The College of Public Health and Health Professions is proud to recognize 14 graduates with 2021 Outstanding Alumni Awards. These graduates will be recognized at a virtual celebration for Outstanding Alumni award winners on September 24.
In a 40-plus year career, Harvey Abrams has served in a number of academic, clinical, research and administrative capacities with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, academia and private industry to include Chief of the Audiology and Speech Pathology Service and Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, the Director of Research at the Army Audiology and Speech Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Director of Audiology Research at Starkey Hearing Technologies, and the Head of Audiology Research at Lively.
Dawn Bowers is a Professor and clinical/research neuropsychologist in the UF Departments of Clinical and Health Psychology and Neurology. She is a UF Research Foundation Professor, the Director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases, and neuropsychology director for the UF Health Movement Disorders & Neurorestoration Program. She is internationally known for her expertise in neurocognitive and emotion processing changes associated with age related disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurologic disorders.
After graduation, Christine Davidson worked at Orlando Health in the Institute for Advanced Rehabilitation inpatient rehabilitation unit, with a passion for stroke gait training and neurorecovery. She achieved board certification in neurologic physical therapy in 2015 and now is a supervisor for the outpatient division of the institute. She is involved in advancement and support of the profession of physical therapy at the state and national levels, having served as her district’s chair, working to provide networking, education and advocacy to her colleagues.
Lauren Tabor Gray is an ALS Clinical Scientist, SLP Clinician, and Swallowologist. She is the Co-Director of the Phil Smith Neuroscience Institute ALS Center in Fort Lauderdale. The mission of her current research is to develop efficacious treatment regimens to improve cough function and airway protection in individuals with ALS, in an effort to maintain oral intake and improve quality of life. She works collaboratively with Holy Cross Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in the management of individuals with ALS, developing novel treatments and precision-based, individualized medical care.
Laura Gruber is the Associate Vice President of Administration, Strategy, and Education for University of Florida Health Physicians, the university’s clinical faculty practice. UF Health Physicians is the physician practice that supports the UF Health clinical mission, providing care for approximately 1 million patient visits per year for patients from every county in Florida and every state in the United States. In her current role, she is responsible for administrative activities for UF Health Physicians as well as the Continuing Medical Education unit of the UF College of Medicine.
Abenaa Jones is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Pennsylvania State University. She has expertise in the social and structural determinants of substance use among vulnerable populations. Specifically, her work focuses on drug addiction and co-occurring factors associated with drug addiction, such as HIV/AIDS, and evaluating structural (i.e., judicial interventions, policies) and behavioral interventions aimed at reducing substance use and associated health and social consequences. She is the principal investigator of a recently funded K01 award, “Opioid Use Disorder among Criminal Justice-Involved Women: Integrating Trauma-Informed and Gender-Specific Care with Medication-Assisted Treatment.”
Ellington Jones is the Executive Director of the digestive diseases service line at UChicago Medicine, where he oversees strategy and clinical operations for 14 clinical programs across the Health System and the Biological Sciences Division at the University of Chicago. He has received numerous leadership awards, competed in national health administration case competitions, and was a finalist in ACHE’s Richard J. Stull Graduate Essay Competition in Healthcare Management while at the University of Florida. He is a 2020 recipient of UF’s 40 Gators Under 40 Outstanding Young Alumni awards.
Trevor Lentz is a three-time UF College of Public Health and Health Professions graduate with a Master of Physical Therapy (2006), Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management (2016) and PhD in Rehabilitation Science (2017). He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University School of Medicine, and a faculty member in the Duke Clinical Research Institute and Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. His work focuses on health care system redesign to improve outcomes and reduce opioid use for patients following orthopedic injury and surgery.
Christine Myers is a Clinical Associate Professor in the UF Department of Occupational Therapy, where she serves as the Director of the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. She is also the Director of INSPIRE, an interprofessional training grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and was previously a Co-Director of PREPARE at Eastern Kentucky University, a USDOE-funded training program. Both programs focus on training occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology students to work interprofessionally in early intervention and school settings. Her current research focuses on interprofessional education in the health professions and continuing competence of occupational therapy practitioners, including use of evidence in clinical decision-making.
Chad Neilsen is the Director of Accreditation and Infection Prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, and a faculty member at UF College of Medicine in Jacksonville, where he is responsible for oversight of the facility’s federal 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 has included oversight of numerous public health outbreak responses, including Ebola in 2014, and more recently, when he deployed to the State of Florida Emergency Operations Center to augment the State Surgeon General’s response to COVID-19. His work earned him the Air National Guard’s Biomedical Science Corp Company Grade 2020 Officer of the Year award.
Steven Peterson is a biologist at the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs in Washington, D.C. He is responsible for leading the re-evaluation process that ensures pesticides continue to meet the statutory standards for protecting human health and the environment. Prior to joining the EPA, he served as a Health Extension Volunteer with the Peace Corps in Tanzania, where he collaborated with community members to implement health projects at the community’s clinic and secondary school.
Kathryn Ross is an Associate Professor in the UF Department of Clinical and Health Psychology and Social and Behavioral Sciences Program in Public Health, where she teaches, mentors graduate students, and conducts research focused on health promotion and behavioral approaches to the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Prior to joining UF, she completed her clinical internship and an NIH-funded F32 postdoctoral fellowship at the Brown Clinical Psychology Training Consortium and the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital. She then joined the faculty at the Weight Control & Diabetes Research Center and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
Nicole Tester is an occupational therapist at UF’s Movement Disorders Clinic, where she conducts evaluations and provides treatment for a variety of movement and neuromuscular disorder diagnoses. She is the lead occupational therapist on the Multiple Sclerosis Team and has made substantial contributions to the program development of the center’s MS Fatigue Clinic. She also has been instrumental in developing community resources such as the Gainesville Exercise Group for MS. Prior to becoming an occupational therapist, she worked at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center and held an adjunct position in UF’s Department of Physical Therapy. She had private and federal grants from a variety of different agencies to conduct clinical research in spinal cord injury.
Lu You is an Assistant Professor at the Health Informatics Institute at the University of South Florida. He works as a biostatistician in the TrialNet clinical research group, an international network dedicated to the study, prevention and early treatment of Type 1 diabetes. His duties include planning studies, writing research protocols and performing statistical analyses in collaboration with other TrialNet investigators. He works on both conventional and innovative clinical trial designs for economical and efficient testing of preventive measures and new treatments for Type 1 diabetes. He uses his expertise in longitudinal data analysis, survival data analysis and disease screening systems to analyze data generated from these studies.