InSight Spring 2019

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INSIGHT Health for All Advancing health equity

Spring 2019


“Health equity” is a term often used in public health, but what does it mean? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation offers the following definition: “Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.” In this issue of InSight, we look at some of the ways that the College of Public Health is putting health equity into action, from partnering on research with populations affected by health disparities, to hosting conferences and speakers on health equity topics, to training students, practitioners, and communities with the knowledge and strategies needed to advance health for all. This issue also features a Q&A with Dr. Mona HannaAttisha, a pediatrician and activist who visited the college this spring to talk about her experience helping to reveal the Flint water crisis. Kelli Ryckman, associate professor of epidemiology, talks about the research collaborative that she leads to improve the health outcomes of premature infants. Professor Robert Wallace, who recently shifted to emeritus status, reflects back on his long and rich career at the University of Iowa. You’ll also learn about how alumnus Greg Woods is reaching out to his community through a weekly radio broadcast, and how our own CPH students are producing podcasts to spread the word about public health. I’m always inspired by the creativity and passion that drives those who have chosen the field of public health. Thank you for making a difference in your communities and around the world. Best regards,

Health for All


The college equips students, practitioners, and communities with knowledge and skills to advance health equity.

InSight is published twice a year for alumni and friends of the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Director of Communications and External Relations Dan McMillan Editor Debra Venzke Designer Leigh Bradford Marketing and Community Outreach Coordinator Mitch Overton Alumni and Constituent Relations Coordinator Tara McKee Webmaster Patrick Riepe Creative Media Specialist Katy Stites Correspondence, including requests to be added to or removed from the mailing list, should be directed to: Debra Venzke University of Iowa College of Public Health 145 N. Riverside Dr. 100 College of Public Health Bldg., Rm S173 Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2007

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Lessons from Flint


The researcher who revealed the Flint water crisis talks about speaking up, respecting science, and moving forward.

Improving Care for Mothers and Infants

8 12

A UI research collaborative works to improve the health outcomes of mothers and preterm infants.

Building Bridges

Internships take students from the classroom to the workforce.


Professor Emeritus Robert Wallace has devoted his career to investigating complex public health challenges. 17 RISING THROUGH THE RANKS

HMP, college ranked among nation’s top public health graduate programs. 19 HAPPENINGS

News and research findings. 24 CLASS NOTES

Alumni news and notes. 25 GALLERY

CPH alumnus Greg Woods finds creative ways to reach Iowa’s Alzheimer’s community. 26 SPARK

A student-produced podcast helps listeners understand the purpose of public health.

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HEALTH FOR ALL The college equips students, practitioners, and communities with knowledge and skills to advance health equity. BY DEBRA VENZKE


ensure that everyone has opportunities to attain their highest level of health. But dig a little deeper and you’ll soon unearth a complex tangle of barriers that hinder people and communities from achieving their full health potential. Paul Gilbert, CPH assistant professor of community and behavioral health, explains health equity to his students as “the idea that some groups are disadvantaged, marginalized, or held down, and other groups have the wind at their back. We want to try and equalize that, so one group isn’t over-privileged and the other group isn’t underresourced or disadvantaged in other ways.” “By definition, health inequities are preventable, as they are the result of structural, social, economic, political, and commercial factors that affect some groups more than others,” adds Rima Afifi, CPH professor and interim head of community and behavioral health. “Since they are preventable, they are unfair and unjust.” The roots of this injustice run deep, as the American Public Health Association explains: “Inequities often stem from structural racism or the historical disenfranchisement and discrimination of particular marginalized groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, low-income populations, and members of the LGBTQ community. These groups have historically been withheld from obtaining resources that are needed to be healthy, and are disproportionately exposed to a combination of health risks such as poverty, violence, poor neighborhood conditions, and environmental health hazards.”


“In an interconnected world, for every person whose critical contributions are not maximized, we all suffer...”

– Rima Afifi

The Costs of Inequity

Advancing Health Equity

Not surprisingly, health inequities lead to health disparities. Gilbert points to data on breast cancer mortality in the U.S. to illustrate one example. “More white women are diagnosed with breast cancer than black women, yet more black women die from the disease,” he explains. “The thinking is that white women are getting screened earlier, so cancer is getting caught, treated, and cured, whereas black women get screened later, the disease is more severe, and it’s harder to cure. “We need to work backwards and ask why that’s happening,” Gilbert continues. “Is it the environment of the neighborhoods black women live in? Is it the quality of the clinics they go to? We need to look at which groups are historically privileged and which are disadvantaged and how that plays out.” Health disparities will cost the U.S. an estimated $126 billion in excess medical costs and lost productivity in 2020, the National Urban League Policy Institute estimates. But there are other costs. “In an interconnected world, for every person whose critical contributions are not maximized, we all suffer,” explains Afifi. “The person who experiences inequity and is not able to fully contribute might have discovered the cure for cancer or figured out how to save the bees. Achieving health equity ensures that we thrive and flourish together, that we all reach our greatest possible potential as a community.”

The College of Public Health threads health equity into its coursework, research, student learning experiences, and programming. Two prominent guest speakers who visited the college this spring included Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, who delivered the Hansen Distinguished Lecture (see page 20), and Mona HannaAttisha, a pediatrician who helped expose the Flint water crisis (see page 6). Both discussed health inequities and steps for advancing health for all. For students, faculty, and staff who want to dive deeper into the topic, the Health Equity Advancement Lab (HEAL) is a group based in the college that provides opportunities to learn about and discuss health equity frameworks and principles. Members meet monthly and can participate in a journal club or work with a team on a poster or case study to present at the annual Science of Health Equity Summit. HEAL also provides technical assistance for community-engaged research for community and academic partners. HEAL member Sefonobong Obot, a CPH alumna (18MPH) who now works as a research assistant in the college, found that her awareness and interest in health equity developed over time based on personal and educational experiences. “Growing up in Chicago, I think I’ve always been interested in why individuals and groups have differences in access to resources,” she says. “As I got older, it was harder to not see that this idea of ‘access to resources’ also played a big role in how healthy someone was.” Obot says she’s encouraged that so many faculty, staff, and students are interested in health equity. “It makes me feel, as a staff member, that I can ask about including or applying more equity-based practices in the creation, design, and implementation of research projects.”


