CPH honors outstanding faculty, students, alumni, community members

In celebration of UGA Honors Week and the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, the College of Public Health recognized more than 70 dedicated faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members for their commitment to advancing public health.

CPH Faculty Excellence Awards

Three faculty members were recognized by the UGA College of Public Health for their exceptional work in service, teaching, and research.

Excellence in Teaching Award: Rebecca Wells, Health Promotion & Behavior

Rebecca Wells is a clinical assistant professor and is jointly appointed to the College of Public Health and School of Social Work. She serves as the coordinator for the MSW-MPH dual degree program, and she is currently participating in the 2020-2021 Service Learning Fellows Program. Dr. Wells participated in the inaugural CPH Faculty Learning Community, and she used those skills to design and successfully implement online and hybrid courses during the Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 semesters. As MSW-MPH coordinator, she engages with MSW-MPH students and their placement sites to promote student learning. Additionally, she regularly supervises MSW-MPH student capstones and teaches students about the importance of rigorous literature review methods and the value of quality community-engaged scholarship.

In 2019 and 2020, students identified Dr. Wells as “a person who has contributed greatly to their career development and success” in their responses to the UGA Career Outcomes Survey. She was honored in 2020 by six of her graduate students who nominated her for the 2020 Graduate School Outstanding Mentoring Award. 

Excellence in Research Award: Stacy Zhang, Health Policy & Management

Donglan “Stacy” Zhang is an assistant professor in the department of health policy and management. Before joining UGA, Dr. Zhang worked with the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention as a prevention effectiveness fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she led several research projects addressing cardiovascular disease prevention. Her research at CPH focuses on understanding rural-urban differences in access to care, health service delivery, and community risk factors, and testing the efficacy and feasibility of new services delivery models such as telemedicine and mobile health in resource-constrained areas to reduce those differences. 

Dr. Zhang’s interests and publications in agent-based policy simulation and rural-urban disparities in health behaviors and chronic diseases have led to a four-year project funded by NIH. Dr. Zhang served on the Georgia Health Care Task Force, and she is a reviewer for the Agency for Health care Research and Quality and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. 

Excellence in Service Award: Pamela Orpinas, Health Promotion & Behavior

Pamela Orpinas is a professor in the department of health promotion & behavior. Dr. Orpinas has been working with the Athens Latinx community since 2017 with the Lazos Hispanos program. Since the inception of the program, Dr. Orpinas and her collaborators have trained 12 bicultural promotoras, or community health workers (CHWs), who serve as a “bridge” between their community and providers of healthcare and social services. Given Dr. Orpinas’ expertise working with the CHWs, the Georgia Department of Public Health contracted with her to develop a training manual for CHWs for all Georgia. In 2020, she participated in panel presentations for Project safe on dating violence prevention and Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition on Latinx’s healthcare access. In addition to community service, she consistently provides service to the profession, university, and college.

In 2020, she reviewed 14 manuscripts for 5 journals, reviewed grant proposals for NIMH, and wrote numerous promotion and tenure letters for faculty in other universities. She was a member of the Strategic Plan Review Team with the Provost’s Office Hu, program review for the EPIBIO department, UGA’s Promotion and Tenure Appeals Committee, and UGA’s Academic Honesty Multiple Violations Review Board.

CPH Outstanding Staff Award

The College of Public Health Outstanding Staff Award honors the CPH staff member who has made an impact on the College’s students, community, and mission. This year’s recipient is Becky Ayer, Digital Communications Coordinator, in our Office of Communications.

Becky’s work is integral to accomplishing many of the goals of our College’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. She has worked diligently to streamline and amplify the College’s strategic messages, news storytelling, and internal communication on CPH’s website and social media channels. She has implemented strategies to support student recruitment and student engagement through CPH’s social media, developed brand design tools for CPH units, and her application of digital communication best practices during CPH and UGA social media campaigns has resulted in key public health organizations taking note of UGA CPH. Most recently, the NIH twitter account began to follow the College during the 2021 National Public Health Week. Becky accomplished all of this in a year when communication through online platforms became more important than ever. 

