PhD candidate Krys Johnson recognized for outstanding teaching

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On April 19, USF College of Public Health PhD candidate Krys Johnson received the 2018 Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the health, medicine and behavioral science category. The award is presented by the USF Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence.

This award was established in 1998 to recognize the exemplary contributions made by graduate teaching assistants to excellence in undergraduate education.

To be considered for the award, Johnson submitted an e-portfolio, which comprised of a CV, teaching narrative statement, statement on innovation and success, reports from student evaluations and video of her teaching an actual class.

“Winning this award is nice and reinforces my love of teaching, but the best reward for teaching is having lasting relationships with my students,” Johnson said. “I still keep in touch with many of them and have seen them win their own awards and apply to their own next steps. I just like to think that I am helping my students reach their goals and be successful public health practitioners.”

PhD student Krys Johnson and Provost Ralph Wilcox at the 2018 Provost's Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Teaching Assistant awards ceremony on April 19 (Photo courtesy of USF Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence).

PhD candidate Krys Johnson and Provost Ralph Wilcox at the 2018 Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Teaching Assistant awards ceremony on April 19 (Photo courtesy of USF Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence).

While Johnson was always aware of public health through her mother’s work in mental health, it was during her freshman year at Georgia Southern University that she experienced public health firsthand.

“I completed an internship with the Georgia Department of Labor’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program, during which time I saw many people who had experienced health issues, mental health disorders or accidents which forced them to find a new “normal” to live the best life that they could,” she said. “It was at this point that my own fatalistic perspective toward health began to change. I saw people who, through sheer determination and some strategic resource allocation, were able to reach their own health and occupational goals.”

After completing her undergraduate degree in health education and promotion, Johnson continued her education at Georgia Southern University earning her MPH in 2015.

While earning her master’s degree, Johnson completed her thesis in the Florida Department of Health’s Emerging Infectious Disease fellowship program where she introduced to the USF COPH and decided to attend the college for her PhD with a concentration in epidemiology.

“My master’s thesis advisor and my FDOH site supervisor were both USF alumni and were both instrumental in developing my professional and research skills,” she said. “I got to see how USF alumni work in academia and in public health practice and was impressed by both prospects, so it was only logical to apply to the COPH for my terminal degree.”

Krys Johnson (second from the right) presenting at the Florida Public Health Association’s conference in Orlando with Dr. Zachary Pruitt, Sarah Powell, Nnadozie Emechebe and Gregor Rafal (Photo courtesy of the USF College of Public Health).

Krys Johnson (second from the right) presenting at the Florida Public Health Association’s conference in Orlando with Dr. Zachary Pruitt, Sarah Powell, Nnadozie Emechebe and Gregor Rafal (Photo courtesy of the USF College of Public Health).

Johnson is a graduate assistant to her mentor Dr. Janice Zgibor, associate professor of epidemiology. She taught the undergraduate introduction to epidemiology courses for the 2017 spring, summer and fall semesters.

“I love sharing my passion for epidemiology with my students. I aim to make epidemiology applicable to their daily lives, telling my students that my goal is for them to be able to read a journal article and understand what each section discusses, whether they know how to conduct the statistical analysis or not. I try to minimize calculations and focus on the major concepts because those concepts can be applied widely,” she said. “Moreover, I love seeing a handful of students fall in love with epidemiology or public health practice over the course of the semester. Their passion shows in the projects they complete, which I happily brag about to my colleagues and mentor!”

Johnson’s projected graduation date is summer 2019.

“I’m about to start applying for post-doctoral fellowships and academic positions but it’s going to be hard to beat the culture and atmosphere at USF!” she said.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health

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