School of Public Health 
Special Graduation Issue
May, 2018
Scarlet Musings
On Friday, May 11, 2018, we celebrated the very talented public health leaders, scholars, educators, practitioners, advocates and activists, at the 33 rd Rutgers School of Public Health Convocation Ceremony - my first as the very proud Dean. It was a moment I took to reflect on the idea of “firsts.” In this month’s Scarletter Musings, I share with you my very first Convocation remarks to the Rutgers School of Public Health Class of 2018:
Firsts are the milestones that mark each of your lives: your first steps, your first day at school, your first crush, your first disappointment, your first friend (Facebook and otherwise) and many, many more firsts that have and will demarcate your lives.
Many of you, like me, are the first in your family to graduate from college, and like Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, our Lautenberg Awardee and speaker, and myself, some of you are also the first generation in your family to be born in the United States. For me these are meaningful and powerful firsts. They are ones to which I turn often as a source of comfort, remembering that even when my career presents great challenges that my life has provided me with great opportunities all made possible by the first actions taken by my parents, who crossed the ocean as teenagers to seek a society of equality and opportunity. So that I, their first child, the child of Greek immigrants who each held a 6th grade education, could benefit from what America has to offer and within one generation become the Dean of one of the Nation’s most important Schools of Public Health.

The field of public health also has many momentous firsts: The first U.S. patent on 3-point safety belts was issued in 1955, an event which has resulted in reducing serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half and estimated to have saved 255,000 lives since 1975 according to the CDC. Introduced in 1796 by Edward Jenner, the smallpox vaccine was the first of its kind, and has nearly eradicated smallpox from the population, and laid the groundwork for vaccines that would follow and save millions of lives. In 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health, chaired by then-Surgeon General of the United States Luther Terry, took the first important stance on smoking as a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action. The Triangle Shirt Factory Fire of March 25, 1911, took the lives of over 100 mostly young immigrant women, making it one of the worst firsts in US history. Yet this horrendous and deadly first inspired Rose Schneiderman, a prominent activist, to help workers organize and to demand workplace reform, a critical first step in the protection of workers’ rights and the evolution of occupational health. And in 1917, the first woman to receive a Harvard University credential was Linda Francis James. Born in 1891 she earned a certificate in Public Health from the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers. Finally in 1862, visionary President Abraham Lincoln, while embroiled in the Civil War, played a vital role in the passage of the Morrill Act, also known as the Land Grant College Act, paving the path for children from lower socio-economic backgrounds to gain access to higher education—this act—the first of its kind, laid the groundwork for your public health degree.

Then of course there are the very challenging firsts - the first to raise your hand in class, the first to start dancing at a wedding…

Read my full remarks to the Rutgers School of Public Health Class of 2018 here.

Perry N. Halkitis, PhD, MS, MPH
Dean & Professor
Director, Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies (CHIBPS)
Rutgers School of Public Health
683 Hoes Lane West
Piscataway, NJ 08854
"Keeping the Public in Public Health"
2018 Lautenberg Awardee & Speaker
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, MD, PHD, was the 2018 Rutgers School of Public Health Convocation Speaker, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Annual Award recipient, and honorary Delta Omega inductee.

Dr. El-Sayed's address to graduates, faculty, and honorable guests focused on the importance of public health in today's society and the role activism plays in the discipline.

Inaugural Practice Day
The Rutgers School of Public Health’s first Practice Day featured over fifty MPH student Practicum/Fieldwork project presentations.

