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.


Burke and Baumann take filmmaking to the health sciences

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Jessica Burke and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) have created a new form of public health research called Collaborative Filmmaking. The six-step process engages its participants to create a detailed, multimedia form of study rarely seen in the field. Baumann said she knew Pitt was the right fit for her studies when she came across the work of  Jessica Burke , professor and associate chair in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Scienc... 

BCHS alum joins staff at Decker College new rehab therapies program

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Nicolle Nestler (BCHS ’11) joined Binghamton University in November 2019 as a senior staff assistant for both Decker’s School of Rehabilitation Science, established the same year, and its Master of Public Health program.    

Angus named as associate vice chancellor for healthcare innovation

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Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) named as associate vice chancellor for healthcare innovation. ​This new role will complement his recent appointment as UPMC’s chief health care innovation officer, and foster strategic linkages between the two organizations. Dr. Angus will work to stimulate the fusion of multiple disciplines and skills, blending expertise in clinical care delivery with organization science, decision psychology, machine learning, Bayesian... 

Steroids can save lives among COVID-19 patients, UPMC and Pitt researchers say

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NPR – Pitt Medical Center’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) said that while some worried that steroids could also prevent the body from fighting off the coronavirus, all the coordinated studies reached the same conclusion, which is, I guess we have to stop our trials. It is reassuring that we can get randomized trials executed successfully and rapidly in the face of a pandemic, and it definitely puts us on a sure footing.  

Angus says large antibody study offers hope for virus vaccine efforts

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LOS ANGELES TIMES – A comprehensive study from Iceland revealed that natural antibodies remained stable for four months, longer than was first thought. HPM’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92), UPMC’s critical care chief, said that “will be encouraging for people working on vaccines.” He added that the infection fatality rate of 0.3 percent is in keeping with recent estimates here in the U.S.  

Baumann and Burke create community with shared art space to combat negative effects of physical distancing

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, how have you stayed connected and maintained community connections? BCHS' Jessie Burke and Sara Baumann asked the Pitt community to respond with art projects, which are now available for viewing in a new virtual gallery featured on Pitt Public Health's website. "[A]rt space interventions like this project can be powerful approaches for reducing adverse physiological and psychological health outcomes," said Baumann. ... 

Egan finds short-term PrEP use protects at-risk men on vacation

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MEDICAL XPRESS - "We started this as a feasibility study to see if we could identify barriers to short-term PrEP use and make adjustments. But we were excited when we got the results and discovered that almost all the participants were adherent to the point of protection against HIV," said BCHS’ James Egan (BCHS '14). "This gives us a promising strategy to pursue in engaging at-risk men in HIV prevention efforts that work for them."  

Angus says “Covid vaccine shortages are very likely. Without a plan, it will be a feeding frenzy.”

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THE TELEGRAPH - Derek Angus (BCHS '92), chair of critical care medicine and HPM distinguished professor, says hard conversations about who should be prioritized will be needed both within and between countries. It might be decided that frontline workers should be at the head of the queue, but you could say that minorities who have a disproportionate burden of the disease should have a chance. You must be transparent about your principles of fair... 

Gender Equity Commission report calls for swift action on inequities in Pittsburgh

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PUBLIC SOURCE - A new Gender Equity Commission report lists 11 recommended actions to address gender and racial disparities in Pittsburgh.Gender and race are at the center of its recommendations but the report also mentions how people who are differently abled, elderly or trans, for example, can feel discrimination more acutely. India Hunter (BCHS '19) voiced her concerns. "We, as a city, we’re really good at making a lot of documents and talkin... 

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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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