Two doctoral students receive Gillings Dissertation Awards

July 11, 2011
Bonnie Lyon and Dori Steinberg, doctoral students at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, have received this year’s Gillings Dissertation Awards to advance their dissertation research at the School.
Bonnie Lyon

Bonnie Lyon

Lyon, in the environmental sciences and engineering department, is evaluating the public health impact of ultraviolet (UV) treatment of water. A potential long-term outcome of her work is that increased use of UV could reduce dependence on chemical disinfectants which require transport, handling and storage of dangerous compounds.

“Bonnie’s research will help determine the effectiveness of UV treatment in decreasing or eliminating byproducts of disinfection in the water supply,” said Howard Weinberg, DSc, associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering and Lyon’s adviser. “Given the generation of potentially toxic chemical byproducts during the disinfection of drinking water with chlorine or chloramines, assuring a reduction in their levels will have great impact on consumers in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

Dori Steinberg

Dori Steinberg

Steinberg, based in the Department of Nutrition, works with faculty members in the nutrition and health behavior and health education departments to determine whether daily self-weighing by adults affects weight loss. Observational research indicates that daily, as compared to more infrequent, self-weighing is associated with greater weight loss. The study will test the hypothesis using a randomized controlled design.

“[Steinberg’s] project will address a gap in the research surrounding the most appropriate self-weighing frequency recommendation for weight loss,” said Deborah Tate, PhD, Steinberg’s adviser and an associate professor of both health behavior and health education and nutrition. “Her use of ‘smart scales’ will provide an objective measure of this behavior.”
The School’s student awards selection committee evaluated applicants’ dissertation abstracts on criteria including quality, potential for public health impact, dissemination plans, and metrics that measure near- and long-term impact. Each awardee will receive $5,000.
The Gillings Dissertation Awards are made possible by a $50 million gift to the School from Dennis Gillings and Joan Gillings. To date, the gift has funded 18 Gillings Innovation Laboratories designed to accelerate solutions to important public health problems, including water and the environment, obesity, disparities, and other issues across North Carolina and around the world. Visiting professors and an executive in residence teach, develop opportunities for faculty members and students, and extend the School’s reach into the community. Students are supported through the innovation labs, visiting professorships, scholarships, curricular support, an award for student service organizations, and these annual dissertation awards.
The innovation lab model appeals to external organizations who want to solve public health problems, and two commissioned innovation labs recently have been funded.
For more information about the Gillings awards, visit


UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or