UA Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health Celebrate 2013 Convocations

Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 6:00pm to Saturday, May 11, 2013 - 8:00am
Doctors of Medicine
Thursday, May 9
6 to 8 p.m. (reception begins approximately 7:30 p.m.)
Centennial Hall
1020 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus, Tucson
(This event also will be broadcast live and archived on the Internet at
2013 UA College of Medicine – Tucson medical graduates include Evelinda Gonzales (family medicine), Randi Heller (psychiatry) and James Libbon (internal medicine/geriatrics), and Brian Vander Werf (anesthesiology).
Evelinda Gonzales (family medicine)
Evelinda Gonzales, 28, will pursue a residency in family medicine at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque.
She is one of only ten UA College of Medicine – Tucson students who will graduate with a dual degree (six MD/MPH, two MD/MBA and two MD/PhD): she also will receive a master’s degree in public health from the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health in addition to her medical degree.
Beginning in childhood and continuing through her years at Nogales High School, she knew she wanted to be a doctor. Her dad was her big inspiration. Carlos Gonzales, MD, was the first in his family to go to college. He graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1981 and practiced medicine in rural Patagonia while Evelinda was growing up, then joined the faculty of the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine.
Father and daughter both attended Med-Start, the UA College of Medicine’s five-week summer program for rural, minority or economically disadvantaged high-school juniors (Dr. Gonzales in 1972, Evelinda in 2002).
Gonzales also was inspired by her mother, Debbie Gonzales, who is graduating this semester with her second degree from the UA, a Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling from the UA College of Education, Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the UA College of Nursing in May 1981. Debbie says her motivation and inspiration are her children and husband: “Evelinda, who encouraged me to ‘go back to school and do something you love,’ and the selfless example of service that our U.S. (Infantry) Marine sons, Carlos (24) and Felip (22), and their buddies who endured IED's and such in Afghanistan, provided. I could not have done any of this except for the love and support of Carlos, my dear hubby!”
Randi Heller (psychiatry) and James Libbon (internal medicine/geriatrics)
Recently married, Randi Heller, 27, a Glendale native, and her husband James Libbon, 29, a Phoenix native, will pursue their residencies in psychiatry and internal medicine/geriatrics, respectively, at the University of Colorado School of Medicine-Denver.
They will leave behind a joyous legacy at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson: the singing group they founded, DOC-apella, eight medical students and faculty who perform a capella, with no instruments other than their voices. They performed at medical school functions, at nursing homes and health centers – wherever they are invited.
Libbon directed DOC-apella. He’s been singing since he learned to talk, started piano lessons when he was 8, joined his middle school choir, studied music theory in high school and sang in six choirs as a UA undergraduate.
Heller was manager and one of the voices. She too grew up with music, played flute in her middle school band, joined her high-school choir and sang in an a-capella group in college.
They both volunteered with the UA College of Medicine’s Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) program, a student-developed and student-directed program through which medical students gain experience providing care and health education to people who do not have a regular source of medical care. As volunteers with MedSet, a program for homeless and otherwise at-risk teens, James taught nutrition and exercise classes and Randi talked with the teens about sexuality.
Brian Vander Werf (anesthesiology)
Brian Vander Werf, 30, will pursue a residency in anesthesiology at the University of California San Diego Medical Center after a preliminary residency in medicine at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix. (He graduated from Corona del Sol High School in Tempe and from Arizona State University in 2008 with a degree in biochemistry.)
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks convinced Vander Werf that he wanted to serve in the U.S. military. He enlisted with the Army Reserve and trained as a medic. During his deployment to Iraq, he decided to become a doctor.
He has chosen anesthesiology because it also offers the opportunity “to be there at the most critical moments of someone’s life. It’s extraordinarily hard work and challenging work, and I think it’s extremely rewarding as well.”
He serves in the Army Reserve as a first lieutenant and plans to continue serving during his residency and practice. He and his wife Christina are expecting their first child. More information about Vander Werf is at
(Advanced Degrees in Interdisciplinary and Biomedical Sciences)
Thursday, May 9
7 to 8 p.m.
DuVal Auditorium
(reception begins approximately 8:15 p.m. in the Life Sciences North courtyard)
1501 N. Campbell Ave., AHSC Campus, Tucson
· Department of Physiology Undergraduates
Friday, May 10
Noon to 2 p.m. (reception follows)
UA Student Union Memorial Center, Grand Ballroom
1303 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus, Tucson
Graduates include two students who have been accepted to the MD-PhD Program of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson: Adam Bernstein and Farid Eythrib, who will begin their medical studies in August.
