Public health students recognized for work benefiting North Carolina
|April 13, 2010|
Gillings School of Global Public Health students earned four of 16 Impact Awards, presented by UNC’s Graduate School. The awards were presented at the graduate student recognition ceremony held April 8 at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center.
Sponsored by the Graduate School’s Graduate Education Advancement Board, the Impact Awards recognize graduate students whose research provides special benefits to the citizens of North Carolina. That impact can be basic as well as applied. It can have a direct impact on the citizens of North Carolina (and beyond) or a more indirect impact through new knowledge or insights gained, educational, economic, health, social and cultural, or environmental effects that will be derived from the research endeavor.
Applicants come from all of UNC-Chapel Hill’s graduate and professional programs. Graduates within the last three years also are eligible to apply.
Awardees receive a cash award and their research projects.
“We are extremely proud of these students and their groundbreaking work,” said Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the public health school.
“We are very serious about our commitment to improve the health of people in North Carolina as well as around the world. Our students enthusiastically accept the challenge of anticipating needs and accelerating solutions to the greatest public health needs.”
This year’s recipients include:
Jennifer Marie Gierisch, PhD, graduated in December 2008 with a doctorate in health behavior and health education. She noted that North Carolina ranks in the top 15 states in breast cancer-related deaths, with more than 1,300 each year. Gierisch found that women were less likely to get regular mammograms if they were less satisfied with their last mammography experiences, reported one or more barriers to getting mammograms, had fair to poor health or were aged 40 to 49. Her findings may help structure public health programs to promote regular mammography.
Maiysha D. Jones is a doctoral candidate in environmental sciences and engineering. She identified bacteria capable of biodegrading industrial pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are present in 32 hazardous waste sites in North Carolina. Her research has the potential to contribute to a lower cost, environmentally friendly technology that would help reduce the risk of human exposure to potentially carcinogenic compounds and eventually allow development on previously contaminated sites.
Recent graduate Kathryn Remmes Martin, PhD, earned a doctorate in August 2009 in health behavior and health education. She analyzed data from a sample of North Carolinians in 32 communities. She found that the availability of public transportation and the numbers of restaurants and hospital beds in any given community affected how many healthy versus unhealthy days the study subjects reported. Community poverty was linked to unhealthy days. Martin’s findings may help policy makers better allocate resources where they might make the biggest impact.
Stephen D. Richardson is a doctoral candidate in environmental sciences and engineering. He noted that through the mid-1900s, manufactured gas plants provided much of the country’s energy. Poor waste management at these sites resulted in contamination of soil and ground and surface water. North Carolina has more than 30 such sites. Richardson treated some of the soil with a technique that uses natural soil micro-organisms to degrade the contaminants. His findings have the potential to help remediate contaminated sites.
Other students from Gillings School of Global Public Health also were recognized at the Graduate School event. They are listed below, by department.
Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Health Behavior and Health Education
Health Policy and Management
Maternal and Child Health
Public Health Leadership Program