CPH Outstanding Alumni Award

This year we honor all the members of our inaugural College of Public Health Alumni Working Group. With a mission to unite a network of dedicated alumni, the Alumni Working Group (AWG) seeks to create programming and engagement opportunities for our community of alumni, students, and faculty to connect and show their commitment to the UGA College of Public Health.

In a short amount of time, the AWG has already made a difference in our College, demonstrating their support of CPH through volunteerism and philanthropy. The group donated funds to provide the HSC Food Pantry with a freezer and start up grocery money to expand its services to our students. The AWG also recently kicked off the Black Alumni Connection Series, an effort to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Desegregation at UGA as well as provide our alumni and students with opportunities to engage and network with each other – a key goal of the AWG.

The members are:

Lori Elmore, BSED ’00 – Health Promotion
Kim Metcalf, BSEH ’93, MS ’96
Erica Parks, MPH ’11
Raegan Tuff, Ph.D. ’09
Meridith Keller Woodman, BSED ’96

Delta Omega Honors Society 2021 Inductees

The Beta Chi Chapter of the Delta Omega Honor Society has announced its newest inductees for 2021. Delta Omega is an honorary public health society whose mission is to promote excellence in contributing to the field of public health and advancing the health of people in every aspect. Each year, the College of Public Health Beta Chi Chapter nominates and inducts a select few faculty, students, and alumni, as well as one honorary inductee.

This year’s honorary inductee is Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz, in recognition of his outstanding leadership in the Athens community and beyond facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Girtz has been a major proponent of COVID-19 transmission prevention since the onset of the pandemic. Under Mayor Girtz’s leadership, Athens was one of the first Georgia cities to declare a local state of emergency, enact a local mask mandate, and promote social distancing through business closures and curfews. 

Faculty inductees are Erin Lipp, Ye Shen, and Kerstin Emerson

Alumni inductees are Avital “Tali” Wulz, Michael Bien, Danielle Lambert, Emily Townsend, Annie Ndolo, and Amit Eichenbaum.

Student inductees are Yang Ge, Anita Reina, Rochelle Obiekwe, Shantesica Gilliam, Amy Solsman, Ishaan Dave, Kimberly Perez, Jessica McNulty, Megan Beaudry, Julia Frederick, Emily Buchanan, and Stephanie Andino.

Tenure & Promotion

Congratulations to our eight CPH faculty members received promotions and/or tenure this academic year:

Jenay Beer, Associate Professor, Institute of Gerontology and Health Promotion & Behavior
Tamora Callands, Associate Professor with Tenure, Health Promotion & Behavior
Paula Davis-Olwell, Clinical Associate Professor, Global Health Institute and Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Chas Easley, Associate Professor with Tenure, Environmental Health Science
Andreas Handel, Full Professor with Tenure, Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Lisa Renzi-Hammond, Associate Professor, Institute of Gerontology and Health Promotion & Behavior
Janani Thapa, Associate Professor with Tenure, Health Policy and Management
Andrea Swartzendruber, Associate Professor with Tenure, Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Student Honors & Awards

College-wide awards

MPH Exceptional Capstone Paper Awards:

Clay Royster – Predicting the number of opioid-related inpatient stays with Medicaid as the primary insurance payer using an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model in Georgia, USA

Lily Rubin – Interventions to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening Adherence in Low-Income Settings: A Systematic Review

Dionne Mitcham – Utilizing Social Media for Information Dispersal during Local Disasters: The Communication Hub Framework for Local Emergency Management

Victoria Fonzi – Planning for future COVID-19 vaccine distribution using influenza vaccination location data from the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

MPH Exceptional Capstone E-Poster Presentation Awards:

Kyle Patel – Gun Ownership and Bereavement by Suicide: Race, Gender, and Age

Rochelle Obiekwe – The Relationship Between Sex and Stigma Among TB Patients in Uganda

Clay Royster – Predicting the number of opioid-related inpatient stays with Medicaid as the primary insurance payer using an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model in Georgia, USA