Adam Bernstein will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a major in physiology from the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering with a minor in mathematics from the UA College of Engineering. As an undergraduate, Bernstein worked with Theodore Trouard, PhD, UA associate professor of biomedical engineering and medical imaging and assistant director of the UA BIO5 Institute, examining the potential applications of susceptibility weighted imaging, a relatively new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique. He also is working as a technician with Erika Eggers, PhD, assistant professor of physiology and biomedical engineering, in her retinal neuroscience lab, examining the origin and timing of inhibitory neural signals in the retina and how they might change in diabetic retinopathy. Most recently, he worked with Phillip Kuo, MD, PhD, section chief of nuclear medicine and UA associate professor of medical imaging, medicine and biomedical engineering, UA Department of Medical Imaging. The goal of his project with Dr. Kuo is to demonstrate that significant reductions in radiation dose for bone PET (positron emission tomography) scans are achievable with minimal detriment to image quality.
Farid Eythrib will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in molecular and cellular biology with a minor in chemistry from the UA College of Science and a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a major in physiology and a minor in biology from the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. As an undergraduate, Eythrib worked as part of the Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program (a graduate school preparation program for UA undergraduates) with Carol Gregorio, PhD, head of the UA Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and director of the Molecular Cardiovascular Research Program at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and co-director of the UA Sarver Heart Center, to determine the functional domains of the protein leiomodin-2 through hybrid cloning. He also worked with Eldon J. Braun, PhD, UA professor emeritus, Department of Physiology, UA College of Medicine – Tucson, using birds as a model for studying the inflammatory effects of diabetes through the receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) pathway.
Thursday, May 9
2 to 3:30 p.m.
Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus, Tucson
Inspiring 2013 UA College of Nursing graduates include Helena Haynes, Ariel Good and Zea Navazio.
Helena Haynes, RN, BSN, CNRN, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
“What I find most empowering about the field of nursing is the opportunity to continuously grow and develop my knowledge and skills in health-care practice, policy and research and apply it to my community,” says Helena Haynes, RN, BSN, CNRN, 28, previously a registered nurse in the neurological intensive care unit at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, Ariz. “For example, in my neuro checks, I involve the patient’s family in order to help explain the stroke process, the risks of recurrent stroke and the ‘how and why’ of the way we treat our stroke patients.”
Haynes will receive a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from the UA College of Nursing. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing that she obtained in a one-year accelerated program from Regis University, a Jesuit university in Denver, Colo., in 2008, and a bachelor’s degree in integrative physiology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2005.
“The UA College of Nursing has amazing mentors and faculty to help support the students throughout the DNP program,” she says. “I met my faculty mentor, Dr. Leslie Ritter, prior to applying to the DNP program. She has been an integral part of my success in this program and a role model in terms of pursuing research interest, goal setting and work-life balance. The faculty are quick to respond to questions and have always made themselves available over the phone to discuss any questions I have had. As part of an online degree program, to have verbal one-on-one with faculty is important and I appreciate their willingness to help me succeed.”
In the DNP program, her focus was on the stroke patient population. She led a transition-of-care model to support follow-up in the clinic of patients who had a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke, to help ensure that proper measures are taken to prevent a secondary stroke event. “This is extremely important in our aging population, as stroke is one of the leading causes of adult disability,” she notes.
In her doctoral practice inquiry project, “A Doctor of Nursing Practice-Led Transitions of Care (TOC) Model for Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack,” Haynes described the impact. “There are gaps in the care of patients who’ve had a stroke or TIA that occur due to transitions between health settings and/or practitioners, that may contribute to a second stroke or TIA,” she says. “The purpose of the study was to identify the key elements of a model that could be used to design an effective TOC program for the stroke/TIA population.”
In addition, she worked with her unit at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital to explore the concept of compassion fatigue and job burnout in the critical care nursing population caring for the stroke patient.
“These projects allowed me to explore both patient-centered and nurse-centered outcomes to further develop my research abilities and understanding of how I can further help and advocate for stroke patients and caregivers,” she says.
As an undergraduate, Haynes initially pursued physical therapy (PT) and volunteered in a PT clinic. When that rotation ended, she recalls, “the volunteer coordinator placed me in the emergency room and I fell in love with what nurses do! They truly were the backbone of the facility. As I was nearly finished with my degree, I used it as a foundation to transfer to nursing.”
