A dream job and a secret wish for Dr. Gregory Danyluk

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“The USF COPH program definitely opened my eyes to the importance of the ‘public’ in public health,” said Dr. Gregory Danyluk, MPH grad, while describing himself as “someone trained as a bench scientist and overall data analyst.”

A native of Boston who also holds a BS in microbiology and an MS in entomology from the University of Florida and a PhD in microbiology from Colorado State University, Danyluk is the epidemiology program manager for the Florida Department of Health in Polk County.

It isn’t his fondest wish, but it is his dream job, he said, along with his teaching gigs as a clinical instructor at the FSU College of Medicine and an adjunct epidemiology instructor at the UCF College of Nursing. He also began a term as president of the Florida Public Health Association on Aug. 1.

He credited his successful COPH experience to “its excellent faculty and its dynamic dean, Donna Petersen.

Gregory Danyluk, PhD, MPH, MS

Gregory Danyluk, PhD, MPH, MS

“My main interest is still in infectious disease epidemiology and in the control and prevention of those diseases within a community,” he said.  “However, having professors such as Drs. Amy Borenstein and Thomas Mason helped me gain a better appreciation of the field of epidemiology in general, beyond just infectious diseases, so that I now have a much broader interest in public health, and that Dr. Carol Bryant helped teach me how to understand who all the people are behind all the data.”

Like many of COPH’s MPH students, Danyluk already was well into a public health career when he began his studies in the program, so managing time was his biggest challenge. A regional food and waterborne disease epidemiologist for the Florida Department of Health at that time, he and his wife were raising their two sons, and he was commuting between Tampa and their home in Winter Haven. The college did not yet offer online courses.

“I didn’t overcome those challenges on my own,” he said. “It would have been impossible for me to finish my degree without receiving unflagging support and encouragement from my wife, Dr. Peggy Sieburth.”

Given his family life, fulltime career and teaching duties, it’s hard to imagine he has much time for other activities now, either, but he said he manages to squeeze backpacking, canoeing, cycling, classic films and concerts into the mix, along with marathon running (two completed Disneys and training for his third in January) and serving as assistant scoutmaster in his Sons’ Boy Scout troop.

Danyluk’s dedication to public health’s present and future keep him tied to USF and other institutions.

“I enjoy mentoring students and new public health professionals,” he said.  “At last count, I’ve been the field experience site supervisor for four USF MPH students, as well as several other students from UCF, UF, FSU and St. Petersburg College, and have also mentored one USF public health undergraduate.  I’ve also been the host mentor for three two-year fellows with the Florida Epidemic Intelligence Service through the Florida Department of Health, and host site supervisor for three two-year associates training with the CDC Public Health Associate Program.

“Given that background, I’m very interested in building relationships between the Florida Public Health Association and the student public health organizations in the colleges and schools throughout Florida and helping them network with other public health professionals.”

As for that elusive fondest wish, it would be easy to imagine that some selfless public health ideal might be it, but it’s the one thing Danyluk doesn’t want to share.

“If I tell you,” he said, “it won’t come true.”

Story by David Brothers, College of Public Health.  Photo courtesy of Dr. Greg Danyluk