Epidemiology professor Angela Liese has been described as a “triple threat”— excelling in research, teaching and service.
But for Liese, winner of the 2023 Carolina Trustees Professorship, all roads lead to teaching and mentoring, whether her student is in one of her graduate-level courses, a colleague on a research project or simply a resident of South Carolina who needs to learn how to better manage their chronic ailment like diabetes.
“A key contribution to training the next generation of public health researchers is my commitment to excellence in mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students,” Liese says. “My overall goal as a teacher is to empower students as learners and to help them think for themselves.
“I see myself as a facilitator of higher-level learning that requires students to become actively involved in applying concepts and methods to solving problems.”
That dedication is evidence by the success of her students and junior faculty members under her mentorship, says professor Anthony Alberg, chair of the epidemiology and biostatistics department at the Arnold School of Public Health.
“Dr. Liese epitomizes the ‘triple threat’ of research, teaching and service, achieving at exceptional levels in all three domains,” Alberg says. “She is a committed and skillful educator in both the classroom and in mentoring graduate students.”
Liese has been at the Arnold School of Public Health since 2000. In addition to her teaching and mentoring, she has conducted research in nutritional and diabetic epidemiology — two areas key to the health of South Carolinians.
A recently completed study looked at the prevalence of food insecurity for younger patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The next step in that field of study is to create an intervention to help people facing both uncertain availability of nutritional food and concerns about abnormal blood sugar levels.
“The ultimate goal of any intervention we plan is that a person will be better able to manage their diabetes so that their blood sugar levels stay more in the range that they need to be in, but also that their mental health and their quality of life is good,” she says. “And that will take a very holistic intervention approach.”
Liese also is a co-lead on a National Institutes of Health grant of $13.2 million to attract and retain diverse, early stage faculty whose work is related to health equity and disparities. The effort will also include mentorship, training and professional development to help these new faculty members flourish at the university.
“Pulling this successful proposal together, which links the College of Nursing and the Arnold School of Public Health, and now leading the implementation has been a herculean effort,” Alberg says. “There is sacrifice and altruism in committing to this necessary, crucial work, and these are two characteristics that Dr. Liese has in abundance.”