Skip to Content

My Arnold School

  • PHRC facade

2024 Awards

The Arnold School's Office of Access and Collective Engagement is pleased to announce the 2024 Access & Collective Engagement Awards. These awards are designed to recognize alumni, faculty, staff and students (graduate and undergraduate) who have made exceptional contributions to advancing access and collective engagement through research, practice, community engagement, teaching and/or advocacy in the public health profession and/or health science fields. 

Zach Jenkins

Alumni Award for Excellence in Contributions to Access and Collective Engagement in Research or Practice

Zach Jenkins is a graduate of the Master of Public Health (MPH) in Physical Activity and Public Health ('17) program and graduated from USC again in May with a Ph.D. in Education Administration. As the Arnold School's Director of Applied Practice, Jenkins manages the relationships between graduate students and the entities where they engage in practical experiences. In this role, he serves as principal investigator for the Graduate Placement Program, which provides students with experiential learning opportunities at the South Carolina Department for Health and Environmental Control, and he developed and oversees the MPH Student-Led Professional Development Initiative. Jenkins' research has investigated the experiences of Black MPH students interning at racialized organizations, explored race-neutrality and the myth of meritocracy related to internship scholarships, and examined the experiences of international student spouses. 

Melissa Nolan

Faculty Award for Excellence in Contributions to Access and Collective Engagement in Research or Practice

Melissa Nolan is an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. An infectious disease epidemiologist, her work specializes in zoonotics, particularly vector-borne diseases. As the director for the Institute for Infectious Disease Translational Research, Nolan engages scientists from across USC as well as institutes in Brazil, El Salvador, and Colombia. Her work as the deputy director for the Southeastern Center of Excellence in Vector-borne Diseases and at her own lab at the Arnold School addresses health disparities, including COVID-19 outcomes for underserved populations, access to telemedicine for rural residents, undiagnosed Chagas disease among Latine patients, and sexually transmitted infections disproportioantely experienced by African American women. Nolan intentionally focuses on neglected tropical diseases, participates in health policy development and community engagement/policy, and fosters diversity, inclusion and leadership in her classroom and research team. 

Kia Zellars

Staff Award for Excellence in Contributions to Access and Collective Engagement

Kia Zellars is the manager for the Laboratory of Zoonotic and Vector-borne Diseases, which is led by epidemiology associate professor Melissa Nolan. Initially employed at the School of Medicine Columbia where she is also an alumna, Zellars has been a lab research manager at USC for over a decade. Throughout this time, she has supported and driven the involvement of historically underrepresented students in research activities while promoting research aimed at solving challenges related to health disparities. By fostering an environment of collaboration and learning, Zellars has contributed to the development of more than 40 student researchers at all levels. She extends her inclusivity and equal-opportunity approach to the broader scientific community as well. By managing labs that focus on addressing diseases that disproportionately affect marginalized groups, Zellars leads by example in her mission to advance health equity while guiding members of underreprented groups to contribute to and learn to lead their own research projects in these areas. 

Anna Chupak

Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Contributions to Access and Collective Engagement in Research or Practice

Anna Chupak is a doctoral student in the Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB) program, dedicated to leading public health interventions to alleviate chronic disease burdens, particularly within minoritized and underserved communities. As a graduate research assistant under HPEB associate professor Caroline Rudisill, Chupak has explored various social determinants of health affecting low-income and underserved populations, examined the role of trust in promoting use of health care services in the post-pandemic era, and evaluated the cost-effectiveness of the Faith, Activity, and Nutrition program, which aims to improve healthy eating and physical activity among African Americans. Collaborating with HPEB associate professor Andrew Kaczynski, Chupak studies the influence of the built environment on health, with a particular focus on health disparities and environmental justice. Additionally, as the Secretary of Mental Health and Wellness for the Graduate Student Association, she advocates for high-quality, accessible health care.

Titi Abiodun

Undergraduate Student Award for Excellence in Contributions to Access and Collective Engagement in Research or Practice

Titi Abiodun is a May graduate of the B.A. in Public Health program. One of the Arnold School's inaugural public health ambassadors, Abiodun is a champion for the field and the school. She is also a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, a mentor for the Multicultural Assistance Peer Program, the public relations officer for the Pan-African Student Association, a resident mentor, a peer leader, and an orientation leader. Abiodun also became involved ithe community service organization, Alpha Phi Omega, and conducted health disparities research in the Nolan Laboratory of Zoonotic and Vector-borne Diseases, where she was supported as a SMART and Magellan Research Scholar and has co-authored multiple publications. Abiodun will build on these experiences with a full scholarship to attend the Master of Public Health program at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health. 


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.