A Message from the Dean on the 2023 U.S. News & World Report Rankings
Dear UCI community,
This National Public Health Week, we have much to celebrate.
First, we are thrilled to share that the Program in Public Health jumped ten spots in this year’s U.S. News & World Report Graduate School rankings, now sitting at #31 among all schools and programs of public health and #19 among public universities. We know that rankings alone don’t capture the breadth and depth of work being done across the program, but they do, in many respects, represent the progress we’ve made in enhancing the pipeline of future leaders entering the field.
The news comes at a time of heightened interest in degrees in public health. This year, our MPH application rates increased by nearly 50% compared to two years ago, and we enrolled our largest cohort of doctoral students to date. We expect this growth to continue as the world increasingly relies on public health professionals' expertise to mediate some of today’s most pressing issues from climate change and global conflict to emerging infectious diseases like COVID.
Public health is at a critical juncture and to move forward constructively, we must work together to set up a public health infrastructure. This includes the training of a workforce prepared to meet the demands of the field as well as address future health crises and areas of health disparities.
Indeed, we learned the importance of public health expertise during the early stages of the pandemic, which were characterized by a mass exodus of public health officials from the field due to widespread firings and resignations, burnout, and increased personal threats and political pressure. The absence of public health leadership at the local, state, and national levels proved detrimental to our ability to swiftly respond to the pandemic. David M. Souleles, MPH, Director of UCI COVID-19 Response and Director of the MPH Program, said it best in his recent
Op-Ed published in CalMatters: “Investing in a vibrant and capable workforce is one step in a multifaceted approach to rebuilding public health agencies.” I am encouraged by the heightened interest in public health degrees we are seeing, especially among members of the generation that will undoubtedly lead us toward a brighter, more equitable future.
UCI Public Health and the field offer countless career paths in a wide range of disciplines from epidemiology and bioinformatics to environmental health, health policy, and more. We encourage all members of the UCI community – especially those that couldn’t join us this National Public Health Week – to explore the vast areas of study within the field of public health by watching our recordings of the week’s events.
We look forward to closing out this special week with our Anteater community.
Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH
Director and Founding Dean, Program in Public Health
Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences

The Value of Words and Stories: An Open Letter
by Jay Mantuhac, MPH student, emphasis in Biostatistics

Let’s face it. We have a love affair with data. With the rise in data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, public health has increasingly become a numbers and data-driven field. We aspire to create studies where we can get the most data points, because the more we have, the more reliable our inferences about a population become, and the better we are able to help our respective populations. As such, doing anything that brings us closer to working with “big data” is considered good for public health.

However, even as someone who thinks big data is the next greatest thing to happen in public health, I want to caution that big data has its limitations. Let’s start with a hypothetical scenario: If you were to ask someone to rate their pain on a scale from 1-10 (with 10 being “excruciating pain”), the pain that someone would rate a 5 could be a 7 to someone else, or if their pain tolerance is really high, maybe a 3. Could a number describe whether someone’s pain is more dull or sharp? What about that pain’s impact on how a person is able to function in their daily life?

Moving into more recent matters, can you use numbers to fully describe the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has on individuals? How can you use numbers to capture the feeling of anguish after losing a loved one? How about the ways in which people have to change their daily routines and practices in response to the pandemic?

You can try, but chances are, numbers alone cannot fully capture these kinds of sentiments. As much as big data’s strengths are in telling the stories of the population as a whole, and as much as we want to use the most robust quantitative methods for telling these stories, data itself fails to provide the whole picture of experiences. When we are supposed to center our work on the communities we are trying to help, big data creates a vast sea of numbers for the voices and stories of those communities to get lost in. It is up to us to ensure that those voices don’t get lost, not only because doing so would be an incredible disservice to the communities we work with, but also because we would lose our sense of purpose for working in the field in the first place.

This is the reason why, along with colleagues from other universities and medical schools, I co-founded the AAPI Community COVID Archival Project last year, where we gather and archive the vast experiences of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. If we do not gather these stories from the community now, they will be told by others in the future and may paint a misrepresented picture of experiences during the pandemic. We have the infrastructure to do our communities this kind of justice, and my work is just one of many ways to ensure that while we work with  numbers and data points, we also capture the experiences that numbers themselves cannot tell.

For the sake of justice and equity, for empowering the very people that we work with, and for maintaining our purpose in this field, let us not forget the value of words and stories in our work here in public health.

UCI-led study identifies top concerns of parents in vaccinating their adolescent children

A study led by corresponding author Dr. Suellen Hopfer found that confidence in health authorities’ vaccine recommendations, the social benefit and a sense of collective responsibility to protect oneself and others were ranked among the top motivators of Southern California parents willing to vaccinate their adolescent children against COVID-19.

