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.

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.”

Be Kind: Join in Random Acts of Kindness Week

random acts of kindness bannerThe College of Public Health Student Association (CPHSA) invites you to join the movement of spreading kindness and positivity around the college! The UI CPH Random Acts of Kindness Week runs October 23-27.

A Random Act of Kindness is a simple yet significant gesture that can really make someone’s day. This could mean writing notes of encouragement to students studying hard in the commons. It could be buying coffee for the next person in line. It could be running an errand for a busy friend or writing a sincere thank you note to your professor or advisor. Here are some more examples of acts of kindness you could do: http://www.bradaronson.com/acts-of-kindness/

Whatever gestures you decide to do, be sure to share it with others both in person with a note and on social media using the hashtag #CPHActsOfKindness and @randomacts.org to be a part of National Random Acts of Kindness organization’s mission and movement.

The most important things to remember are to be creative and spread some kindness because it does make a difference!

CPHSA members celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week by providing free bagels for students
CPHSA members celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week by providing free bagels for students

HMP students will represent UI at student case competition

group photo of students
From left: Kylor Sorensen, Nora Kopping, Alton Croker, Winnie Uluocha, and Jamison Robinett

Update: The Iowa team advanced to the semi-final round of 10 graduate student teams (out of 28 competing teams) at the student case competition. Despite a strong presentation, they did not advance to the finals.

“Our Iowa team gave a second amazing presentation in the semi-finals,” Dan Gentry remarked. “They absolutely aced the Q&A. And the room was packed. So many people came up afterwards, including faculty colleagues and students from across the country, to congratulate our team on their stellar performance.

“As I told the team, and they’ve already heard back from many of you, this is already a great win for them personally and a huge step forward for our tremendous program and department. “Our team, and our observers, have represented us incredibly well, have made such a positive impression and mark here, and are benefiting from everything that the NAHSE annual education conference has to offer. “


In October, a team of University of Iowa graduate students will put their analytical and presentation skills to the test at the national Everett V. Fox Student Case Competition.

The students, all from the Department of Health Management and Policy, are the first-ever UI team to participate in the case competition taking place at the 32nd Annual Educational Conference of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) Oct. 17-20 in San Antonio, Texas.

NAHSE is a non-profit association of black health care executives founded in 1968 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and development of black health care leaders and elevating the quality of health care services rendered to minority and underserved communities.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to practice their skills and build their professional network,” says Dan Gentry, clinical professor of health management and policy, director of the UI Master of Health Administration (MHA) program, and the team’s faculty mentor. “It’s also a way our program can nurture and support more diversity among our students and in the health care executive profession.”

The UI team members are Alton Croker, a third-year health services and policy doctoral student; Winnie Uluocha, a third-year MHA/JD student; and Nora Kopping, a second-year MHA student. Kylor Sorensen, a second-year MHA/MBA student, and Jamison Robinett, a first-year MHA student, will join the group as observer and potential alternate, and observer, respectively.

Advancing Diverse Leadership

The UI team will be competing against 20-25 teams from other schools and universities. Graduate programs in health administration and related fields form teams of one to three students. All teams commit to sending a team of diverse competitors, specifically including African Americans.

The teams are given a unique case study and are charged with applying their creativity, knowledge, and experience to analyze the diverse and real situations facing the health care organization featured in the case.

“Iowa is uniquely positioned with such a strong program in health administration,” Croker says. “Being affiliated with a program like NAHSE that aims to advance minority health care leaders is great as a commitment to the broader profession, but also for our own program, and making sure that we see that reflected at all levels.”

“I think it’s important that our school is represented at the case competition, not only because of the exposure that we’ll have to minority health care executives, but also because it speaks to what we’re moving towards in the program, in terms of population health and the implications of social determinants on health,” says Uluocha. “Personally, it’s extremely important for me to see African American leaders represented in the health care field, and also have the opportunity to learn from and network with some of the brightest minds in health care to tackle real world problems.”

