Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH
Director and Founding Dean
                 
Dear UCI Public Health community,

As we approach the holidays and near the end of a year that has impacted our lives in ways we never could have imagined, I write to you to express my pride and gratitude for your resilience. In the spirit of giving thanks, I would like to acknowledge the strength of this community, which continues to come together in inspiring ways to address the global pandemic and make positive impacts in the lives of others.

For those of you that are traveling for the holidays, please continue to monitor CDC guidelines to reduce your loved ones' risk of COVID-19 transmission. For those of you sacrificing traveling for the holidays to stay home and stay safe, know that the UCI community is with you. For the members of our community who serve as frontline workers and first responders -- many of whom will continue their work throughout the holidays -- we thank you for your sacrifice and dedication.

Thank you, all, for everything that you do for the field of public health, the UCI community, and beyond. On behalf of the Program in Public Health, have a happy, healthy holiday.
What is Public Health Voices? Public Health Voices is a spotlight on our diverse student body and current events or issues that are important to them. Each month, we will feature a piece written by one of our students.
Kelli Fagan Malott
PhD Candidate, Environmental Health Science
 


California needs Statewide Policies for Drinking Water Testing after Wildfires

Before I begin, I would like to express my gratitude and admiration for the Orange County Fire Authority and all of the brave men and women that battled the flames of Orange County’s most recent wildfires, the Silverado and Blue Ridge fires. Without you, this already tough year would have been made much worse for hundreds of thousands of people. Thank you.

With that being said, in the face of these wildfires, my first thought always goes to the increased particulate matter in the air we breathe. However, a recent piece in the New York Times drew my attention to a less well-known concern following wildfires, toxicants in drinking water from leaching PVC plumbing. A recent publication by Proctor et al., in AWWA Water Science focused on two recent and disastrous California wildfires, Tubbs in 2017 and Camp in 2018. Both of these wildfires are the only two to have documented finding volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in the drinking water following complaints of tinted or bad smelling water. To the credit of respective water districts for the cities and towns affected by each of these fires, “Do not drink” advisories, or other cautions were issued to residents until proper testing of drinking water could be completed. The response of each water district though was different from the other and the testing protocol for VOCs varied from test site to test site.

Following both fires several VOCs, including benzene, a known human carcinogen, were found at a plurality of sites in concentrations that far exceed the maximum contaminant levels set by the EPA. Yet, in some cases, testing was not performed until weeks or months after the fire was contained and people returned to their homes, therefore exposing these individuals to drinking water with high concentrations of these contaminants. Had no one reported the odd smell or color of the water and had the water districts not followed up with testing for VOCs, it is entirely possible that families and individuals living in these towns could have been exposed to these known human carcinogens for years, having detrimental effects on their public health. Long term occupational exposure to compounds such as benzene have been documented to increase likelihood of developing various cancers, liver fibrosis, and preterm birth. It is not enough to rely on citizens to report odd smells in their water after a fire, it is all too often this method is employed in under-funded districts and these are the exact populations that suffer. This is especially important when it comes to VOCs, as only a few will create a foul smell in the water, and only in sufficiently high concentrations. We need state-level, strategic, standardized testing and public reporting of our drinking water for VOCs following a wildfire.

At the time of this writing, California has no statewide procedure for testing drinking water following a wildfire for the presence of toxicants and carcinogens like benzene. In most cases, it seems it isn’t even performed. Even when it is performed, there is no standardized testing protocol making the data unreliable at best. We are staring down the barrel of climate change, the subsequent exponential increase in wildfires. With these current realities and the increasing populations living in urban-wildlife interfaces, it is imperative that our state officials set forth testing guidelines to test drinking waters for VOCs and other toxicants following wildfires.

Santa Ana Surveillance Study

The UCI Program in Public Health is partnering with the city of Santa Ana to conduct COVID-19 antibody testing of 8,000 residents to determine exposure throughout the community.

Households will be randomly selected to participate, with all household members ages 5+ eligible for testing. Santa Ana has been disproportionately burdened by the public health threat of COVID-19 with a significant impact of social determinants of health on disparities in incidence and severity. The city is home to a large proportion of essential workers, including first responders like healthcare workers.

The study will be conducted by members of the research team who also conducted the Orange County-wide seroprevalence study (actOC) in Summer 2020 and will utilize the same innovative protein microarray technology, which was developed by the university’s Vaccine Research and Development Center. The project will be integrated, in part, into Santa Ana CARES, the city’s existing infrastructure of COVID-19 mobile resource units, which visits neighborhoods and parks to provide free testing, masks, information, and other resources to residents. Testing will begin this week and conclude at the end of December 2020.
Take the Call: UCI Contact Tracing Program
One of the key components of UCI’s COVID-19 response program is contact tracing. UCI has entered into an agreement with the Orange County Health Care Agency to authorize UCI to conduct contact tracing specific to the UCI community. Campus leadership has supported this effort by issuing an executive directive.
 
