Rema Afifi

Dr. Afifi engages in public health research and practice with intent to promote social, community, and policy environments conducive to wellbeing. Whenever possible, she uses methods of Community Based Participatory Research; applies an ecological lens to the understanding of the issues; engages multiple disciplines to widen the perspectives on any topic; and emphasizes knowledge transfer of research to practice and policy. She is specifically interested in intervention and implementation science.

Most of Rima’s research and practice has centered on adolescent and youth health and wellbeing; and on the Arab world.  This has infused her research and practice with critical reflections on the impact of global politics, economics, trade; and of war, conflict and contexts of uncertainty; as well as the power of youth agency and voice.  A secondary area of research emphasis has been tobacco control, specifically the global epidemic of hookah use.  Using the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as a guidance document, her research has explored determinants of use, as well as policy solutions to minimize the morbidity and mortality burden of this alternative tobacco product.

Pentella receives Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award

Michael Pentella, clinical professor of epidemiology at the UI College of Public Health, has received the 2017 Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award from the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

Pentella was previously the associate director for infectious disease at the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory where he was responsible for bacteriology, virology, serology, parasitology, and mycology and was actively involved with bioterrorism preparedness, antimicrobial resistance and pandemic influenza planning. He was formerly director of the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Massachusetts.

The Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award honors a laboratorian with over 10 years of related service in the field of biosafety and biosecurity in a state and/or local public health laboratory. According to APHL, honorees are recognized leaders both within their home laboratories and on a national level (by serving in leadership roles on national committees and taskforces, for example).

Honorees are also instrumental in providing technical and public presentations and publications, developing/advocating for best practices in biosafety/biosecurity, Identifying and presenting emerging issues in the field, conducting or promoting research that lead to improvements or advancing policy in the field of biosafety/biosecurity.

Award recipients were honored during a ceremony at the 2017 APHL Annual Meeting & Eleventh Government Environmental Laboratory Conference in Providence, RI.

A full list of this year’s APHL award recipients is available at:

Anjali Deshpande

Anjali Deshpande, PhD, MPH, joined the college on June 30, 2016 as director of the college’s Master of Public Health (MPH) Program and clinical associate professor in epidemiology.

As part of the college’s academic affairs office, Dr. Deshpande will provide strategic and innovative leadership for the MPH program. We are very excited to have her join our team and look forward to her expertise and enthusiasm in training the next generation of public health professionals.

Fluharty honored for distinguished leadership in rural development

Charles Fluharty, clinical professor of health management and policy, and founder, president, and CEO of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), was recently honored by Iowa Wesleyan University as the inaugural recipient of the Presidential Medal for Outstanding Merit.

Portrait of Chuck Fluharty
Charles Fluharty

The award, conferred during the Iowa Wesleyan University commencement ceremony on May 7, recognizes Fluharty for “lifelong and exemplary leadership and commitment to advancing the development of rural life and communities.” The award also acknowledges the extensive work of RUPRI over the past 26 years to address “the full range of policy and program dynamics affecting rural people and places.”

Fluharty’s career has focused on service to rural people, primarily within the public policy arena. A seasoned policy analyst and practitioner, he has authored numerous policy studies, journal articles and policy briefs addressing the rural differential in public policy decision making. He is also a frequent speaker before national and international audiences, having delivered major public policy speeches in over a dozen nations, and has provided senior policy consultation to most federal departments, state and local governments, associations of government, planning and development organizations, and many foundations.

He was a German Marshall Fund Transatlantic Fellow from 2007 to 2011, and recently coordinated a collaboration between former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers to address the severe economic dislocation resulting from the decline in the eastern Kentucky coal industry. His two-year engagement resulted in the establishment of Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), a public/private/philanthropic intermediary collaborating across 60 counties in the Appalachian mountains.