62 COPH student scholars present at 29th annual Research Day

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More than 60 USF College of Public Health (COPH) undergraduate, master and doctoral students turned their passions into posters and presented at USF Health’s Research Day 2019, held February 22.

All in all, three COPH postdoctoral, 27 doctoral, 30 master and two undergraduate students participated in the event. Three COPH students were invited to give oral presentations.

A wide variety of strategic areas—everything from community and family health to epidemiology and biostatistics to global health—were represented.

Research Day, which highlights the high-impact scholarly work of students, residents, fellows and postdoctoral students across USF Health and features health-related collaborations with other USF colleges, was held at the USF Marshall Student Center (MSC) and attended by hundreds of students, faculty and the public.

This year, some 350 posters across USF Health were showcased.

COPHers put passion into their practice—and posters! (Photo by Anna Mayor)

Dr. Gerald Dorn II, a trained cardiologist and scientist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, opened the day with his keynote address examining the connection between neurological diseases like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouses of the cell.”

“Dr. Dorn has no fear in developing new techniques or studying diseases outside his treatment specialty,” noted Dr. Stephen Liggett, vice dean for research at Morsani College of Medicine in introducing Dorn. “His broad clinical training has given him the experience to make connections between unrelated diseases.”

As the keynote address concluded, attendees flooded the MSC ballroom, where students explained their posters to judges and curious onlookers.

When it came to public health, topics ran the gamut—from heat stress to post traumatic stress, obesity to obstructive sleep apnea. But it was the subject of maternal and child health that made up a large majority of the posters among COPHers.

There was a lot of bull pride at this year’s USF Health Research Day. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

Oluyemisi Falope, a maternal and child health doctoral student, presented a poster about the low rates of flu vaccination among pregnant women.

“We found many reasons why pregnant women are not getting the vaccine,” said Falope, who noted that anywhere from a low of 9 percent to a high of 51 percent of pregnant women get the vaccine. “There could be individual reasons—a mom may not think it’s safe, for example—to organizational issues, such as a doctor running out of the vaccine or not having the time to administer it.”

Caitlynn Carr, a PhD student in applied anthropology who is concurrently pursuing an MPH degree with a concentration in maternal and child health, presented a poster examining gender-based violence in Guatemala.

“In 2015, I conducted structured interviews with women in Guatemala who showed distress symptoms as a result of gender-based violence. Out of all the women I interviewed, only one sought formal legal assistance,” commented Carr. “Gender-based violence is normalized in Guatemalan society, and the police are disenfranchised.  I plan on examining this further for my dissertation.”

Alexis Barr, a PhD student in maternal and child health, looked at breastfeeding one month post-delivery in white, Black and Hispanic women who received WIC and found that when babies received formula in the hospital, their moms—regardless of race or ethnicity—were more likely to stop breastfeeding.

“This echoes what other research shows,” said Barr. “Giving formula in the hospital is detrimental to breastfeeding. We need to figure out why breastfed babies are being given formula while in the hospital when it is not medically required.”

COPH doctoral student Alexis Barr discusses her poster with judges Dr. Alicia Best and Dr. Ellen Daley. Posters were judged on things like how clearly the hypothesis was stated, how adequately conclusions were drawn and how effectively students presented their posters and responded to questions. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

“I love USF Health Research Day,” said Donna Petersen, dean of the USF COPH and senior associate vice president of USF Health, as she meandered around the posters. “Every year, students and faculty come together to explore a wide range of issues that are related to health. Some of those issues are local, some are global. Some are at the molecular level, some at the policy level and some at the systems-management level and everything in between. It is just so much fun.”

And, because of its interdisciplinary nature, it’s also highly informative.

“I’m a physical therapist and a public health student,” said Kenneth Taylor, a doctoral student in epidemiology who presented a poster on PTSD, low back pain and obstructive sleep apnea among veterans. “So I have a different perspective on low back pain than others in the health community. But I know other specialties are presenting on low back pain and PTSD, and it’s really interesting—and vital—to get those other perspectives.”

Epidemiology doctoral student Kenneth Taylor discusses his poster on PTSD, low back pain and obstructive sleep apnea with Dean Donna Petersen. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

“Research Day gives us an opportunity to talk about what we do,” said Barr. “A lot of times, the people we have at home don’t want to hear about what we do in our academic lives. Research Day gives us a space to collaborate.”

“This is such a great experience,” enthused Falope. “Everyone should take part in Research Day.”

Other COPH Research Day highlights include:

Joseph Krzanowski Invited Oral Presenters

Nnadozie Emechebe: Metabolomic Investigation of Long-Term Risk of Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events

Kenneth Taylor: Does Obstructive Sleep Apnea Mediate the Relationship Between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Low Back Pain in Veterans?

Anujit Sarkar: Salivary Microbiome Study for Type 1 Diabetes Employing a Metagenomics Approach

COPH Poster Winners

  • Fahad Mansuri
  • Cheyenne Wagi
  • Joanna Mackie
  • Rumour Piepenbrink
  • Kenneth Taylor
  • Sharonda Lovett
  • Ashley Hydrick
  • Samuel May
  • David Almario
  • Meredith Kernbach
  • Stacey Griner
  • Nicholas Thomas

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health