Happy Holidays!

Dean's Message: 
Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH.DrPH
Director and Founding Dean of the Program in Public Health

I was thrilled to learn that, at age 16, climate activist Greta Thunberg was the youngest person ever to be named TIME magazine’s person of the year. Advocacy is at the core of our mission in public health. In a season where we raise our voices for caroling, one of the greatest gifts we can offer to each other and the communities in which we live and work is the collective power of our voices. All voices, all perspectives are important, and we must be vigilant and persuasive to make sustainable changes that will result in optimal health and well-being for all people. The political and social health issues of our time—gun violence, climate change, mental health stigma, to name a few—are issues of the ages. As public health scientists and educators, we use our voices to make an impact on these and other topics in many ways. We conduct and communicate our research thoughtfully and effectively. We support and encourage our students and give them a platform to turn their thoughts into actions. We engage our communities and colleagues in multidisciplinary problem-solving and strategizing. We make space for incubating ideas, experimenting, and learning from our failures and our successes. Each of us has a role to play in building a world that uplifts not only ourselves but also our neighbors. The holidays are a time of gathering to spread hope and goodwill, of doing service and sharing gifts, of reflecting back and moving forward, of lifting our voices together. That’s what I’ll be thinking about as I look toward the exciting opportunities the new year brings. I hope you will be too.
 
From myself and all of us at the UCI Program in Public Health, best wishes for a peaceful, healthy, and happy season!



PROGRAM IN PUBLIC HEALTH NEWS

Leadership Team Expands
Please join us in congratulating the following faculty on their appointments to new leadership roles.


Miryha Gould Runnerstrom
—Associate Director for the Undergraduate Program


Karen Edwards—Interim Associate Director for Academic Affairs


Veronica Vieira—Interim Director for the Concentration in Environmental and Occupational Health for Public Health


Scott Bartell—Associate Director for Faculty Affairs
 

Faculty Vote to Develop Proposal for New Department
The faculty voted overwhelmingly in support of developing a proposal to add a Health, Society, and Behavior Department to the Program in Public Health. The faculty leading the initiative are Alana Lebron, Cynthia Lakon, and Miryha Gould Runnerstrom. Please contact them if you are interested in working on the proposal.
 

Honors and Awards

Dele Ogunseitan, University of California Presidential Chair, has been selected to represent UCI on the Academic Advisory Committee for the UC President search.

Karen Edwards, Chair of the Department of Epidemiology, has been selected to serve on an ad hoc workgroup to advise the Provost on the development of a revised budget model for the campus.


Rachel Lucia, PhD candidate in the Department of Epidemiology (PI: Hannah Lui Park), received the highly sought after UCI School of Medicine Travel Award for presenting her research poster at the American Society of Human Genetics Conference in Houston, TX.

Two public health scholars were recognized as winners of the 2019-20 Public Impact Fellowship competition, which supports and highlights academically excellent students whose research demonstrates the potential to improve or enrich lives in California and beyond. Samantha Garcia, graduate student in the Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention, was named a Public Impact Distinguished Fellow, and Nicole Stivers, graduate student in Environmental Health Sciences, was named a Public Impact Fellow.
 

Save-the-Dates
Wednesday, Jan 15 @ 12 pm (alternating Wednesdays thereafter): Wednesday Walks (meet in the front lobby of AIRB for a 30-minute walk with colleagues)

Friday, Jan 17 @ 12 pm (every Friday thereafter): Brown Bag Friday (meet at the picnic tables outside the front entrance of AIRB for a 30-minute BYO lunch with colleagues)

Friday, Jan 24, 8 am-3 pm: Faculty strategic planning retreat (location TBD)

Friday, Jan 24, 2-3:30 pm: Literature review crash course for graduate and undergraduate public health students with Hector Perez, Research Librarian for Health Sciences (AIRB 1030)

 
Did You Know?
This year, the program is delighted to support a communications fellow who can assist program faculty, staff, and student groups with developing visual communication materials. Rafael Gallardo Sepulveda is a second year student from the School of Social Sciences. A graphic designer and illustrator, Rafael can create hard copy and online visual materials for program events, classes, social media, etc. Please contact Miryha Gould Runnerstrom for his availability.

