was a graduate intern with the HPV Cancer Prevention Program while completing her master’s degree.
Congratulations to M. Paige Powell, 2022 John D. Thompson Prize Recipient
Dr. Paige Powell, Director of the Master of Health Administration Program in the School of Public Health, is the recipient of AUPHA's 2022 John D. Thompson Prize. This national award recognizes contributions to the field of health administration.
Congratulations to M. Paige Powell, PhD, MHA, Associate Professor of Health Systems Management & Policy at The University of Memphis School of Public Health, for being selected as the recipient of the 2022 John D. Thompson Prize. The Prize recognizes faculty based on their overall contributions to the field of health administration, broadly defined. The Prize will be presented at the Awards Presentation session on Thursday, June 9th, during AUPHA’s 2022 Annual Meeting.
MPH alumna accepts new Epidemiologist job
Orpita Nilormee, BDS, MPH has accepted a job offer as an Epidemiologist with Brown County Health and Human Services- Public Health Division in Green Bay Wisconsin. She was formerly a Public Health Strategist with the organization.
School of Public Health Student Achievement Awardees for 2022
Each year, the School of Public Health provides Student Achievement Awards to recognize outstanding students in our Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral programs of study. These awards are highly competitive and reflect outstanding academic achievement, research accomplishments, and contribution to the field of public health. The Dean's Office provides a prize of $500 for doctoral awardees and $300 for bachelor's and master's awardees.
We are pleased to announce the recipients:
- PhD in Epidemiology: Bandar Saud Shukr
- PhD in Social and Behavioral Sciences: Cheri Kilmurray
- MPH: Duha Magzoub
- MHA: Savannah Rosevear-Goetsch
- BSPH: Jessica Warren
Dr. Melton-Fant Provides Insight on Public Health Preemption
Dr. Courtnee Melton-Fant, Assistant Professor of Health Systems Management & Policy, shared her expertise concerning public health preemption, in which state governments seek to prevent local governments from setting public health policy. Learn more >
SPH Student Achievement Awards - Nominations Now Being Accepted
The School of Public Health is pleased to offer Student Achievement Awards to recognize one outstanding student in each of our Master's and Doctoral Programs. Students may be nominated by faculty or nominate themselves for this award, which includes cash prizes of $300 for Master's students and $500 for Doctoral students. The application deadline is March 1, 2022. Click here for announcement for each award: (MPH Student Achievement Award) (MHA Student Achievement Award) (Student Achievement Awards EBE) (Student Achievement Award SBS). An Undergraduate Public Health Award will be given to one undergraduate student upon recommendation by BSPH faculty on the basis of grade point average (GPA), quality of coursework, community engagement, and leadership ability.
In Loving Memory - Professor George Relyea
It is with great sadness that the School of Public Health shares the devastating news that our beloved colleague, Professor George Relyea, died on Friday, January 28, 2022 at his home in Memphis, TN. Professor Relyea was a gifted teacher, outstanding mentor, and kind soul. He touched many lives and will be greatly missed. His legacy continues with the students he inspired. Please read about his life (George Edwin Relyea) and expressions of gratitude from the School of Public Health (Condolences from the School of Public Health)
2021 News Highlights
SPH Grant Awards
Faculty in the School of Public Health have recently received several new grant awards:
Dr. Courtnee Melton-Fant, assistant professor in the Division of Health Systems Management and Policy, was
awarded $20,000 from Syracuse University for her project “Heterogenous Effects of
Local Government Spending on Mortality across Racial Groups."
Dr. Latrice Pichon, associate professor in the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, was awarded $93,851 from Vanderbilt University Medical Center with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for her project “Implementation of Rapid HIV Testing and Linkage to HIV Treatment or Prevention Among Vulnerable Populations in Tennessee.”
Dr. Marian Levy, interim dean and professor in the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences was awarded $17,862 from Dar Salud Care PLLC with the Novo Nordisk Inc for her project “Prevalence of Obesity and Adiposity-Based Comorbidities Within a Cohort of Adolescents Living in Memphis.”
Dr. Hongmei Zhang, professor and director in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Environmental Health and PhD program coordinator for Biostatistics, was awarded $16,851 from La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his project “Epigenome-wide association study of childhood asthma.”
