SPH News & Events


Dr. Xinhua Yu interviewed by Local 24 news

Dr. Yu, U of Memphis researcher, checking blood samples, concerned about Delta variant. See the interview and article here.  


Public Health Virtual Summer Institute 2021

The School of Public Health is pleased to offer the Public Health Virtual Summer Institute 2021 this August in partnership with the FedEx Institute of Technology.  Short, interactive workshops to enhance skills in data analysis and infectious disease epidemiology will be held online from August 9-12. Sessions are taught via Zoom in real-time by public health faculty experts. Details and registration information may be accessed here.


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.


Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Daleniece Higgins joins faculty at University of Tennessee- Knoxville

Dr. Daleniece HigginsDaleniece Higgins, PhD, MPH,  who completed her PhD in Epidemiology and continued as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the School of Public Health, has accepted a tenure track position at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville.  She will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health. 




PhD Alumnus and Post-doctoral Fellow Dr. Yu-Sheng Lee accepts faculty position at University of Illinois- Springfield

Dr. Yu-Sheng LeeDr. Yu-Sheng Lee, a graduate and post-doctoral fellow of our Epidemiology doctoral program, will join the faculty of the University of Illinois-Springfield as a tenure track Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health.  




Dr. Hongmei Zhang elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA)

Dr. ZhangDr. 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. Hyunmin Kim joins faculty at University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Hyunmin KimDr. Hyunmin Kim, an alumnus of our Health Systems and Policy doctoral program, has accepted a faculty position at the University of Southern Mississippi as an Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Administration. Congratulations, Dr. Kim!




PhD Alumnus Dr. Shadia Khan Sunny to work on Genome Sequencing Data of COVID-19

Dr. Shadia Khan Sunny

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.




Graduate Student Therapy Group (via ZOOM)

The University of Memphis Psychological Services Center is offering a group therapy program to help students in coping abilities, motivation, social support, and engagement in their graduate programs. Sessions will be offered via ZOOM and will start the second week of June.  Please see the attached flyer for more information about this valuable opportunity.


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

Mask Up TeamThe 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. Xinhua Yu estimates levels of COVID-19 immunity in Shelby County

With funding from the City of Memphis,  Dr. Xinhua Yu, Associate Professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Environmental Health is testing blood samples to estimate levels of immunity to COVID-19. Read article>


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. Melton-Fant

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

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> 


SPH involved in local Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative

Featured on Local 24 News, the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) Initiative is a community-based collaborative effort to lower Shelby County’s new HIV infection rates to 90% by 2030. Current SBS doctoral student Andrea Stubbs is the Director of the Core Planning Team and Drs. Nolan and Pichon are core members of the leadership team. Former MPH student Edward ‘Eddie’ Wiley is the recently hired EHE Coordinator at TN Dept of Health who will oversee implementation of the plan moving forward.  View press conferenceView EHE Initiative information here


Public Health Community Scholarships Awarded to First-Year MPH Students

RonKayla Collins and Chante' Dobson, two first-year MPH students, have been named 2021 Public Health Community Scholars. These scholarships were made possible by funding from the Dean's Office of the School of Public Health. Public Health Community Scholars will receive a monthly stipend during their 3-month summer MPH Practicum and the following academic year that completes their graduate study. Additionally, a tuition waiver will be provided for the second year of MPH coursework. In return, students will work 20 hours per week during their 3-month summer practicum at a community location and will continue working 20 hours/week at that location during the following academic year.

These highly competitive awards were made based on history of contribution to health improvement in the Memphis metropolitan area, academic qualifications, advisor recommendation, and demonstrated need. The awards committee consisted of SPH faculty. The School of Public Health is proud to recognize these students, whose efforts will contribute greatly to the health of our community.


SPH Student Achievement Awards

The School of Public Health is pleased to offer Student Achievement Awards to recognize one outstanding student in each of our six 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 1st. Click here for the announcement for each award: (MPH) (MHA) (MS Biostatistics and Epi PhD) (SBS PhD) (HSP PhD).


Two from SPH named to the 2021 Class of 20<30!