Haynes had several challenges while pursuing her DNP. “After I had my son Liam, I went back to work and was trying to manage school work, working as a nurse, being a mom and my practice inquiry studies,” she says. “My son came down with RSV [respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus] and was hospitalized for a week during the most challenging semester. I said goodbye to bedside nursing to focus on being home with him and devoting more time to my studies. I greatly missed caring for patients in that capacity but am grateful to have cared for so many great patients, families and fellow nurses.”
Liam, now two, was born just before the end of the first year of the DNP program, and Haynes remembers “taking a test the morning I went into labor, and nursing him during a final Skype™ presentation a few days later so that he wouldn’t disturb the class. He has been a trooper and a wonderful distraction from the long hours of studying!”
Haynes’ family will join her at convocation. She is the second oldest of five children and the only girl in the family. Both parents have master’s degrees. “My dad taught each of us a strong work ethic and my mom taught us a love of education and learning. My grandmother was a physician, and helped inspire me to pursue a health-care profession,” she says.
She met her husband John during her undergraduate days at CU Boulder, while he went to an all-engineering school a half-hour away. They were married shortly after finishing their undergraduate degrees. “I have been in school since we first met, and could not have imagined a better best friend and support to make it through this experience,” she says. “He has picked up the slack when I have needed him most!”
Now that she will receive her DNP, she plans to stay in family practice, working in a preventative role providing help and education for patients in a rural family practice office, Deseret Family Medicine, in Gold Canyon, Ariz.
“The patients I will be working with most are the elderly population, who are the largest user of health care costs at this point,” she says. “If we can provide them the tools and strategies to manage their care outside of the acute setting, then they can age comfortably in their homes.”
Ariel Good, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
“As a bilingual Hispanic-American student, I look forward to meeting and helping the diverse group of people I will undoubtedly encounter in my nursing career,” says Ariel Good, 22, who will receive aBachelor of Science in Nursing from the UA College of Nursing.
Good plans to pursue a career in women’s health nursing, working in labor and delivery, or in pediatric nursing, particularly in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Her passion for working with children grew out of a summer spent volunteering at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, she says. She also is interested in possibly becoming a nurse midwife.
“My passion is to work with moms, their babies and the neonatal population in general. But I will be happy to start anywhere – there is a learning experience in everything we do.”
Good has wanted to be a nurse for as long as she can remember, she says, desiring “to help people and spend time at the bedside with patients and also have a career where I get to embrace my love for science.
“My grandfather, a pediatrician, inspired me throughout my childhood as well, most likely without even noticing he was doing it. He had a passion for his patients that I hope to carry with me throughout my entire career.” Good, whose mother is Cuban, comes from a long line of college graduates and will be the first nurse in her family.
A native of Mesa, Ariz., Good graduated from Red Mountain High School. At the UA, she was a member of the UA Honors College and wrote her thesis about drug withdrawal in newborns. She was a member of the UA pre-nursing club, Professional Achievements in Nursing (P.A.I.N.), for two years; then became active in Student Nurses at the University of Arizona (S.N.U.A.), the student branch of the American Nurses Association, serving as president of the organization for the past year. (S.N.U.A. provides support through fundraising, volunteering and scholarships as well as opportunities for UA College of Nursing students to further their education and participate in experiences that develop leadership and mentoring skills.)
Of her experience at the UA College of Nursing, Good says she most enjoyed “getting to know the people, serving in a leadership role and getting to act as a liaison between faculty and staff and my peers. Spending so much time with the same cohort gave us an opportunity to really develop everlasting friendships, and I am grateful for that!”
Good’s family will join her at the convocation, where she also will receive the UA College of Nursing Office of Student Affairs Award, given in recognition of exceptional service to the student affairs office in its work with students, alumni and friends of the college (award recipients’ names are engraved on a permanent plaque displayed in the Office of Student Affairs), and the AZNA (Arizona Nurses Association) Chapter 2 Award, presented to a graduating nursing student nominated by the student’s faculty according to three criteria: scholastic and clinical excellence; active participation in one or more student, professional or community organizations; and demonstrated leadership abilities among peers and/or within professional or health-related organizations.
Zea Navazio, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
“Following graduation, I would like to begin my career working in a New Graduate Nurse Residency Program in an emergency department,” says Zea Navazio,who will receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the UA College of Nursing.