Health Equity Summit participants

Paul Gilbert

Gaining a Global View To give students an international perspective on health equity, Afifi and Gilbert co-taught a new class this spring. The course “Global Health Equity” used video conferencing technology to simultaneously connect the University of Iowa with partnering universities in Beirut, Lebanon; Quito, Ecuador; and Victoria, Canada. The course introduced students to the foundational concepts of equity and disparity, “but the way they play out in different countries is very different,” Gilbert says. “Students learned what the most important drivers of disparity are in different contexts, whether it’s religion, politics, refugee movement, or the status of indigenous peoples.” In addition to lectures and class activities, students worked in small groups to create a Photo Voice project illustrating a health equity issue at their site and reflected on their positionality and privilege in relation to that issue. “We had an incredible group of students this semester, students committed to understanding their privilege, reflecting deeply on systems of power and oppression, questioning realities, and making change,” Afifi says. “I hope that students gain greater insight into the social, structural, and political aspects of inequity and see the similarities and differences of how inequities play out across countries. I also hope they leave feeling empowered with strategies that they can use in their careers as public health change agents.”

Working with Communities Another key to advancing health equity is research that identifies, measures, and evaluates progress in reducing health disparities. A number of centers, programs, and projects based in the college are conducting work around health disparities that affect a variety of populations, including rural residents, agricultural workers, immigrant communities, and LGBTQ Iowans. The college also is home to three centers that address substance abuse and related health disparities in Native

American and Alaskan Native communities. The trio of centers — the National American Indian/Alaska Native Addiction Technology Transfer Center (TTC), the Tribal Affairs TTC, and the Tribal Affairs Prevention TTC — recently received funding totaling $9.5 million over five years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to expand their work. The national centers work in partnership with Native American and Alaskan Native communities in Iowa and around the country, providing technical support for the implementation of culturally relevant substance abuse treatment and counseling. The centers, directed by Anne Helene Skinstad, CPH clinical professor of community and behavioral health, support Native professionals who work with clients struggling with substance use and other behavioral health conditions. The centers also conduct conferences and leadership forums for tribal leaders who are working to reduce addiction in their communities.

The Role of Public Health To advance health equity, factors that influence health — education, income, housing, food access, health care, transportation, discrimination, and others — need to be addressed across a range of disciplines and organizations. Public health is a vital partner in moving these efforts forward. “The field of public health needs to continue to take an evidence-based approach, in partnership with affected communities, to highlight disparities, inequities, and the structural and political determinants that cause them,” says Afifi. “Public health also needs to continue to promote inclusion and diversity, and to craft safe, welcoming spaces for dialogue, support, and healing. And we need to continue to work collaboratively with many stakeholders and across sectors to identify solutions that work to ensure equity.”


Lessons from Flint

The researcher who revealed the Flint water crisis talks about speaking up, respecting science, and moving forward. BY JOSH O’LEARY | ILLUSTRATION BY NICK BEECHER


The birthplace of General Motors, the city offered WAS ONCE THE the promise of living wages, good schools, EMBODIMENT OF THE accessible health care, AMERICAN DREAM. and pension plans. But by 2015, that dream had become as murky as the drinking water running from the city’s taps. That’s the year that Mona Hanna-Attisha — a pediatrician and professor at Michigan State University — released the results of a pivotal study proving Flint’s children were being exposed to dangerous amounts of lead in their water. Today, the crisis serves as a case study in governmental failure, and Hanna-Attisha — who rallied aid for Flint with her advocacy — continues her crusade to hold the powerful accountable, serve as a voice for working-class families, and lead the effort to rebuild the city’s once flourishing dream. Hanna-Attisha visited the UI College of Public Health in March 2019, where she gave two talks and met with students. The college selected her book, What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City, as its annual collegewide book club title. Hanna-Attisha recently answered a few questions about her work and how Flint is doing today.

in terms of the denial of climate change and the regulations that protect our air and water quality. And it’s the story of how everyday people said, “We don’t accept the status quo” and spoke up and made a difference in their community.

How meaningful is it to know your book is being studied at the UI and other universities?

We’ve made tremendous progress. Flint’s pipes are almost completely replaced, which is phenomenal. It’ll be only the third city in the country to have replaced its lead pipes. In terms of children’s issues, where I spend my day, we’ve done amazing work. We’re building a model public health program to mitigate the impact of this crisis and promote the development of children. We have things like new childcare centers, literacy support, school health services, mobile grocery stores, and Medicaid expansion. What we hope to do, and what we already are doing, is share our best practices with other cities where children are suffering from very similar toxicities. One example is that in our clinic, we give every child a nutrition prescription. It’s an actual prescription for healthy food that they can fill at our farmers’ market. Because of the success of that program, it was included in the U.S. farm bill, so it’s become a national program. That’s one of the ways we hope to share what we’re doing to benefit kids all over. Out of our darkest hour, Flint has set a path forward and built this model program so that we won’t be remembered for this crisis and terrible tragedy, but be remembered for our recovery.


To be able to share this story and have others learn from it in hopes they can do similar work has been absolutely inspiring. In my head when I was writing this book, the audience was students — medical students, public health students, undergrads, and high school students — so they could take up these lessons. The title of the book, What the Eyes Don’t See, is about the people and places and problems all over that we choose not to see. It’s about the power that we all have within us to open our eyes and to not only be awake and alert, but to act when we see things that aren’t right.

In your book you write that there are Flints everywhere. What do you mean by that? The story of Flint is what happens when you take away democracy. Flint was an egregious example — the city had lost its democracy and was under the control of emergency management. But it’s not isolated to Flint. Throughout the country, there are people who are predominantly poor and of color who are disproportionately burdened by environmental issues. It’s the story of crumbling infrastructure and what happens when we disrespect science. It’s a “today” story

Do you remember the moment when the enormity of Flint’s problems hit you? It happened really early, even before I had any of the data in my hands. In the world of lead, you’re supposed to practice something called primary prevention. The only treatment for lead is prevention. So when you hear about the possibility of lead in the environment, you shouldn’t have definitive proof that it’s in somebody’s body, because by then it’s too late. Fundamentally, it’s using children as detectors of contamination. When I heard about lead being in the water, from that point on I knew it was serious. Unfortunately, I knew that if I was going to get anyone to pay attention to me, I needed that proof of impact. And that’s what our research showed — that yes, the children did have more lead in their blood. But it didn’t need to get to that point. This crisis should have stopped when that first mom said, “Hey, there’s something wrong with my water.”

