The University of Florida 40 Under 40 awards program honors outstanding young alumni who have made a significant impact on their industry or field and have made important contributions to their communities. The College of Public Health and Health Professions is pleased to recognize three 40 Under 40 honorees for 2021.
Helena Chapman serves as Associate Program Manager for Health and Air Quality Applications in the Applied Sciences Program (Booz Allen Hamilton) of the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters. In this focus area, her team promotes the use of Earth observation data in public health applications, related to air quality management and infectious disease prevention and control. She is Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Trained in medicine and public health, she is passionate about promoting transdisciplinary collaborations that investigate and mitigate risks to human, animal, and ecosystem health. She is a member of the One Health Initiative Autonomous pro bono team and leader of the One Health Commission’s One Health Social Sciences Initiative. Her research examines the complex interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence individual and community adherence to recommended dengue and tuberculosis prevention measures in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
Chad Nielsen is the Director of Accreditation and Infection Prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, and a courtesy faculty member for the UF College of Medicine in Jacksonville. He’s worked as an epidemiologist in federal, state, county, and academic levels and has 10+ years in the field of infectious disease epidemiology. He is responsible for oversight of the facility’s Joint Commission accreditation and UF Health Jacksonville’s response to COVID-19. His infection prevention leadership was nationally recognized by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in 2019. Additionally, he serves as a Public Health Officer for the Florida Air National Guard, based at the 125th Fighter Wing in Jacksonville. His role in the military has included oversight of numerous public health outbreak responses, including the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak of 2014, and more recently when he deployed to the State of Florida Emergency Operations Center to augment the State Surgeon General’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Born and raised in Akron, Ohio State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes was elected to represent her hometown (OH-34) in November 2014. She serves as Democratic leader of the House minority caucus, a position to which she was elected by her colleagues. As a representative, she has pushed an aggressive job creation plan, fighting to keep local jobs for local workers and expand opportunities for middle and working class families in Akron. She has supported young leadership and mentorship programs to inspire young people to reach their goals. She has also worked with health care professionals and colleagues to improve public health, increase access to care, and combat Ohio’s high infant mortality rate. Her passion for social justice extends to issues such as voter rights, criminal justice reform, a more efficient social safety net for struggling Ohioans, and an end to domestic violence. Her work on domestic violence issues has earned bipartisan praise and resulted in her legislation to protect people in dating relationships, House Bill 1, becoming law.