“The emergency department is an area of healthcare where you come in contact with a broad range of patients…different ages, cultures and suffering from a broad range of conditions.” (New Graduate Nurse Residency Programs prepare new nursing graduates as they transition to professional nurse.) Navazio also plans to further her education and pursue a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degree.
“Ultimately, I hope to travel to developing countries and use my nursing skills to provide needed medical attention to underserved and underprivileged populations,” she says. “I plan to incorporate my passion for healthcare and deep sense of social responsibility to improve the quality of life for many individuals, families and diverse populations to aid in building a healthier world community.”
In 2011, she volunteered in a small medical center in Valle de Angles, a rural community in Honduras, as a member of the UA chapter of Global Medical Brigades, a student-led global health and sustainable development organization.
“It was a big challenge and proved to be a greater privilege, providing health care to the local population,” she says. “This was a life-changing experience and solidified my desire to work with health care on an international scale.
“To me, nursing is the heart and soul of health care. Throughout my clinical training and volunteer work, I have developed meaning and purpose in my life, first through my teachers and mentors, and eventually experiencing for myself through discipline and training how to truly care for others.”
She became interested in pursuing a career in nursing after volunteering at a local hospital during high school. She will be the first member of her family to work in the health-care field.
Navazio’s family lived in five states before she was twelve due to her father’s career as an organic agriculturalist. “This gave me the opportunity to acclimate to new places and different people often,” she notes. It “also allowed me to experience a great deal of diversity, living in the rural communities of Montana, big-ten college towns in the Midwest, the rocky coastal region of the Pacific Northwest and finally the busy suburbs of Detroit.”
As a teenager, she lived with her mother in a single-parent household. “My mother understood the value of education and returned to school to improve our lives,” she says. When her father was living in the Pacific Northwest and undergoing radiation for colon cancer, she moved in with her aunt and uncle so that she could continue attending and graduate from Walled Lake Northern High School in Commerce, Mich. “It was there that I learned the significance of paying it forward,” she says.
Navazio’s parents, sister, aunt and uncle will attend the convocation. “My family has been my biggest support system throughout my undergraduate education,” she says.
What she enjoyed most about the UA College of Nursing, she says, was “the faculty and students I had the pleasure of working with. The UA College of Nursing is a small, tightknit community. Throughout my education I not only received constant guidance from faculty members and professors but I felt supported by fellow students.”
As a UA undergraduate, in addition to serving with Global Medical Brigades, Navazio was a member and served as public relations chair of the UA pre-nursing club, Professional Achievements in Nursing (P.A.I.N.), and was elected fundraising chair for Student Nurses at the University of Arizona (S.N.U.A.).
At convocation, Navazio also will receive a University of Arizona Foundation Award, presented to outstanding seniors on the basis of scholarship, leadership and citizenship.
Friday, May 10
8 to 10:30 a.m. (reception follows, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.)
Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus, Tucson
(This event also will be broadcast live and archived on the Internet at
2013 UA College of Pharmacy graduates include Courtney Wheatley, who will receive a PhD in Pharmaceutical Science, Clinical Research; with a minor in physiological sciences.
Courtney M. Wheatley, 26, will receive a PhD in Pharmaceutical Science, Clinical Research, with a minor in physiological sciences from the UA College of Pharmacy.
While pursuing her doctorate, she also worked as a graduate research assistant and laboratory coordinator at the College. Her responsibilities included coordinating a study of an unusual device for cystic fibrosis patients. The Vibralung®, also known as VibraVM®, currently is used to clear mucus from the lungs of racehorses and other animals with lung congestion and airway diseases. The device shows promise as an aid for cystic fibrosis patients.
Wheatley’s research interests include cystic fibrosis and other pulmonary disorders, specifically the investigation of the usefulness of exhaled breath condensate as a surrogate marker for airway surface liquid ion composition and lung water regulation. “Specifically, I am interested in developing tests using exhaled breath condensate as an alternative to invasive methods currently used to measure these characteristics in the lung,” she says.
Her dissertation was titled “Endogenous and Exogenous Regulation of Exhaled Ions in Patients with Cystic Fibrosis.” Her advisors were Eric Snyder, PhD, former assistant professor in the UA College of Pharmacy Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (now assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Department of Kinesiology), and Wayne Morgan, MD, professor of pediatrics, UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
She is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, American Thoracic Society, American Physiology Society, Arizona Physiological Society and served as president of Toastmasters International-Biosciences at the UA.
