Inside Public Health | January 2021
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Dear Friends of the College,

Happy New Year! We look ahead to 2021 with high hopes and determination.
This January 2021 Newsletter is the first monthly newsletter this year (we skipped the December 2020 Newsletter due to the holiday break). I enter this new semester full of hope for an end to the pandemic following widespread vaccination and new public health policies guided by President Biden’s science-based approach to fighting COVID-19.
In early January, the University of Arizona was designated as a vaccination Point of Distribution (POD) site for Pima County Health Department, and the COVID-19 vaccines are now being administered. Here in Arizona cases of COVID-19 spiked dangerously in early January following the winter holidays, and now at last we’re encouraged to see that cases have begun to trend downwards. Alongside all of that, the new Spring 2021 semester has begun, we celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and we enter February which is Black History Month.

Join me in honoring Dr. King’s legacy by ensuring that we remain steadfast as together we build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive nation. I’m thankful to the many of you who have undertaken the hard work required to bring about change, and to those who have shown great courage in speaking up about where we can do better.
Vaccine Distribution
On campus, guided by the leadership of MEZCOPH researcher Dr. Mona Arora, the university has mobilized to deliver vaccine doses at the UArizona POD drive-thru and walk-in sites for educators in Pima County including K-12 teachers and staff, childcare providers, and higher education employees (including all UArizona staff and faculty). Thank you Mona! To support the UArizona vaccination POD, a small army of volunteers was needed, and assistant professor Dr. Kristen Pogreba-Brown organized the campaign to recruit and schedule all those volunteers (more than 100 per day). As of this writing that campaign has successfully signed up over 1800 volunteers and counting. Thank you Kristen! Please sign up to volunteer and help stop COVID.
Guidance to register for your vaccine shot in Pima County, and information about the different Phases of distribution (currently Phase1b), can be found on the Pima County Health Department vaccination page. Information about the UArizona POD and registration for educators can be found on the MEZCOPH vaccination page and the UArizona vaccination webpage.
Spring Semester 2021
We are pleased to report that the Spring 2021 semester has gone smoothly so far for our public health students. Classes remain predominantly online in “stage 1” status. You can read the most recent update from President Robbins and UA News. We remind everyone that students who will be on-campus for any reason during Spring 2021 will be required to get tested weekly with the new “saline gargle test” for COVID-19. An overall checklist of Spring 2021 guidelines can be found here. Additionally, this semester some employees who are coming to campus will be required to test on a weekly basis depending on their level of contact with others, employee testing information can be found here.
Equity and Diversity
In January we honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his commitment to health equity remains a guiding light for the College as we begin February, Black History Month. I am pleased the Search Committee will convene this month for our new Assistant/Associate Dean for the Office of Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Multicultural Engagement for the College.
I also want to thank all of you who participated in our MEZCOPH Comprehensive Campus Climate Survey (CCCS), and express my gratitude to all our faculty and staff who worked so hard to deliver the CCCS. We will host an internal Town Hall to report on the findings of the CCCS on Monday, April 26, and will provide more information closer to the date. Equity and inclusion remain top priorities both within the College and in all we do to improve public health in the many communities that we serve.
Phoenix Campus
We’re pleased to learn that the Mobile Health Units (MHUs) in Phoenix have been contracted by Maricopa County to distribute the vaccine to underserved populations with a focus on the elderly in public housing. The MHUs have proven so valuable in response to the pandemic for the underserved and Spanish-language communities they serve, and this is yet another example. Thank you to our MHU teams for all you do!
MEZCOPH 2020 Excellence Awards
We again want to thank and congratulate all the winners of our MEZCOPH 2020 Excellence Awards. Learn about the awards and the winners on our website.
New Colleagues
Please join me in welcoming our new colleagues who became part our MEZCOPH community in December and January. Already they are making a difference in so many ways, from alumni engagement to our global programs and beyond.
New Faculty:
Jennifer Bea, Associate Professor, HPS
Kirin Goff, Lecturer, PHPTR (Phoenix), Applied Health Policy Institute
Chris Lim, Assistant Professor, CEP
Refugio Sepulveda, Assistant Research Professor, PHPTR (Phoenix)
Gabriela Valdez, Assistant Professor of Practice; Director, Global Education, Global Health Institute
New Staff:
Paula Hayes, Multimedia Design Assistant, Communications
Maria Jaime, Health Education and Promotion Professional, PHPTR (Phoenix)
Kerry Johnson, Administrative Assistant, Development
Joan Navarro, Administrative Support Assistant, Business Office
Amber Richmond, Coordinator, Alumni Affairs
Dirk Timmermann, Director, Information Technology
COVID Numbers in Arizona
We are relieved to see the COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations trending downwards in Arizona. We watched with alarm as the AZ case numbers shot up in December and into January. Leadership and healthcare professionals around the state rely on Dr. Joe Gerald’s weekly report on the Arizona COVID numbers and we’re all fortunate to benefit from his work and his dedication to keeping the data visible. However, while there is hope in the numbers, Arizona still has the highest infection rate in the nation, and we cannot emphasize enough how important it is that we all continue to wear our masks, stay home, and social distance when in public.
Looking Back at 2020, and the Year Ahead
As I’ve said before, 2020 was a year like no other. We are thankful for our MEZCOPH community and all we have accomplished in the fight against COVID-19 and our efforts to address the far-reaching health effects of the pandemic. You can read about the many ways that MEZCOPH faculty, staff, and students responded to COVID this year in the Year-In-Review story on our website.
In 2020, we showed what we can accomplish as public health professionals using science and compassion to fight a pandemic. As we embark on this new year, I expect both challenges and opportunities to come our way. I encourage you to enter into this semester with enthusiasm and determination, and with the knowledge that, whatever challenges we face, we stand together. 
We look forward to the year ahead, and to the time when we can gather together again, in person, to continue our work building health equity for all.
Best wishes for a safe and healthy start to 2021!
Dr. Kristen Pogreba-Brown Leads Volunteer Recruitment Drive for UArizona Vaccine Distribution Sites

