This Week @ Gillings: The Abstract

June 12, 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.


A collection of honors for Dr. Tanya Garcia

Dr. Tanya Garcia

Dr. Tanya Garcia

Congratulations to Tanya Garcia, PhD, associate professor of biostatistics, who was recently honored for several amazing achievements!

The UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities has selected Garcia as part of their Tyson Academic Leadership Program (ALP) for 2023-24. This program helps prepare and support current and emerging academic leaders. Eight Fellows are selected annually to engage in a series of activities to help them develop leadership capacities, clarify their career commitments, build a leadership network within the campus community and extend their contacts to other leaders beyond the University. Because the ALP requires a significant time commitment, a flexible use stipend of $5,000 is provided for each participant. Suzanne Maman, PhD, associate dean for global health and professor of health behavior, is an ALP fellow for the 2022-23 academic year.

Garcia has also recently received funding from the NIH for a project titled “Developing a robust and efficient strategy for censored covariates to improve clinical trial design for neurodegenerative diseases.”

In 2024, Garcia will be a lead organizer for a workshop at the Banff International Research Station in Banff, Alberta, titled “Bridging statistical strategies for censored covariates. She will also be a visiting scholar in the International Visitor Program at the University of Sydney Mathematical Research Institute in Sydney, Australia.

Montoya receives grant to explore personalized mental health treatment strategies in the criminal legal system

Lina M. Montoya, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biostatistics, has received a new grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the National Institutes of Health to explore whether personalized mental health interventions can reduce rates of recidivism in people with serious mental illness (SMI) who have been involved in the criminal legal system. The training portion of the grant will be carried out under the mentorship of Jennifer Skeem, PhD (UC Berkeley), Michael Kosorok, PhD (UNC-Chapel Hill), Kara Rudolph, PhD (Columbia University), and Shabbar Ranapurwala, PhD (UNC-Chapel Hill).

Through targeted precision medicine strategies, Montoya and colleagues will use experimental and observational data, as well as state and federal data, to examine the pathways that lead to criminalization in people with SMI and determine whether using personalized intervention strategies could reduce recidivism. The interventions involve cognitive behavioral therapy that targets risk factors for criminalization and psychiatric services that target SMI symptoms. By understanding who benefits from each strategy, this research could shed light on how a tailored approach could improve criminal, mental health and public safety outcomes, rather than one that is “one-size-fits-all.”

“With this work, we hope to learn how to most effectively and efficiently administer interventions to justice-involved people with SMI, with the ultimate goal of improving public health and safety outcomes overall,” Montoya said.

Gillings researchers honored on’s list of top scientists

Congratulations to the researchers and scholars at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health who have recently been recognized by’s list of top scientists!

This ranking features all top scholars affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There are a total of 539 scholars featured with 194 featured in the ranking of top scholars. Scholars from the Gillings School made the ranking in many disciplines, including biology and biochemistry, environmental sciences, medicine, and social sciences and humanities.

The metrics for h-index, citations, awards and publications used in this ranking were last updated on December 6th, 2021.

Names on the list are representative of seven departments at Gillings.

Biostatistics scholars include Drs. Yun Li, Danyu Lin, Joseph Ibrahim and more!

Environmental Sciences and Engineering scholars include Drs. Hans Paerl, Mark Sobsey, Jason Surratt, Barbara Turpin, Dale Whittington and more!

Epidemiology scholars include Drs. Ralph Baric, Myron Cohen, Wayne Rosamond, Stephen Marshall, David Weber, Kelly Evenson, Kari North, Andrew Olshan, Nora Franceschini, Til Sturmer and more!

Health Behavior scholars include Drs. Barbara K. Rimer, Noel Brewer, Kurt Ribisl, Edwin Fisher and more!

Health Policy and Management scholars include Dr. Morris Weinberger and more!

Maternal and Child Health scholars include Drs. Sandra Martin, Herbert Peterson, Carolyn Halpern and more!

Nutrition scholars include Drs. Barry Popkin, Cynthia Bulik, Linda Adair, Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, June Stevens, Penny Gordon-Larson, Steven Hursting, Melinda Beck and more!

View the full list of UNC scholars.

Kline co-authors new book on preparing for pregnancy and postpartum

Becoming Two and Keeping You: A Whole Self Guide for Powerful Women Planning for Pregnancy

Becoming Two and Keeping You: A Whole Self Guide for Powerful Women Planning for Pregnancy

Katie Kline, MPH, RD, dietician and 2014 master of public health alumna from the Department of Nutrition is co-author on a new book titled Becoming Two and Keeping You: A Whole Self Guide for Powerful Women Planning for Pregnancy.

The book, for which Kline contributed nutrition content, is an interdisciplinary workbook that aims to prepare the soon-to-be-mom changes in relationships, body and mental health. Check it out on Amazon.

Orsini installed as secretary-treasurer of American Board of Orthodontics

Dr. Roberto Hernández Orsini

Dr. Roberto Hernández Orsini

The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) installed Roberto Hernández Orsini, DMD, MPH, MS, of Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico, as secretary/treasurer for the year beginning April 23, 2023. He is associate professor in the graduate orthodontic program at the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine. He is also an assistant adjunct professor in orthodontics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry, and maintains a private practice in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

In addition to dental and pre-dental degrees from the University of Puerto Rico, Orsini earned a Master of Public Health degree in health policy and administration from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in 1986. He also holds a master’s degree and certificate in orthodontics from the University of Alabama School of Dentistry.

The ABO’s mission is to elevate the quality of orthodontic care for the public by promoting excellence through certification, education and professional collaboration. Founded in 1929 as the first specialty board in dentistry, The American Board of Orthodontics is partnered with the American Association of Orthodontists and is recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards as the national certifying board for orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.

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