News & Events

In the Field

  • Professor Ethan Mereish recently appeared on an important Kojo show to discuss youth suicide rates and a new report from the CDC. Prof. Mereish gave great insight into the issue and poor mental health outcomes as it relates to LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ youth of color, highlighting an important aspect that the report did not address. The article and show were titled Youth Suicide Rates are Increasing. Whats Happening- And What Can We Do to Stop It? This was his first radio show appearance. 
  • Professor Katie Holton and Elizabeth Brandley attended the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research conference in London, during which Holton chaired the opening session, moderated a symposium, and gave a talk about improvements in anxiety and PTSD observed in Gulf War veterans on a low glutamate diet.
  • Professor Jolynn Gardner presented "Empathy Mapping: Improving Design and Effectiveness of Health Promotion Interventions" at the Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference in April.
  • Professor Celeste Davis will participate in Organizing for Health: A Public Health Awakened Training in October as a member of the DC Public Health Awakened leadership team.
  • Professor Jody Gan presented three workshops on self-care and wellness for academic excellence for first generation college students through CollegeTracks Success Orientation in Maryland.
  • Professor Elissa Margolin was invited by the International Human Rights Law Clinic to give a talk on the use of mindfulness as a tool to build resilience and promote professional sustainability, particularly in the context of international legal work that involves vicarious trauma. The class was held on February 22, 2019 and was titled Trauma Stewardship, “Winning” and “Losing,” Sustainability and Professional Identity. 
  • Professor Jessica Young published Does most of your paycheck go to rent? That may be hurting your health in The Conversation.
  • Professor Jessica Young published Associations between Obesity, Obesogenic Environments, and Structural Racism Vary by County-Level Racial Composition. Hear an interview with Dr. Young (starting at 14:36) in Money Alone Can't Save Us: Why Are Black Women Disproportionately Dying During Childbirth?
  • Dr. Jolynn Gardner moderated the Cancer Disparities and Inequities Panel at the National Cancer Prevention Workshop on Capitol Hill on February 6, 2019.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Cotter facilitated a continuing education seminar on February 6, 2019 at Children's National Medical Center titled, "Mindfulness as a Tool to Promote Healthy Eating." This continuing education seminar focused on the use of mindfulness-based interventions to address eating and weight-related concerns, integrating theory and research with practical tools that can be used with clients.
  • Article from Anastasia Snelling, Sarah Irvine Belson, and Emily HeapReconsidering Maslow: The Role of the School Health Policy in a Holistic Approach to Child Health and Wellness
  • Dr. Anastasia Snelling has been awarded Healthy Corner Store Grant from the DC Deparment of Health. The grant will evaluate the corner store program to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in Wards 5, 7, and 8. This grant is targeted to SNAP recipients. The project will provide monetary incentives to SNAP customers every time they purchase fresh produce by giving them a $5.00 coupon to be used on their next purchase of fresh produce.
  • Dr. Kathleen Holton was an invited speaker at the 2018 Multiple Sclerosis Wellness Research Symposium in Portland, OR on October 30, 2018. Dr. Holton's talk was titled “Utilizing Antioxidants in MS Research.”
  • Dr. Elizabeth Cotter and Professor Allison Tepper spoke in October 2018 at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo held in Washington, DC.
  • Professor Celeste Davis spoke at Not on My Turf: Strengthening Athletic Communities Against Abuse
  • Professor Elizabeth Cotter has been awarded Common Threads' Community Insight Grant.
  • Jody Gan published Atima, Honduras: Transformative Health Education on the ETR blog.
  • Jessica Young published When It Comes to Your Health, Where You Live Matters in The Conversation.
  • Article from Jolynn Gardner, Anastasia Snelling, and Cynthia Ronzio: Transformational Learning in Undergraduate Public Health Education: Course Design for Generation Z

Recent Events

Anastasia Snelling and Necia Freeman on stage

On October 22, 2019, the Department of Health Studies (DHS) hosted Necia Freeman at a screening of the Netflix Oscar Nominated Documentary short,Heroin(E) a panel event for students, DHS faculty, and DHS staff. This documentary details three Hunting West Virginia native's (a fire chief, a judge, and a missionary) quest to save their community from the heroine epidemic in the Region. Missionary at Back Packs and Brown Bags Ministry, Necia Freeman, came to speak on what is being done in the community now, details on drug court, and the future of Huntington. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Anastasia Snelling.

Bob Rosen

Bob Rosen is Chairman and CEO of Healthy Companies International. Bob Rosen is the best-selling author of eight books, including the New York Times bestseller, Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World, and the Washington Post bestseller, CONSCIOUS: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life. Bob Rosen presented to faculty and staff in the Department of Health Studies, Human Resources, and AhealthyU about leadership on September 18, 2018. 

Dr. Karambu Ringera

On October 4, 2018, Dr. Karambu Ringera from Meru, Kenya gave an enlightening talk on the importance of empowerment for creating social change. Regardless of a person’s life situation, it is imperative for a person to feel that they have the self-efficacy necessary to take charge of their life. This is essential for improving health behaviors, yet people who come from challenging situations often think of themselves as victims, rather than leaders. Dr. Ringera challenged this paradigm and gave examples of how she is inspiring change in marginalized groups in Kenya by empowering individuals to find change within themselves.

