Alumnus Blake Smith reflects on Peace Corps experience in Swaziland

photo of Blake Smith in Swaziland


Blake Smith is a graduate from the University of Iowa College of Public Health (16MPH) and is currently serving with the Peace Corps in Swaziland.

During his time in Swaziland, Blake has gotten involved in many different projects as a Peace Corps volunteer. From HIV prevention and support programs at a rural clinic, to assisting with the creation of the local school’s first library, Blake has had many opportunities to gain hands-on experience working with community members on various projects.

Through his work at the clinic, Blake has also been working to educate high school girls on how to make affordable and reusable sanitary pads to prevent them from missing school as a result of getting their periods. Outside of the clinic Blake has been involved in developing income generating projects and teaching financial literacy and general business skills to caregivers of orphans and vulnerable children.

While Blake says one of the greatest challenges he faces during his service thus far is the social isolation that can come with being a Peace Corps volunteer, he also mentions that once deep and close relationships are formed with local people, you begin to feel like you really are an important part of their lives and community; “it’s an amazing feeling.” Blake shares this type of relationship with members of his host family, which has transformed his experience in Swaziland and influenced how he will look back on these two years with the Peace Corps.

Written by Samantha Kloft, a campus ambassador for the Peace Corps at the University of Iowa and a second-year College of Public Health graduate student in community and behavioral health. Blake’s profile is one of the monthly Peace Corps Spotlights that shed light on the experiences of UI alumni as they serve in locations all over the world. 

Heartland Center trainees receive OSH scholarships

group photo of Heartland Center trainees
From left: Iowa Labor Commissioner Michael A. Mauro, Paul Richmond (Iowa OSH Advisory Council Treasurer), Ria Gasaway, Shaunae Alex, Darrin Thompson, Steven Flann (Iowa OSH Advisory Council Chair), and Jacqueline Roberts (Iowa OSH Advisory Council member).












Two Heartland Center trainees were awarded scholarships at the 46th Annual Iowa Governor’s Safety & Health Conference on November 2, 2017.

Darrin Thompson, a PhD student in the Occupational Epidemiology training program, received the Jack Beno Scholarship.

Shaunae Alex, an MS student in the Industrial Hygiene training program, received the Bill Dickinson Scholarship.

Iowa State University student Ria Gasaway also received an Iowa Occupational Safety & Health Advisory Council Scholarship.

The Heartland Center is always proud to see our students honored for their scholastic excellence.

Anthony selected as editor in chief of JOEH

Renée AnthonyT. Renee Anthony, PhD, CIH, CSP, FAIHA, has been selected as the new editor in chief of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH). Dr. Anthony, an associate professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, will take the reins January 1, 2018.

“Dr. Anthony is an accomplished industrial hygienist and scholar, and will be a great asset to JOEH. The Board of Directors and I are looking forward to helping Dr. Anthony implement the exciting vision she has proposed for JOEH,” said Rachael Jones, President of the Board of Directors of the JOEH, LLC.

Anthony has been working in environmental health and safety since 1988. She spent eight years in the pulp and paper industry, where she was a corporate industrial hygienist and a regional safety and health manager, before beginning her academic career at the University of Arizona. She joined the faculty at Iowa in 2009 and was promoted to associate professor in 2014. Her research includes studies of how particles enter the human respiratory system; aerosol sampler design and evaluation; and indoor air quality in swine concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). She currently directs the NIOSH-funded Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health at the University of Iowa.

“I look forward to helping JOEH enhance its recognition as a valued resource for evidence-based worker protection studies,” Anthony said. “We will continue the tradition of expanding the expertise of our scientists and practitioners in the fields of exposure assessment, risk analysis, and control methods. Articles incorporating technological innovations and emerging hazards, which demonstrate efficient and cogent strategies to protect workers, are essential to JOEH and its allied professional organizations. I aim to provide efficient, thorough peer reviews to make JOEH the first-choice journal for high quality research conducted in our field.”

In 2015, Anthony received AIHA’s Alice Hamilton Award in recognition of her lasting achievements in occupational and environmental hygiene.

See the press release

Toepp honored with ASTMH Young Investigator Award

A portrait of Angela Schneider of the University of Iowa College of Public Health.Angela Toepp, a doctoral student in epidemiology, recently participated in the Young Investigator Award contest at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s (ASTMH) annual meeting in Baltimore. This award encourages developing young scientists to pursue careers in various aspects of tropical disease research.

Toepp received Honorary Mention from the Vectorborne Disease Immunology and Epidemiology Section out of more than 20 contestants, and was one of 15 students honored in this way out of 200 entries into the contest. Toepp works in the Dr. Christine Petersen Laboratory and presented the vaccine trial work for which she has been the primary analyst, “Field trial to assess leishmaniosis vaccine effectiveness as a potential immunotherapy in asymptomatic dogs.”

CPHSA blood drive is Nov. 30

Blood donation illustrationThe College of Public Health Student Association is partnering with DeGowin Blood Center to host a blood drive.

Thursday, Nov. 30
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
C217 CPHB  (Prybil Conference Room)

Sign up now to reserve a time to donate!

Successful donors will receive a t-shirt!