FOCUS ON RESEARCH

APHA 2020 Now Accepting Abstracts
Submit your abstracts now for the 2020 APHA Annual Meeting and Expo, October 24-28, in San Francisco. The deadline for submitting oral session and poster presentation abstracts is February 20, 2020. The theme of the meeting is: “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Preventing Violence.”
 
Caffeine Facilitates Collaborations
Thanks to all who attended the first program-wide Research Coffee Break with Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala! This informal networking hour, facilitated by the Dean and Contracts and Grants Analyst Cory Castro-Wintringer, brought together cross-departmental faculty for introductions, brainstorming, trouble-shooting, and the initiation of new collaborative research opportunities. This event will be quarterly.   
 
Locate Funding Opportunities with PIVOT
If you have not already done so, please sign up for PIVOT, a customizable tool that will help research funding opportunities find you. 
 

Presentations

The Department of Epidemiology Seminar Series hosted the first “Bioinformatics and Genomics in the Department of Epidemiology: A Mini-Symposium” on December 4. Organized and introduced by Trina Norden-Krichmar, the symposium, which will be an annual event, featured presentations by graduate students (from left) Rachel Lucia, Tulika Kakati, Xiaochen Liu, and Stanislav Listopad


Lisa Grant Ludwig, Chair of the Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention, presented her poster entitled “Opportunity Lost: Local and National Newspaper (Print and Online) Coverage of Oklahoma Earthquakes Focused on Uncertainty Rather Than Risk or Preparedness” at the GeoHealth Sessions of the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.


Rachel Lucia
, PhD candidate in the Department of Epidemiology, presented her poster entitled "DNA methylation markers for exposures to BPA and related compounds and breast cancer risk" at the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center Research Update Luncheon at the Monarch Beach Resort and was met with many questions from interested supporters of the Cancer Center.


Xiaochen Liu
, a graduate student from the Department of Epidemiology (PI: Trina Norden-Krichmar), attended the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) conference in Boston, MA in November. Xiaochen presented her poster entitled “Gene expression profiling of PBMCs and liver tissue biopsies to distinguish between viral and alcohol-induced hepatitis.” The abstract was published in the October 1, 2019 issue of the journal Hepatology.
 

Publications
The following articles were recently published by Program in Public Health faculty.
 


Trina Norden-Krichmar, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, and Stanislav Listopad, a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science: 
Listopad, S.A. and Norden-Krichmar, T.M. (2019) “A-Lister: A tool for analysis of differentially expressed omics entities across multiple pairwise comparisons”, BMC Bioinformatics, 20, 595, doi:10.1186/s12859-019-3121-x.  A-Lister is a flexible software tool that enables the user to rapidly filter and compare large lists of differentially expressed genomic entities.


 
Ulrike Luderer, Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health:
Mishra B, Luderer U. Reproductive Hazards of Space Travel in Women and Men. 2019 Nature Reviews Endocrinology. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41574-019-0267-6. NASA has announced a goal of sending astronauts to Mars by 2025. Such a mission is estimated to take two to three years, resulting in prolonged exposure of astronauts to the hazards of space travel. This review summarizes research on hazards of space travel to reproductive function of women and men, focusing on space radiation, microgravity and hypergravity.

 

Michael Hoyt,
Associate Professor of Population Health and Disease Prevention, recently had two papers accepted for publication:
“Relational processes and psychological adjustment among young adults with cancer: The role of technology-related communication.” In press, Psycho-Oncology. Models of social support for those managing a cancer diagnosis are built from studies of face-to-face interactions. However, research tells us that younger people today are increasingly engaged in communication via technology platforms. This study explored how engaging in cancer-related interpersonal exchanges via technology-based vs. face-to-face communication influences psychological well‐being among young adults with cancer. Our findings revealed that there is a benefit to psychological adjustment via technology-based communication when young survivors disclose their cancer-related emotions to a person they perceive as responsive through text.
 