Dr. Satish Kedia, professor in the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, was awarded $525,000 from Mending Hearts, Inc. with the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration for his project “SAMHSA MAT 2021 MHI TBD” and $99,984 from Buffalo Valley (BV) Incorporated with the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration for his project “SAMHSA MAT 2021 BVI TBD
Dr. Debra Bartelli, Research Associate Professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and
Environmental Health, was awarded $171,672 as part of an award to Hope House from
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The funding is from HUD’s
Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Competitive Grant and will be
used to provide housing assistance to people living with HIV in Memphis. Dr. Bartelli
will assist with data collection and evaluation, as well as helping create a replicable
HUD's press release announcing the grantees is available at this link: https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/HUD_No_21_196
Dr. Chunrong Jia, associate professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Environmental Health, was awarded $24,142 from Harvard University with the JPB Foundation for his project “The Environmental Health Fellows Program for Urban Health” and $340,516 from the Shelby County Health Department with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for his project “Field Validation of Miniature Thermal Desorption Samplers.”
Dr. Jennifer Turchi, assistant professor in the School of Public Health, was awarded $39,687 from First 8 Memphis LLC for her project “Seeding Success Shelby County Schools Pre-K Outcomes-Based Financing Project.”
Dr. Abu Mohammed Naser Titu, assistant professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Environmental Health, was awarded $2,500 from The Campbell Foundation for his project “Statistical Evaluation of "Incidence of Flare Reaction Following Shoulder Steroid Injections: Comparisons of Kenalog (Triamcinolone) and Depomedrol (Methylprednisolone).”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Memphis and UTHSC partnered in 2020 to provide seed funding to research teams comprised of faculty from both institutions to investigate topics related to the pandemic. Dr. Yu Jiang, assistant professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Environmental Health, is a principal investigator of the following CORNET award: "Clinical, Immunological and Viral Determinants of COVID-19 Disease Severity in Adults and Children": Heather Smallwood, PhD (UTHSC); Nick Hysmith, MD (UTHSC); Colleen Jonsson, PhD (UTHSC); Yu Jiang, PhD (UofM).
Dr. Kenneth Ward selected as Associate Editor of Health Behavior Research
Dr. Kenneth Ward, Professor in the School of Public Health and Director of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, has been selected as the new Associate Editor of Health Behavior Research (HBR).
HBR is a peer-reviewed open-access scholarly journal that publishes original research
articles, research briefs, current issues papers, commentaries, and abstracts from
the annual meeting of the Academy. The aim of the journal is to advance the science
of health behavior research. Emphasis is placed on papers that address new and emerging
concepts and theory used in health behavior research, conceptual frameworks, methods,
and analysis. View article here>
Congratulations, Dr. Ward!
Research Presentations at The West Tennessee American Statistical Association
School of Public Health faculty member Dr. Meredith Ray and PhD student Chengzhou Wu presented their research at The West Tennessee American Statistical Association (WTASA) Chapter Fall 2021 Research Symposium on November 4th. Dr. Hongmei Zhang, Director of the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Environmental Health in the School of Public Health, gave opening remarks at the conference as President of WTASA. Dr. Ray’s presentation was titled, “Patterns of multi-genetic/epigenetic factors identified by a novel nonparametric clustering approach”. Mr. Wu joined the students research presentation competition and spoke on “ Identifying differentially methylation regions in the human genome based on the generalized beta distribution.” His presentation won the first prize! Congratulations, Chengzhou!
University Research Professorships awarded to Drs. Kedia, Pichon, Smeltzer, and Zhang
Dr. Satish kedia Dr. Latrice Pichon Dr. Matt Smeltzer Dr. Hongmei Zhang
The School of Public Health is pleased to announce that Provost Nenon has recognized four of our Public Health faculty with University Research Professorships. Dr. Satish Kedia, Dr. Latrice Pichon, Dr. Matt Smeltzer, and Dr. Hongmei Zhang each have received three-year appointments for this Professorship in reward for their outstanding contributions to the University's educational, research, outreach, and service missions.
Please join us in congratulating Drs. Kedia, Pichon, Smeltzer, and Zhang on these well-deserved awards!
Four SPH Faculty Receive Communities of Scholars (CoRS) Grants
Drs. Naser Titu, Jennifer Turchi, Meredith Ray, and Yong Yang have been awarded Community of Research Scholars (CoRS) awards from the Division of Research and Innovation. The CoRS Program is designed to cultivate interdisciplinary discourse and nurture the growth of research affinity groups across campus.
CoRS awards for 2022 support the following research:
- Abu Mohammed Naser Titu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, “Socioecological Determinants of Cardiometabolic Health in Memphis: Establishment of a Database"
- Jennifer Turchi, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, “Convening minds to address youth justice and youth violence in Memphis, TN”
- Meredith Ray, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biostatistics, “Developing a multidimensional and data-driven understanding of sexual positioning identity among cisgender men who have sex with men”
- Yong Yang, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences, “Examine the influence of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak to health behaviors and mental health”
School of Public Health researchers received nearly 1/5th of the 22 awards for the 2022 grant year. Congratulations to all!