Considerations of Racism and Data Equity among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the Context of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the well-being of Asian American and NHPI communities. A recent study co-authored by Dr. Brittany Morey underscored the need for disaggregated data, not only so that we can have accurate reporting, but also to ensure data and health equity.
UCI PFAS Health Study launches website and recruitment efforts

Co-led by Dr. Scott Bartell, the study aims to learn how PFAS-contaminated drinking water may affect the health of adults and children in Orange County. People who lived in Anaheim, Garden Grove, Orange, or Yorba Linda, during any part of 2000 to 2019 may be eligible to participate. For more info, visit here, call 949-824-7729, or email
Enhancing Green Electronics Standards

As part of a collaborative effort between UCI, Microsoft, and the World Institute for Sustainable Development of Materials (WISDOM), Environmental Health Sciences doctoral student Maryam Gamal Ibrahim is piloting a study on the increasing amount of toxic electronic waste being generated worldwide. Maryam will present her research in the upcoming ACS Green Chemistry Conference (June 6-8).
Dr. Shahir Masri presents at UCI "Cleaning Up Kingspan" event

Air pollution scientist Dr. Shahir Masri recently served as a panelist on a UCI-hosted event about the growing demand for "green" jobs and the companies whose promises don't always match their practices. Panelists discussed the operations of Kingspan, a green materials company headquartered in Ireland with manufacturing facilities around the world.
Doctoral student represents UCI Public Health at annual microbiology conference

Congratulations to Environmental Health Sciences PhD student Alexis Guerra for being invited to present her research on marine microbiology at thie year's
American Society for Microbiology Conference (June 9-13) in Washington, DC. Alexis will deliver a poster presentation entitled, "Connecting Microbial Signatures with Anthropogenic Fecal Contamination in Coastal Environments."
Dr. Michael Kleinman speaks at 2022 CSU Northridge Environmental and Occupational Health Annual Symposium

As part of this year's symposium on emerging research on environmental and occupational health impacts of recent wildfires, Dr. Michael Kleinman delivered a presentation on the health effects of wildfire smoke composition.
Much of the cost of dementia care in aging Native American adults is due to hospitalization

The total treatment costs for American Indian and Alaska Native older adults with dementia are US$2,943 higher than for those without dementia because of higher hospitalization costs, according to a new study co-authored by Dr. Luohua Jiang. This is the first assessment of the treatment costs among American Indian and Alaska Native adults with dementia.
Doctoral student Andrew Vu awarded over $157k from the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program for work on vaping trends among teens in CA

Andrew's study will model the impact of individual, community, and societal variables on the risk of teenage vaping. Findings from this study may help inform future policies that aim to support those being disproportionately affected by the vaping epidemic in adolescents.
Welcoming Anamara Ritt-Olson, PhD, to UCI Public Health’s Department of Health, Society, & Behavior

Ritt-Olson, our newly appointed associate professor-in-residence of health, society and behavior, brings expertise in preventative medicine and adolescent mental health to UC Irvine.
Dr. Leigh Turner presents on regulatory challenges for governance of genome editing

As part of a panel hosted by the Royal Society in preparation for the 2023 Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing, Dr. Leigh Turner presented research on current regulatory frameworks and challenges for governance of somatic and heritable editing, as well as how standards could be operationalized within nations and internationally.
Facilitating Resiliency in Times of Conflict

Through her role as Director of Training & Engagement at the
CERES Network, Dr. Anamara Ritt-Olson is supporting a recently launched UC Berkeley-led project aimed at facilitating resiliency during conflict. Ritt-Olson and Public Health students will create and disseminate easily shared, digestible information from the Berkeley project to global audiences -- including partners in Ukraine -- to help populations going through conflict build resiliency in times of trauma.
Dr. Dele Ogunseitan elected to lead Consortium of Universities for Global Health Competency Subcommittee

Congratulations to Dr. Dele Ogunseitan for his recent election to a 2-year term as co-chair of the Competency subcommittee of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health. Ogunseitan will play a critical role leading the group’s efforts to advance global health curricula development and redefine global health competencies.
Dr. Margaret Schneider elected as President of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SMB)

SBM is the leading forum for more than 2,400 behavioral and biomedical researchers and clinicians to study the interactions and relationships between behavioral, physiological, and biochemical states, and morbidity and mortality. Dr. Margaret Schneider will lead SMB's efforts to provide new perspectives and progress on human behavior, health, and illness through multidisciplinary collaborations.
3/30/22: Can COVID-19 Tests Detect BA.2 Variant? (Bernadette Boden-Albala)
3/29/22: Can You Get Long COVID If You've Been Vaccinated?
(Bernadette Boden-Albala)
Dr. Dominik Wodarz awarded $1.2M from NIH to fund project entitled, "Effect of inflammation on JAK2 mutant evolution in the hematopoietic system: mathematical models and experiments"
Dr. Michael Kleinman awarded NIEHS multi-campus grant with UCLA to study the effects of air pollution on liver inflammation
Dr. Dominik Wodarz awarded $390k from National Science Foundation to support research on mutant evolution in spatially structured, hierarchical populations, plus over $416k to study the effects of gene variation on antibiotic resistance evolution
Dr. Scott Bartell recognized as a 2021 Top Peer Reviewer for Environmental Health Perspectives, one of the top journals in public health and environmental and occupational health 
Dr. Michael Kleinman awarded funding from the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program for project on the effects of e-cigarette smoke on the hematopoietic system
PhD student Hemangi Mavadiya and MPH student Christine Nguyen awarded 2022 Cancer Epidemiology Education in Special Populations (CEESP) Award
Arsenic in private well water and birth outcomes in the United States

