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.

Sokol: 2019 Margaret F. Gloninger Service Award

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Jamie Sokol (BCHS ’07) currently serves as an administrator for workforce development and training at the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD). In this role she is responsible for ensuring quality internships and other experiential learning opportunities for Pitt Public Health students, including through the Pittsburgh Summer Institute, a 12-week structured program that matches students to ACHD projects. Her volunteer contributions have gon... 

Raviotta, Zimmerman, Nowalk on the best time to get a flu shot

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BCHS's Richard Zimmerman and Jonathan Raviotta (BCHS '18) and Patricia Nowalk (EPI '81, '93) are among those who recently published research that says that hundreds of deaths can likely be avoided if older adults wait until October to get their flu immunization. Since the protection offered by the vaccine wanes as the season progresses, waiting until closer to the start of the season ensures greater immunity.   

BCHS alum accepted for Harvard crisis leadership program

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Nicolle Nestler (BCHS ‘11) was recently accepted to Harvard’s Emerging Leaders in Crisis Program. Currently, a hospital preparedness program administrator at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Nestler seeks to further develop her leadership, communication, and collaboration skills in public health emergency management and how to effectively lead during times of catastrophic crisis.  

Global Health at Home: Leff on Products of Pittsburgh podcast

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PRODUCTS OF PITTSBURGH - In 2013, Mara Leff (BCHS '16), now director of innovation at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, moved from Washington, D.C., back to her hometown of Pittsburgh to study global health at Pitt Public Health. Her research took her across the world, although after graduating, Leff would find herself leading programs to help solve global health problems right in her own backyard.   

Dougherty named deputy commissioner of alcohol and drug abuse programs in Vermont

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VERMONT BUSINESS MAGAZINE - "I am eager to join the health department in its work to strengthen prevention efforts and to ensure that every Vermonter has access to effective treatment and recovery services," said Kelly Dougherty (BCHS '00).  

Pittsburgh analysis: recommendations to reduce recidivism in Allegheny County transgender women

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ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - As part of her master’s thesis work, Stephanie Creasy (BCHS '17) performed a mixed-methods analysis that involved in-depth interviews with transgender women living in Allegheny County who had been previously incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, coupled with geospatial mapping of the county’s trans-inclusive resources, public transportation, probation offices, and mental health services.  

BCHS team tries new technique to share research with LGBTQ youth (video)

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Post-doctoral researcher Robert Coulter (BCHS '17), BCHS's Jessica Burke, and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) tried using a video approach to share highlights of Coulter's recent research on how welcoming school environments reduce drinking among both LGBT+ -identified students and their heterosexual counterparts.   

Creasy's study provides recommendations to reduce recidivism in transgender women

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MEDICAL XPRESS - Previously incarcerated transgender women can find themselves caught in a cycle that leads to repeat jail time. A new analysis of Allegheny County identifies potential solutions that could lead to transgender women being more successfully reintegrated into society. "I think we are having a moment right now where the needs of transgender people are more visible," said STEPHANIE CREASY (BCHS '17).   

Alumna, Kathryn Puskar, inducted into international research hall of fame

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THE ALMANAC - Associate dean for undergraduate nursing education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, KATHRYN PUSKAR (BCHS '78, HPM '81) has been inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, one of 20 inductees for this year. “It’s really humbling. I feel very honored to be part of that cohort,” Puskar said.  

Felter, Flatt publish study guide for the CHES exam

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BCHS's ELIZABETH FELTER and JASON FLATT (BCHS '13) recently published a study guide for the Certified Health Education Exam. The 200-page book serves as the primary resource for any student taking the CHES exam and is now available through Springer Publishing Company.   

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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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