Dear UCI community,

This time of year brings no greater joy than to express my heartfelt congratulations to the Class of 2022 and to all our UCI Public Health undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students whose hard work and diligence led to this tremendous accomplishment. We are especially proud of our 2022 honors and awards recipients, as well as this year’s Phi Beta Kappa Society and Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health inductees. There is no doubt that each of you represent the future of the field – and a brighter, more equitable one at that.

To our public health graduates: you will lead the way in ensuring health and well-being for all moving forward. The skills and knowledge you’ve developed here at UCI, coupled with your extraordinary drive for a better world, will propel you forward in your careers making lasting, positive changes in the lives of others.

Your entry to the field is coming at a time when our society’s public health and well-being needs you most. You are the answer to our nation’s and planet’s call for a robust, capable workforce poised to transform our public health infrastructure and address health policy for the better. As members of this noble profession, you will provide solutions for some of the today’s most pressing and complex public health challenges from social justice to climate change and disparities in infectious and chronic disease.

One key public health challenge that will require your immediate expertise and advocacy is gun violence. To prevent the senseless and tragic mass shootings that have occurred across the country – from Uvalde and Buffalo to Parkland and Sandy Hook – we need a radical change in gun policies and continuous attention to mental health issues. Our hearts go out to the victims and families impacted by these horrendous events, and we are committed to coupling our sympathy and outrage with action. You – our graduates – will help drive the positive change we so desperately need.

Key in all of these matters is our ability to protect human health, well-being, and safety.

But we can’t do it alone. Public health is everywhere and in all things, so the best approach to tackling these challenges is one that harnesses the power of cross-disciplinary collaboration and partnerships – experiences you had while at UCI.

Each of our graduates will play a critical roll in paving the way for a future that is more sustainable, equitable, and just. The expertise you will continue to develop in your respective disciplines will no doubt overlap with that of your peers in public health, who share your vision of a brilliant future for all.


Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH
Director and Founding Dean
UCI Program in Public Health
Health equity approach to statewide outreach to under-resourced communities during COVID

A study co-authored by Dr. Suellen Hopfer found that the community-engaged strategies deployed by a California coalition of community and academic partners was successful in reaching diverse communities with critical public health messaging and reducing gaps in vaccine access among vulnerable communities.
UCI-led study investigates racial/ethnic disparities in coronavirus anxiety at the start of the pandemic

A study by PhD candidate Samantha Garcia (corresponding) and faculty mentor
Dr. Suellen Hopfer suggests coronavirus crisis perception and perceived economic risk of coronavirus may be valuable factors to consider in public health messaging when addressing global health crises and associated anxiety.
Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala answers this question: What's the latest on long COVID?
Breathing room: Industrial zone proximity associated with increased pediatric asthma, UCI study finds

Study co-author Dr. Jun Wu and team found that school-age children in Santa Ana who live within 0.5 km of an industrial zone were more likely to have asthma than students residing over 1 km away. Among children with asthma, those living within 0.5 and 1 km of an industrial zone had greater odds of being overweight or obese.
UCI-led study finds prolonged, low-level radon exposure still a leading cause of lung cancer, Data analysis shows high mortality rates, indicating stronger protections needed

A recent study led by Dr. David Richardson analyzed data from over 57,000 uranium miners to make the case for enhanced radiation protection in the U.S. and globally. Their study also found that about 40% of the lung cancer deaths were among people employed as uranium miners for 10 years or more.
Recruiting Now: UCI PFAS Health Study

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
Use of historical mapping to understand sources of soil-lead contamination: Case study of Santa Ana, CA

Using geo-spatial data collected through archival research, UCI scholars determined that leaded gasoline is the most likely and most prominent contributor to soil-lead in Santa Ana's environment. Study authors included Drs. Shahir Masri (corresponding), Jun Wu, Alana LeBrón, and Public Health students Ivy Torres, Yi Sun, and postdoctoral scholar Michael Logue.
Department student and faculty selected for UCI Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI) Fellowship

Congratulations to doctoral student Lewis Simon and faculty mentor Dr. Karen Edwards for being selected to participate in the DTEI Summer Graduate Fellows Program to integrate inclusive excellence practices into public health courses.
MRI Based Validation of Abdominal Adipose Tissue Measurements From DXA in Postmenopausal Women

Visceral adipose tissue is a hypothesized driver of chronic disease that is often measured via MRI. A study co-authored by Dr. Andrew Odegaard sought to examine a new method -- dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) -- that might offer a lower cost and more available alternative to patients.
Study found that food shortages and COVID-19 have led to unsafe feeding practices among formula-reliant families

“With more severe and frequent impacts on maternal and infant well-being and supply chains, government programs and policies must continue to promote exclusive and supplementary breastfeeding practices to protect pediatric nutrition,” said co-author Dr. Denise Diaz Payán.
Occupational health within the bounds of primary care: Factors shaping the health of Latina/o immigrant workers in federally qualified health centers