In what is the largest epidemiological study of arsenic and birth outcomes to date, researchers including Drs. Veronica Vieira and Scott Bartell found modest inverse associations with term birth weight. 
Cultivating one health antibiotic stewards to bridge translational science gaps in the global action plan

In a recent opinion piece, Dr. Dele Ogunseitan advocates for the translation of knowledge into effective design and implementation of action plans targeting antibiotic stewardship worldwide.
Mexican-Origin Women's Construction and Navigation of Racialized Identities: Implications for Health Amid Restrictive Immigrant Policies

A recent study co-authored by Dr. Alana M.W. LeBrón underscored the importance of addressing policies that impact racialization of Mexican-origin communities and other communities who experience growth through migration. These include creating pathways to legalization and access to resources like state-issued driver's licenses.
Association of Suicide Attempt with Stimulant Abuse in California Emergency Departments in 2011: A Study of 10 Million ED Visits

Reaching out to populations with higher prevalence of stimulant abuse (young and middle-aged individuals who are Native American or Black, with lower household income) to control the stimulant abuse problem may reduce the risk of suicide attempt, according to a study co-authored by Dr. Tim Bruckner.
UCI-led study finds positive association between PFOA exposure and preeclampsia

A recent study led by Drs. Scott Bartell (corresponding author), Luohua Jiang, and doctoral student Yachen Zhu showed that the Bayesian computation method can reduce exposure measurement error by combining biomarker measurements with modeled serum concentrations.
Repeal of Affordable Care Act’s Individual Mandate Linked to Disparities in Loss of Coverage and Delayed Care

A study co-authored by Dr. Dylan Roby found that U.S. Latinos saw an increase in the likelihood of being uninsured, visiting the ER, and delaying care due to cost following the elimination of the ACA's individual mandate compared to Black and White populations.
ASPPH Public Health Profile: Gabrielle Gussin

"I have always had a passion for both science and puzzles – questioning how different pieces work together as part of a system," doctoral student Gabrielle Gussin said in a recent interview with ASPPH about her experience studying public health at UCI and advancing research on antibiotic resistance and infection prevention.
Connie Valencia selected to receive Graduate Student Excellence Award for Public Health

Congratulations to doctoral candidate Connie Valencia for being awarded the Graduate Student Excellence Award for Public Health. Connie and her advisor, Dr. Annie Ro, celebrated the honor at this month's UCI Latino Excellence and Awards Dinner (LEAD) Gala.
Alumni Board Spotlight: Chad Ngo

For alumnus Chad Ngo ‘15, MPH, the decision to pursue a career in public health came naturally. Fascinated by the fact that someone could make a career out of promoting health and well-being in communities, Chad went on to pursue his MPH at UCI Public Health with a focus on health communications and advocacy. Read Chad's story >>
UC Global Health Day 2022
Saturday, May 7, 2022 // 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. // Hybrid
In-Person Option: UC Santa Cruz, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95064

The UC Global Health Institute (UCGHI) and the UC Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation are co-hosting this year’s UC Global Health Day 2022. This day-long collaborative global health conference showcases the innovative research and initiatives occurring across the University of California. This year’s theme of Centering Social Justice in Community Health is exemplified by diverse speakers who are actively engaged across a variety of disciplines and doing work that has benefited communities at local and global levels:
  • The Planet's Health and Our Health is One Health - Vandana Shiva, PhD
  • Deep medicine and the care revolution - Rupa Marya, MD
  • Centering the Disadvantaged: Reflections on Community Partnership & Solidarity as Research Praxis - Ricky Blumenthal, PhD, MA
  • Relational Approaches in Indigenous Health: From Paternalism to Partnership - Adriann Begay, MD and Cristina Rivera Carpenter, PhD, MSN, RN-BC
  • Evening performance by Rupa & the April Fishes
The event will culminate with an evening performance by Rupa & The April Fishes at the UCSC Quarry Amphitheater. Register >>
Back to the Future: Looking towards sustainable, equitable, and healthy transportation
Thursday, June 16 - Friday, June 17, 2022 // Times TBD
Cypress Room and The Commons at UCI Research Park
5301 California Ave, Irvine, CA 92617

Please join the UCI Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) for its 2nd annual symposium on occupational and environmental health threats. COEH will offer ABIH, BCSP, BRN, CME, and REHS credits for those who attend and are eligible. Registration info coming soon.
All events are listed in Pacific Time (PT).
UCI Public Health is actively recruiting for this open position. If you know someone that may be interested and a good fit, please refer them to the posting below.

Job Description: Working with the Associate Dean/Director of Research, create processes and an infrastructure for the Office of Research, guiding and training department research administrators on grant management. Uses advanced contracts and grants concepts to manage high volume and high complexity transactions. Learn more >>
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