Her community outreach activities included serving as a pitching coach for the Xplosion U15 ASA Softball Team and Marana Middle School Softball, and as team captain and a participant in Relay for Life in Tucson.
In June, Wheatley will begin a post-doctoral fellowship in cardiovascular research in the laboratory of Bruce Johnson, PhD, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where she was a research trainee from August 2011 to July 2012.
A native of Regina, Saskatchewan Canada, Wheatley received a Bachelor of Science (summa cum laude) with a dual major in chemistry and biology in 2008 from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant. She was a research intern from May to July 2007 in the Department of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan, Regina, SK, Canada.

UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health Convocation

Saturday, May 11
8 to 10 a.m. (reception follows, Women’s Plaza Walkway)
Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus, Tucson
2013 UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health graduates include Laura Suppes, MPH, who will receive a PhD in Environmental Sciences; Natalie Becker, who will receive a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a minor in nutrition; and David Bui, who will receive a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology.
Laura Suppes, MPH (PhD/Environmental Health Sciences)
Laura Suppes has the distinction of being the first to graduate in the Environmental Health Sciences PhD program at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
Before coming to the UA, Suppes, a native of St. Paul, Minn., worked for three years as a registered environmental health specialist with the St. Paul Ramsey County Department of Public Health while attending the University of Minnesota for a Master in Public Health (MPH).
”My primary job duties were inspecting restaurant and swimming pool facilities for health and safety hazards,” she says. “I initially became interested in this work as an undergraduate in the environmental public health department at UW-Eau Claire [the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire].”
Suppes says it was research by Kelly Reynolds on human exposures to microbial contaminants in water that led her to Tucson. Reynolds is an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the UA College of Public Health and Suppe’s advisor.
“I applied to several programs and decided on the UA because Dr. Reynolds’ research is so unique. The work I performed as a health inspector led to my involvement in what turned out to be my dissertation research, focusing on ingestion exposures in swimming pool environments and swimming risk,” she says.
Her advice to swimmers this summer is to swim safely! “No one should enter pool water if they have experienced diarrhea or vomiting in the past two weeks. Chlorine does not sterilize pool water. Since not everyone is abiding by this recommendation, try not to swallow pool water when you do swim, and definitely do not intentionally swallow.”
If you ask her what she loves about environmental health sciences, Suppes will tell you it’s simple. “I chose a career in environmental health because the work we do is essential for healthy, quality living. Humans require water, food and oxygen in air for survival. Environmental health scientists work to ensure water, food and air are safe to consume or breathe.”
While working on her PhD, Suppes still managed to create a new student group, the Student Environmental Health Sciences Association. The organization provides community outreach, networking and learning opportunities for members. She also chaired the Public Health Research Poster Forum, which was an opportunity for students, staff and faculty to highlight their innovative and interdisciplinary research activities. In addition, she served as a College of Public Health student ambassador. As a self-described cheerleader for the college, Suppes works with the Office of Student Services to recruit new students to the program and to educate the Tucson community about public health issues.
Suppes will head back to the Midwest in August to begin her new job as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she will teach “Introduction to Environmental Health, Water and Wastewater.”
She also has been invited to help coach the UWEC women’s ice hockey team, which she played on for four years, served as a captain for two and received First Team All-Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) honors in 2006-2007 and All NCHA Academic Team all four years.
Natalie C. Becker (BS, Public Health, Minor in Nutrition)
“I originally intended to study physiology but quickly realized while sitting in on one of the information sessions during my freshmen orientation that I was in the wrong place,” recalls Natalie Becker, who will receive a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a minor in nutrition. “In the midst of my panic, I happened across Alan Beaudrie presenting the new undergraduate degree program of public health and signed up for the program right then and there.”
A native of Hollister, Calif., a rural community about one hour south of San Jose, Becker will stay in Tucson following graduation, working as a case manager with Child Protective Services of Pima County, where she worked as an intern before they offered her the position.
“I assisted the case managers and supervised family visits between parents and their children within the CPS office,” she says. “What I liked about the job is not knowing what might happen next.
“Being part of a community that you love is an enriching experience. But at the same time it’s an eye opening experience when you pull back the curtain and discover how many people have it rough in our small town of Tucson. So working with these families made me want to help.”