Kristen Pogreba-Brown, PhD, MPH, leads the campaign to recruit students, staff, faculty and community members to volunteer for the UArizona Vaccine Point of Distribution (POD) sites, both drive-thru and walk-in, in coordination with Pima County Health Department. Please help stop COVID!

Learn more and register >

Dr. Kelly Reynolds Helps Produce New Smartphone-Based COVID Test

Kelly Reynolds, MSPH, PhD, chair of the department of community, environment, and policy, worked with researchers from the UArizona College of Engineering to develop a new COVID test that uses a smartphone microscope and could deliver results in about 10 minutes.

More >

Dr. Jeff Burgess Leads Research to Study Stress and Cancer Risk in Women Firefighters

Researchers at the University of Arizona Health Sciences are undertaking a study to better understand the potential environmental and occupational health risks specific to women in the fire service.

More >

Dr. Doug Campos Outcalt Serves on CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

One of MEZCOPH’s Phoenix faculty, Doug Campos Outcalt, MD, MPA, is on the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and is co-author on this December 2020 CDC report on vaccine use.

More >

Dr. Zhao Chen Leads “Saguaro Study” on UArizona Employee Wellbeing During Pandemic

Zhao Chen, PhD, guided an interprofessional team of researchers to survey UArizona employees aged 50 and older about what kind of support they need, then designed programs to provide the support.

More >

Dr. Mona Arora on Team Researching Pandemic Impacts on Essential Workers

Mona Arora, PhD, was part of a UArizona team that researched the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and wellness of essential frontline workers, such as grocery store workers.

More >

Dr. Amanda Sokan Honored as Arizona Gerontologist of the Year

Amanda Sokan, PhD, MHA, LLB, assistant professor in the department of public health practice and translational research, Phoenix Campus, received the Gerontologist of the Year award from the Arizona Geriatrics Society. Congratulations Dr. Sokan!

More >

MEZCOPH Double-Alumna Dr. Felina Cordova-Marks, Wins Woman of the Year Award

Felina Cordova-Marks, DrPH, MPH, a second-year postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Arizona Cancer Center, received the 2020 Woman of the Year honor presented at the “40 Under 40” virtual awards in December, sponsored by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Daily Star.