“Emotional processing coping methods and biomarkers of stress in young adult testicular cancer survivors.” In press, Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology. Processing emotions after cancer can be a helpful way of coping. However, research suggests that individuals engage with such emotional reactions in various ways and this might impact our biological stress responses. This study identified constructive (e.g., problem-solving) and unconstructive (e.g. worry) ways of processing cancer-related emotions in young adults with testicular cancer. Findings from this study show that constructive processing is associated with less overall daily cortisol output and a blunted salivary alpha-amylase awakening response. The style in which we approach health-related emotions can in turn impact our biological stress responses.
 

Research Grants

Ulrike Luderer, Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, was recently awarded two grants:

  • A 2-year research grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to investigate the mechanisms underlying decreased oocyte quality in female mice deficient in the antioxidant glutathione with a focus on oocyte mitochondrial function.
  • A 2-year research grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to continue her work investigating the effects of charged particles typical of space radiation on the ovary. Luderer's previous work demonstrated that charged oxygen and iron particles are potent destroyers of ovarian follicles, which contain the non-renewable reserve of eggs, and that they also cause ovarian tumors.

Study Recruitment

Daniel M. Parker, Assistant Professor of Population Health and Disease Prevention, is recruiting participants for a study on immune response to mosquito bites. All individuals who are 18 or older, are from Southern California and have not traveled out of the region in the last 12 months, and who are not pregnant and have no underlying health conditions, are invited to participate. The full study period is 6 months and would include a total of 11 visits (for an estimated total of 3 hours). There would be a total of 5 blood draws (from a finger prick) and you would be eligible to receive a gift card worth $5for each blood draw (for a total of $25). Those interested in participating in the study should contact Dr. Parker at 949-824-6865 or dparker1@uci.edu.

Andrew Odegaard, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, is recruiting participants for a study on the influence of diet beverages on diabetes control. Individuals who have type 2 diabetes, are at least 35 years old, drink artificially sweetened (i.e., diet, no calorie) beverages, and are able to speak and understand English are eligible. Visit the SODAS study web page for more information or contact the study coordinators at sodastudy@uci.edu or 949-824-0920.

PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

Recognize Outstanding Colleagues for Their Contributions to Public Health
Nominations are open for the 2020 APHA Awards. Visit the APHA Awards page for more information and to nominate your colleagues. The deadline is May 1, 2020. Awards will be presented at the 2020 APHA Annual Meeting and Expo, October 24-28, in San Francisco.    
 
Apply to be the Fulbright Canada-Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellowship Program Joint Visiting Chair in Contemporary Public Policy
Fulbright Canada and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation are seeking a Joint Visiting Chair in Contemporary Public Policy, which will allow an exceptional U.S.-based scholar to spent 4 months in Canada starting residency in September 2020. The application deadline is January 15, 2020. Visit the fellowship program page for more information and to apply.
 
Hot Topics in Wildfires: Present and Future Health Risks
Registration is open for the first UCI-COEH Symposium on Occupational and Environmental Health Threats, Feb 6-7, 2020.

COLLEGIALITY CORNER

The Collegiality Committee has some fun and useful health and wellness resources in the works to support faculty and staff as we integrate new departments into the program. Keep an eye out for announcements about mandatory resiliency training in January, as well as optional seminars led by wellness facilitators on topics including stress management, time management, self-care, and meditation. The committee is also organizing some optional group volunteering opportunities. If you have ideas for the Collegiality Committee, please contact Sharon Robert.

Wednesday Walks: On alternate Wednesdays at noon, beginning January 15, join us for a 30-minute walk around campus. Meet in the front lobby of AIRB. Take a break from your computer, enjoy the fresh air, make new friends, and get your steps in!

Brown Bag Friday: Starting January 17, bring your lunch and join us every Friday at noon as we dine al fresco at the picnic tables by the front entrance of AIRB.

Gratitude Wall: Evidence suggests that gratitude has a variety of benefits for your overall physical and mental well-being, including lowering stress, improving sleep, lifting your mood, and helping you cope with adversity. Stop by the gratitude wall on the 2nd floor of AIRB to write a note of appreciation about anything in your life—big or small. And read what makes your coworkers happy too!

SPEAK UP! with HJA
A monthly column on the public health impacts of policy from the Health and Justice Advocates student group

During the month of November, we focused on voting and learning how to encourage others to register to vote, particularly here at UCI.