Ansley Kasha – A‌ ‌Survey‌ ‌of‌ ‌Attitudes‌ ‌of‌ ‌College‌ ‌Students‌ ‌Regarding‌ ‌the‌ ‌Voluntary‌ ‌Installation‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌Breathalyzer‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌Personal‌ ‌Vehicle‌

Dionne Mitcham – Utilizing Social Media for Information Dispersal during Local Disasters: The Communication Hub Framework for Local Emergency Management

Victoria Fonzi – Planning for future COVID-19 vaccine distribution using influenza vaccination location data from the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

Blue Cross Blue Shield Master of Public Health Award: Paige Borcherding
Paige Borcherding (BSHP ‘21) is driven to be a changemaker in her future field and has dedicated her academic career to serving others. In 2019, Paige studied medical Spanish and practiced abroad in Perú as a pre-physician assistant student where she ultimately felt called to the field of public health. In addition to her internships and other examples of volunteerism, Paige worked for the Georgia Department of Public Health for nine months as a COVID-19 contact tracer. She will enter the Master of Public Health program at UGA in Fall 2021.

Health Equity Fellows: 
This Spring, the College of Public Health launched the Health Equity Fellows program to help address the social determinants and racial injustices that drive health inequities in Georgia. In partnership with the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), the College selected five Health Equity Fellows to work directly with local government officials in Georgia communities of need and to carry out projects to address health disparities.

The 2021 Fellows are:
Kenya Murray, Ph.D. student, working Fitzgerald, Ga.
Harrison Huang, Master of Public Health student, working in Young Harris, Ga.
Carlyncia McDowell, Master of Public Health student, working in Milledgeville, Ga.
Amber Bullard, Health Promotion undergraduate student, working in College Park, Ga.
Jennifer Quezada, Health Promotion undergraduate student, working in Moultrie, Ga.

Departmental & Institute Student Awards

Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Graduate Teaching Award – Erin McDaniel
Graduate Research Award – Allan Nkwata
Graduate Service Award – Cody Dailey

Environmental Health Science

John J. Sheuring Award – Kate Foral
Rowe Environmental Health Award – Kade Donaldson
Harold and Mary Barnhart Scholarship – Caroline Hope Lindsey
Randall Manning Award – Sara E. Ford
Environmental Health Science Scholarship – Itzel Vela Hernandez

2021 EHS Annual Student Research Showcase
First place – Megan Lott
Second Place – Jacob Kremer
Third Place – Katie Kearns
Undergraduate award – Will McGonigle, Jessica Varnell, and Kade Donaldson

Outstanding EHS Graduate Student Award – Katherine Greeson

Health Promotion & Behavior

Bernard Ramsey Outstanding Major: Savita Archer

Undergraduate Recognition Awards –
Abigail Craven
Rebecca Horn
Paige Borcherding 

Undergraduate Service Award – Ashley Boyle 

Outstanding MPH Student – Kathryn Chiang
Excellence in Teaching and Service, GraduateKandyce Hylick
Excellence in Research, GraduateErica Taylor

Institute for Gerontology

Mary Ann Johnson Aging and Health Graduate Scholarship – Johanna Weller-Fahy

University-wide awards

2021 Presidential Award of Excellence
Noa Leigh Hubara was selected to receive the 2021 Presidential Award of Excellence. This award is given to undergraduate students in their final year of study who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, strong extracurricular involvement, and/or service to and involvement in their respective school or college. 

Blue Key Honor Society inductees:

Kathryn A. Foral (MPH)
Shantesica M. Gilliam (PhD)
Kyle P. Patel (MPH)
Jaquarius K. Raglin
Morgan A. Taylor (PhD)
Skarlet G. Velasquez (PhD) 

National awards

Udall Scholar
Kate Foral was selected as a 2021 Udall Scholar, which is awarded to sophomores and juniors on the basis of their commitment to careers in the environment, Native health care or Tribal public policy. Kate also participated in TEDxUGA’s 2021 Salon Series in February where she explained how citizen science can create global change.

– Lauren Baggett

Posted May 11, 2021.