This Week @ Gillings: The Abstract

August 7, 2023

Whether you’re local or global, student or alumni, the Abstract’s weekly news digest will help you stay in the loop with our amazing Gillings School community.

Biostatistics students to receive awards, give talks at annual Joint Statistical Meetings

Congratulations to Haolin (Leo) Li, Yueqi Shen and Yangjianchen Xu, doctoral students in biostatistics, who have received American Statistical Association (ASA) awards and been invited to give talks at the 2023 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM), the largest conference in the field of statistics, to be held in Toronto on Aug. 5-10.

Haolin (Leo) Li

Haolin (Leo) Li

Yangjianchen Xu

Yangjianchen Xu

Yueqi Shen

Yueqi Shen

Haolin (Leo) Li
ASA Section: Health Policy Statistics Section
Title: Super Learner for Survival Prediction in Case-Cohort and Generalized Case-Cohort Studies
Advisors: Jianwen Cai, Haibo Zhou

Yueqi Shen
ASA Section: Section on Bayesian Statistical Science
Title: Optimal priors for the discounting parameter of the normalized power prior
Advisors: Matthew Psioda, Luiz Carvalho, Joseph Ibrahim

Yangjianchen Xu
ASA Section: Lifetime Data Science (LiDS) section
Title: Proportional Rates Models for Multivariate Panel Count Data
Advisors: Danyu Lin, Donglin Zeng

Learn more about the JSM conference.

Weideman selected as 2023 Mary G. and Joseph Natrella Scholar

Weideman co-presented with baby Samsom

Weideman co-presented with baby Samsom

Ann Marie Weideman, a current doctoral student in biostatistics, has been awarded the 2023 Mary G. and Joseph Natrella Scholarship.

This honor, granted by the American Statistical Association Quality and Productivity Section, comes with a stipend to support dissertation research and participation in the ASA’s annual Quality and Productivity Research Conference. This year’s conference was in Houston, Texas.

Weideman co-presented with baby Samsom, who was recovering from a recent surgery and also accompanied her to the NASA Space Center!

Mary G. and Joseph Natrella Scholars

Turner joins Women Leaders for the World Fellowship Program

Katherine Turner

Katherine Turner

Katherine L. Turner, MPH (’96), founding president of Global Citizen, LLC consulting firm and adjunct instructor in health behavior at the Gillings School, was honored to be selected to participate in the Women Leaders for the World Fellowship Program 2023 cohort and join How Women Lead‘s powerful network of global women leaders.

This transformational leadership fellowship program virtually gathers social impact leaders who are working to solve some of the world’s most intractable problems. Through her participation in the program, Turner will expand her leadership presence and impact and collaborate with other global social justice champions to develop more effective strategies to overcome organized resistance and advance diversity, equity and inclusion and global competence for a better world.

Gillings faculty receive grant to develop assessment tool to identify risk of HIV acquisition in sub-Saharan Africa

Photo: Dr/ Rosenberg

Dr. Nora Rosenberg

Congratulations to Gillings School researchers in health behavior and biostatistics, led by Nora Rosenberg, PhD, associate professor of health behavior, who recently received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research titled “Developing a risk assessment tool to identify men at highest risk of HIV acquisition in sub-Saharan Africa: a regionally representative analysis using machine learning methods.”

Gillings student, alum selected as STAR scholars for 23-24

Congratulations to Ujunwa Onyeama, a second-year Master of Public Health (MPH) student in the global health concentration, and Harsh Agarwal, MPH, a 2023 graduate in global health, for being selected as Stimulating Training and Access to HIV Research Experiences (STAR) Scholars for 2023-2024.

STAR is an innovative training program that provides experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers to have participatory research opportunities, develop their skills, receive mentorship and become the next generation of leaders in the field of HIV and implementation science research.

STAR scholars participate in a six-week, intensive summer training program. STARs will receive a stipend and will further develop their projects before they begin their year-long journey in research and leadership training.

Onyeama and Agarwal’s project pitch placed second in a boot camp recently held in St. Louis and also won first place in the novelty category. As part of the boot camp, they toured St. Louis and learned about the city’s history and also more about HIV.

Learn more about STAR.

Kaney featured in Forbes

Katie Kaney

Dr. Katie Kaney

In early May 2023, a group of health care leaders gathered at a summit hosted by consulting firm Glenn Llopis Group titled Healthcare in the Age of Personalization.

Katie Kaney, DrPH ’13 (public health leadership), MBA, FACHE, vice-chair of the UNC Gillings Public Health Foundation Board of Directors, discussed challenges related to industry metrics designed to treat disease as part of a broader discussion of competing needs for personalization and standardization in health care. Kaney created the Whole Person Index to “set new health outcome standards and transform the health system as we know it” and recently published a book on the topic, Both/And: Medicine and Public Health Together. Her session was featured in a Forbes feature, including a video.

Learn more.

Hilborn publishes ‘environmental murder mystery’

Restoring Eden book cover

Restoring Eden book cover

Elizabeth Hilborn, RN, DVM, MPH ’94 (environmental sciences and engineering), Dipl. ACVPM, has published a book based on her own experiences, Restoring Eden: Unearthing the Agribusiness Secret That Poisoned My Farming Community.

Elizabeth Hilborn

Dr. Elizabeth Hilborn

“Our family farm is located in central North Carolina,” said Hilborn. “In 2017, when a wetland near the farm was contaminated, within weeks the flying insects, then birds and bats died or left the area. It was very dramatic. My investigative skills kicked into gear: I collected water samples from the wetland immediately, then investigated what had caused the death of the local wildlife. I learned how very toxic modern agricultural products can be.”

She describes the book, published in August 2023, by Chicago Review Press, as a “true story of an environmental murder mystery and one woman’s search for answers.”

Learn more about the book.

After graduating from the Gillings School in 1994, Hilborn, who also earned a Bachelor of Science in biology at UNC, joined the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, where she investigated public health events such as outbreaks of disease from food-borne pathogens. Now at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she studies links between environmental contamination and disease.

“My work as a registered nurse and a veterinarian gave me an appreciation for all life and a desire to protect it,” she said. “Studying environmental health science and epidemiology at UNC Gillings gave me the tools to conduct observational health studies. I’ve always viewed public health practice through a One Health lens: my career has been dedicated to contributing to the scientific record to inform the protection of human and animal health, to ensuring a healthy environment for all. My training prepared me to appreciate, investigate and interpret my personal experience of severe environmental contamination in my own community.”

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