G Guerrero E SpenceThe 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>



Dr. Karmaus awarded grant by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia

Wilfried Karmaus will be part of a 5-year grant submitted by the University of Newcastle, Australia on "Bushfire smoke exposure during pregnancy and epigenetic changes in offspring".  The grant is funded by the 'National Health and Medical Research Council' in Australia and will start in 2021. 


EPI Doctoral Student interviewed by Healio.com

Morgan Bromley

Morgan Bromley, MPH, a doctoral student in Epidemiology, was interviewed by Healio.com regarding his presentation at the American Public Health Association. View his interview here>


Substance Abuse and SuicidePrevention Training Opportunities (VIRTUAL; FREE)

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse is offering various substance abuse and suicide prevention training sessions during the month of December at no cost.  Access training sessions here>


SPH Presentations at the American Public Health Association Annual Conference


American Public Health Association Logo

School of Public Health faculty and doctoral students presented their research at the American Public Health Association 2020 Annual Conference, held virtually from Oct. 24-28, 2020. Click here for a list of presentations.



SPH Faculty Contribute to COVID-19 Response

Several faculty in the School of Public Health are supporting local and national COVID-19 response initiatives. Projects ranges from studying the impact of COVID-19 on health disparity populations to assessing compliance with facial mask ordinances. Click here for details.


MHA Students Win 4th Place in National Competition

2020 NAHSE Team

Second -year Master of Health Administration students Irene Bolis, Dominic Ingram, and Allison McGee participated in the 25th Everett V. Fox Student Case Competition as part of the National Association of Health Services (NAHSE) Executives Annual Meeting. Students were given the task of preparing a strategic and financial solution to expand telehealth services for one of a list of specific health conditions for CommonSpirit hospitals in Houston. TX. Our students developed a program called "TeleHeart," aimed at improving care for patients with high blood pressure. Overall, 37 teams from masters programs across the United States participated virtually in the competition. The UofM MHA team placed 4th overall in the competition, and the students will each be awarded a scholarship from the competition sponsors for their performance in the competition.


Dr. Chunrong Jia's third EPA grant

A collaborative project of the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) and Dr. Chunrong Jia was selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This project, titled "Field validation of miniature thermal desorption samplers for sampling and analysis of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in the ambient air", will develop and validate innovative air monitoring methods. The award amount is $353,516. To date, the collaboration of Dr. Jia and SCHD has been awarded three community-scale air monitoring grants, totaling $1.5M. 


Dr. Wei Lyu, Shelter-In-Place Orders Reduced COVID-19 Mortality And Reduced The Rate Of Growth In Hospitalizations

Dr. Wei Lyu, Assistant Professor of Health Systems Management and Policy recently published an article in the journal Health Affairs that "found that shelter-in-place orders reduced both the daily mortality growth rate nearly three weeks after their enactment and the daily growth rate of hospitalizations two weeks after their enactment... Projections suggest that as many as 250,000-370,000 deaths were possibly averted by May 15 in the forty-two states plus Washington, D.C., that had statewide shelter-in-place orders." Health Affairs has been described by described by The Washington Post as the "Bible" of health policy.
Lyu W, Wehby GL. Shelter-In-Place Orders Reduced COVID-19 Mortality And Reduced The Rate Of Growth In Hospitalizations. Health Aff (Millwood) 2020 Sep;39(9):1615-1623. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00719.   


Sickle Cell Awareness Day: Tues, Sept 22nd; 11am-12:30 pm. FREE

September is Sickle Cell Awareness month, and the University of Memphis hosts an annual Sickle Cell Awareness Day, with support from the School of Public Health, St. Jude and the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tennessee. This year the event will be virtual and will be held on September 22, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm.

Sessions will be on gene therapy and health disparities, followed by a panel of sickle cell patients.

Registration is required, but attendance is free. Please register at this link. After registering, you will receive the zoom link.