Students from the School's Newark and New Brunswick locations came together to present on a wide array of topics to an audience of faculty, students, alumni, and public health professionals from New Jersey and beyond.
Elsabet Andemicael, MPH'18, presenting her Practicum Project:
"Predictors and Inhibitors of Utilizing University Mental Health Services in South African Students"
Puppies: Busting Stress & Melting Hearts
Puppers [puhp-ers]: noun
  1. doggos
  2. puppies
Puppers took over the Rutgers School of Public Health to help students relieve final exam stress. The very well-behaved pups spent the afternoon giving hugs, showing off their tricks, and napping (the excitement proved to be too much). Learn about Creature Comfort.
Research Highlights
Life Experience and Attachment in YBGBM
Pamela Valera, PhD, MSW, assistant professor of urban public health and social and behavioral health sciences, has co-authored a study, with NYU colleagues, on the impact
of attachment in young black gay and bisexual men (YBGBM). F indings suggest a need for attachment-based approaches to social support interventions, as well as for an increased understanding of social and cultural factors that impact attachment changes among practitioners who use attachment-based therapy models for YBGBM. Learn More
New Ways to Estimate Hep. C
Henry F. Raymond, DrPH, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology,and colleagues, are reimaging ways to estimate the prevalence of Hep. C in San Francisco by referencing multiple overlapping data sources to estimate both the number of people in San Francisco with anti-HCV antibodies and active HCV infection. Current methods of estimating Hep C. leave out large swaths of the population including those diagnosed before 2007, those who have died, those who have been cured, and those who have not been diagnosed with Hep C. Learn More
Increase in Hookah Use Across Three Indecators
Jessica Kulak, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Primary Care Research Institute in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, along with colleagues at the Rutgers School of Public Health and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Institute, have found significant increases in hookah use among public high school students in New Jersey who have never used hookah, those who currently use hookahs, and those smoke hookah frequently. Learn More
April NIH Grant Awardees
Emily Barrett, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology, has received five-year, $2.6 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support research and development of initiatives that promote health and reduce the burden of illnesses and disabilities in
mothers. Learn More
Olivia Wackowski, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of social and behavioral health sciences , has been awarded an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lead efforts to further understand perceptions and the impact of modified risk tobacco product communication.   Learn more
Awards & Honors
Instructor Appointed to State Suicide Prevention Committee:  
Mr. Phil McCabe, Rutgers School of Public Health, Center for Public Health Workforce Development instructor, has been appointed to serve as a member of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) Suicide Prevention Committee at the New Jersey Department of Health.  Learn More

Dean Joins International LGBTQ Health Coalition:
Perry N. Halkitis PhD, MS, MPH, Dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, has joined the scientific committee of the European Union-funded PARADISO project. PARADISO — Participatory Approach to Raise Awareness of Discrimination Against Sexual and Gender Orientation, hopes to fight discrimination in health systems across Europe. Learn More

Faculty Selected to Serve on Regional Health Equity Council:
Teri Lassiter, DrPH, assistant dean for public health practice, diversity, & inclusion and assistant professor in the department of urban public health, has been selected to become a new member of the Region II Health Equity Council. T he Council’s mission is to eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Region II) through culturally and linguistically appropriate programs and policies. Learn more

Dean Recognized as APA Citizen Psychologist:
Perry N. Halkitis PhD, MS, MPH, Dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, has been recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) as a Citizen Psychologist. Dr. Halkitis’ expansive work on behalf of the LGBT community spans nearly three decades and includes researching, educating, and advocating for the
health of LGBT communities. Learn More
Alumni Spotlight
Meet Michael Mascari, MPH’18 - one of our newest alumni! Michael received his MPH in epidemiology and is headed to the University of Massachusetts Amherst to pursue his PhD in epidemiology –
con-GRAD-ulations Michael!

Currently, Michael is a full-time research scientist for Syneos Health, where he has advanced several times over the course of pursuing his MPH. At Syneos Health, Michael received extensive training on documentation practices and how to work in a federally regulated environment.

“The Rutgers School of public health was an excellent place to receive my MPH in Epidemiology,” says Michael on his experience at the Rutgers School of Public Health. “I took evening classes, which allowed me to gain valuable work experience while still obtaining this degree in three years. The classes provoked meaningful discussions and inspired me to go beyond what was required for my courses." 
Under the B1G TEN-t: Rutgers Day 2018
Brian Strom, MD, MPH, Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences, participating in the Center for Tobacco Studies Activity "Say NO to BIG Tobacco"
Rutgers School of Public Health student, alumni, and research groups celebrated Rutgers Day under one BIG Tent on Busch Campus and in Newark with family-friendly activities:

Rutgers SEBS'13 alum trying on personal protective equipment at the Center of Public Health Workforce Development "Suit Up" station.
Rutgers School of Public Health Student Government Association making slime with some of our youngest Rutgers Day visitors.
Faculty Fun Facts: Procession Leaders
Faculty Marshall

Jane Lewis, DrPH, associate professor of social and behavioral health sciences, was the 2018 Rutgers School of Public Heath Faculty Marshall charged with leading the faculty procession into the School Convocation and University Commencement ceremonies.
Fun Fact: Dr. Lewis, originally from Atwood, Kansas, used to be an editor and writer. Prior to joining the Rutgers School of Public Health, she wrote books on coping with childhood cancer for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Washington D.C.