How is Flint doing today?

A version of this interview originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Iowa Magazine.


Improving Care for Mothers and Infants A UI research collaborative works to improve the health outcomes of mothers and preterm infants. BY JEFF CHARIS-CARLSON


THE PROVOCATIVE TAKEAWAY FROM A NEW STUDY OF MATERNAL CARE IS EASY ENOUGH TO SUMMARIZE: Mothers diagnosed with postpartum depression and having undergone a Cesarean section are five times more likely to fill at least two opioid prescriptions in the three months following labor than are mothers without those conditions. But for this particular study by the Iowa Perinatal Health Research Collaborative, the final conclusion isn’t the end point of the research; it’s just the beginning. The collaborative — funded by the Iowa Institute of Public Health Research and Policy — was created to improve the health outcomes of children born prematurely or at low birth weight. It brings together groups of researchers, clinicians, and patient advocates to improve access to existing statewide databases and to identify volunteers for studies in outcomes research, quality improvement initiatives, and interventions.


Improving Health Outcomes During its first two years, the group’s community recruitment efforts have resulted in more than 250 women signing up to be available for various research endeavors. “These individuals have agreed to be contacted for future studies, so this gives us a good data bank for investigators in the collaborative Kelli Ryckman who may want to dive deeper with additional studies,” says Kelli Ryckman, the leader of the collaborative and an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. The collaborative has heard from more than 130 Iowa researchers — from obstetrics, gynecology, neonatology, pediatric neurodevelopment, epidemiology, biostatistics, and other fields — who want to work cooperatively to find ways to improve the care of mothers and preterm infants in the weeks, months, and years following birth. Future research topics will be determined by input from a 10-member community advisory board, but the group’s inaugural study is focused on an emerging issue in maternal care: How opioid-related deaths account for between 11 and 20 percent of pregnancy-associated deaths in the U.S.

New Moms and Opioid Misuse “There’s been a lot of talk about the opioid crisis, but mothers who have delivered and get opioids for pain are underrepresented in the discussion about opioid misuse,” Ryckman says. “Yet they are at increased risk.”


Ryckman and her colleagues looked at the information available in a statewide insurance claims database managed by the UI Center for Public Health Statistics. All the records in the database are stripped of identifying information to protect the subjects’ privacy. From there, they carved out a cohort of 19,000 mothers who gave birth in Iowa between 2004 and 2015. By matching a patient’s depression diagnosis with that patient’s pharmacy claims, the researchers looked at the relationship between maternal depression and the number of opioid prescription fills. The findings — which were presented during a February 2019 meeting of the Society of MaternalFetal Medicine — include: • Nearly 44 percent of the women in the cohort had at least one opioid prescription, and 12 percent had at least two prescription fills from the time of delivery until three months postpartum. • Women with a history of depression had about 1.6 greater odds of having an opioid fill and about a two times greater risk of having at least two opioid fills compared to women without a depression history. • Women who had a Cesarean section and had postpartum depression were five times more likely to fill at least two opioid prescriptions in the first three months after delivery. “We suggest there is universal screening for perinatal depression that can identify women with probable depression who are at an increased risk for opioid misuse or opioid-related maternal mortality,” Ryckman says.

Sharing Information Ryckman notes she probably could have conducted a similar study without the collaborative in place, but such a study would have required the creation of a narrow data set designed to answer a specific question. This study, instead, serves as the first of what Ryckman hopes will be many collaborations that make use of the large amount of information already available in the various databases. It’s now the job of the collaborative’s community advisory board to help the researchers and clinicians brainstorm ways to ensure the information gets to the mothers whose medical and parenting decisions could be most affected by it. The goal is not only to get the research findings into the peer-reviewed journals read by OB-GYNs and other providers; it’s also to make use of the websites and blogs that parents of preterm and low-birth-weight children turn to for advice and support. That’s the type of information that Sara Connell, an advisory board member, wishes had been in place eight years ago when, while she was pregnant with her son Jacob, an ultrasound discovered very little

amniotic fluid and almost no cord blood flow. The high-risk obstetrics team at UI Hospitals and Clinics diagnosed her with HELLP syndrome, a very severe form of preeclampsia that is lifethreatening for both mother and child. At the time, Connell was somewhat familiar with the risks of preeclampsia, but she had no idea of what the HELLP acronym stood for — hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count — let alone what a huge impact the diagnosis would have on her pregnancy and her later life. When Jacob was born via Cesarean section at 25 weeks, he weighed 1 pound and 5.5 ounces. With underdeveloped lungs and a hole in his heart, he spent the next 126 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital and, after being discharged, remained on oxygen until just before his second birthday. The years since have included physical therapy, occupational therapy, and ophthalmology visits as well as highrisk follow up and a host of other issues. “Prematurity doesn’t end when a child comes home from the hospital,” Connell says.

Sara, Jacob, and Tim Connell

Making Connections Since Jacob’s birth, Connell has started the 1,400-member NICU Families of Eastern Iowa Facebook group and has co-founded the Butterfly Brigade, a mom-to-mom outreach organization of the UI Hospitals and Clinics for women placed on bedrest for the remainder of a pregnancy. “We like to connect with moms before they even deliver to show them support and to provide them with some

informational resources,” she says. “Whenever I go in and talk to these moms—or when I’m engaged in a dialogue in our Facebook group —I’m just letting them know that what they’re feeling is okay. That it’s normal. That this is hard, and we ‘get it.’” Nichole Nidey (19PhD epidemiology), who worked as a graduate researcher for the collaborative, says hearing the personal perspectives from parents like Connell is especially beneficial for the many master’s degree and undergraduate students who volunteer with the collaborative. “Just listening to their stories made me think about how to do research in a different ways,” Nidey says.


