The SPH Awards of Excellence, held this year on May 15, recognizes exemplary staff, faculty and students for their dedication, service and many contributions to our School. (See the full list of winners.) Each department and interdisciplinary program in the School selects one Outstanding Student at the PhD level.
Biostatistics: Phuong Vu
Phuong is an outstanding scholar who has contributed in substantial ways to research, the department and the wider Seattle community. The goal of her dissertation with Dr. Adam Szpiro is to obtain accurate predictions of pollution concentrations and, in turn, to better understand the impacts of air pollution on human health. Phuong also has impressive accomplishments as a collaborative biostatistician at the Center for Biomedical Statistics. Her departmental leadership activities include co-founding the peer-mentoring program, coordinating student seminars, and engaging in critical discussions on educational policy. Phuong takes an active role in the larger community by teaching Vietnamese at the Van Lang Vietnamese Cultural School.
DEOHS: Kholood Altassan
Kholood is an outstanding scientist who has developed a cutting-edge research project examining climate, migration and dengue fever in Saudi Arabia. Her work has great potential for reducing the large and growing disease burden that dengue imposes in the Middle East. In addition to her outstanding work on her graduate studies, Kholood continues to volunteer in the Middle East as an educator and guest lecturer. She has also been involved in projects aimed at shaping perceptions of climate change in Saudi Arabia and explored the role of religion and culture in Ministry of Health policy initiatives.
Epidemiology: Jennifer Velloza
Jennifer has a research portfolio dedicated to the integration of HIV prevention and mental health programming for young women in sub-Saharan Africa. Her quantitative and qualitative skillset bridges the fields of Epidemiology and Clinical Psychology and she has spent time living and working with young women in Kenya and South Africa to conduct her research. She has received independent research funding from NIMH and has more than 20 publications reflecting her drive to advance prevention and treatment for the often-stigmatized and overlooked conditions of depression and anxiety, as well as HIV risk.
Global Health: Kathryn McGuckin Wuertz
Kathryn received her PhD from the Pathobiology Program in Winter 2019, supported by a Long-Term Health and Education Fellowship from the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps. Focusing on flaviviruses, her research identified a novel role of an innate immune protein (STING) in host defense against West Nile Virus. While deployed in Afghanistan, Kathryn gained a passion for the unique health concerns afflicting countries torn by war. She has boundless potential as a scientific leader in addressing global health issues and is currently assigned to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland.
Health Services: Lauren Lipira
Before beginning her PhD in Health Services, Lauren received a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis and a bachelor’s in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri. Her research focus includes HIV/AIDS, stigma and social determinants of health. She completed research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the UW Department of Global Heath, and the Department of Allergy and Infectious Disease. She defended her dissertation in Fall 2018, and now works as a senior research associate at Portland State University studying HIV risk behaviors.