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Arnold School of Public Health


Five Arnold School students win awards at USC’s Graduate Student Day, including two overall award winners

June 3, 2016 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

Graduate students represented departments and programs* across the Arnold School at USC’s 2016 Graduate Student Day. This annual celebration also serves as a competition for oral and poster research presentations as well creative performance/displays and thesis/dissertation speeches.

In addition to showcasing student work for the university and larger community, Graduate Student Day includes an awards ceremony. Suvarthi Das (Environmental Health Sciences (ENHS)), Caroline Dunn (Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB)), Leanna Ross (Exercise Science (EXSC)), Chiwoneso Tinago (HPEB), and Matthew Yuen (Health Services Policy and Management (HSPM)) all won awards, with two of them (Ross and Tinago) winning two out of the four overall categories for the entire university.

Suvarthi Das

Das won second place overall in the Three Minute Dissertation Presentation for her presentation, “Molecular Cues of Pattern-recognition -Receptor Pathways in Redox-Toxicity-Driven Environmental NAFLD.” Her dissertation focused on the effects of disinfection byproducts in drinking water (one of the major sources of environmental contaminants) on the most important organ for metabolism, liver, in obese individuals. In addition to identifying molecular biomarkers and pathways that play a crucial role in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) progression, she also successfully employed a technique that alleviated the liver damage. A May graduate, Das is serving as a Research Associate in the Environmental Health and Disease Laboratory until she begins her role as Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Massachusetts Medical School studying liver disease with internationally-renowned researcher Gyongi Szabo.

Caroline Dunn

Dunn won the Oral Research Presentation Competition for her room with her presentation, “Successful Losers: Perspectives of Using eHealth for Weight Loss.” Her research examined the eHealth and mHealth (i.e., health apps for smart phone, wearables, etc.) to lose weight. With some overlap, Dunn and her research partner found that certain factors affected technology choice (e.g., affordability), others affected their interaction with it (e.g., timing), and another set affected their evaluation (e.g., feedback). Only a year into her doctoral program (Ph.D. in HPEB), Dunn has already won two national awards and conducts research with the Cancer Prevention and Control Program and the Behavioral Research in Eating (BRIE) Lab.

Leanna Ross

Ross won both the Poster Competition Presentation in her room and the Overall Poster Competition Presentation with her presentation, “Seasonal variation in physical activity levels in healthy young adults." Her study examined the effects of seasonal weather changes on physical activity levels and found a significant association (i.e., highest physical activity in January and lowest in July) between them for certain subgroups. Ross is earning a Ph.D. in EXSC (No. 1 program in the nation) and plans to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship and then an academic career in teaching and research upon her 2017 graduation.

Chiwoneso Tinago

Tinago won the Three-Minute Dissertation Presentation Award for her presentation, “Understanding Conceptualizations and Structural Environment for Improving Pre-Pregnancy Planning for Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Harare, Zimbabwe.” Through her presentation, she discussed pre-pregnancy planning as an innovative approach to improve nutrition status and maternal health of adolescent girls and young women in Zimbabwe—a study that was funded by the Sackler Institute Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences. Tinago graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in HPEB in May and will continue her research and teaching as an Assistant Professor of Health at West Chester University this fall. 

Matthew Yuen

Yuen won the Oral Research Presentation Competition for his room with his presentation, “Who Said What: Complaints Leading to Opioid Prescriptions in the ED.” Based on a study where he analyzed three years of opioid prescriptions within emergency departments, Yuen’s discussion focused the circumstances in which patients are more likely to receive opioid prescriptions (e.g., ages 36-50, private insurance, urban locations, complaints of injury). The winner of an outstanding abstract award for this research from the South Carolina Institute for Medicine and Public Health, Yuen is a doctoral candidate (Ph.D. in HSPM) and has recently begun his dissertation research—which will also focus on opioids.

*The following Arnold School graduate students presented in the 2016 Graduate Student Day competition. View full list of participants from across USC.

Oral Research Presentations

Student Deptartment
Alicia Dahl  Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior
Carolina Dunn  Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior
Morgan Hughey  Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior
Madison DeMello Exercise Science
Justin Hardee  Exercise Science
Diptadip Dattaroy Environmental Health Sciences
Junxiu Liu  Epidemiology
Matthew Yuen Health Services Policy and Management


Poster Presentations

Student Deptartment
Dana AlHasan Epidemiology
Olubunmi Orekoya Epidemiology
Brett Gunn Exercise Science
Kamaljeet Kaur Exercise Science
Christopher Perry Exercise Science
Ryan Porter Exercise Science
Leanna Ross Exercise Science
Firas Alhasson Environmental Health Sciences
Varun Chandrashekaran Environmental Health Sciences
Phani Gummadidala Environmental Health Sciences
Chandrani Mitra Environmental Health Sciences
Charity Breneman Exercise Science
Ran Hee Choi Exercise Science
Dennis Fix Exercise Science
Alycia Boutte Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior
Abdulmalik Alhammad Health Services Policy and Management
Sazid Khan Epidemiology


Three-Minute Dissertation Presentations

Student Deptartment
Suvarthi Das Environmental Health Sciences
Jennifer Ersek Epidemiology
Jessica Chandler Exercise Science
Chiwoneso Tinago Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior
Meng-Han Tsai Health Services Policy and Management


Creative Presentations 

Student Department
Erika Owens  Public Health-General -- MPH