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.

Saldana named Vice President at Abt Associates

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Congratulations to Kelly Saldana (BCHS '01) who joins Abt Associates as vice president, systems strengthening and resilience. Saldana was previously employed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), where she has held increasingly senior roles in the agency's health sector for the past two decades. In her new role, Saldana will lead technical solutions and approaches to international development projects and proposals.   

A Broken System: Health Care Inequity

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WQED - EPI’s Dara Mendez, BCHS’s Patricia Documet, and Diego Chaves-Gnecco (MMPH ’00) are featured in a 30-minute documentary showcasing widespread and troubling health disparities. Lack of access to affordable care, racism, marginalization and other factors have led to increased rates of cancer, diabetes, asthma, and fetal and maternal death in Pittsburgh’s African American, Latinx, LGBTQIA+ and disabilities communities.  

Williams Pate aims to make a difference in healthcare access

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“While I explored a community health career, I found that medicine is my true passion. I know that my public health background will help me to better serve my patients and to better understand how their social conditions may impact their physical or mental health.”  

Two community-created Collaborative Filmmaking films from Burke and Baumann to debut at Nepalese film festivals

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As a part of an ongoing research collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, with funding from the British Academy, BCHS’s Sara Baumann and Jessie Burke have two new community-created films from applying the Collaborative Filmmaking method in Nepal being aired at the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival, and the Pame Film Festival in Nepal this December.  

Robertson: 2021 Margaret F. Gloninger Service Award

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Lyn Barry Robertson (BCHS '05) awarded Margaret F. Gloninger Service Award in recognition of significant contribution to the school or greater community through volunteer service.   

John-Langba appointed regional VP for Africa at the World Federation for Mental Health

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PITTWIRE - Johannes John-Langba (BCHS '04) will serve as regional vice president for Africa of the World Federation for Mental Health organization. Administrative positions in the University of KwaZulu-Natal and his research area is on the psychosocial dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic among university students in five African countries and its impact on careers of persons with mental and neurological disorders.   

This Flu Season is Different. Here's How to Prepare.

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NEW YORK TIMES - In a  study  published on a preprint server in August that has not yet been peer-reviewed, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh used mathematical modeling to predict how severe the upcoming flu season might be based on this increased susceptibility. They reported that if flu and flu vaccination levels are typical of prior years, 102,000 more Americans than average could be hospitalized with influenza — a 20 percent incr... 

Baumann and Burke Talk Collaborative Filmmaking in Health Promotion Practice Journal's Podcast

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BCHS’s Sara Baumann and Jessica Burke discuss the role of art following the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015 in this episode of the HPP Podcast. They explain the origin of "collaborative filmmaking" and their focus on empowering participants and communities and encourage listeners to view their digital gallery and to learn more about collaborative filmmaking.  

Hoffman and Sidani: reducing vaccine hesitancy starts on social media

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WPXI - BCHS's Jamie Sidani and Beth Hoffman (BCHS '19, '22) published new guidance for pediatricians outlining how to effectively talk to kids and parents about the COVID-19 vaccine that includes monitoring the messages being spread on social media. This guidance is broken down by ABC – be Active on social media, Build trustworthiness, and Capitalize on the strengths of adolescents to help spread accurate information.  

Pitt researchers find convalescent plasma "futile' in treating critically ill COVID-19 patients

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - “We speculate that it could be a combination of too few high-quality antibodies in the plasma and these patients being too far along in their illness with a runaway inflammatory immune response for those antibodies to turn the tide,” said co-senior author Derek Angus (BCHS '92), the chief innovation officer at UPMC and chair of Pitt’s Department of Critical Care Medicine and secondary faculty in HPM.   

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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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