Building Bridges

GAINING REAL-WORLD ke ps ta i h s n the Inter from s t n e stud to the m o o r class . force k r o w B





experience through internships allows students to strengthen the knowledge and skills they learn during a degree program. Most graduate students in the College of Public Health complete a practicum or internship as part of their course requirements, and they often seek out additional fellowships to enhance their career trajectory. Anjali Deshpande, director of the college’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program, says that one of her top priorities is “giving our students opportunities to compete for fellowships across the country, such as through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).” She calls these programs “advantageous bridges between school and the workforce.” Their benefits go in both directions: providing significant experience and connections for students while also letting leaders in public health get to know the strengths of the UI’s programs via its students and alumni.

Below, several CPH students and recent alumni discuss the work they completed during their internships and fellowships and what they gained from their experiences. WENSDAY WORTH After graduating with an MPH in community and behavioral health in 2018, Worth moved to Maryland to begin the Health Communications Internship Program at the National Cancer Institute. “I’m growing a lot of communication skills that I hope to apply more directly to the public health venue in the future,” Worth says. Her current work varies from drafting communications plans to writing tweets and entails simplifying scientific information for the general public. As an example, she says that high performance computing (HPC) is vital to the institute’s work. “We’re collecting more data than ever before,” Worth says. “To be able to explain HPC and why it matters to cancer research and should be funded, we need to be able to help people understand it.” She hopes to eventually have the opportunity to work on a national public health campaign, particularly around mental health and substance abuse.



CHELSEA HICKS Throughout her two-month internship at the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in summer 2018, Hicks not only gained research experience, but also valuable networking experience. “My mentor at the CDC set up a lot of meetings for me with researchers and advocates who work in many areas of violence prevention,” says the PhD candidate in occupational and environmental health. During her internship, which was facilitated by the UI Injury Prevention Research Center, Hicks worked on a series of international surveys that measure the impact of violence on children in different countries. She was involved with beta testing questionnaires and was at the table during calls with various countries to edit the survey’s language and ensure that it was culturally appropriate. Additionally, she created fact sheets from the surveys’ results intended for funders and policy makers. “This experience helped me to see that I want to be part of data collection, but I also want to be involved in the next stage that gets change to happen,” says Hicks. In particular, she hopes to focus on policy and advocacy aimed at helping women and children who have experienced violence.


KAITLIN EMRICH “The fellowship was a door opener for me,” says Emrich of her two-year CDC/Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists Applied Epidemiology Fellowship. Following her graduation with an MPH in epidemiology in 2009, Emrich’s fellowship took her to Des Moines where she worked at the Iowa Department of Public Health in the Bureau of Environmental Health Services. The national fellowship included a first-year focus on evaluating surveillance systems. During the second year, Emrich was involved with development of the Iowa Public Health Tracking Portal and enhancing reportable environmental conditions. Emrich was one of the only members of her national cohort to be placed in the state in which she already resided. This has proved a boon to her current position as supervisor for assessment and health promotion at Linn County Public Health as she is still in contact with her mentors and others in Des Moines. “I knew I wanted to work in governmental public health at the state or local level,” says Emrich, whose first job out of the fellowship was with the Black Hawk County Health Department before becoming an epidemiologist for Linn County. “Without this experience, though, I never would have been able to move ahead in my career as quickly as I have.”


JONATHAN ORTEGA During his summer 2018 internship, Ortega, a Master of Health Administration candidate, shadowed the president of a major hospital in Chicago. He says the experience was “an exceptional opportunity.” He spent half of his days shadowing the lead administrator at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and the other part of his internship completing an analysis of the urban medical hub’s “throughput.” “It’s looking at the overall process of someone entering the system to when they leave it,” explains Ortega. Ortega was impressed by how the medical center interacted with its diverse, urban neighborhood. “It was very eye-opening how invested they were in Lakeview [and the surrounding area],” he says. “From nurses and staff to top administrators, they really tried to proactively address different languages and cultures. They wanted each patient who entered the hospital to feel comfortable.” This summer, Ortega will begin a two-year fellowship in health administration at The Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin health network in Milwaukee.



An Inquiring Mind Professor Emeritus Robert Wallace has devoted his career to investigating complex public health challenges. BY DEBRA VENZKE PHOTO BY KATY STITES

FOLLOWING A DISTINGUISHED career at the University of Iowa that spans nearly five decades, Robert Wallace, Irene Ensminger Stecher Professor of Epidemiology and Internal Medicine, transitioned to professor emeritus status in January 2019. His contributions to public health include authoring or co-authoring more than 500 peer-reviewed papers, teaching and mentoring hundreds of students, and providing leadership in administrative and service roles. He has been honored with multiple awards, including the Walsh McDermott Medal in recognition of outstanding service to the National Academy of Medicine. Although Wallace’s title has changed, his enthusiasm for tackling complex subjects remains as strong as ever. “I don’t see myself as being retired in the usual sense. I want to continue to be creative,” he says, citing several research projects he’s currently pursuing.

Becoming an Epidemiologist That commitment to research stretches back to the beginning of his career. “I knew early on that I wanted to be an investigator as well as a physician,” says Wallace, who received his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago in 1967. While doing his medical residency at Cornell University Hospitals in Ithica, New York, in 1969 he was recruited into the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), a program established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). EIS officers help investigate and control infectious disease outbreaks and respond to natural disasters and other public health threats. He worked primarily in Atlanta, Georgia, and Buffalo, New York, where he earned an MSc degree in epidemiology. His three-year service with EIS “turned me into an epidemiologist,” Wallace says, recalling several particularly memorable assignments. “I was assigned as the point person at CDC to take care of measles,” he says. While cases were greatly reduced thanks to the measles vaccine, the disease wasn’t fully eradicated in the U.S. Fast forward to 2019 and measles is a concern again, although the reasons for the disease’s persistence are very different from those of the early 1970s. “The challenge at the time was getting the vaccine out — it was mostly a problem of distribution,” Wallace explains. “Today, we have the anti-vaccine movement.” Wallace also was sent to West Africa for two months as part of the CDC’s smallpox eradication program. “Smallpox was all but eradicated in West Africa at that time, although I did see a couple of cases,” he recalls, noting that the smallpox program provided a model for controlling other infectious diseases in developing countries. 15 INSIGHT SPRING 2019