Telehealth Webinar Series Continues

The School of Public Health, the FedEx Institute of Technology and the Interprofessional Community Health Clinic are excited to announce a continuation of the Telehealth Webinar Series. Dr. Susan Elswick is leading the next 2 sessions related to virtual education. Click here for details and here for registration link(s)

Webinar Topic: Supporting Teachers with Classroom Management Techniques in the Virtual Classroom
Date: Thursday September 24th, 2020
Time: 11:00AM-12:00PM CST

Webinar Topic: Mindfulness Moments: Embedding Regulating Activities into Prek-12th Virtual Classrooms
Date: Thursday October 22, 2020
Time: 11:00AM-12:00PM CST

CPE and CPH credits will be available for those interested in obtaining credits. For more information or to revisit the Summer Telehealth webinars, please feel free to visit the Telehealth series webpage.


School of Public Health Mask Study Results are Cited by Policy-Makers

UofM Research shows more Memphians wearing masks correctly.  See article>


U of M study shows low mask usage numbers in Memphis entertainment districts

Study shows people aren't wearing masks when they go out for entertainment.  View here> 


UofM study shows mask wearing has increased

Dr. Levy describes the School of Public Health's work in assessing compliance with Shelby County's mask ordinance.  See interview>


Free COVID-19 Drive-through testing

Free COVID-19 Drive-through testing takes place across Memphis/Shelby County on June 19-20, 2020. No appointments are needed; no symptoms are necessary to get tested. Please see these flyers in English and Spanish for testing site locations and times.


Environmental Health faculty examine air quality changes during COVID-19 shutdown

Environmental Health faculty at U of M collaborated with the Shelby County Health Department on a study to examine air quality changes during the COVID-19 shutdown. The findings are published in a special issue "Coronavirus Pandemic Shutdown Effects on Urban Air Quality" of Atmosphere. Download article here>


Mayor's COVID-19 Joint Task Force

The School of Public Health is collaborating with the Mayor's COVID-19 Joint Task Force to determine whether current strategies to encourage mask usage are effective. Working with Dr. Marian Levy and Dr. Vikki Nolan, four MPH students will collect data in public settings where large numbers of people interact at entertainment, recreation and/or business sites in various locations throughout the city and county. The students will measure levels of mask usage through in-person observation and by reviewing videotapes captured by city cameras in public areas. See article here >


Telehealth for Vulnerable Populations: Webinar Series

In light of COVID-19 concerns, the School of Public Health Summer Institute has changed to a virtual format, and we have partnered with several professions/organizations to address the needs of vulnerable populations through a series of one-hour webinars related to Telehealth for Vulnerable Populations. Download flyer>

The webinars begin June 2nd and continue through the month. Register here> 


SPH faculty televised interview on COVID-19 contact tracing and assessing compliance with social distancing

Drs. Marian Levy and Jennifer Turchi discussed the School of Public Health's assistance to the Shelby County Health Department and Mayor's COVID-19 Task Force. View the interview online>


Grant Award Acknowledgements

Congratulations to Dr. Pichon for her recent CDC award with TDOH and Connect to Protect, featured in the Research & Innovation newsletter. View newsletter here>

Congratulations to Dr. Yang for his recent pilot award from the Center for the Assessment of Tobacco Regulations (CAsToR) at the University of Michigan.

Congratulations to Dr. Kedia for his recent award from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to help fight the opioid epidemic. View article here>


SPH students awarded in Graduate School's 2020 Student Research Forum 

Congratulations to Rutu Patel (Epidemiology doctoral student) and Nikhil Ahuja (Social and Behavioral Sciences doctoral student) for winning awards in the Graduate School's 2020 Student Research Forum. Ms. Patel placed second in the category of Life and Health Sciences; Mr. Ahuja placed second in the Social and Behavioral Science category.  View here>


Dr. Dobalian's recent televised interview on the new COVID-19 overflow hospital

Dr. Aram Dobalian

Dr. Aram Dobalian, Director and Professor of Health Systems Management and Policy, was interviewed as an expert recently on Channel 5 news regarding the selection of a Memphis shopping center as a new site for a COVID-19 overflow hospital. View the interview online >

SPH Announces 2020 Student Achievement Award Recipients

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 contribution to the field of public health. We are pleased to announce the recipients for 2020. Read More>