“Case competitions are an opportunity to take what we’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world,” adds Kopping. “Having done one case competition before [at a different school], I can say that it was the single greatest learning opportunity I had in the program. Second, it’s really important for me as a future health care leader to understand how to incorporate diversity and inclusion into health care administration.”

Sorensen points out that the range of academic backgrounds represented on the team also adds to the experience.

“We have a PhD student, a law student, an MHA/MBA student – we have all these areas of academia coming together, and it brings a lot to the table,” Sorensen says. “Everyone brings a different insight into the problems that are being faced in health care today.”

The MHA program recently added diversity to its set of core values, and participating in the case competition is an opportunity to put the program’s values into practice, Sorensen points out.

“It’s something tangible,” Uluocha agrees.

Prepping for Competition

Three weeks prior to the competition, each team receives the case study to prepare their presentation. During the competition, each team has 20 minutes to present their analysis and recommendations, which is followed by a 10-minute question and answer period. Presentations are made before a panel of judges representing leaders in the health care field, corporate sponsors, and academia.

Teams advance first to semi-finals and then a final round of finalists. First-, second-, and third-place scholarship prizes are awarded, in the amounts of $4,000, $3,000, and $2,000 to each member of the winning teams, respectively.

As part of its preparation, the UI team will give a practice presentation to the entire MHA first- and second-year cohort, as well as the senior leadership team at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the clinical department heads.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity to get feedback,” says Kopping. “And that’s a really unique thing about the Iowa health management and policy program, that we have that link to the UI Hospitals and Clinics and that they’re willing to do something like this for us.”

“It speaks to the support throughout the university,” Croker adds.

MPH student will present at Many Faces of Community Health conference

MPH student Caroline Woods, MS, PA-C, will present at the Many Faces of Community Health Annual Conference in Minneapolis on Oct. 27. The theme of the conference is Community Centered Care and the People We Serve.”

Woods, together with Jasmine Sronkoski from Inclusive Dubuque, will present “Becoming an Inclusive Professional: Working with People Who Are Transgender, Intersex & Gender Non-Conforming.”

As a health educator, Woods is passionate about addressing the medico-social needs of clients and advancing inclusivity in community health.

“This experience will allow me to connect with professionals in social work, community health, and medicine who wish to learn more about individual and systems change to improve the well-being of their clients,” she says.

MPH student initiates new study on rural mental health care

A portrait of Lauren Pass of the University of Iowa College of Public Health.Lauren Pass, an MPH student in community and behavioral health, is the principal investigator of a new study examining how anxious and depressive disorders are managed in rural cardiovascular disease patients. Under the guidance of Dr. Korey Kennelty, assistant professor in the UI College of Pharmacy and co-investigator, the study utilizes patient interviews to identify mental health care needs in high-risk rural Iowa populations.

“Cardiovascular disease and mood disorders often go hand-in-hand,” says Pass. “Patients with mood disorders are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease and often have poorer cardiac outcomes than those without mood disorders. For rural patients, access to mental health care can be scarce, so it’s important that we identify ways of improving the delivery of mental health care within the settings most widely available to patients — their primary care clinics.”

The study is sub-project of the Improved Cardiovascular Risk Reduction to Enhance Rural Primary Care (ICARE) clinical trial lead by Dr. Barry Carter in the UI College of Pharmacy. The study examined whether clinical pharmacists can be implemented in primary care offices to improve the care of patients at risk for developing cardiovascular disease.



Kurayi Mahachi selected as a This Is Public Health Ambassador

A portrait of Kurayi Mahachi of the University of Iowa College of Public Health.This Is Public Health Ambassador program logoCongratulations to MPH student Kurayi Mahachi for being named an Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) This Is Public Health Ambassador! Twenty graduate public health students nominated by their programs were selected as the inaugural class.

These students will participate in virtual events, social media takeovers, and events for pre-health students, to help raise awareness of the field of public health and help recruit students to ASPPH member institutions. The ambassadors represent 13 different schools and programs.

See the full list of ambassadors.