Changes in Public Health Wallace joined the University of Iowa faculty in 1972, arriving at a time when change was sweeping through his profession. “Public health was expanding dramatically out of infectious diseases and into chronic diseases,” he explains. “Thanks to the development of vaccines and other treatments, a lot of important common infectious diseases like tuberculosis, pertussis, diphtheria, measles, mumps, and rubella, were, if not eradicated, at least under control. Smallpox was also being controlled around the world.” These developments influenced the course of his work. “Even though I thought I could develop a career in infection control, the opportunities, resources, and funding were mostly in chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, so that’s what I studied,” he says. “Ten years later, I had some opportunities to do gerontology,” he continues, adding that his focus changed from individual chronic diseases to the range of chronic diseases that affect older people. “That’s basically what I’ve been doing ever since.”

Thanks to the development of vaccines and other treatments, a lot of important common infectious diseases like tuberculosis, pertussis, diphtheria, measles, mumps, and rubella, were, if not eradicated, at least under control. Mentoring Students Wallace has mentored a great number of students, helping them navigate their academic, research, and career paths. “I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of good students over the years,” Wallace says. “To be an academic, I think you have to be committed to teaching and growing students.” “Dr. Wallace was patient, kind, and always generous with his advice and constructive criticism,” says Tala Al-Rousan (15MPH), a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego. “He is one of the few mentors out there who is truly invested in mentoring a new generation of scientists as they face contemporary public health challenges while reminding them of the power of scientific evidence in informing policy, advancing health, and creating change.” “I cannot underestimate Bob’s critical role in so many aspects of my early career development,” 16 INSIGHT SPRING 2019

adds James R. Cerhan (91PhD), professor of epidemiology in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and chair of the Department of Health Sciences Research. “Bob set me up as a broad-based researcher who kept one foot in clinical medicine/ clinical epidemiology and the other in public health/population-based epidemiology, perspectives that continue to serve me well.” “It’s not possible for me to separate any aspect of my development as an epidemiologist from Bob’s influence,” echoes Elizabeth Chrischilles, CPH professor and head of epidemiology. “He has been generous sharing ideas and opportunities, provided honest feedback, and is the most positive, curious person I know.”

Looking Back – and Looking Forward As Wallace looks back, he’s seen both successes and challenges in public health. “There have been public health triumphs, such as reduced smoking rates, but there are a lot of conditions for which public health approaches have not been very effective, like inflammatory arthritis, mental illnesses, and a lot of cancers,” he says. “Of course, new infectious diseases have emerged, such as HIV/AIDS, Zika virus, and Ebola, that are challenging. There’s still a lot to do in communicable and infectious diseases.” Wallace is quick to acknowledge the significant contributions of many of his colleagues to his career, and is especially appreciative of Peter Isacson, who was chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health and who brought him to the University of Iowa. “I also particularly want to remember Leon Burmeister and Bill Clarke, both of whom we recently lost, and who were on the faculty when I arrived,” Wallace says. As for the research projects Wallace is pursuing now that he has more time, several revisit a favorite subject from his undergraduate days — biology. “I’m working with colleagues to use modern biology to try to better understand how the human immune system changes with age and how that relates to chronic diseases,” Wallace says. “I’m also interested in biodiversity and what it means to human health.” The projects are ambitious, which doesn’t surprise Chrischilles. “Bob is always at least one step ahead of the current paradigm,” she says.



Rising Through the Ranks

HMP, college ranked among nation’s top public health graduate programs.

THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA College of Public Health has once again been recognized as one of the nation’s top graduate schools in public health by U.S. News and World Report, placing No. 19 among 177 schools and programs in the latest rankings released in March 2019. The college’s Department of Health Management and Policy and its Master of Health Administration (MHA) program have extra reason to celebrate, climbing two spots to No. 8 among health care management programs nationwide in the latest report. The MHA program has enjoyed a steady rise in rankings over the past decade, notes Keith Mueller, Gerhard Hartman Professor and head of the Department of Health Management and Policy. When Mueller joined the University of Iowa faculty in 2010, the MHA program was ranked No. 14 by U.S. News. In 2015, it advanced several spots, tying for 10th place. In 2019, the program now sits alone at No. 8. Mueller credits the leadership of MHA program director Dan Gentry, Executive MHA program director Ian Montgomery, and former MHA program director Tom Vaughn for the program’s ascension. “All have brought different strengths to the program,” Mueller says. Gentry highlights several factors that fuel the program’s success, including high-quality students, continuous quality improvement of the curriculum, and strong engagement among students and alumni. He adds that another important element is “our willingness to share everything we do and the lessons we’ve learned — particularly with regard to competency-based education and assessment — with the rest of the health administration education field.” In additional to the traditional MHA track, the department offers the Executive MHA track designed for working professionals. Montgomery


MHA notes that some of the EMHA’s unique aspects include students drawn from diverse clinical and health care management backgrounds, two campuses where courses are offered (Des Moines and Iowa City), and a high percentage of expert practitioner faculty. “The EMHA track provides a very accommodating avenue for established professionals to earn exactly the same MHA degree as traditionaltrack students,” Montgomery says. Students leave the program well prepared, with close to 100 percent of EMHA and MHA students obtaining employment within three months of graduation. Vaughn lists several things that he believes help Iowa students stand out to potential employers and that foster success early in their careers: exposure to the practical aspects of health care management through key courses that are taught by practitioners, opportunities to interact with and learn from a strong alumni network, and access to a supportive faculty who are focused on student success. Mueller also points to the important contributions of student services and academic program support staff. “Those roles are really important in recruiting top students and helping them to succeed,” he says. While there is much to celebrate, the department and program aren’t resting on their laurels. Gentry says some of the future aspirations for the MHA program are to continue to use the Quality Improvement

Committee to make rapid improvements to both the traditional and executive tracks of the program, to provide more graduate assistantships and scholarship funding for MHA students, and to achieve excellence across all aspects of the MHA program with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion — including applications and admissions, the curriculum, mentoring, alumni engagement, and community interaction. “I feel really good about the changes we made to our mission, vision, and values statements during academic year 2016-17, changes that have propelled us forward in a very positive way,” Gentry says. “Our vision continues to emphasize recognized excellence, but first and foremost recognition from our alumni and students. Additionally, our values continue to prioritize respect, accountability, integrity, service, and empathy, but now explicitly state our commitment to diversity and inclusion.” Mueller is proud of the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who make the department and its programs so outstanding. “We have more than a thousand alumni around the country in health care or health care-related positions,” says Mueller. “The proof of the program’s success is the success of our alumni throughout their careers.” “Graduates of all our programs are making a positive impact in health throughout the United States and around the world,” adds Edith Parker, dean of the College of Public Health. “We could not be more proud of the outstanding work they are doing and pleased to uphold the tradition of excellence that they have established.”




