Second-year epidemiology student and SPH blogger Jiean Li received a White House press pass to attend President Barack Obama’s speech at UM in late January, along with fellow student and photographer Rachael Strecher. Li was struck by Obama’s idea that government funds be reallocated toward research “instead of giving tax breaks to those who do not need them,” he wrote in a blog post on the SPH website. “We can, as he points out, consider this an investment in the future. As a graduate student (and, I suppose, a romantic), I perceive the world as largely uncharted. A commitment in us (read: public health graduate students) and our work means committing resources to understanding host-environment-pathogen interactions or refining community-based health initiatives or reformulation of policies to reflect the needs of the marginalized. A commitment in our research allows us to make our individual contributions to the improvement of our communities’ quality of life.”
Alescia Maraboushontrell Hollowell, a community activist and second-year MPH student in health behavior and health education, has a new venue from which to encourage children to adopt positive health behaviors: she was recently selected to serve as Miss Black Michigan USA 2012. A dance instructor, native of Detroit, and intern at the Genesee County Health Department last summer, Hollowell plans a career as a health educator. She’s already taking advantage of service opportunities in her new role, such as visiting with children in hospital and community settings throughout Michigan. She’ll take her official platform, “The Benefits of Physical Activity and Healthy Eating in Reducing Childhood Obesity,” to the national pageant in August. “The solution begins with the decisions we make on a daily basis,” Hollowell says, such as “adopting a healthy lifestyle, with healthy eating and physical activity.”
“In these incredibly challenging times of shrinking budgets, pervasive unemployment and increasing anti-science rhetoric, it is easy to think of reducing exposure to toxics and research as unaffordable luxuries,” Howard Hu said last November in Washington, D.C., during a ceremony in which he received the American Public Health Association’s prestigious 2011 APHA Award for Excellence. “Nothing can be further from the truth.” Hu, the NSF International Department Chair of Environmental Health Sciences and professor of epidemiology at SPH, received the award in recognition of his “creative and innovative work in research on environmental health issues.”
For ten weeks between January and April 2012, MPH students working with Andrew Maynard, director of the UM Risk Science Center and professor of environmental health sciences, posted weekly articles on a group blog, Mind the Science Gap. The exercise was designed to teach students how to translate complex science effectively to non-expert audiences using the medium of a science blog. The 100 individual posts covered topics as disparate as “guns and play dates,” “cadmium babies,” and “the sustainability and health benefits of chocolate.” Students were evaluated “in the most brutal way possible,” says Maynard—through reader comments and critiques.