Three COPH students present posters at APHA annual meeting

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Each year the 117 chapters of Delta Omega, a public health student honor society, can nominate one undergraduate and two graduate students from their respective schools to present posters at the APHA annual meeting. This year all three USF College of Public Health students nominated were selected.

According to the Delta Omega website, the Student Poster Session was started to “showcase the excellent scholarship and research of students” and “to encourage and recognize the public health leaders of tomorrow.”

Posters presented at the meeting were judged on their relevance to (and impact on) public health, their innovativeness and their use of sound methodology, among other things.

“Presenting my poster and attending the conference were so enriching,” said Meredith Kernbach, a PhD candidate studying global communicable disease. “I got to meet others with diverse backgrounds and talk about cool research I previously had little exposure to. It was exciting to present with such an intelligent group of students.”

Kernbach presented a poster on how light pollution affects infectious disease dynamics—specifically, how exposure to light at night affects the ability of reservoir species, such as house sparrows, to cope with West Nile virus infection.

Meredith Kernbach presented “Illuminating the Effects of Light Pollution on Host Competence: Consequences for Zoonotic Disease Emergence and Potential Mitigation Strategies.” (Photo courtesy of Meredith Kernbach)

“It’s important research in that it helps us figure out where and when infectious diseases may emerge—and that light pollution seems to play in role in it,” said Kernbach.

Kernbach was joined by fellow PhD candidate Nnadozie Emechebe, who’s seeking a degree in epidemiology. Emechebe’s poster looked at the connection between social stressors and the development of cardiovascular disease.

“Metabolomics [the study of chemical substances produced by metabolism] is an area I got exposed to less than a year ago,” said Emechebe. “So presenting research at a national conference was very gratifying.”

Nnadozie Emechebe presented “Metabolomic Signature of Chronic Stress and Incident Cardiovascular Disease.” (Photo courtesy of Nnadozie Emechebe)

The undergraduate of the group was Jivan James, a senior pursuing a concurrent degree in biomedical sciences and public health. James’ poster was an evaluation of how well faculty and staff at USF knew about the Students of Concern Assistance Team (a behavioral-intervention team).

“I felt honored to be selected to present, especially as an undergraduate student,” said James. “The whole experience was surreal and very insightful. There are thousands of public health professionals who attend this event yearly. They come from various disciplines and carry out very intriguing research studies. There was something new every day.”

Jivan James presented “Evaluation of Knowledge & Process Outcomes of a Behavioral Intervention Team Among Faculty & Staff at a Southeastern University. (Photo courtesy of Jivan James)

COPH students don’t need to be members of Delta Omega to compete, but their posters must be approved by the COPH’s Tau Chapter before they can be considered for nomination. Students chosen to represent at the meeting are awarded a $350 cash price.

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health