2012 Annual Awards

2012 COPH Excellence in Teaching Award

Shawn Gibbs, PhD

Shawn Gibbs, PhD

Dr. Shawn Gibbs is Associate Professor of Environmental, Agricultural, & Occupational Health in the College of Public Health.

He serves as the Director of the College’s Masters Programs and the Chair of the College’s Curriculum Committee. Dr. Gibbs teaches, “Foundations of Public Health,” a core course required of all Master of Public Health (MPH) program and doctoral program students.

Dr. Gibbs received a BS in Biology from The Ohio State University, and both an MS in Environmental Engineering and a PhD in Environmental Science from the University of Cincinnati. He was a United States Fulbright Scholar to Egypt in 2006. Dr. Gibbs became a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) in 2009. His previous work experience includes contract Biologist/Toxicologist for the USEPA, research associate and postdoctoral fellow for Wright State University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Houston School of Public Health.

His research area is industrial hygiene and environmental exposure assessment, focusing on environmental microbiology. Dr. Gibbs is the author of over forty peer reviewed articles. He is a member of numerous professional organizations, and reviews for multiple journals and organizations.

2012 COPH Faculty Research Award

Mohammad Siahpush, PhD

Mohammad Siahpush, PhD

Dr. Siahpush has been a Professor of Health Promotion in the College of Public Health at UNMC since 2007.
Prior to this position, he served as a senior research fellow at the Cancer Council Victoria in Australia.

Dr. Siahpush’s research has mainly been in the field of social determinants of health and tobacco control. For example, he has examined: • The association between socioeconomic position and smoking. • The mechanism of the link between social disadvantage and smoking. • The relationship between financial stress, smoking and smoking-induced deprivation. • How smoking is related to health disparities and social inequality. • The differential impact of population level interventions on smoking behavior. • The effect of smoke-free policies on revenues in the hospitality industry.

Dr. Siahpush has published 96 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has been an investigator in over $30M of competitive research grants. He serves as a statistical editor for Tobacco Control and an associate editor for the International Journal of MCH & AIDS.

2012 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Faculty Prize in Public Health

Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, PhD

Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, PhD

Dr. Watanabe-Galloway is an Associate Professor with the Department of Epidemiology and received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Iowa.

Since 2005, Dr. Watanabe-Galloway has worked with the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board to implement a number of projects to strengthen the public health
infrastructure within the Northern Plains tribal communities.

One example of a current and ongoing collaborative project in which Dr. Watanabe-Galloway is involved is, “Mapping Pathways to a Healthy Future,” a five-year public health workforce development project. The specific aim of this project is to increase competency in the epidemiology and Geographic Information System among tribal public health professionals in the region.

2012 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health

Bettye Appiah Apenteng

Bettye Appiah Apenteng

Doctoral student in Health Services Research, Administration, and Policy.

Ms. Apenteng is a third year PhD student. She received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington, Seattle, in Neurobiology, with a second major in individualized studies, with
an emphasis in public health.

She has successfully passed her comprehensive exams and has begun work on her dissertation focusing on organizational performance in the United States hospice industry.
Ms. Apenteng currently serves as the student representative of the College’s Doctoral Programs Committee.
She has worked on several college research projects with Dr. Preethy Nayar, including projects on behavioral health workforce, dental workforce, veterans’ dual care use and other program
evaluation projects.

Her research interests include health services organizational behavior, health care workforce, and the delivery and financing of primary care.

2012 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health

Maha M. Farid, MS

Maha M. Farid, MS

Doctoral student in Environmental Health, Occupational Health, and Toxicology.

Ms. Farid finished Medical School in Egypt 2001, and earned a Masters Degree in Forensic Medicine and Toxicology in 2006. In 2008, she was awarded a scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Egypt to pursue a PhD in Toxicology.

Ms. Farid joined the UNMC College of Public Health in 2008 and has worked in the pulmonary research lab under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Rennard since 2009.

Her PhD project focuses on the effect of cigarette smoking on lung fibroblasts and how this contributes to smoke-induced lung diseases, specifically chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In March 2011, Ms. Farid was awarded the Robert E Kuhl Respiratory Disease Research Award at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
She has several publications and has presented posters in international conferences.

Last fall, she was awarded a student travel grant to attend the annual meeting of the American College of Toxicology.
Ms. Farid has served as the president of the College of Public Health Student Association since September 2011.

2012 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health

Leah M. Frerichs, MS

Leah M.. Frerichs, MS

Doctoral student in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research and Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health.
Ms. Frerichs is a second-year PhD student. She is originally from a small town in Northwest Iowa.

She received her BS in Community Health Education from Iowa State University and her MS in Community and Behavioral Health from University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Before she began the PhD program at UNMC, she worked for approximately five years for the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board managing a cancer education and outreach program.

Ms. Frerichs is currently focused on projects related to childhood obesity prevention using strategies such as youth advocacy and environmental design. Her future research interests include community-based research with underserved communities particularly focused on chronic disease prevention.

2012 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health

Tao Li, MD

Tao Li, MD

Doctoral student in Health Services Research, Administration, and Policy and Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Health Services Research and Administration.

Dr. Li was born in China. He received his bachelors degree in engineering, with specialization in transportation and logistics. He then received his MD degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, specializing in Cardio-thoracic Surgery.