Marin Kurti, MA, instructor of social and behavioral health sciences, was the 2018 Rutgers School of Public Heath Gonfalonier. Marin carried the School's gonfalon (a banner bearing our School's name and symbol) into the School Convocation and University Commencement ceremonies.

Fun Fact: Marin is a trained criminologist who now applies his skills to public health. Some of his research involves collecting empty cigarette packs on the street or going through public garbage to measure cigarette tax avoidance.
Collaborating with Rutgers Aresty Undergrads
Kayla (left), a rising senior majoring in biological sciences with Celine (right), a rising junior majoring in public health at Rutgers University.
Congratulations to rising public health stars Celine LaBelle and Kayla Zambrana! Their poster, "Breast Cancer and Physical Environmental Characteristics: QUEENS Project – Physical Disorder" won first place at the Aresty Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Social Sciences Category.

Celine and Kayla have been working with Cathleen Xing, a Rutgers School of Public Health PhD student, and Jesse Plascak, PhD, instructor in the department of social and behavioral sciences, on measuring neighborhood factors – specifically, physical disorder and physical aesthetics – throughout New Jersey neighborhoods using Google Street View.
Media Coverage
Dean Perry N. Halkitis PhD, MS, MPH, comments on Grindr's new software update that will provide its 3.6 million users with HIV testing reminders and locations of nearby HIV testing centers.
Lindsey Milich, MPH, Rutgers School of Public Health alum, was quoted in an editorial on exploratory research that she and her colleagues at the Rutgers School of Public Health conducted on salon safety.
Leslie Kantor, PhD, MPH, inaugural Chair of the Department of Urban-Global Public Health, is re-imagining how we approach urban and global health through research,education and service.
Dean Perry N. Halkitis PhD, MS, MPH, provides commentary on the Rutgers School of Public Health's new Urban Public Health Program out in Newark, New Jersey.
ICYMI: 21st Century Seminar Series
Air Pollution and Placental Abruption of Acute Onset in NYC presented by Cande V. Ananth, PhD, MPH, professor at the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
“Using Behavioral Economics to Inform Health and Other Policy” presented by Adam Oliver, PhD, associate professor at the London School of Economics.
“Built Urban Environment & Health” presented by Richard Jackson, MD, PhD, professor emeritus, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
“Mad, Bad, and Sad: Syndemic HIV and Mental Illness” presented by Michael B. Blank, PhD, professor, University of Pennsylvania.
Are you a public health professional?
Get involved with PHocus: a summer experience for high school students!
PHocus is seeking public health practitioners and professionals to participate in a Career Speed Dating Event with the high school students participating in the PHocus Summer Experience. The Career Speed Dating event enables the high school students to meet several different public health practitioners to learn about their careers/jobs.

Career Speed Dating Events:
  • Piscataway, Thursday, June 28: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM – At the Rutgers School of Public Health building, 683 Hoes Lane West, Piscataway, NJ
  • Newark, Thursday, August 2: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM – At the Rutgers Paul Robeson Campus Center, 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Newark, NJ (parking will be arranged)
Social Bites
AIDS Walk NYC: Join Team #RUSPH
You can still join Team #RUSPH for the annual AIDS Walk New York on May 20, 2018!

All are welcome to join our team and support New Jersey's ONLY state-wide HIV service provider: The Hyacinth AIDS Foundation.

Can't attend but still want to walk? Register for the Rutgers School of Public Health Team - 3456 as a virtual walker! Questions?
Update: Rutgers Giving Day
Rutgers Giving Day was a huge success due to the efforts of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends, who helped us raise funds for student travel and scholarship. The Rutgers School of Public Health raised over $8,000 for student scholarships and global travel!
  • $6,000 in donations;
  • Won four social media challenges;
  • #1 RBHS School; and
  • #3 School at Rutgers-University.
Social Media Challenge Winners
Mitchel Rosen, PhD, Director, Center for Public Health Workforce Development, won the "RU Global" challenge.
Sarah Kelly, MPH, Practicum Director, won the "From Your Desk" challenge.
Laura Liang, DrPH, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, won the "Scarlet Pride" challenge.
Get Involved
Getting Social @RutgersSPH
Follow and interact with the Rutgers School of Public Health (@RutgersSPH) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Tag us in your posts and show us how you're "keeping the public in public health," for a chance to be featured on our social media accounts and in t he Scarletter .

Follow and interact with Dean Perry N. Halkitis (@DrPNHalkitis) on Twitter and Instagram.
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Rutgers School of Public Health

Rutgers School of Public Health
683 Hoes Lane West
Piscataway, NJ 08854