College Selects 2019 Outstanding Alumni Award Recipients The College of Public Health has selected Christopher Buresh, MD, MPH, and Paul Pomrehn Jr., MD, MS, as the recipients of its 2019 Outstanding Alumni Awards. They will be honored at a special event this fall. Pomrehn received an MS degree from the UI Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health (now part of the College of Public Health) in 1979. His dedication to teaching, research, and service has had a powerful impact on disease control and prevention. He has held numerous academic leadership roles at the UI, has made significant contributions to training clinicians and practitioners in preventive medicine and community health, and has been recognized for excellence in teaching and curricular innovation. His research in cardiovascular risk factors demonstrated the role of lifestyle and work environment on lipids and blood pressure. He also led the Iowa component of the multi-center, randomized Community Intervention Trial for Smoking Cessation. His experiences working at the interface between behavior and mental health motivated Pomrehn to complete residency training in adult psychiatry at Stanford University from 2001 to 2005. Upon his return to Iowa City, Pomrehn served as medical director of psychiatric services for the Community Mental Health Center of Eastern Iowa. He is currently a visiting professor supervising residents in the Adult Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic at UI Health Care. Buresh is a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. He received an MPH degree from the College of Public Health in 2012. Buresh has made a significant impact in global public health. In 2012, he co-founded the Community Health Initiative to address the needs of rural Haitians who otherwise lacked access to care. He also helped establish the Global Emergency Medicine Training Fellowship, has assisted University of Iowa and CPH faculty in implementing research and prevention programs,

Christopher Buresh, MD, MPH

Paul Pomrehn Jr., MD, MS

and has served on the Injury Prevention Research Center Global Injury Prevention team. In his role as an emergency physician trainer, Buresh has been a proponent of population-based and preventive approaches. He introduces students to public health concepts and helps future clinicians understand why public health is so vital to society. He currently serves as the American College of Emergency Medicine’s Ambassador to Haiti, is the medical director of the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition, and is a member of the International Federation of Emergency Medicine Clinical Practice Committee.


HAPPENINGS Iowa Researchers Find No Health Hazards from Wind Turbine Noise Improving the Health of Communities Bernard J. Tyson, MBA, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals — known as Kaiser Permanente — was honored with the 2018 Richard and Barbara Hansen Leadership Award and Distinguished Lectureship during a visit to the College of Public Health this spring. Kaiser Permanente is one of America’s leading integrated health care providers and not-for-profit health plans, serving 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Tyson met with small groups of students, faculty, and staff to discuss current issues in health care and Kaiser Permanente’s strategies to advance health equity. He also delivered the Hansen Distinguished Lecture, “Getting to Equity in Health Care: Lessons from Kaiser Permanente,” in which he discussed Kaiser’s commitment to providing high-quality, affordable health care services and improving the health of its members and the communities it serves. He also touched on the technological influences that will affect the future of health care research and delivery. A video of Tyson’s lecture can be found at cph.uiowa. edu/2018-hansen-award-2/.

Noise created by wind turbines does not cause adverse health effects, according to a recently released joint statement from the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, the Iowa Policy Project, and the Iowa Environmental Council. The paper summarizes the results of the best research available and concludes that there is little scientific evidence that sound from wind turbines represents a risk to human health among neighboring residents. “With the rapid expansion of wind energy, some neighbors to wind turbines have claimed the sound has affected their health. While, to some, the sound might be annoying, research studies have established no adverse health effects,” states Peter Thorne, professor and head of the University of Iowa’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, who co-authored the report. The full paper can be found online at

Iowa Summer Institute in Biostatistics Receives Three-Year Grant The Iowa Summer Institute for Research Education in Biostatistics (ISIREB) has received a $770,257 grant over three years from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Directed by Gideon Zamba, CPH professor of biostatistics and principal investigator of the grant, the goal of ISIREB is to increase the number of undergraduates who enter graduate programs in biostatistics and to maintain a solid underrepresented pipeline into biostatistics graduate programs. “We recruit a diverse group of 18 trainees each year with a focus on underrepresented, disadvantaged, and small liberal arts college students who wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to the field of biostatistics, for a seven-week research education program,” says Zamba. More information about the summer institute can be found at


Snetselaar to Serve on 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Linda Snetselaar, CPH professor of epidemiology and endowed chair of preventive nutrition, is one of 20 nationally recognized scientists selected to serve on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The independent advisory committee will help inform development of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Updated every five years, the guidelines serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition programs and policies, providing food-based recommendations to help prevent diet-related chronic diseases and promote overall health. The committee will review scientific evidence on topics and questions identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, then provide a report on their findings to the secretaries of these departments. Snetselaar is the director of the Department of Epidemiology’s Nutrition Center at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is also the University of Iowa associate provost for outreach and engagement.

