Bulls represent at FPHA, three win awards

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It’s the year of the woman …

At least it is for this year’s USF College of Public of Health award winners at the 2017 Florida Public Health Association annual conference. The event was held in July 26-27 in Orlando.

The honorees include two students and one faculty member from the college.

Lea Heberlein-Larson, MPH, SM(ASCP)CM  is pursuing a DrPH degree. When not immersed in academics, she works as a virology administrator/biological administrator III with the Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Public Health Laboratories in Tampa.

Lea Heberlein-Larson, MPH, SM(ASCP)CM (Photo by Caitlin Keough)

Senée Mera Mobley earned a BSPH from USF in May. By the end of July, she was living in Botswana as a Peace Corps volunteer. For the next 27 months, Mobley will assist the people of Gaborone as a health and HIV capacity building specialist.

Senée Mera Mobley, BSPH (Photo courtesy of Mobley)

As student scholarship recipients, Heberlein-Larson and Mobley each received $350 toward tuition, a free FPHA student membership, and conference fees were waived. Since Mobley is out of country, her tuition assistance and conference fees will be deferred until her Peace Corps service is complete.


FPHA President Dr. Richard France presented Natalie Preston with the President’s Award in Tampa. (Photo by Caitlin Keough)

“OMG!,” was Natalie Preston’s immediate response to learning of her award status. She directs the COPH’s Office of Engagement and Constituent Relations.

In an email to Preston, FPHA president and COPH alumnus Dr. Richard France wrote, “I just wanted to let you know that I selected you to receive the FPHA Presidential Award. You have been so fantastic this year (actually, always) in helping with all of the things I’ve done as president, including the brown bag lunches and the Tampa Regional Conference we had in March.”

Instead of being in Orlando with other attendees, Preston was home sick with laryngitis.

“It truly warms my heart to know that you think enough of me to nominate me for this award! Honestly, I don’t see my efforts as anything special,” Preston said in her email to France. “FPHA is a great organization. After watching from the sidelines for a bit, I thought it was time to get involved. The Tampa events presented the right opportunities and I look forward to doing more in the future! This is the first FPHA I’ve missed in probably seven or more years. Boy, did I pick the wrong one to miss!”


Jesse Casanova, coordinator of international programs, and Dr. Joe Bohn, visiting assistant professor and director of community engagement, welcomed attendees to the college’s annual sponsored luncheon.

In addition to the three award winners, the college had a strong showing in other areas at the conference. Recruiters were on hand to speak with interested students about the college’s nationally recognized academic programs. Randall H. Russell, MSW, ACSW, president and CEO of Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg gave the keynote address at the college’s sponsored luncheon, and a plethora of USF Bulls shared their practice and their passion.

Here’s a sampling of the scheduled presentations and sessions that involved members of the COPH community:

Research presentations

Rebecca Anderson (CFH)
“Campus Sexual Assault Prevention – Examining Student Attitudes, Behaviors and Intentions”

Lillie Dao (CFH)
“Access to Healthcare for People Living in Poverty in Tampa Bay, Florida: Community Leader Perceptions”

Whitney Fung (CFH)
“Waste No Food: An Assessment of a Community-Based Mobile App to Promote Food Recovery and Hunger Relief”

Amy Gatto (HPM)
“Assessing the Implementation of a Peer-Enforced Tobacco Free Campus Policy”

Krystina Johnson, MPH (EPI)
“Respiratory Syncytial Virus-Associated Pediatric Mortalities in Florida, January 2010 –September 2015”

Sarah Powell (EPI)
“A Quantitative and Geospatial Analysis of the University of South Florida’s Tobacco-Free Policy”

Zachary Pruitt, PhD, MHA, CPH (HPM) and Nnadozie Emechebe, B. Pharm, MPH (EPI)
“Does accessing social services relate to less healthcare use?”

Gregor Rafal (CFH)
“Assessing mental health literacy and intention to seek professional mental health services in male university students”


Takudzwa Sayi, PhD (EPI)
How to Shape Your Research Skills as a Public Health Student

Jesse Casanova, MSc (ASA)
How to Acquire a Global Experience as a Public Health Student

Janice Zgibor, BPharm, PhD, CPh, FACE (EPI)
The Clinician’s Role in Public Health Education panel

(From left) Dr. Zachary Pruitt, Sarah Powell, Nnadozie Emechebe, Krystina Johnson and Gregor Rafal were among the COPH presenters at the 2017 FPHA annual conference in Orlando. (Photo courtesy of Pruitt)