Dr. Smeltzer receives funding for Sickle Cell and Lung Cancer research
Dr. Matthew Smeltzer, associate professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Environmental Health, was awarded $150,000 from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital with the National Institutes of Health for his project “RE-aiming at Hydroxyurea Adherence for Sickle Cell with mHealth” and $49,061 from the Baptist Cancer Center with the National Institutes of Health for his project “Improving pathologic nodal staging of resected lung cancer.”
Dr. Titu receives funding to study Socioecological Determinants of Cardiometabolic Health in Memphis
Dr. Naser Titu, Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health, has received a 2022 Community of Research Scholars (CoRS) grant. This collaborative award will establish a "Data Center" in the School of Public Health by compiling neighborhood social, economic, environmental, and health data to study cardiometabolic diseases in Memphis. This "Data Center" aims to study socioecological risk stratification of cardiometabolic health disparities among Memphians. The availability and linkage of these data are the critical first steps for high-risk communities' geomapping and addressing cardiometabolic disease disparities, directing what and where interventions should strategically focus.
Dr. Turchi and Colleagues awarded CoRS funding
Dr. Jennifer Turchi of the School of Public Health and Dr. Tim McCuddy of Criminal Justice are Co-PIs of a 2022 CoRS grant to fund "Convening minds to address youth justice and youth violence in Memphis, TN", a day-long symposium that will bring together community stakeholders and UofM faculty who are working to address youth violence and youth justice in Memphis. Community organizations, including justice-impacted youth, and faculty will present their work and discuss collaborative opportunities. This effort is designed to help bridge the gap between academe and community to address the important issues facing youth in Memphis. Dr. Brenna Breshears (Counseling, Education Psychology & Research), Dr. Minhae Cho (Social Work), and Dr. Lindsey Feldman (Anthropology) are co-collaborators on this interdisciplinary project.
Dr. Kedia receives SAMHSA funding for Opioid Research
Dr. Satish Kedia in the School of Public Health has been awarded two five-year Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grants totaling $1.05 million. Read More>
SPH Researchers Promote COVID-19 Vaccine
The University of Memphis School of Public Health has been awarded two-year funding totaling $927,479 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify barriers and motivators to COVID-19 immunization among vulnerable populations in Shelby County at high risk for poor health outcomes due to low vaccination rates. Read More>
Dr. Jia Studies Indoor Air Quality
Dr. Chunrong Jia, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Science in the School of Public Health, has been awarded a three-year grant totaling $340,516 from the Environmental Protection Agency. As Principal Investigator, he will collaborate with the Shelby County Health Department on field validation of miniature thermal desorption samplers for sampling and analysis of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in the ambient air. This study aims to validate low-cost, miniature thermal desorption (TD) samplers for sampling and analysis of PAHs and VOCs in the ambient air and demonstrate their applications in community-scale air monitoring programs. Dr. Jia also received funding from the JPB Foundation/Harvard University for a study titled, “Establishing a ‘Birth Cohort’ of homes: Investigating changes in VOC composition of indoor air in new housing as it becomes occupied.” Dr. Jia is Principal Investigator of this study, which aims to investigate patterns of VOC concentrations in indoor air among several populations at risk for adverse VOC exposures.
Sickle Cell Disease
Dr. Matthew Smeltzer (Associate Professor, School of Public Health) received additional funding for the Tennessee Sickle Cell Disease Surveillance Program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September (2021). In addition to the $748,212 previously awarded for the three-year project, the team was awarded an additional $355,088 in supplemental funding to study the impact of COVID-19 and other expansions of the project. Dr. Smeltzer serves as the contact Principal Investigator (PI) on this Multiple-PI collaboration between the University of Memphis, Vanderbilt University, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Dr. Latrice Pichon awarded two new federal grants
Dr. Latrice Pichon, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Public Health is principal investigator on two newly awarded federal grants. One is a 3-year, CDC grant $349,813 (Year 1) funded as part of the Minority HIV Research Initiative. The project will test a church-based intervention developed in partnership with the faith community, tailored for predominantly Black congregations in both urban and rural settings to address the role of social stigma in health-promoting behaviors related to HIV. SPH partners include Dr. Vikki Nolan and Ms. Andrea Stubbs who is a SBS PhD student as well as Administrative Director of St. Jude’s HPV Cancer Prevention Program. Community partners include YOUR Center, Connect to Protect (C2P), Christ Missionary Baptist Church, University of Missouri, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Department of Health, and Headliners.
