New year brings new changes to the COPH

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December is a month of endings and beginnings on college campuses.

Last December, in addition to graduating 263 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students, the USF College of Public Health said goodbye to three longtime faculty, Drs. Barbara Orban, Kate Wolfe-Quintero and Aurora Sanchez-Anguiano, along with staff member, Mary Johnson.

“We have been fortunate over many years to have been joined by outstanding scholars and professionals who have chosen to make the COPH their home. But from every beginning comes an end and it is with mixed emotions that I share that three of our faculty have chosen to retire at the end of this calendar year,” said Dean Donna Petersen.

Dr. Barbara Orban, who tirelessly built and rebuilt the master’s of health administration program, led the former Department of Health Policy and Management for many years, engaged in cutting-edge research that informed important policy and mentored countless young faculty and students.  

Dr. Barbara Orban (Photo courtesy of USF Health)
Dr. Barbara Orban (Photo courtesy of USF Health)

Orban received her education for the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), earning her BS in 1976, MSPH in 1980 and PhD in 1987.

She has more than 30 years of professional experience in health policy and management. This includes 12 years in hospital management at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif. and Shands Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., where responsibilities included quality management, accreditation and licensing, medical staff affairs, and strategic and business planning.

Orban was also a faculty member in Health Services Administration at the University of Florida from 1985 to 1997, where she served terms as department chair and program director of the nationally ranked graduate program in health and hospital administration. She joined the University of South Florida in 1997.

Her research primarily focused on emergency medical and trauma systems, quality improvement interventions, managed care, and hospital financial performance. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Health Resources and Services Administration, American College of Emergency Physicians, and the Florida Department of Health, and is published in journals such as Medical Care, Annals of Emergency Medicine, Journal of Healthcare Management and Journal of Trauma.

Dr. Aurora Sanchez-Anguiano at one of the COPH’s graduation celebrations. (Photo courtesy of Sanchez-Anguiano)
Dr. Aurora Sanchez-Anguiano (right) at USF commencement . (Photo courtesy of Sanchez-Anguiano)

“Dr. Aurora Sanchez-Anguiano has been a major force in our epidemiology programs teaching courses at the graduate level in methods and in infectious disease, and at the undergraduate level introducing young minds to the wonders of epidemiology, led our faculty assembly during perhaps the most transformative moments in our history, and mentored countless students,” Petersen said.

Sanchez-Anguiano received her MD from the Mexican Autonomous National University, Mexico City, with two specialties: occupational medicine and field epidemiology. She earned her PhD in epidemiology from the USF COPH.

During her practical training as an epidemiologist, she served at the Ministry of Health in Mexico City, Mexico, which offered the official national training of epidemiologists in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She participated in the study and control of outbreaks of infectious and acute diseases all around the country.

Starting in 1976, Sanchez-Anguiano served as a medical doctor in specialization training at the Mexican Social Security Institute. In 1983 she became the medical sub- director with the Ministry of Labor for the Medicine and Industrial Safety Management Department and was responsible for technical consultation for the Mexican government at the national level.

Sanchez-Anguiano said that she arrived at the COPH in 1992 as a PhD student.

“I wanted to expand my knowledge in epidemiology to serve the community. As a physician, you help one person at a time, and I wanted to go to the population. I had done it as a field epidemiologist, but I wanted to learn more,” she said. “Life has many intricacies and when I graduated, I was offered to work for the J.A. Haley Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, as an epidemiologist and as a research assistant professor at the COPH. I decided to accept the offers and opened a new chapter in my professional career.”

In 2003, she was offered to work full-time at the COPH as an assistant professor and in 2012 she was promoted to associate professor.

At the college she taught courses in the epidemiology of infectious diseases and diseases of major public health importance, and co-taught core epidemiology courses. Since 2008, she has been a regular National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health grant reviewer utilizing her combined training in occupational medicine and epidemiology.

Dr. Aurora Sanchez-Anguiano at one of her student’s doctoral defense presentation. (Photo courtesy of Sanchez-Anguiano)
Dr. Aurora Sanchez-Anguiano (third from left) at one of her student’s doctoral defense presentation. (Photo courtesy of Sanchez-Anguiano)

During her time at the COPH, Sanchez said that she’s most proud of three specific things.

“One is teaching epidemiology, it’s one of the basic stones of public health to several young generations of students coming to the COPH. Second, was being president of the Faculty Assembly and having helped to transform and renovate the structure of the college organization to what it is today. Lastly, very personal, but I became an American Citizen!” she said.