Overall, primary care clinicians had a general understanding that employment influenced the health and well-being of their Latina/o immigrant patients, according to a study authored by PhD candidate Ivy Torres (corresponding), graduate researcher Sarah Shklanko and Dr. Alana LeBrón.
UCI launches Disparities Research to Evaluate Asians' Multidimensional Stress on Sleep and Health (DREAMS) study

Dr. Brittany Morey will serve as co-investigator in an NIH-funded study conducted in collaboration with partners at the UCI School of Medicine, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women's Hospital. The research team is beginning recruitment this summer of people of Chinese, Korean, or Vietnamese descent who are 30 years-old or older to participate in a research project to track stress, sleep, and cardiovascular health.
White House releases factsheet on Global Health Worker Initiative featuring work of UCI One Health expert

As Director of Training and Empowerment for the USAID-funded One Health Workforce Next Generation project, Dr. Dele Ogunseitan plays a critical role in developing global health workforce plans using a "One Health" approach, which emphasizes the links between human, animal, and environmental health. The Biden-Harris administration voiced its support for such a plan in its recently released factsheet.
Community structure and insecticide resistance of malaria vectors in northern-central Myanmar

A study by project scientist Dr. Daibin Zhong (corresponding) and faculty member Dr. Guiyun Yan confirmed insecticide resistance in multiple malaria vector species in northern Myanmar, where information about species composition, abundance, and insecticide resistance status is scarce. Their study underscores the
 need for continual monitoring and vector control in impacted communities across the globe.
Doctoral candidate awarded fellowship for work on antibiotic resistance

Gabrielle Gussin, MS was awarded the F31 Individual Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for her thesis work entitled “Endemic and Emerging MultiDrug-Resistant Organisms in Nursing Homes.”
Reshaping global policies for circular economy

Adopting a circular economy can be a powerful way to solve societal problems linked to environmental pollution and resource depletion. Dr. Dele Ogunseitan and scholars advocate for greater environmental advantages, energy savings, and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to aid in the circular economy's implementation.
6/1/22: Early Signs You've Caught Coronavirus
(Bernadette Boden-Albala)
UCI Public Health mentor/mentee pair receive Chancellor's Awards

Congratulations to undergraduate student Hannah Pease and faculty mentor Dr. Alana LeBrón for being selected to receive Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Research and Research Mentoring, respectively.
Biosalivary research expert selected to receive 2022 ICTS Pilot Studies Award

Funding will support Dr. Elizabeth Thomas' ongoing work on using salivary biomarkers as a diagnostic tool for early detection of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Results from her studies could pave the way for simpler, non-invasive screening alternatives that detect cognitive decline during the preclinical phase when treatments may be more effective.

Dr. Sora Park Tanjasiri selected to receive UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge Award for project entitled, "Understanding and addressing cancer survivorship needs for Filipino-Americans in Los Angeles and Orange counties."
Dr. Bryan Sykes* to lead UCI arm of NIH-funded, multi-university effort to diversify and train undergraduate researchers

With over $776,000 in NIH funding and through his role as a research affiliate with the UCI Center for Population, Inequality, and Policy (CPIP), Sykes will lead the NextGenPop project's efforts to increase the pipeline of underrepresented students pursuing research in demography, social science, public health, and public policy.
City of Irvine presents Dr. Wayne Chang* with Celebration of Heroes Commendation

"The Council of the City of Irvine commends, recognizes, appreciates, and expresses its deepest gratitude to Wayne Chang, MD for selfless and often sacrificial acts of kindness, compassion, and generosity contributed immeasurable to our well-being in the face of COVID-19." - Farrah N. Khan, Mayor of the City of Irvine

Congratulation to Dr. Alana LeBr
ón, assistant professor of health, society and behavior and Chicano/Latino studies who was awarded the Outstanding Social Justice Activist Award from the UCI Womxn's Center for Success. The award honors individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to working on anti-sexist endeavors and who have drawn connections between various communities to end multiple forms of oppression.
News coverage of Mexico’s front-of-package food label policy

In August 2019, legislators in Mexico introduced what would become the world’s strictest front-of-package labelling law for certain processed food and non-alcoholic beverage products to curb the country’s dual epidemics of obesity and diabetes. A study co-authored by Dr. Denise Diaz Payán found that food and beverage industry stakeholders were largely absent from news coverage about the policy.
People in Republican Counties More Likely to Die from COVID-19, UCI co-led study finds

The partisan divide in the United States throughout the COVID-19 pandemic stretched beyond differences in attitudes about masking, social distancing and vaccines.  According to a new study co-authored by Dr. Dylan Roby, it also is tied to a clear difference in mortality rates from the virus. The analysis found that Republican counties experienced 72.94 more COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people compared to Democratic counties.
UCI-led study explores HPV vaccine delay and refusal among unvaccinated Mexican American young adult women

