Annual State of the Public’s Health conference returns to campus

It takes many hands to improve the public’s health.

For more than a decade, the UGA College of Public Health has organized and hosted the State of the Public’s Health conference (SOPH) to drive meaningful, action-oriented discussion to advance the health of all Georgians.

Now, SOPH is returning to campus at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel for the first time since 2019.

This year, the conference will explore innovative ways to tackle the most pressing public health issues affecting Georgia communities today, including mental health care access, improving maternal and child health, and reducing health inequities.

The event also showcases some of the ongoing research and outreach projects at the University of Georgia that benefit community health around the state, with presenters hailing from units across campus.

Diane Bales, a professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and director of the Child Life Program will discuss programs that address youth mental health challenges, with a primary focus on the Youth Mental Health First Aid national curriculum. Janani R. Thapa, associate professor in the College of Public Health and director of the Economic Evaluation Research Group, will discuss her research on the prevalence and health care costs of mental health.

Elizabeth Weeks, associate provost for faculty affairs and Charles H. Kirbo Chair in Law, will lead a session examining the new legal landscape of federal vaccine mandates enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the scope of federal authority to regulate in the name of public health.

College of Public Health assistant professor Allan Tate will present the approach he’s using as site investigator for the Family Matters Georgia study, a multilevel intervention that aims to address the impact of structural racism on rural Georgia families.

Finally, the conference’s afternoon keynote will be given by J. Marshall Shepherd, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences. Shepherd will discuss climate change and health, and the challenges of communicating science today.

In all, the conference will host six breakout sessions, two keynote speakers, and a poster session.

Event details:


environmental portrais of 5 featured UGA speakers at State of the Public's Health conference - Diane Bales, PhD; Janani Thapa, PhD; Elizabeth Weeks, JD; Allan Tate, PhD; J. Marshall Shepherd, PhD.

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Posted on October 15, 2022.