Speaker address crowd beside a slide that says My New Story

The Department of Health Studies showed the documentary, The Liberation, on November 5, 2018. The Liberation tells the story about recovering addicts, former drug dealers, and felons going through the DC Central Kitchen Culinary Training Program. Students from Professor Young’s Living and Dying in DC class and Professor Davis’ Food Justice Matters class attended the event, as well as students, faculty, and staff in the Department of Health Studies. Brendan Canty, one of the directors of the film and Professors Celeste Davis and Jessica Young led a panel to answer questions and discuss the film.

Two women with a microphone at a table speak to a man in a chair.

Health studies group and donated presents

The Department of Health Studies held their fifteenth annual Adopt-A-Family Holiday Party on December 8, 2018. Every year the Department of Health Studies partners with a different organization in order to help families that are in need during the holiday season. This year, the organization that the department selected, United Planning Organization (UPO), was even more special since Dr. Snelling and her team work with UPO to implement nutrition education and wellness programming in their twelve early childhood education centers.

The Department of Health Studies adopted four families from UPO. Faculty, staff, and graduate students from the department were touched by their stories and were excited to be able to help the four families during the holiday season. Over forty faculty, staff and graduate students from the department purchased gifts for the families and attended the holiday party. During the holiday party, presents were wrapped, laughs were shared, and bonds between colleagues and classmates were strengthened.

There were over seventy gifts in total donated, totaling close to $1,700 worth of goods. Each family received winter coats, shirts, pants, shoes, toys, winter accessories, and gift cards. When the gifts were dropped off at UPO, the reactions from the staff were priceless. The staff at UPO were overwhelmed and could not wait to deliver all of the gifts to the families.

panelists Rodrigo Stein, Jessica Rogers, and Molly McGlinchyOn February 19, 2019, the Department of Health Studies (DHS) hosted The Role of Community Organizations in Promoting Health in DC for students, DHS faculty, and DHS staff. Rodrigo Stein, Health Promotion and Health Equity Manager at La Clinica del Pueblo, Jessica Rogers, Development Operations Manager at DC Central Kitchen, and Molly McGlinchy from Capital Area Food Bank led a panel discussion about how their organizations are promoting health in Washington, DC and how students can get involved in their organizations. Professor Melissa Hawkins moderated the panel discussion.

DHS Students and Alumni

The Department of Health Studies hosted the Health Promotion Management & Nutrition Education Networking Event on April 3, 2019. More than 20 alumni and more than 25 students from BS Health Promotion, MS Health Promotion Management, and MS Nutrition Education attended the event. Alumni represented multiple sectors of health, including academic, government, healthcare, nonprofit, and worksite wellness.

Students and alumni were able to talk about their prospective and current career paths and make connections with individuals that have similar interests. Students felt that the networking event increased their awareness about companies and job opportunities in the fields of health promotion and nutrition education.

Thomas Pruski, Deborah Nix, Billy Collins, and Valerie Mitchell Health Where We Worship Panel speaking

On April 2, 2019, the Department of Health Studies (DHS) hosted Promoting Health Where We Worship, a panel event for students, DHS faculty, and DHS staff. Thomas Pruski, Director of Heal the Sick Program, Deborah Nix, Founder and Executive Director of Keys to Canaan, and Billy Collins and Valerie Mitchell from the Cardiovascular Branch of NHLBI led a panel discussion about the benefits and barriers of promoting health in areas of worship in Washington, DC. Professor Elizabeth Cotter moderated the panel discussion.

A professor points to the screen that features a close up of a cell

Science ·

Prevalence of Celiac Disease in South Asia

Globally, the majority of patients with CD are still underdiagnosed, and the prevalence is likely underestimated.
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A child gets their arm swabbed by a physician

Department Spotlight ·

American University’s Public Health Program Receives Prestigious Accreditation

American University’s Public Health Program has received five-year accreditation by the highly respected Council on Education for Public Health.
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Group shot of global health competitions winners

Achievements ·

AU 2019 Global Health Competition Winners Announced

What would you do if you received a $2.5 million grant to address climate change at the local level? This was the question confronting teams of students in AU’s 2019 Intramural Global Health Case Competition.
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Professor Ethan Mereish (left) with research coordinator David Hawthorne.

Science ·

The Lavender Lab: Using the Power of Youth Voices to Improve LGBTQ Health

The Lavender Lab is a new research lab in the Department of Health Studies which seeks to produce and disseminate knowledge to better understand and reduce sexual orientation, gender identity, and racial/ethnic disparities in health.
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Cardboard containers of tomatoes, squash, and peppers at a farmer's market.

Science ·

AU Showcases Online Nutrition Degree

On September 28 and 29, AU kicked off its inaugural Nutrition Education Conference, a two-day event featuring a campus tour and cooking class, career panels, skill-building workshops, and more.
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Isaac Calvert, SIS '20, participates in the dead-lift challenge during Healthy Campus Week.

Student Life ·

Lifting Away Stress

Student uses time in the gym to help deal with the stress.
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