Why does voting matter in public health?
As public health scientists and professionals, we have a responsibility to advocate for and protect the health of Americans, including communities of color and those who are low income, homeless, undocumented, identify as LGBTQ+, etc. We know that policy matters for protecting people’s health—not just health care policy but also policies related to income, education, criminal justice, climate change, and more. We can vote for policies and government officials who support our point of view that health comes first. We can make sure our friends, families, and colleagues exercise their right to vote, too!

What is HJA doing?
HJA’s mission is to support fellow students, faculty and staff in staying engaged with local and national policies that can impact the communities we work with. Encouraging others to vote is central to this. This month, HJA hosted a talk and voter training by the UC I Decide voting commissioner to learn how voting is changing in Orange County (key takeaway—voting is getting more convenient than ever!) and what UCI is doing to help students vote more easily. Next quarter, HJA members will put our voter registration skills to work on campus.  

How do I vote? And how should I encourage others to vote?
Register: In order to vote, you need to be registered. Remember to update your registration if you have moved recently. Register to vote or change your name, address or party at: ocvote.com/registration/register-to-vote/

Get informed: HJA will send out our voter guide in the next few months. In the meantime, take note that many organizations (major political parties, newspapers, unions, League of Women Voters, etc.) put out voter guides and endorsements. These can be very helpful if you want additional perspective, especially about down ballot issues that you may not know much about.

How can Faculty & TAs help? Encourage your students to vote in the upcoming elections by talking about it in class, posting a slide before class, and/or sending an email to them about how to register to vote/change their address. Also, be aware that not all students are eligible to vote.

What important dates should I be aware of?
February 3-25, 2020: Early voting in California
March 3, 2020: California primary election
November 3, 2020: Presidential Election day

More information on voting at UCI to come!

Other HJA updates: We meet monthly and hold occasional events and social gatherings open to all students. New members and new ideas are always welcome! Being a member of HJA is a great way to build leadership skills and connect with students and faculty. If you have social media skills and/or policy knowledge, we’d especially love to talk to you! In addition to voter outreach, we are thrilled to work with our Dean and other student organizations to plan an advocacy training for later in the academic year.
Contact us at healthandjustice.uci@gmail.com or follow us @HJAUCI  on Facebook and Instagram.  

PUBLIC HEALTH ABOUT TOWN


Public Health Decks the Halls
We donned our most festive attire and had a blast at our holiday gathering at Taco Rosa in Newport Beach. A huge thank you to all who have made a year full of big changes for the program such a tremendous success! Faculty, staff, and graduate students from the Departments of Epidemiology, Environmental and Occupational Health, and Population Health and Disease Prevention mixed and mingled and discovered common ground that is already leading to exciting new research collaborations. Much gratitude to Mayra Rubio for organizing the fun event! (Stop by the bulletin board on the 2nd floor of AIRB to take home your photos!)


 
Arts and Health Work Together
Liza Krassner (center right), Chief Administrative Officer, and Research Manager Emily Drum (center left) helped distribute gift bags at the Irvine Barclay Theater Holiday Open House on December 17. The Woodbridge High School acapella choir sang holiday songs and the Festival Ballet Theater danced an abridged Nutcracker performance for an audience of more than 100 guests from the Regional Center of Orange County adult day service programs. Also pictured: Arturo Cazares, Keli Redford, and Kathleen McFarland of the RCOC and Salwa Rizkalla, Artistic Director of the Festival Ballet Theater. The Mouse King (Jestoni Dagdag) and the Nutcracker (Grysen Myles) featured in the performance were UCI graduates.

ALUMNI FOCUS
Public Health Anteater Alumni in Action!
Our Public Health Alumni Chapter Board rounded out 2019 by hosting two successful events! The Chapter’s first “Meet and Greet” at Bar Louie in Tustin welcomed 20+ Anteaters for an evening of lively conversation, food, and drink. Their first service project, a “Picnic with Anteaters” (their take on the Alumni Association’s “Dinner with Anteaters”), hosted 8 UCI students for a fun mentorship lunch in Irvine’s Bill Barber Memorial Park.
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