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Dedicated Alumni Honored by Pitt Public Health

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PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health will recognize eight alumni for their outstanding service to the field of public health with a virtual ceremony tonight.


“This year, in the midst of a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to honor the contributions of those who dedicate their careers in service to improving and protecting the health of all,” said Everette James, J.D., M.B.A., interim dean for Pitt Public Health and associate vice chancellor for health policy and planning at Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences. “Tonight, I have the privilege of naming a few of our remarkable graduates, but I also will be reflecting on how more of our graduates than I can name have stepped up to volunteer their expertise and help their neighbors, communities and the world during this difficult period.”


Benjamin Acosta Cazares releaseBenjamin Acosta-Cazares, M.D., Ph.D., Class of 2015, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Practice in recognition of his decades of public health service in Mexico, where he has been head of the Medical Department in the Coordinacion de Vigilancia Epidemiologica at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico City for the last 17 years. In 2002, he led the design, planning and execution of a system of surveys to shift the traditional focus of health programs from the prevention of specific diseases and risks to protection of population health. He was elected Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology in 2016 and was included in 2019 as a member of the National System of Researchers of Mexico.   


Shumei Sun releaseChongyi Wei releaseShumei S. Sun, Ph.D., Class of 1983, and Chongyi Wei, Dr.P.H., Class of 2009, will both receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Research. Sun, chair of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine Department of Biostatistics, will receive the award in recognition of her 30 years of uninterrupted federal support in conducting multisite population studies, longitudinal studies and multicenter clinical trials. Her discoveries on the origins of obesity and its consequences over the lifespan have attained international recognition and stimulated new fields of research. Wei, an associate professor in the Rutgers University School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior, Society, and Policy, will receive the award in recognition of his research in reducing disparities in HIV infections and comorbidities among sexual- and gender-minority populations, particularly in China and other parts of Southeast Asia. In the past decade, his work has included conducting extensive HIV behavioral epidemiology studies, examining acceptability and feasibility of prevention strategies, and developing and evaluating individual- and community-based intervention trials among sexual-minority men. 


Kathleen Knauer releaseLeigha Senter Jamieson releaseKathleen S. Knauer, M.S., Class of 1992, and Leigha Senter-Jamieson, M.S., Class of 2003, will both receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination. Knauer, executive producer of nonprofit environmental news outlet The Allegheny Front, will receive the award in recognition of her leadership of a team of award-winning journalists who report on environmental stories that impact the lives of people in western Pennsylvania. Senter-Jamieson, a licensed genetic counselor and associate professor at The Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, will receive the award in recognition of her nearly two decades of cancer genetics risk assessment and counseling of people with a family history of cancer.


Wendy King releaseWendy King, Ph.D., Class of 2004, will receive the Margaret F. Gloninger Service Award for her significant service to her community. An associate professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology, her work has focused on the design, coordination and analysis of multicenter cohort studies and clinical trials investigating physical activity, obesity and its treatment, bariatric surgery and lifestyle interventions. She is the principal investigator of the data coordinating center for two prospective cohort studies related to the progression of hepatitis B in adults co-infected with HIV and novel markers of hepatis B. She especially enjoys working one-on-one with Ph.D. students through their graduate student researcher positions and as their dissertation committee member and advisor.


Emma Hosman releaseBrandie DePaoli Taylor releaseEmma Hosman, M.P.H., Class of 2017, and Brandie DePaoli Taylor, Ph.D., M.P.H., Classes of 2011 and 2007, respectively, will both receive the Early Career Excellence Award. Hosman, response coordinator for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, will be recognized for the multiple positions she’s held in service to the City of Philadelphia, from running transportation aspects of the Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness program, planning vaccination clinics and responding to logistical needs of the Division of Disease Control, to managing social media, as well as digital and print materials for outreach and educational use. Taylor, assistant professor and graduate program director at Temple University College of Public Health, will receive the award in recognition of her research program that focuses on infectious agents and immunological biomarkers indicating women who will develop pregnancy complications. She also works on community-based projects addressing gender and racial/ethnic risk factors for sexually transmitted infections in young adults. 


Eight alumni—Kayleigh Blaney, M.P.H., Class of 2014; Victoria Diane Crall, M.P.H., Class of 2013; Natalie Suder Egnot, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., Classes of 2017 and 2014, respectively; Kelley M. Kidwell, Ph.D., Class of 2012; Angela M. Malek, Ph.D., M.P.H., Classes of 2011 and 2006, respectively; Nicholas V. Rescinti, M.P.H., Class of 2016; Amy R. Richards, M.H.A./M.B.A., Class of 2002; and Alexander J. Sundermann, M.P.H., Class of 2014, will be inducted into the Omicron Chapter of Delta Omega, an honorary society that recognizes merit and encourages further excellence in, and devotion to, public health work.

PHOTO INFO: (click each for larger versions)


CREDIT ALL: Submitted


Row 1:  Benjamin Acosta-Cazares, M.D., Ph.D.
Row 2:  (L) Shumei S. Sun, Ph.D. (R) Chongyi Wei, Dr.P.H.
Row 3:  (L) Kathleen S. Knauer, M.S. (R) Leigha Senter-Jamieson, M.S.
Row 4:  Wendy King, Ph.D.
Row 5:  (L) Emma Hosman, M.P.H. (R) Brandie DePaoli Taylor, Ph.D., M.P.H.