2014 Annual Awards

2014 College of Public Health Excellence in Teaching Award
Chandran Achutan, PhD 

Chandran Achutan, PhD

Dr. Chandran Achutan is an Associate Professor with the Department of Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health. He serves as the Chair of the COPH Student Recruitment and Admissions Committee and the Graduate Program Director for the doctoral program in Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Toxicology.

Dr. Achutan received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, Malaysia, and both a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. He joined the UNMC College of Public Health, Department of Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health, in June 2008. He teaches the Public Health Environment and Society course, a core course for MPH students and the Environmental Exposure Assessment course, a concentration course for students in the environmental and occupational health concentration. He is interested in combining didactic instruction with hands-on experience for students. As part of the exposure assessment course, he provides students with the experience of designing exposure assessment projects that are unique. Students have presented their findings at national and international conferences and published them in scientific journals. Some of these projects include biohazards at a petting zoo, chemotherapy drug contamination to nurses, and isoflurane exposures to dental researchers.

Dr. Achutan’ s research area is in occupational exposure assessment. His current project focuses on preventing noise-induced hearing loss among farmers. He also provides assistance to the UNMC Safety Office in preventing employee exposures to chemical and physical hazards. He is the author of over forty research articles and a member of numerous professional organizations.

 2014 COPH Faculty Research Award
Monirul Islam, PhD 

Monirul Islam, PhD

Dr. Monirul Islam is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Epidemiology. Dr. Islam currently teaches classes such as Advanced Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Infectious Disease and Cancer Epidemiology, and Infectious Disease Epidemiology.  He is currently a graduate student advisor for two students and has advised over 15.  Dr. Islam has also served on over 15 MPH capstone advising committees.  His studies include a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, MD from Dhaka University and an MPH from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
 
Dr. Islam is currently serving as the Primary Investigator for the Patient-defined treatment success and preferences in stage IV lung cancer patients through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  He is serving as Co-Primary Investigator for ‘Early detection of tuberculosis based on a new molecular technique for prevention of multi-drug resistance tuberculosis: 2013-2015’ through an International Grant (Dominican Republic Government)  along with a new approach to an old epidemic of sexually transmitted infections in northeast Omaha’ through Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska.

2014 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Faculty Prize in Public Health
Shireen Rajaram, PhD

Shireen Rajaram, PhD 

Shireen Rajaram, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Promotion in the College of Public Health (COPH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). Her research interests include health disparities pertaining to domestic violence and sex trafficking, breast and cervical cancer, diabetes, childhood lead poisoning and healthy aging.  Her classes at the COPH include Health Behavior, Program Planning and Health Disparities. She has received grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency and Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

She was the former Director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities in COPH. Dr. Rajaram was a Professor of Sociology and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at UNO from 2005-2008. She received her PhD in Medical Sociology from the University of Kentucky and has a Certificate in Medical Behavioral Sciences from the Department of Medical Behavioral Sciences at the University of Kentucky.  

 2014 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health
Sarbinaz Bekmuratova, MPH 

Sarbinaz Bekmuratova, MPH 

Doctoral student in Health Services Research, Administration, and Policy

Sarbinaz Bekmuratova earned her master’s degree in community health at Minnesota State University through an Edmund Muskie Fellowship. Her interest and career path in public health started from the involvement in projects on HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis of the local and international public health organizations in her home country. Her research interests include policy analysis, maternal and child health, health disparities, and global health. After graduation, she plans to continue her involvement in research on maternal and child health and research, design, and to implement public health interventions in developing countries.