Fried Food Linked to Increased Risk of Death Regularly eating fried food is linked with a heightened risk of death from any cause and of heart-related death among postmenopausal women, a new study led by CPH researchers has found. The researchers say that reducing consumption of fried foods, especially fried chicken and fried fish or shellfish, could have a positive public health impact. The study was published Jan. 23, 2019, in BMJ. Up to a third of North American adults have fast food every day, and previous studies have shown that a greater intake of fried food is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. But evidence about the risk of death associated with eating fried foods is limited and subject to much debate. To tackle this, researchers investigated the association of eating fried food with death using diet questionnaire data from 106,966 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative. The researchers looked at the women’s total and specific consumption of different fried foods. After taking account of potentially influential factors such as lifestyle, overall diet quality, education level, and income, the researchers found that women who ate one or more servings of fried food a day had an 8% higher risk of death than those who did not eat fried food. This was an observational study that only considered women in the U.S., so may not be applicable more widely, the researchers emphasize. They say that the presence of “unidentified confounders is still possible,” so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause. But the study was large and the sample of women diverse, they said, which led them to identify “a risk factor for cardiovascular mortality that is readily modifiable by lifestyle.” The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CPH researchers included corresponding author Wei Bao, assistant professor of epidemiology; Yangbo Sun and Buyun Liupost, doctoral research scholars in epidemiology; and Linda Snetselaar, Jennifer Robinson, and Robert Wallace, professors of epidemiology; along with Lindsay Peterson, assistant professor, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis.


Climate Change May Increase Congenital Heart Defects Rising temperatures and extreme heat events associated with global climate change may have yet another important health impact: increased numbers of infants born with congenital heart defects (CHD). According to recent research conducted by a multidisciplinary team that included University of Iowa investigators, heat waves in the United States over the next two decades may result in as many as 7,000 additional CHD cases between 2025 and 2035. The study looked at climate change forecasts for eight representative states, including Iowa, and found that the greatest percentage increases in the number of congenital heart defects are predicted in the Midwest, followed by the Northeast and the South. Paul Romitti, CPH professor of epidemiology, contributed to the research, which appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association. “Climate change may have a disproportionate impact on CHD in the Midwest,” says Romitti. “Our study predicts that this area of the country will potentially have the highest increase in maternal exposure to excessively hot days and heat event frequency and duration.”

While previous research has found a link between maternal heat exposure and the risk for heart defects in offspring, the precise mechanisms remain unclear. Studies in animals suggest that heat may cause fetal cell death or interfere with several heat-sensitive proteins that play a critical role in fetal development, the researchers say. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the CDC, with partial support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Study Finds Parents Unsure How to Handle Cyberbullying Parents know they need to work with their child’s school to prevent cyberbullying, but a new study from the University of Iowa shows many wonder how. “Parents felt schools, children, and other parents all had responsibility for cyberbullying, but they were unsure when to report it,” says Rachel Young, UI assistant professor of journalism, who talked with parents in a series of focus groups along with Melissa Tully, UI associate professor of journalism. “Moreover, they were unsure whether it should be reported to other parents, schools, law enforcement, or the websites where the cyberbullying occurred.” The questioning of these focus groups — eight of them, comprising parents of middle and high school students in the Midwest — is among the first efforts by researchers to 22 INSIGHT SPRING 2019

look at parental roles in cyberbullying. “This brings a new dimension to our understanding of the parent component of cyberbullying and will help us develop stronger intervention approaches to engage parents and schools,” says Corinne Peek-Asa, director of the Injury Prevention Resource Center in the UI College of Public Health, which funded the research. Young says her study suggests that schools and parents can build stronger relationships to combat cyberbullying. Parents need more education about when and how to effectively intervene, guidance in how to talk openly about cyberbullying with their children to prevent it from happening, and help in managing their child’s screen time. She says school districts also should clearly define cyberbullying and what the district expects of parents, while creating procedures for people to report cyberbullying. A paper summarizing the results was published in the Journal of Youth Studies.


College Welcomes Madelynn Krall as CPH Director of Development Madelynn Krall started her role as the new director of development for the College of Public Health in April 2019. She is a lifetime resident of Iowa City and comes to this position from her prior role as a member of the Health Sciences Regional Gift team at the University of Iowa Center for Advancement, where she has worked since April 2015. In addition, she brings previous experience in strategic planning, marketing, and sales. “Thank you all for the warm welcome to the College of Public Health! I’m enjoying getting to know our community of faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters and look forward to working with you to advance public health education, research, and impact,” Krall says. “As I learn more about the important work being done in this field, I am grateful to play a part in impacting public health locally, regionally, and globally.” She can be reached at or 319-467-3645.

Interactive Map Tracks Pesticide Drift A new online tool from the University of Iowa can help Iowa farmers more efficiently plan their annual pesticide applications. The tool, an interactive map compiled by the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (GPCAH) in the College of Public Health, tracked and analyzed 450 cases of drift that were reported to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Pesticide Bureau from 2010 to 2015. “These story maps provide information directly to farming and rural communities,” says Jenna Gibbs, GPCAH coordinator. “Our hope is to see fewer drift cases over time by sharing what was learned from cases in the past.” Among the findings from analyzing five years of reports: higher humidity reduces drift potential; fewer than one-third of the drift incidents involved aerial applications by crop dusters; most drift cases were from ground sprayers; and the study confirmed manufacturers’ recommendations that pesticides be applied when wind speeds are less than 10 mph. Gibbs says drift costs farmers money because it reduces the amount of pesticide that lands on their own crops. It also has the potential to damage neighboring crops and property, and questions have been raised about health impacts to people and livestock. Users can look at their own county and click on individual cases to learn more about weather and application factors influencing drift cases. The maps can be viewed at



RIK BAIER (82MA) is president of St. Peter’s Health Partners Medical Associates (SPHPMA), in Albany, New York. SPHPMA is one of the area’s largest multi-specialty physician groups, with more than 350 physicians and advanced practitioners at more than 80 practice locations. GEORGE F. BERGSTROM (74MA) has retired after a 43-year career at the American Hospital Association. He continues to serve on the board of directors of Donate Life America. ABBEY CANON (11MPH/DVM) is director of communications for the American Association of Swine Veterinarians in Perry, Iowa. MARA CHENEY (17MPH) is the health planner at Johnson County Public Health in Iowa City, Iowa. CHELSEA COOLING (14MHA) is director of strategic analytics at Sg2 in Chicago, Illinois. JOHN CORBEIL (12MHA) is CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare’s Kingwood Medical Center in Houston, Texas. JORDAN (BRELJE) CORNWELL (17MHA) is program manager, strategy and business development, for UnityPoint Health–Waterloo, in Waterloo, Iowa. SCOTT CURTIS (90MA) is vice president of network development with MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center in Mason City, Iowa. KELLY DURIAN (95MA) is director of revenue cycle at Steindler Orthopedic Clinic in Iowa City, Iowa. ANTHONY R. EVES (13MHA) is director of occupational medicine, employee health, rehabilitation services, and workplace safety, at Kaiser Permanente in Ripon, California. AMMON FILLMORE (10MHA) is the general counsel & privacy officer at Indiana Health Information Exchange in Indianapolis, Indiana. 24 INSIGHT SPRING 2019