In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus, it will be crucial for students, staff, and faculty to “take the call” from the contact tracing program and be honest and complete in responding to the interview questions. If you are called by a contact tracer, the number that will appear on your phone is (949) 824-2300. Please take the call.
COVID-19 Chatline

The Program in Public Health COVID-19 Chatline is available for general questions and inquiries. The chatline is staffed Monday-Friday from 9:00AM-6:00PM PST and Saturday-Sunday from 12:00PM-4:00PM PT.
"Real-Time Support Click Here"

Interested in learning more about the COVID-19 Chatline? View a presentation for APHA delivered by Dr. Theodore Gideonse, Dr. Miryha Runnerstrom, and students Sara Goodman and Shantell Nolen entitled "Real-Time Support Click Here".
Watch now!
Dr. Dominik Wodarz featured in UCI School of Physical Sciences Podcast

Sit down, relax, and listen to a conversation that spans the world, from the colors of the rainbow, to the predators and prey on the African Serengeti, and back around to the coronavirus pandemic. This episode features our very own Dr. Dominik Wodarz and applied mathematician Natalia Komarova of the Department of Mathematics.
 
Listen Now
Department of Environmental and
Occupational Health
2020 WOEMA Virtual Poster Presentation Award

Congratulations to student Dr. Oluseyi Awodele for becoming first-place winner of the Western Occupational and Environmental Medical Association (WOEMA) 2020 virtual poster presentation. Click here to watch Seyi's interview on the WOEMA podcast episode entitled Space Radiation Effects: Comparison of Ovarian Toxicity of Low Dose Gamma Radiation vs. High LET Charged Particle Radiation.
DEOH presents at American Heart Association

As part of a recent meeting of the American Heart Association, three presentations were made on behalf of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health:
  • Chronic electronic cigarette vapor exposure leads to impaired cardiac function in experimental rat myocardial ischemia/reperfusion model
  • Effects of chronic electronic cigarette vapor exposures on cardiovascular function in rats
  • Acute administration of nicotine induces transient elevation of blood pressure and increases myocardial infarct size in rats
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Traveling for Thanksgiving? Consider the advice of Dr. Karen Edwards, who was recently featured in a Desert Sun article to discuss how to travel safely for the holidays. Read more here.
"If you must travel, be sure to follow all recommendations, including checking with destinations and events you plan to attend to be sure that travel to that destination or event is still possible. Cancel your trip if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or concerns about risk of infection."
- Dr. Karen Edwards
Department of Health, Society and Behavior
Report on the State of Undocumented Students in
California’s Public Universities

ft. Dr. Annie Ro, Associate Professor of Public Health

Thursday, December 10, 2020
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

As a member of the
UC Collaborative to Promote Immigrant and Student Equity (UC PromISE) research team, Associate Professor Dr. Annie Ro has been instrumental in the preparation of a soon-to-be-released report titled Persisting Inequalities and Paths Forward: A Report on the State of Undocumented Students at California's Public Universities.

Drawing on a survey of nearly 1,300 undocumented CSU and UC students, the report takes stock of the educational experiences and well-being of undocumented college students in California. The report powerfully illustrates how undocumented immigration status disrupts college students’ educational experiences and well-being.

The briefing will feature a conversation with some of the report’s authors about key findings and offer specific steps that educational institutions can take to combat persisting inequalities and forge pathways toward equity and inclusion.
 
RSVP
Department of Population Health and
Disease Prevention


Congratulations to Dr. Michael A. Hoyt and research assistant Raymond Carrillo Ceja for their lab's recent undergraduate "Diversity and Disparities in Cancer Research Traineeship Supplement" from the Cancer Research Coordinating Committee of the University of California Office of the President.

Raymond Carrillo Ceja will complete a one year training plan under the mentorship of Michael Hoyt focused on increasing research skills and knowledge around Cancer Survivorship in Latino young adults. Some of the training activities will include participation in a mixed-methods clinical trial of Latino young adults with testicular cancer, training in the recruitment and retention of ethnic minorities in clinical trials, and workshops on cancer survivorship and cultural influences for Latino patients.

Lunchtime Lecture Series: Healthy Holiday Travel

December 3, 2020 // 12:30 - 1:00 p.m.
Please join us for December's installment of the Lunchtime Lecture Series featuring Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala, who will discuss how to travel safely this holiday season.

RSVP

Lunchtime Lecture Series: COVID-19 and Our Campus

December 10, 2020 // 12:30 - 1:00 p.m.
Attend this lecture to hear from David M. Souleles, Director of the COVID-19 Response Team, who will provide updates about COVID-19 response on campus and how the community can come together to mitigate risks of the virus.

RSVP

Orange County Bar Association Webinar:
The Science of COVID-19

On November 13, Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala and Dr. Andrew Noymer presented at an Orange County Bar Association (OCBA) webinar entitled The Science of COVID-19: The Progression of the Pandemic in Orange County. Missed the webinar? Watch it here.