Arizona Daily Star >More >

Media Engagements

During the pandemic there have been too many media interviews with our faculty to list them all. A few highlights are included below. We thank all of our faculty for doing so many interviews even as they work every day on COVID-19 response initiatives and research, and continue to support our regional and state public health officials.
Dr. Leslie Farland’s Research on Endometriosis and UV Light Exposure Featured in Media

A research publication by Leslie Farland, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics, on the association between tanning beds, sunbathing, and UV light exposure with the risk of endometriosis in women was featured by several media outlets, including the New York Times.

More >

MEZCOPH Public Health Students Wrote an Op-ed Piece that was Published in the Arizona Daily Star

In an effort to influence public policy, a group of MEZCOPH public health students wrote an op-ed piece about Arizona’s response to COVID-19 that was published in the Arizona Daily Star.

More >

Dr. Cecilia Rosales Provides Perspective on COVID-19 and US-Mexico Border

Dr. Cecilia Rosales was interviewed in The Arizona Republic about COVID-19 and the impacts of travel restrictions along the US-Mexico border.

More >

Dr. Richard Carmona Gives Overview of U.S. Vaccination Effort

In an interview with KTAR-FM radio in Phoenix, Richard Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, 17th US Surgeon General and MEZCOPH distinguished professor, talked about the complexity and challenges of the U.S. vaccination effort.

More >


February is Black History Month – Join “Hope in the Midst of Despair” webinar




  • Connect2STEM, the mega community outreach event produced by the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, has welcomed more than 40,000 attendees over the last six years. This year, the event has been reimagined as an online interactive pavilion.
  • Connect2STEM TV will officially launch February 6 on Zoom, offering family friendly programs every Saturday in February. Kids will not want to miss a minute because each week will feature new themes and giveaways!
  • Activities each Saturday in February, 10:00am to 1:30pm: Feb 6, 13, 20, 27.
  • Register:



Graduate Admissions Events Information

  • Learn about the College of Public Health, curriculum, admissions requirements, the application process, and potential public health careers. All Information Sessions include exciting information regarding the MPH, MS, PhD, DrPH, and certificate programs, as well as taking classes as a non-degree seeking student.
  • Monday, February 8 – 3:30 - 5:00 pm. Register:
  • Tuesday, February 9 – 4:30 - 5:30 pm. Register:
  • Wednesday, February 24  – 12:00 - 1:30 pm. Register:



Seminar – Binational Barriers to Medical Care and Their Impact on Care Seeking Practices of Mexican Immigrants



3rd Annual UAHS LGBTQ+ Symposium & Community Health Fair



Webinar: What To Do If Your Employee May Have Been Exposed To COVID-19?

  • SERI (Southwest Environmental Research Institute) in collaboration with MEZCOPH presents a webinar for small business to guide COVID response. Many small businesses have been struggling economically during COVID-19 while seeking occupational health information in order to protect themselves and their employees in the workplace. Join us live to receive expert advice and protocol on how to proceed if you or one of your employees tests positive. Sessions in English and Spanish.
  • Wednesday, February 17, on Facebook Live. English session 6:30pm, Spanish session 7:00pm.
  • More info:



International Conference on Public Health (ICPH 2021)

  • The UArizona Zuckerman College of Public Health in collaboration with faculty from Navrachana University in India will host a virtual International Conference on Public Health covering a range of public health topics from the role of information technology in public health to environmental and occupational health. Submissions encouraged, deadline Feb 20. Registration is free, deadline Feb 19. The conference will take place on Zoom.
  • February 24-26, afternoon and evening sessions.
  • Contact:
  • Register:

W A Y S  T O  G I V E

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All the funds raised for the “Dean’s Fund for Excellence” go to COVID-19 research. You can support this targeted fund by going to our UA Foundation page and making a contribution.

Discover ways to give to the College of Public Health by visiting

Our Mission

The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health is dedicated to promoting the health and wellness of individuals and communities in the southwest and globally with an emphasis on achieving health equity through excellence in education, research & service.

The UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health is the first nationally accredited college of public health in the Southwest. To this day, it is the only accredited college of public health in the State of Arizona with campuses in Tucson and Phoenix.
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