Dr. Aurora Sanchez-Anguiano receiving her American citizenship in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Sanchez-Anguiano)
Dr. Aurora Sanchez-Anguiano receiving her American citizenship in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Sanchez-Anguiano)

Sanchez said that some of her favorite memories at the COPH were the day of her doctoral defense, all of the meetings where she got to know everyone better and the social gatherings for the holidays.

“I’m going to miss the people: my colleagues and our collegiality, our wonderful staff and their kind personal behavior; and the students with all their energy.”


Dr. Kate Wolfe-Quintero joined the COPH in 2011 to help tackle the persistent problem of graduates not having sufficient skills in written communication. She ended up serving in a variety of leadership positions in the COPH’s academic affairs and student affairs areas, as well as the DrPH program.

“She has, without question, elevated the writing skills of our students not to mention the grading skills of our doctoral students,” said Petersen.

Dr. Kate Wolfe-Quintero
Dr. Kate Wolfe-Quintero (Courtesy of USF Health)

Wolfe-Quintero received her BA from Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Mich. in 1982, her MA from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. in 1986 and her PhD from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.

Wolfe-Quintero was a national resource fellow in African studies at Michigan State University from 1983-1986. For 17 years, she was the director of four academic programs for international students, at the University of Hawaii and then at the University of South Florida.

Prior to joining the COPH, Wolfe-Quintero was an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of South Carolina and an associate professor of second language studies at the University of Hawaii. In 2006, she came to USF as the faculty director of the English Language Institute in the Department of World Languages. From 2009-2010, she was vice president for Advocacy for the American Association of Intensive English Programs.

In 2011, she joined the COPH as an associate professor and director of professional communication. While at the COPH, Wolfe-Quintero provides courses and workshops designed to meet the scientific and professional communication needs of faculty, students and staff. Since 2015, she provided administrative support for the DrPH program, in which she taught courses on scientific writing and innovative education.

“All three of these individuals leave indelible marks on our college as they pursuit different avenues on their life journeys. Each has also expressed to me that while “it was time,” the timing helps the college at a difficult period. As has always been true of these three faculty members, their capacity for giving has no limits,” Petersen said.


Mary Johnson (Photo courtesy of Johnson)
Mary Johnson (Photo courtesy of Johnson)

After 14 years of service with the USF COPH, Mary Johnson retired as the college receptionist. She will be moving closer to her family.

Johnson moved from Manchester, N.H. to Tampa, Fla. in March of 2003 and began working at the University of South Florida on May 21, 2003 on what was supposed to be a temporary three-week assignment.

“Well, my three weeks will finally end on January 7, 2021, after more than 17 years!” said Johnson.

“During her time with us, Ms. Mary has welcomed friends and strangers alike, creating a warm family feel to our college,” said Jay Evans, senior associate dean and chief operating officer of the COPH. “I for one will miss seeing her each morning as I come into the college, and I am quite confident that feeling is shared by many.”

Many COPH alumni also shared their sentiments of Johnson.

“Mary’s presence will be missed,” said COPH alumna Candace Webb. “She was always so warm and inviting. Congratulations to her on her retirement!”

“All four years at USF and her smile always welcomed me even on my hardest days. I’m so excited for her!” alum Justin Ross said.

“Sweet Mary,” alumna Dr. Connie Mizak said. “She was always giving kind greetings as I entered the COPH building. Wishing her a wonderful retirement!”

“I have enjoyed working for the COPH over the years. I will miss seeing all the smiling faces coming through the front door. I could have never imagined all the love and support you have all shown me throughout my work,” Johnson said. “Life is a journey, and we have to keep moving forward. Thank you for being such an amazing part of my journey. You will all never be forgotten.”

The COPH this year has also said hello to a few new and a few familiar faces.

New faculty include:

Dr. Edwin Michael, professor of epidemiology, population biology, and computational disease dynamics

Dr. Edwin Michael (Photo courtesy of Michael)
Dr. Edwin Michael (Photo courtesy of Michael)

Earlier this year, Dr. Edwin Michael joined USF from the University of Notre Dame an epidemiologist studying the spread and control of global infectious diseases.

The overriding objective of his research is to address questions regarding the population ecology, epidemiology, dynamics and control of tropical vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, including lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, dengue and malaria, enteric diseases and more recently epidemic diseases, such as SARS-Cov-2/Covid-19.

A common theme running across his research is a primary focus on the development and implementation of novel analytical and computational approaches for providing a deeper understanding of the determinants, pathways and dynamics of disease transmission in endemic communities and using the insights gained for identifying and analyzing sustainable approaches to disease control.

Michael also studies the influence of global climate change on vector and environmentally mediated infectious disease transmission, as well as the increasingly important public health topic of the epidemiology of chronic and infectious disease co-occurrence and morbidity in developing populations.