APRIL FITZER (02MHA) is director at Premier Inc. in Haymarket, Virginia. MAYRA CORONADO GARCIA (18MPH) is a researcher at The OMNI Institute where she focuses on data analysis and management as well as report development in Denver, Colorado. DENYSE GIPPLE (08MPH) is senior director of operations at Davis County Hospital in Bloomfield, Iowa. HANNAH HINKLE (09MPH) received the 2017 YWCA Women of Achievement Award in Social Justice, and the Illinois Rural Health Association President Appreciation Award after serving two years as president of the Illinois Rural Health Association. She also received the 2018 Nuveen Faculty Development Award to establish an interprofessional learning collaborative between University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and the University of Skovde in Sweden. ALISON KAUFMAN (17MPH) is a program research specialist III at the New York State Department of Health in Clinton Corners, New York. GINA KRUEGER (10MPH) is vice president, strategic provider relationships at UnitedHealth Group in Des Moines, Iowa. JARED LESHER (15MHA) is vice president of operations for TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. LEVI MINES (15MS) is the occupational hygienist at Refining NZ, an oil refinery in Marsden Point, Northland, New Zealand. THOMAS MULROONEY (05MHA) is vice president and chief operating officer at UnityPoint Health–Des Moines in Des Moines, Iowa. MEHWISH QASIM (18PhD) is the associate director of data strategy and research operations at UnitedHealth Group in Aurora, Illinois.

DARREN RAUSCH (01MS) is the health officer/director for the City of Greenfield Health Department in metropolitan Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is completing his PhD with an emphasis in community and behavioral health at the University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health. He is also a lecturer at the College of Nursing and adjunct faculty at the School of Public Health at UW–Milwaukee. TOM SALTER (13MPH) is a performance manager at the Iowa Department of Public Health in Des Moines, Iowa. ERIK SVENDSEN (01PhD) is the director of the Division of Environmental Health Science and Practice, National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. LAURA VONNAHME (10MPH) has been accepted to the Georgia State University PhD program in epidemiology for fall 2019. CHAD WOLBERS (99MHA) is president and CEO of UnityPoint Health– Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa. JINGYANG ZHANG (08MS, 12PhD) is a staff biostatistician at GRAIL, Inc. in Menlo Park, California. SHARE YOUR NEWS Have you started a new job, received an honor or award, or achieved a noteworthy milestone or accomplishment? Share your professional news and updates with fellow College of Public Health alumni! Submit your news to with Class Notes in the subject line. Be sure to include your year of graduation, department or program, and contact information so we can follow up with any questions.


The Mind Boggles CPH alumnus Greg Woods finds creative ways to reach Iowa’s Alzheimer’s community. BY DAN MCMILLAN

ON ANY GIVEN DAY, Greg Woods, a program specialist with the Greater Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, is reaching out to help fellow Iowans cope with some of life’s most challenging circumstances. Many of those Iowans meet Woods face-to-face, while some simply hear his voice on the airwaves. A 2015 graduate of the MPH program in community and behavioral health, Woods is based in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Fort Dodge office, serving 17 counties in north central Iowa. “I travel quite a bit from county to county,” Woods says. “I love building relationships in all of these communities and getting to know how each town is different.” The work includes helping out with support groups, giving educational talks, and training caregivers. Every day is different, he says, and the need for the organization’s services is enormous— and growing. “There are more than 65,000 Iowans who have the disease right now, and Iowa has the seventhhighest death rate from Alzheimer’s in the U.S.,” he says. To extend the reach of a limited staff, Woods drew upon his background in radio broadcasting to devise a plan to better connect with rural Iowans—“the demographic that most needs our services.” That’s how “The Mind Boggles,”

a weekly radio show that airs Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. on AM1400 KVFD, was born. The show is also on Facebook, and Woods hopes to expand to more radio stations statewide. “The Mind Boggles is not a show about Alzheimer’s, although I do discuss that often,” Woods says. “It’s a show that aims to bring people all the latest news on the brain, on aging, and the science behind it—regardless of a person’s scientific background. “Each week I talk to researchers or authors or specialists, and I try to let people know how some of the headlines they see might be pertinent to them,” he says. “It’s a show that tries to address equal parts scientific news and science literacy, and the latter of those is incredibly important in this day and age.” Woods credits his public health training with helping him connect Iowans with critical health information. “Learning community outreach, how to foster grassroots efforts, crafting messages to reach different populations, those have all been extremely helpful skills to have,” he says.


145 N. Riverside Dr. 100 College of Public Health Bldg., Room S173 Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2007


Tapping into the Power of the Podcast

From left: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha with students Hailey Boudreau and Ian Buchta.

“From the Front Row: Student Voices in Public Health” is a podcast produced by College of Public Health students that features interviews with visiting guests, faculty, and other students on a variety of public health topics. “We want people to learn a little bit more about the practice of science and public health, because ultimately, the more the public understands about what the field of public health does, the more they can identify with it,” says MPH student and podcaster Ian Buchta. “Because people often fear what they don’t understand, our goal is to help them understand more, and to maybe take action on what they learn in their own communities.” Recent guests include pediatrician, author, and activist Mona HannaAttisha discussing the Flint water crisis; independent journalist and audio producer Hannah Harris Green, who reports on globalization, health, and gender; and Brandi Janssen, director of Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, discussing food production, agriculture, and the future of farming in Iowa. “When the rest of the team or I interview a guest, we talk to a person about their life’s passion, and why it matters for others,” Buchta says. “I think it’s that passion, the personalities we meet, and working with the amazing team we’ve assembled that make each podcast worth the long hours of editing.” Find the podcasts at:

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