A study by PhD candidate Samantha Garcia (corresponding), Drs. Suellen Hopfer and Sora Park Tanjasiri found that Mexican-born participants more frequently expressed avoiding health care discussions with family, compared to U.S.-born Latinas, underscoring the need for socioculturally tailored messages to improve HPV vaccination acceptance and uptake.
Translocations in Dioxin-Exposed Workers

Dioxins are highly toxic compounds and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) produced as a byproduct in some manufacturing processes, notably herbicide production and paper bleaching. In a recent study co-authored by Dr. Scott Bartell, researchers measured serum dioxin levels in former chemical plant workers to determine if occupational exposure to dioxins is associated with an increased frequency of DNA mutations, or translocations.
UCI-led study explores the value of cross-sector coalitions in addressing food insecurity

“Community-engaged approaches to nutrition-related disparities research can lead to highly effective, sustainable health improvements in diverse communities,” corresponding author Dr. Denise Diaz Payán said. “And one of the ways we can do that is by convening partners from different sectors to form a coalition that addresses these issues collaboratively and directly with impacted community members.”
Sustainable materials alternative to petrochemical plastics pollution: A review analysis

Petrochemical plastics are ubiquitous environmental pollutants with toxic impacts. Alternatives have been researched intensely, but they have not been developed to replace current plastic products at a commercially viable scale. A recent study co-authored by Dr. Dele Ogunseitan advocates for integrated production of biofuels and bioplastics as key means of achieving a sustainable circular bioeconomy.
An Artist's Accomplishments

First-year PhD student and audiologist Dr. Shade Avery Kirjava celebrates health and well-being through art, sharing important messages about identity and sense of self with the campus community.
"Nonbiney Flowers" by Dr. Shade Avery Kirjava wins People's Choice Award at UCI Art of Healing Showcase

From the artist: "Nonbiney Flowers was painted in late 2020 to mark the one-year anniversary of my gender transition. Supportive people in my life helped me accept that my gender identity can be messy and organic like the flowers shown here in the colors of the nonbinary pride flag."

An advocate for gender equity, Kirjava is also the sole author on an article entitled, "How Audiology Alienates Transgender Audiologists" currently in preprint in one of the highest impact factor journals in the field, Ear and Hearing.
"Accomplishments Into Anatomy" series to be displayed in UCI Reef 2 Ridge Art Gala

"Among highly educated people with academic credentials, their educational attainment is often incorporated into their sense of self," Kirjava explains. "This display cuts apart my greatest accomplishments: my bachelor's and doctoral diplomas, my professional license to practice as a doctor, and the first paper I ever published. My accomplishments are reshaped into the anatomy of the auditory system as a simultaneous repudiation of basing one’s self-esteem on educational attainment, and a celebration of the intricate anatomy of the human hearing system.”
Dr. Sara Goodman publishes results from large-scale study on Hepatitis C (HCV) in second chapter of recently defended doctoral dissertation

The article, published in Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology, found that HCV-antibody-positive older adults appear more likely to show undetectable viral load compared to younger adults. Residents in areas with higher quartiles of health insurance enrollment also showed an increased likelihood of undetectable viral load.
MPH student and aspiring epidemiologist accepted into selective statewide fellowship program

Congratulations to MPH student Jamilla Abugazia (faculty mentor: Dr. Andrew Noymer) for being selected for a California Epidemiologic Investigation Service (Cal-EIS) Fellowship Program placement with the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) in Sacramento. Abugazia will join a cohort of future epidemiologists preparing for careers in public health leadership positions in California.
UCI Public Health Alumni Come Together for #UCIGivingDay

A huge thank you to alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends for making this year's 
#UCIGivingDay another success. Thanks to Anteater generosity, we can continue to award scholarships to our deserving Public Health students.
2nd Annual UCI-COEH Symposium: Back to the Future: Looking Towards Sustainable, Equitable, and Healthy Transportation
Thursday, June 16 - Friday, June 17, 2022 // Hybrid (Virtual option just added)
In-Person Option: Conference Center at UCI Research Park
5301 California Ave., Suite 120, 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. Symposium topics will include the health effects of oil spills, space radiation and reproductive effects, long working hours and driver health, port warehouse exposures, aviation industry and health effects, drug impairment and driving, traffic-related environmental and health impacts, and infrastructure and active transportation.
 Register >>
All events are listed in Pacific Time (PT).
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*Affiliated. The interdisciplinary nature of public health as a field is reflected in the work of our affiliated faculty, who draw expertise from other areas of study to support UCI Public Health's mission of promoting health equity while reducing the global burden of disease.
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