 2014 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health
Jeri Brittin, MM

Jeri Brittin, MM 

Doctoral student in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research

Jeri Brittin holds degrees in mathematics, music, and interior design. Before returning to school for formal design training, she held senior-level marketing and management positions. Her research interests lie at the crossroads of design and health: (1) Exploring and bridging the translational gap between scientific research and design practice; (2) Hypothesizing and testing the effects of theory-based built environmental interventions on population health outcomes; and (3) Expanding methodologies to predict, measure and evaluate the impact of place-based health initiatives. She believes that changing environmental determinants of health is key to minimizing health disparities across diverse populations. Ms. Brittin is passionate about engaging the design and planning professionals who mold our environments in the work of promoting health. She intends to build an academic career in which she conducts research, teaches, and consults on health-outcomes oriented environmental design.


2014 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health 
Guangming Han, MD, PhD 

Guangming Han, MD, PhD

Doctoral student in Epidemiology

Dr. Han has both an MD and PhD in Clinical Rheumatology and has spent the past several years working in China as a physician in the field of rheumatology. In 2011, he received his Master's degree in Biostatistics. Dr. Han became interested in epidemiology because of the many chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, that are preventable by eating a healthy diet, doing sufficient physical activity and avoiding tobacco.  His solid background and research achievements in the biomedical and medical fields, his academic experiences, and practical skills in biostatistics and epidemiology will help him to achieve his career goal to become an epidemiologist specializing in chronic disease. 

 2014 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health
Molly McCarthy, MPH

 Molly McCarthy, MPH

Doctoral student in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research

Molly McCarthy earned her MPH from the College of Public Health at UNMC and a bachelor of science in sociology and anthropology from University of Nebraska Omaha. Molly decided to pursue an MPH and PhD in public health after learning about health disparities in an undergraduate anthropology class that focused on health disparities. She is interested in other aspects of tobacco marketing, such as the impact of tobacco marketing on youth imitation of tobacco products and perceptions of risk. Other areas of academic interest include sexual and reproductive health and LGBT populations.

 2014 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health
Samuel Opoku, MBChB

Samuel Opoku, MBChB

Doctoral student in Health Services Research Administration and Policy

Samuel Opoku received his Bachelor of Science and MBChB degrees from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. His research interests are in healthcare workforce and related policies. He has successfully conducted and published studies in this area. He plans to be in academia after his training and return to his home country within the next decade to contribute to the improvement of public health.


 2014 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health
Ketki Patel, MD, MPH

Ketki Patel, MD, MPH

Doctoral student in Epidemiology

Ketki Patel received her MD from Vitebsk State Medical University, Republic of Belarus and MPH in Environmental and Occupational Health from College of Public Health at UNMC. She worked as a medical doctor in Belarus and India before coming to the US. She has worked on several epidemiology projects ranging from occupational lung disease to molecular gut microbiology in preterm neonates. Her current research focuses on identifying agricultural health and safety education needs; estimating incidence of non-fatal agricultural injuries and evaluating risk factors of non-fatal agricultural injuries the Central States region using a novel non-fatal agricultural injury survey data linked with US Census of Agriculture data. She serves as the Secretary, COPH Student Association; Student Representative, COPH Research & Development Committee; and COPH Representative, UNMC Inter-professional Society. She aspires to be an academician and continue occupational health and safety research in the US and globally.


 2014 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health
Muna Sapkota, M.Pharm.

 Muna Sapkota, M.Pharm. 

Doctoral student in Environmental Health, Occupational Health, and Toxicology

Muna Sapkota received her elementary and high school education from St Mary’s High School in Nepal. She attended the School of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences at Pokhara University from 2002 to 2006, majoring in Pharmacy. She attended the School of Pharmacy at Catholic University of Daegu, South Korea, from 2008-2010, where she obtained a Master of Pharmacy degree. In April 2010 she came to the United States as a research scholar at Creighton University. Presently her research is focused on the identification and quantification of malondialdehyde, a component of the oxidative stress caused by cigarette smoke inhalation and ethanol consumption. After completion of her PhD degree, she plans to work as a postdoctoral fellow.