Currently, he leads the development of the SEIRcast COVID-19 modelling portal for supporting population-level response and hospital surge planning to contain the pandemic at the county level.

Dr. Chengqi “Charley” Wang, research assistant professor of genomics

Dr. Chenqi Wang (Photo courtesy of Wang)
Dr. Chenqi Wang (Photo courtesy of Wang)

As a data scientist, Chengqi Wang has worked in multi-omics analysis for more than ten years.

During his PhD training, he successfully developed five algorithms in protein structure, function prediction, and drug target inference. In his postdoc research, Wang continued to develop algorithms to annotate the epigenetic regulatory element in the mammalian genome and collaborate with clinicians to study thrombotic diseases.

In collaboration with the researchers from USF Genomics program, he has published many papers, including the mechanism of parasite transmission and the essential genome annotation in the malaria parasite.

Wang’s current research focuses on understanding how the biological systems that underlie healthy life and disease react to variations in their makeup of their environment.

He employs statistical inference, numerical optimization and machine learning to discover patterns in large datasets to ultimately address questions in genomics and molecular medicine.

Dr. Christine McGuire Wolfe, teaching assistant professor with the infection control program

Dr. Christine McGuire Wolfe (Photo courtesy of USF COPH)
Dr. Christine McGuire Wolfe (Photo courtesy of McGuire Wolfe)

Dr. Christine McGuire-Wolfe, who earned her PhD in public health with a concentration in global communicable disease from the USF College of Public Health (COPH), retired from the Pasco County Fire Rescue in August and has now joined the COPH as an assistant professor.

During her career with the PCFR, McGuire-Wolfe designed and expanded infection control efforts to protect the health and safety of paramedics and EMTs actively engaged in providing patient care.

“In the beginning, crew members tended to be skeptical about the benefits of participating in screening and vaccination programs and reporting work-place exposures,” she said. “As the program’s credibility grew, crews respected the recommendations issued and participation rates increased exponentially.”

McGuire-Wolfe helped to successfully mitigate two large potential outbreaks using what she said were, “common public health approaches that were unusually proactive for the fire service.”

She became known throughout PCFR for her efforts advocating to improve firefighter health and safety, something she said she will always be proud of.

Read McGuire Wolfe’s full story here.

Dr. Chighaf Bakour, assistant professor of epidemiology

Dr. Chighaf Bakour (Photo courtesy of Bakour)
Dr. Chighaf Bakour (Photo courtesy of Bakour)

Teaching at the COPH the past three years, Dr. Chighaf Bakour begins a new appointment as a teaching assistant professor of epidemiology. 

“My role includes teaching epidemiology courses, mentoring students, serving as the faculty lead for the MPH and MSPH in epidemiology concentrations, conducting research, and engaging in various service activities,” she said.

Bakour is an alumna of USF COPH, earning her PhD in public health-epidemiology in 2016. She also has a MD from Damascus University and an MPH from Independence University in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“The most interesting thing about public health is that it is concerned with the health of the population, not just individuals, therefore any intervention applied at the population level can have a significant impact on a large number of people,” she said. “I like to research and find risk factors for negative health outcomes, which we can then target with appropriate interventions to prevent or mitigate these outcomes.”

Bakour said she plans to continue her research related to adverse childhood experiences, sleep and chronic health conditions. She also plans to continue working on updating her courses, creating new courses and helping to grow and improve the MPH and MSPH in epidemiology programs.

Dr. Ryan McMinds, research assistant professor with the genomics program

Dr. Ryan McMinds (Photo courtesy of McMinds)
Dr. Ryan McMinds (Photo courtesy of McMinds)

At the COPH, Dr. Ryan McMinds will be a bioinformatician, with half of his time spent with the USF Genomics Program and his other in the Department of Integrative Biology with the USF College of Arts and Sciences.

“I’ll be focusing on collaborations with faculty who want to add a ‘microbiome’ component to their research,” he said.

McMinds earned his PhD in microbiology at Oregon State University in 2018, where he conducted the Global Coral Microbiome Project, studying the distribution and evolution of coral-associated bacteria.

“My interest in public health is at the nexus with our environment,” he said. “Understanding how the microbiome contributes to healthy ecosystems lends insight into its contribution to human well-being in numerous direct and indirect ways.”

McMinds plans to develop collaborations within and outside of COPH that help connect diverse disciplines and departments.


New staff include Kristina Svatos as a statistical data Analyst with Dr. Linda Detman. Dr. John Adams will also be welcoming two new postdoctoral students, Drs. Surendra Kumar Kolli and Pradeep Subramani.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health