Dr. Pichon also was recently awarded a R13 conference grant for $50,000 from NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. This award will be used to sponsor a conference series to reduce HIV-related stigma and HIV disparities using a community-based participatory research approach, engaging influential gatekeepers and faith leaders in the Memphis metro area from faith- and community-based organizations and to lay the groundwork for disseminating a culturally-congruent photovoice intervention for faith contexts to address HIV stigma.
Dr. Ken Ward elected fellow of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco
Dr. Ward was recently elected as a SRNT fellow in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of nicotine and tobacco research.
Dr. Hongmei Zhang elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA)
Dr. Hongmei Zhang has been elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) for her “outstanding service and leadership in biostatistics education; for extensive collaborative efforts in epidemiological and medical research; and for notable contributions to variable selection and clustering methods and practice”. The new Fellows will be designated at an awards ceremony at the 2021 Joint Statistical Meetings, the largest gathering of researchers and students in statistics and data science.
The American Statistical Association (ASA), funded in Boston in 1839, is the world’s largest community of statisticians. It has been nearly 100 years since the first grant of ASA Fellow, the highest honorary grade of membership of the organization. The maximum number of recipients each year is one-third of one percent of the ASA membership, and a selected Fellow must have an established reputation and have made outstanding contributions to areas in statistical science.
PhD Alumnus Dr. Shadia Khan Sunny to work on Genome Sequencing Data of COVID-19
Shadia Khan Sunny, MD (MBBS), PhD, MPH, who completed her PhD in Epidemiology in Spring 2021, has taken a new position as Senior Epidemiologist at CDC Foundation at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. In this position, she will be working on genome sequencing data of COVID-19.
Doctoral Student Awarded Storybook Trail Grant
Matt McDaniel, MS, MPH, MPA, a doctoral student in Social and Behavioral Sciences, collaborated with Mayor of Brownsville, TN to obtain a $4,000 Storybook Trail Grant.
This award from the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation is designed “create enriching outdoor reading experiences for children and families to connect literacy with a fun, physical activity.” The funding and technical assistance support installing the book Last Stop on Market Street on Brownsville's Heritage Park walking path.
PhD Alumnus Dr. Adam Alexander Receives K01 Award
Dr. Adam Alexander, who received his PhD in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the School of Public Health, recently received a K01 award from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. His research is titled HealthyCells: A Culturally-Tailored Smoking Cessation Smartphone Intervention for African Americans with Adjunctive Treatment for Sedentary Behavior. Dr. Alexander is currently an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. His faculty mentor at the University of Memphis was Dr. Ken Ward.
SPH collaborates with CDC on campus mask study
The School of Public Health, in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, launched a study to observe mask use on and around campus. Over 60 colleges and universities across the country participated in this study during the spring semester 2021. Seventeen (17) MPH students trained as data collectors observed people on campus and at off-campus sites frequented by students.
The study was conducted for 10 weeks, from February 8-April 18th. During this 10-week period, 1255 individuals were observed. Nearly all (90%) wore masks, and of those 83% wore their mask correctly. The most common mask type observed during the previous week was cloth (65%), followed by surgical masks (29%). Dr. Marian Levy and Dr. Vikki Nolan served as site PI's for this project.
Dr. Melton-Fant and Dr. Turchi named Hooks Academic Research Fellows!
The School of Public Health is delighted to announce that two of our faculty have been honored as Hooks Academic Research Fellows.
Dr. Courtnee Melton-Fant is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Systems Management and Policy. Her research interests include state and local-level public policy, health outcomes, and racial health inequities. She is particularly interested in examining structural racism as a root cause of health inequities and how broad-based public policies can be used as tools to ameliorate those inequities. View article here>
Dr. Jennifer Turchi is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division of the School of Public Health. Her research focuses on social and structural inequities, broadly around child development, family outcomes, health, and race. Her most recent work explores youth activism, justice-involved youth, and adverse childhood experiences. View article here>
SPH Announces Student Achievement Award Recipients for 2021
Each year, the School of Public Health provides Student Achievement Awards to recognize outstanding students in each of our Master's and Doctoral programs of study. These awards are highly competitive and reflect outstanding academic achievement, research accomplishments, and contributions to the field of public health. We are pleased to announce the recipients for 2021. Read more>
Two from SPH named to the 2021 Class of 20<30!
The School of Public Health is proud to announce that Gisela Guerrero, a current MPH
student, and Emmanuel Spence (MPH, 2018), an alumnus, have been named to the Memphis
Flyer's 2021 Class of 20< 30 in recognition of their leadership and community service.
Congratulations to both on this well-deserved honor! View here>