BCHS Alumni Stories

Alumni of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS) are making an impact in all areas of public health. Here are profiles of a few of our notable alumni.

Understanding and Addressing the COVID-19 Infodemic

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Since the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, social media misinformation appears to be spreading faster than the virus itself, prompting the WHO to declare an "infodemic" of misinformation. During this conversation, BCHS's Steve Albert and Beth Hoffman (BCHS '19 '23) will discuss how COVID-19 related misinformation fits within the framework of science denialism, and provide strategies to help public health professionals and othe... 

BCHS congratulates 2020 graduates

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BCHS CHAIR'S REPORT - Congrats to all our graduates. The May 9 online convocation was a wonderful celebration of student accomplishment. Many families were able to attend. We took advantage of the online format to give faculty advisors and students a chance to reflect on their theses and essays and their experiences in BCHS. As I said during the event, "...what a time to be getting a degree in public health..."  

Angus says disorganized research slows discovery of COVID-19 treatments

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NPR - Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92) says the problem is that our system rewards tribalism, with insufficient motivation for effective collaboration. He's leading a fast-track remap trial for COVID-19, part of an international effort involving hundreds of investigators. He has lots of opinions about which drugs might work best, but he'd rather focus on a trial design that can be as modular as possible and let as many people in as possible.  

Angus says the search for coronavirus treatments is jumbled

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CNN – The scramble for successful treatments is disjointed and chaotic, according to Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92). There are two million people who already have this disease. If even one in 10 has been able to participate in a trial, we could have gone through 100 different drugs by now and known definitively which ones worked or not. The disorder is global, and there aren’t enough tests right now to practice effective public health.  

Chaotic search for coronavirus treatments undermines efforts, says Angus

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WASHINGTON POST - “It’s a cacophony—it’s not an orchestra. There’s no conductor,” said Pitt Med and HPM faculty's Derek Angus (BCHS '92), who is leading a covid-19 trial to test multiple therapies. “My heart aches over the complete chaos in the response.” The lack of coordination puts the world at risk of ending up with a raft of inconclusive and conflicting studies and little idea of what interventions work for the next wave of illness.  

Burke and Baumann start University-wide Creating Community art project

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BCHS's Jessie Burke and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) created this virtual community art project as an opportunity for our Pitt students, faculty, and staff members to nurture a sense of community by creating, connecting, and sharing experiences navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis that is significantly affecting our lives. While the past several weeks have been incredibly challenging, through flexibility, ... 

Angus comments on first results from Gilead coronavirus drug

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ASSOCIATED PRESS - A dozen patients had serious problems but it’s not clear whether they were from the drug or their disease. UPMC critical care chief and HPM faculty member Derek Angus (BCHS '92) said the recovery rate is good but “there is no way of knowing from this series if the antiviral drug was helpful.”  

Angus on launch of ‘learning while doing’ clinical trial to fast-track testing of coronavirus therapies

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WTAE – “The solution is to find an optimal tradeoff between doing something now, such as prescribing a drug off-label, or waiting until traditional clinical trials are complete,” said Derek Angus (BCHS '92), chair of Pitt Med's Department of Critical Care Medicine. “By building this one-stop solution at the point-of-care, we are rolling out an approach that can assure that every patient admitted with COVID-19 can be enrolled in the program.”  

BCHS alum Arnold on harm-reduction during the coronavirus shutdown

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PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER/SPOTLIGHT PA - At Prevention Point Pittsburgh, staff have been trying to raise awareness of COVID-19 for weeks. “If someone shows symptoms, they’re given gloves, a face mask, and extra harm reduction supplies so they can self-quarantine,” said executive director Aaron Arnold (BCHS '13). If the person wants medical help, the staff can arrange that, too. Since early March, they've been including a tip sheet in supply bags tha... 

Angus comments on top 10 ICU must-dos for COVID-19

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MEDSCAPE - In an editorial issued just days after these new guidelines, Pitt Med's Derek C. Angus (BCHS '92), who is also an HPM distinguished professor and associate editor with JAMA, and Lamontagne of Canada say these "represent an excellent first step toward optimal, evidence-informed care for patients with COVID-19.”  