Her education at the College was invaluable in preparing for her new job, she notes. “Without my experiences with the College of Public Health, I would not have understood the need families have for healthy environments, both physical and emotional. Growing up in a healthy environment can help lead an individual to a well-rounded healthy life as a whole.”
Becker volunteered as Public Health Ambassador for the College. “My main function, as an ambassador was ‘road trips.’ I met with literally hundreds of hopeful high school students and let them know just how much the College of Public Health has to offer.”
She encourages students to get their undergraduate degree in public health, she says, because “if a person has even a remote desire to work with people and have the ability to better understand the world you live in, then this is the field for you.”
An only child, Becker “inherited” a gene for public service. Both her parents are police officers. Her dad is a Vietnam veteran and a sergeant for the San Benito Sheriff’s Department who will retire in September. Her mom is division manager for operation support services at the San Jose Police Department. Her parents bonded over community service. Becker remembers spending weekends with her parents volunteering to sell hot dogs at Kiwanis Club events.(Kiwanis International is a global service organization of volunteers of every age, dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.)
Having grown up in a small town, Becker finds that “Tucson is overwhelming with opportunities and activities that allow me to get closer with my community. I love the weekend events, and couldn’t say enough about the great people I am proud to call my neighbors. Everyone here seems to have healthy goals they are working towards on a daily basis.”
She adopted a dog (Kodah, 12 years old) and a cat (Harlin, four years old) from the Pima Animal Care Center. “The only thing I don’t like about Tucson is that it is too hot to walk my old dog in July!”
Becker hopes to return to the College of Public Health for her Master’s in Public Health.
David Bui (Master of Public Health in Epidemiology)
For David Bui, the field of public health and epidemiology provides him with a daily dose of “Aha!” moments. (Epidemiology is a branch of medical science that deals with the incidence, distribution and control of disease in a population.) His interests range from social media and public health informatics to injury epidemiology, particularly pedestrian and bicyclist injuries.
A native of Orange County, Calif., who holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of California-Berkeley, Bui will graduate with a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology from the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
He says the MPH program allowed him to spend a lot of time learning about disease surveillance systems and how public health agencies monitor populations to detect outbreaks or other public health events.
His internship project involved working with, a disease surveillance program that mines online data sources to detect outbreaks as they occur all over the world. His project involved helping HealthMap set up a surveillance feed to monitor Vietnamese language news media to detect and monitor outbreaks in Vietnam. The surveillance system now is live on their website for anyone to view.
“Disease surveillance in Vietnam is critical to global public health given its history with emerging infectious diseases and proximity to other countries at high risk for potential pandemic outbreaks,” says Bui.
“Having an interest in social media and public health informatics, I learned about how some research groups were tapping into social media and other online data sources to monitor population health status (like Google flu trends) and I was fascinated by the methods people were developing and data sources they were using to enhance disease surveillance.”
“Social media represents an amazing source of population health data, since it is generated directly by the public – and it’s generated in an accessible electronic format that public health researchers can use for analysis,” he notes. “Twitter feeds, Facebook statuses, blogs and discussion boards all provide data and are potential surveillance sources. They have proven to be quite effective by research organizations to monitor population health status and disease outbreaks. Since it is generated directly by the public, it’s much faster than going through the traditional public health reporting chain of command.”
“There are really so many new and novel data sources out there that we can potentially harness and use for public health. It’ll be exciting to see public health evolve with social media and health informatics,” says Bui.
Before moving to Tucson, Bui was living in San Francisco and working at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF). “I had been working with a clinical and translational research program at UCSF, doing administrative work. I decided to get more involved on the research side and go back to school for an MPH,” says Bui.
Bui says he will remain in Tucson after graduation and continue his studies in the PhD/Epidemiology program at the Zuckerman College of Public Health, “partially because of my research interests and goals to work in research, but mostly because the supportive faculty and staff at the College of Public Health.”
“I’m hoping to pursue my interests in injury epidemiology, particularly in pedestrian and bicyclist injuries, and would like to study how they occur and in what kind of environments they’re occurring. Tucson is quite unique in that it has a huge bicycling community and pedestrian presence, but also a lot of environmental risk factors for traffic related injuries, making it a fairly ideal place to study pedestrian injuries.
“We’re also located right next to the only Level 1 trauma center in Southern Arizona, with fantastic researchers. This makes the UA a very prime place to study injury and trauma,” he says.
“I can’t imagine a better job than to spend my time learning and researching issues I’m curious about and getting paid for it.”