Faculty Receive Grants, Publish and Speak about Research
The college takes enormous pride in the pioneering work of our faculty and students who are constantly creating, discovering and leading the discourse in their disciplines. Recent work has involved Staphylococcus aureus transmission between animals and humans, Twitter use during the recent U.S. Ebola scare and college student attitudes toward e-cigarettes, among other topics. Following are highlights:
Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology
In the March 2015 Journal of Environmental Health, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences Charles D. Hart, PhD, discusses the environmental health undergraduate educational systems in the United States and Canada. Hart visited three Canadian institutions of higher education last May to compare, contrast and seek best practices for application at Kent State. The visit resulted from his receiving the 2013 Exchange Award from the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA).
Samuel H. Rubens, BS ’94, adjunct professor of Environmental Health Sciences, was recently appointed local co-chair of the monitoring committee of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA). He serves as liaison between NACAA membership and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as policy decisions are circulated for comments prior to finalization. Rubens is administrator of the Akron Regional Air Quality Management District.
Tara C. Smith, PhD, associate professor, Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology, recently published two articles about her research regarding Staphylococcus aureus transmission between animals and humans. On February 5, she published Livestock-Associated Staphylococcus aureus: The United States Experience in PLOS Pathogens, in which she provides U.S. data and perspectives regarding the worldwide emergence of livestock-associated S. aureaus strains as a potential threat to rural workers. In the January Current Environmental Health Reports, she published Human Infections with Staphylococcus aureus CC398, which reviews existing reports of human infections with CC398 and discusses their geographic distribution, general characteristics and implications for future research.
In January, Smith was a guest lecturer at Heidelberg University, where she spoke on antibiotic resistance and emerging infections from animals, careers in epidemiology and science communication and separating fact from fiction regarding the Ebola virus. She recently was quoted by CNN and The Guardian regarding measles vaccination.
Christopher J. Woolverton, PhD, professor of Environmental Health Sciences and director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness, is among the team of researchers recently receiving a $41,500 pilot grant from the National Science Foundation to study what social media activity on Twitter reveals about perceptions of the fall 2014 Ebola scare and how these perceptions influenced behavior. Results will help inform public health officials responding to future threats. The study is one of the first of its kind to evaluate the use of social media in risk communication during unfolding public health events.
Woolverton spoke on Biosafety as a Design Element at the February 23 symposium on designing for highly infectious contagions presented by the Elliot Program for Health Care Design of the Kent State College of Architecture and Environmental Design. The symposium, held at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland, explored how design can impact infection control and focused on strategies, systems and equipment that could be implemented in any hospital to handle infectious contagions.
On December 18, Woolverton addressed the Division of Clinical Microbiology in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine on how microbiologists should lead infection control practices. His talk We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us (Microbiologists) reviewed how laboratory-associated infections harm microbiologists and jeopardize their reputation.
Woolverton also spoke on Public Health Disease Detection: Common Lab Tests Revisited at the Ohio Public Health Association Nursing Conference in Dublin on December 1 and presented Lab Safety and Bioterrorism Readiness Curricula at the National Association of Biology Teachers Professional Development Conference in Cleveland on November 13. He addressed Ebola virus disease and protection with the first responder communities of Suffield Township and the City of Kent on November 20 and October 29, respectively.
Health Policy & Management
Rebecca Fischbein, PhD, has joined the department as assistant professor. In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, Fischbein will work with Assistant Professor Deric Kenne, PhD, in his project to evaluate the Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) Ohio program. She most recently served as research coordinator and volunteer assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University, where she was principal investigator or co-investigator for multiple grants and research studies examining such topics as chronic pain, Chiari malformation, health disparities and patient experience. On January 31, Fischbein and colleagues published The Impact of Chiari Malformation on Daily Activities: A Report from the National Conquer Chiari Patient Registry Database in Disability Health Journal. This study examines the negative impact of Chiari malformation on patients’ daily living and physical activities.
Kenne’s recent study of 9,000 Kent State students regarding their attitudes toward e-cigarettes was highlighted in the current edition of the university’s online research publication, Research for Life.
Social & Behavioral Sciences
The work of the Akron General – Kent State University Health and Wellness Collaborative was noted in a February 10 article on the Hospitals & Health Networks website, Hospitals Muscle Up on “Medical Fitness” with Owned Centers. The Wellness Collaborative brings together faculty and students with professionals within Akron General Health System to improve health and reduce the impact of chronic, lifestyle-related diseases on the U.S. population. Recent projects have involved validating a gait analysis device, conducting a membership survey of medical fitness facility patrons and developing a study to examine the community health impact of medical fitness facilities. In addition, a pilot is under way to assess medical fitness center policy and health outcomes when integrated into hospital diabetes services.
Professor and Chair, Dept. of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Jeffrey S. Hallam and colleagues published Predictors of Bone Mineral Density in African-American and Caucasian College-Aged Women in the 2015 issue of Health Promotion Perspectives. They conclude that body mass index and current physical activity were predictors and that race had no predictive factor.
He and colleagues also published A Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) using Principles of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) in a Mississippi Delta Community: A Novel Methodological Approach in the 2015 issue of Community Development. The study provides numerous methodological contributions to the existing literature regarding CBPR and CHNAs that may help development researchers and practitioners.