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BCHS Alumni Videos

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BCHS alumna Kavanaugh shares her passion for reproductive health (video) 

BCHS alumna Kavanaugh shares her passion for reproductive health (video)

MEGAN KAVANAUGH (BCHS ’08) became a principal research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute in 2017. Her research portfolio has focused on contraceptive use and service delivery, unintended pregnancy and abortion. In her most recent studies, she has been tracking national trends in contraceptive u... (03/07/2018)
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BCHS alumna Ncube shares her educational journey (video) 

BCHS alumna Ncube shares her educational journey (video)

COLLETTE NCUBE (BCHS ’14) is a future faculty fellow in the Department of Health Sciences and the Institute of Urban Health Research and Practice at Northeastern University. Ncube’s research focuses on determinants of racial/ethnic disparities in adverse birth and pregnancy outcomes and later life ... (03/07/2018)
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BCHS alumnus Wei shares interest in HIV research (video) 

BCHS alumnus Wei shares interest in HIV research (video)

CHONGYI WEI (BCHS '09) recently moved from the University of California, San Francisco to join the faculty at the Rutgers School of Public Health. His primary research focuses on the epidemiology and prevention of HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Asia and in the U.S. He is interest... (03/07/2018)
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BCHS alumna Wilds shares her experiences working at the Highmark Foundation (video) 

BCHS alumna Wilds shares her experiences working at the Highmark Foundation (video)

CHRISTINA WILDS (BCHS '06) serves as senior program officer of the Highmark Foundation. Prior to joining Highmark, Wilds served as program evaluator in Highmark Inc.'s division of community affairs, where she was responsible for all phases of program evaluation. Before joining Highmark, she worked ... (03/07/2018)
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BCHS alumna Bhargava discusses the issues with current standards of student success (video) 

BCHS alumna Bhargava discusses the issues with current standards of student success (video)

Kent State College of Public Health faculty member, TINA BHARGAVA (BCHS, '12) is the coordinator for the Prevention and Control of Diseases course, which is taught online. She is interested in improving online teaching methods. Her research interests include health behavior change and the cognitive... (03/05/2018)
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BCHS alumna Barkowitz shares her experiences as a UPMC health coach (video) 

BCHS alumna Barkowitz shares her experiences as a UPMC health coach (video)

A senior telephonic health coach for UPMC Health Plan, ELANA R. BARKOWITZ (BCHS ’11) also works part-time as an interviewer for the Pittsburgh Girls Study. She previously moonlighted as a paraprofessional counselor at Planned Parenthood of Western PA. Barkowitz is certified in public health (CPH) an... (01/27/2017)
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Alumna Jennifer Jones bridges community and academia at CTSI (video) 

Alumna Jennifer Jones bridges community and academia at CTSI (video)

As community engagement coordinator for Pitt's Clinical and Translational Science Institute, JENNIFER JONES (BCHS ’11) bridges community and academia to build capacity and solidify partnerships. After working at public health non-profit in Washington, D.C., she realized she wanted to earn her own Ma... (01/27/2017)
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Former Evans Scholar and Peace Corps volunteer, Melissa Knorr discusses combining social work and public health (video) 

Former Evans Scholar and Peace Corps volunteer, Melissa Knorr discusses combining social work and public health (video)

MELISSA KNORR (BCHS ’16) is the operations manager at The Open Door, Inc., where she first interned in 2014. During her time at Pitt, Melissa was an Evans Fellow, pursuing the joint MPH/masters in social work. She also served as an administrative intern for Bridging the Gaps and a board member of th... (01/27/2017)
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Alumna TaylorDaphne Morsillo addresses working towards healthier communities - whether in Allegheny County or Africa (video) 

Alumna TaylorDaphne Morsillo addresses working towards healthier communities - whether in Allegheny County or Africa (video)

Even before completing her MPH and global health studies, TAYLORDAPHNE MORSILLO (BCHS ’16) began working on the Plan for a Healthier Allegheny at the Allegheny County Health Department where she also supports the epidemiologist and manager of special projects. Previously, she served as a U.S. Peace ... (01/27/2017)
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Alumna Katharine Horowitz speaks to sexual and reproductive health and our dynamic local communities (video) 

Alumna Katharine Horowitz speaks to sexual and reproductive health and our dynamic local communities (video)

Vice president for education, KATHARINE HOROWITZ (BCHS ’12) has been with Planned Parenthood of Western PA for nearly five years. She is a born-and-bred Pittsburgher, driven to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes for everyone in the dynamic communities that make up our city. Horowitz has... (01/27/2017)
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