Dr. Li hopes to combine what he learned in medical school about taking care of one patient at a time with the broader horizon of public health,
to help build a healthcare system of efficiency and equity.

He has interest in health services research on health economics, health policy, cardiopulmonary disease and cancer prevention.

2012 Carruth J. Wagner, MD, Scholarship in Public Health

Veenu Minhas, PhD

Veenu Minhas, PhD

Master of Public Health student in Epidemiology.

Dr. Minhas has a PhD in Virology and has been working in the field of viral epidemiology for the past eight years.

She has been involved in an epidemiological study to investigate the incidence and transmission of Kaposi sarcoma associated herpesvirus in Zambia, Africa.
This virus causes Kaposi’s sarcoma and lymphomas in immunosuppressed people, especially in HIV+ patients.

Her two trips to Zambia sparked her interest in public health, and upon graduation Dr. Minhas wants to remain engaged in infectious disease epidemiology research.

2012 Chancellor Robert D. Sparks, MD,
Pre-professional/Undergraduate Student Scholarship in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Hollan Pile

Hollan Pile

Ms. Pile is the daughter of John and Kandace Pile. She was born and raised in Norfolk, Nebraska, and has attended UNO since 2009.

Currently, Ms. Pile is studying Community Health Education to further her pursuit of becoming a registered nurse.
She was recently initiated into the Health Education Honorary, Eta Sigma Gamma.

In the last couple years, Ms. Pile spent about twenty hours volunteering at Faith Regional Health Services (FRHS) and about one hundred hours
at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) while studying one academic semester there in Charleston.

Her passion for Public Health was sparked when her sister, Hilary, lost her six-year battle with anorexia nervosa in 2009 at the young age of nineteen. Through her work, Ms. Pile truly hopes to bring more attention to issues like anorexia, while paying tribute to her sister’s memory. She believes that her experience and passion will contribute to her success as a nurse and community educator.

2012 Chancellor Robert D. Sparks, MD, Public Health Student Research Award

Austin Person

Austin Person

MD/MPH student in Community Health Education.

Austin hails from right here in Omaha, Nebraska. When he left for college in 2003, he did not have the slightest idea what he would do with his life. It was during his four years at North Park University in Chicago (located in the third most diverse zip code in the country) and through interning on the city’s Southside that Austin developed great interests in public health, social justice, and community development.

When he returned to Omaha after receiving his undergraduate degree, Austin enrolled in the College’s MPH program, to further his interests in serving the
health needs of a broader community.

In 2010, Austin was granted admission to UNMC’s MD program and has been able to dovetail all of his interests as the president of the “do juSTIce” project - a public health
initiative that seeks to provide education, screening, and treatment to inmates for sexually transmitted infections in the Douglas County Jail.

As the school year is winding down, Austin is gearing up for a big new chapter in his life - parenthood. He and his wife are expecting TWINS in July.

2012 College of Public Health Alumni Association Spirit of Service Award

James Anderson, PhD

Dr. James Anderson is Professor of Biostatistics and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Public Health.

He is a biostatistician with specific research interests in the design and analysis of cancer clinical trials. He received his PhD from the University of Washington in 1979.

He joined the UNMC faculty in 1989 as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Preventive and Societal Medicine in the College of Medicine in 1989 and served as its Chair until the Department was subsumed into College of Public Health in 2007.

Dr. Anderson presently serves as Group Statistician of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), an NCI-funded cancer cooperative group focused on the biology, and treatment of childhood malignancies.

2012 Chancellor Robert D. Sparks, MD, Award in Public Health and Preventive Medicine

Joann Schaefer, Phd

Joann Schaefer, PhD

Dr. Schaefer has served in a dual role as Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Division of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services since 2005. Prior to that, she was a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Creighton University Medical School and practiced family medicine in her Omaha office.

Dr. Schaefer also oversees the regulation of health care facilities and professionals in the state. She is well-versed in information technology and transformed public health data systems to ensure the state is the trusted source of health data through policy, program, and operational work. She’s also the co-chair and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials’ representative for the Joint Public Health Informatics Taskforce.

Dr. Schaefer is passionate about public health and continues to promote the importance of significant achievements like safe drinking water, vaccinations, and disease control. Her leadership in preparedness continually helps Nebraska earn national recognition for its efforts to plan for emergencies and protect its citizens.

Dr. Schaefer is committed to creating a culture of wellness and helping Nebraskans lead healthier lives through preventive screenings, nutrition, and physical activity. She leads by example showing people they can overcome health challenges by sharing her own journey as a liver transplant patient, and how a healthy lifestyle along with a positive attitude can make a difference in life and longevity.

Dr. Schaefer graduated from Creighton University Medical School and is board-certified in family medicine. She is a distinguished alumna of California State University-Fullerton where she received her undergraduate degree.

She has been honored by the American Medical Women’s Association as a Local Legend for changing the face of medicine in Nebraska. The Nebraska Medical Association named her its 2004 Physician of the Year.

Dr. Schaefer is a half-marathon runner and is frequently joined by her husband Phil, Gunnery Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. (retired). They live in Omaha and have two grown daughters, Virginia and Maggie.
2012 College of Public Health
Student Association

Special Recognition Award

Anh T. Nguyen
2010-2011 President

Janelle J. Jacobson
2010-2011 Vice President