 2014 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health
Raees Shaikh, MPH

Raees Shaikh, MPH  

Doctoral student in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research

Raees Shaikh is a third year PhD student in the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program in the UNMC College of Public Health. He is native of Aurangabad, about 200 miles east of Mumbai, in the Maharashtra State of India. He is a registered medical practitioner in India and worked as a physician before coming to the US for his graduate education. He earned a MPH degree from the Missouri State University. He is fluent in three additional languages besides English, and next to spending time with his family, his favorite thing is watching sitcoms in his leisure time.   

 2014 Chancellor Robert D. Sparks, MD,
Pre-professional/Undergraduate Student Scholarship in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Olivia Sonderman

Olivia Sonderman

University of Nebraska Lincoln, Global Studies and Pre-Medicine

Olivia Sonderman is a 2011 graduate of Scotus Central Catholic High School in Columbus, Nebraska. She is a junior majoring in Global Studies and Pre-Medicine with Spanish and Mathematics minors. At UNL, Olivia is founder and current executive member of the Humanities in Medicine Organization, and she has researched chloroviruses in a plant pathology lab for two years. She also serves as an AmeriCorps Member at the People’s City Mission Free Health Clinic in Lincoln. Olivia plans on becoming a doctor with a focus on providing quality healthcare to underprivileged people in the United States. Specifically, she would like to implement public health programs that educate refugees on preventative healthcare and wellness. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, playing soccer, traveling and playing guitar.

2014 Chancellor Robert D. Sparks, MD, Public Health Student Research Award
Jonathan Ali

Jonathan Ali

Doctoral student in Environmental Health, Occupational Health, and Toxicology

Jonathan Ali is originally from Dayton, Ohio where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at Wright State University while working at Children’s Medical Center of Dayton.  His research interests are in public health and the environment, specifically the health effects of environmental contamination and pollution.

2014 College of Public Health Alumni Association Spirit of Service Award
Kathleen Brandert, MPH, CHES

Kathleen Brandert, MPH, CHES

Director, Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute
Manager, Workforce Development and Leadership Programs, Office of Public Health Practice

Kathleen (Katie) Brandert, MPH, CHES, is proud to be an alumni of the UNMC College of Public Health Master of Public Health Program! With her public health degree, she has had the opportunity to work nationwide on a myriad of public health issues including infant mortality, preconception health, health disparities, undoing racism, teen pregnancy, and more. Most recently, Katie has been focused on improving the leadership capacity of public health professionals and organizations in Nebraska and the Great Plains region. She was a founding member of the College of Public Health Alumni Chapter Board of Directors, serving as Secretary/Treasurer, President and then Past-President from 2009-2013. When not working to improve public’s health, Katie loves to garden, crochet, lay in her hammock, and spend time with her family which includes her husband Corey, sons Chandler and Clayton, and golden retriever, Brady May.


 2014 Chancellor Robert D. Sparks, MD, Award in Public Health and Preventive Medicine
The Honorable Jeremy Nordquist, State Senator of Nebraska

The Honorable Jeremy Nordquist

Jeremy Nordquist was elected to the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature in 2009 to represent Downtown and South Omaha, a diverse and thriving district in Nebraska’s largest city.  At the Legislature, Senator Nordquist has developed an interest in health policy and serves on the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee (Chairman), the Appropriations Committee, the State-Tribal Relations Committee, and the Children’s Behavioral Health Oversight Committee.  Senator Nordquist is also active at the national level, currently serving as Chairman of the Health Committee for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).  Outside of his duties as an elected official, Jeremy works for the Holland Children's Movement. His interest in health care extends beyond his legislative work, as he serves on the Board of Directors for One World Community Health Center in South Omaha and is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Administration, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. 

 2014 College of Public Health
Student Association

 

President—Caryn Vincent
Vice President—Jiajun Wen
Secretary—Ketki Patel
Treasurer—Katie Stern
UNMC Graduate Student Senate Representatives—Brock Hanisch, Alok Patra, and Caryn Vincent

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