Conversations about Climate Change and COVID-19

Conversations about Climate Change and COVID-19 was put on by the Public Health alumni chapter and featured a discussion with Dr. Miryha Runnerstrom about wellness, COVID-19, and the environment.

Dr. Runnerstrom challenges everyone to go out each day into nature and take a picture of something that makes you happy!

Dr. Miryha Runnerstrom presents at special alumni event Conversations about Climate Change and COVID-19

APHA Virtual Happy Hour

Thank you to all who attended the APHA Virtual Happy Hour! During the event, attendees heard updates from Dean Boden-Albala about the planned school, shared laughs, and reconnected with fellow alumni.

Public Health alumni share anteater pride at the 2020 APHA Virtual Happy Hour

Latino Health Equity Initiative
"Under the Same Sky" Award


As a key partner in the Latino Health Equity Initiative, Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala was be given an award at the organization's recent "Under the Same Sky" event. The award is in recognition of Dean Boden-Albala's leadership and commitment to keeping families safe and communities healthier while ensuring access to reliable and timely data about the impact of COVID-19 in the local community. Congratulations, Dean Boden-Albala!

Association for the Advancement of Science
(AAAS) Fellowship


Congratulations to Dr. Oladele Ogunseitan for being named one of this year's AAAS fellows for distinguished contributions in studies using fundamental science to inform impacts of toxic components in manufacturing on human and environmental health with significant societal impacts.

Dr. Ogunseitan is one of 9 UCI faculty that have been named this year and one of 185 in the university's history.
Search Committee for Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing Dean

We are delighted to share that Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala will chair the search committee for the new dean of the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing. Faculty members Dr. Scott Bartell and Dr. Sora Park Tanjasiri will also serve on the committee and assist in evaluating nominees and making recommendations.
COHS Executive Committee and Divisional Senate

Congratulations to Dr. Rufus Edwards and Dr. Michael A. Hoyt for being named Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences Executive Committee and the Irvine Divisional Senate!
UCGHI Student Ambassador Program

Now accepting applications! 
Deadline: December 4, 2020

The University of California Global Health Institute is seeking applicants across all 10 UC campuses and partnering with Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, for its 2020-2021 Student Ambassador Program. 
Student Ambassadors will have the opportunity to get involved in the campus community, gain knowledge and expertise on Women's Health, Gender & Empowerment and Planetary Health related topics, interact with UCGHI, collaborate with campus leaders and faculty members from across the UC, and gain leadership and advocacy skills.

This leadership opportunity is open to all students (i.e., undergraduate, graduate, medical, nursing, law, etc.) who are dedicated to personal and professional growth by serving and representing their respective UC or HBCU campus.

In collaboration with UCGHI's two Centers of Expertise, the Student Ambassador program will feature two separate tracks:
  • Women’s Health, Gender and Empowerment
  • Planetary Health
LEARN MORE
Terence Napoli '10

Terence Napoli graduated from UCI in 2010 with a BA in Public Health Policy. He now works for the LA County Department of Public Health. Through this job, Terence has the opportunity to learn from a variety of programs and staff while making positive, lasting impacts in his local community. Upcoming plans for his job involve unique and challenging efforts to protect the community from COVID-19.

Terence is inspired by his mother, who strived to ensure he had every opportunity to succeed and encouraged him to do whatever made him happy. His favorite experiences at UCI involved campus village, where he met and lived with many wonderful people. Pictured above is Terence at a CPR training class. Thank you, Terence, for sharing your story with us!

Kalani Phillips '16

Kalani Phillips is now going into her second year as an MPH student and graduated from UCI in 2016 with a degree in Public Health Policy and a minor in Film & Media studies. This past summer, she was a Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI) graduate fellow and worked alongside Drs. Kitazawa and Wu. Kalani also volunteered for the actOC study and has worked on the COVID-19 Chatline. Starting in October, she is going to be working with Dr. Vieira as a GSR on ServeOC, a study involving COVID-19 antibody testing among Orange County first responders. She will also work with Dr. Lakon on e-cigarette use research.

Kalani chose public health because she loves learning about theories, behavior, and other factors that impact health. In the future, she hopes to learn more about immigrant health and inter-generational trauma while improving outcomes for the Vietnamese community and other immigrant populations.

Gabrielle M. Gussin

Congratulations to doctoral student Gabrielle Gussin, who just received an outstanding score in her F31 application to NIH (NIAID) and will be one of the first individually funded students in the Program in Public Health!
Ivy Torres

Doctoral student Ivy Torres is receiving an NIOSH fellowship: SCERC Targeted Research Training Fellowship Program in Occupational Health to pursue dissertation research on the relationship between work and the disability cross-over undergone by Latina immigrants. Congratulations, Ivy!
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