APHA meeting preview: Students present at Delta Omega Poster Sessions

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Three USF College of Public Health (COPH) student scholars have been selected to present their research at the Delta Omega Poster Sessions, held during the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting.

The theme of this year’s meeting, to be held from Oct. 24-27 in Denver and online, is “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness.”

The students are nominated to present by local chapters of Delta Omega, a public health honorary society that began nearly 100 years ago at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health to promote excellence and recognize accomplishments in public health. There are over 100 Delta Omega chapters with a total of approximately 20,000 members worldwide. 

The posters are judged on such things as their clarity, relevance to public health, potential impact and use of sound methodology.

This year, the college’s presenting students range from undergraduates to doctoral candidates, and their research covers everything from emergency response to the environment’s impact on tuberculosis rates. 

Presenting Students

Michaela Gross, PhD candidate with a concentration in epidemiology. (Photo courtesy of Gross

Poster Presentation: An analysis of average temperature and elevation on tuberculosis incidence within the Appalachian region

“My research project involves an analysis of temperature and elevation on tuberculosis incidence within the Appalachian region. This began as a class project using publicly available incidence data at the county level from each of the states within the Appalachian region. I then analyzed this data using demographic variables, average temperature and average elevation to find the model with the best fit. In the end, elevation was not a statistically significant predictor, but average temperature was. It’s hard to say exactly why temperature would be an important predictor but not elevation. It could be that individuals who live in warmer climates may live in closer proximity, allowing the disease to spread more easily. One study from Ethiopia also demonstrated a significant association between rising temperature and rising incidence and suggested that rising temperatures may affect treatment drug efficacy, thereby perpetuating the spread. So, while it’s unclear now, these would be very interesting to look at in future research. I am thrilled and extremely grateful to have been selected to present, and I owe so much to my faculty advisor Dr. Skai Schwartz, and professor Dr. Benjamin Jacob for all of their help and assistance in this project.”

Saloni Mehra, MPH student concentrating in maternal and child health. (Photo courtesy of Mehra)

Poster Presentation: Florida maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting needs assessment: An analysis of parent, home visitor, and community stakeholder surveys

“My research helped identify needed supports for children and families in the state of Florida based on the perspectives of parents, home visitors and community stakeholders in the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). MIECHV provides voluntary, evidence-based home-visiting services for ~2,800 pregnant women and parents with young children living in 29 high-need communities each year.  Parents indicated that their communities overall have sufficient family resources, but identified areas for improvement—for example, having more affordable childcare and recreation opportunities, transportation to the services and information on local services. They also saw a need for more mental health services, quality childcare providers, Early Head Start, speech/language therapy, assistance with utility payments and healthcare centers. In addition to helping improve home visiting services, this research also helps in identifying the differences in perceptions between home visitors, parents and community stakeholders. Combined, this data helps us to advocate for re-allocation of funds to and within home visiting services. I’m extremely grateful for this honor to represent the COPH on a national level and connect with students, faculty and researchers around the nation, and I’m so excited to attend my first conference in grad school and in public health.”

Maria Paula Ibarcena Woll, BSPH student. (Photo courtesy of Ibarcena Woll)

Poster Presentation: Evaluation and improvement planning of emergency management operations during the COVID-19 pandemic

“My research is about the mobilization and deployment of volunteers through the USF Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research serves to identify strategies to evaluate and improve critical operations between USF CERT and the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management. This resulted in additional training and resources, changes in policies to enhance health and safety standards and strategies to improve overall efficiency. This research demonstrates the resilience obtained in disaster management operations by building a strategic partnership. I’m honored that the hard work and dedication of myself and my team have been recognized. I hope that our research can be used to improve response and prevention methods during a pandemic while forming public-academic partnerships and raising public health awareness in the community.”

For more information

The college will be represented at booth #1933, which will be staffed online and in-person during expo hours. The booth will be stocked with information pertaining to the college’s undergraduate and graduate public health programs as well as the undergraduate health sciences program. 

Visit the APHA Annual Meeting & Expo website for a full schedule of events and to discover other USF presenters.

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health