View this email in your browser
  • Message from the Director
  • Career Panel and Alumni Mixer
  • Graduation
  • Undergraduate Summit
  • Faculty Trivia
  • Student Spotlights
  • Alumni Updates
  • Faculty Spotlight
  • Faculty and Staff Highlights
  • Program at a Glance
  • Give
Fifty years ago (1967), the University of Hawai‘i graduated its first MPH class!  We hope to organize a celebration of this event in the fall, and welcome your participation.

Here at OPHS, we continue to prepare the next generations of Public Health workers. As of January 2017, we have 70 BA graduates and about 160 undergrad majors. We are also graduating 30-50 MPH/MS students every year from four specialization areas, and 3-5 doctoral students every year from our two doctoral programs. In addition to our efforts in teaching, our distinguished faculty members are conducting research and providing community support on critical public health issues in Hawai’i.

We anticipate a growing need for new Public Health workers and research findings for Hawai‘i, the US, and the world. More work needs to be done to: reduce exposure to and transmission of infectious diseases (like, Zika, hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections); prevent and reduce morbidity from chronic diseases like diabetes; reduce exposure to tobacco; support culturally appropriate interventions to help people get and stay healthy; change the built environment to encourage physical activity; advocate for improved access to oral health care and behavioral health services; assure access to clean air and safe drinking water; and much more.

Together, we can continue to make a difference!  Please enjoy this issue of the PULSE, and let us hear from you!

Kathryn L. Braun, DrPH
Director of OPHS
The first ever Fall OPHS Career Panel & Alumni Mixer was held in the Biomedical Sciences Building Room D-207 on Thursday, November 17, 2016. A distinguished panel of past OPHS alumni and other community professionals were hosted and participated in discussions with graduating Public Health students regarding on their transition into the workforce and public health career experiences. This semester’s panel included representatives from the CDC, Papa Ola Lokahi, UHM, and Mental Health America - Hawai‘i Branch, just to name a few! There were a total of eight prominent panelists who participated in round table discussions with over 30 students. After the Career Panel, alumni also enjoyed the opportunity to catch up and network over afternoon pupus. 

Please join us for the Spring OPHS Career Panel on Monday, April 10, 2017 from 4:00-5:30 pm in the Biomedical Sciences Building Room D-207. If you are an Alumni and are interested in being a panelist this semester, please contact our OPHS Undergraduate Academic Advisor, Lee-Ann Arakaki at
In fall 2016, we had 31 total graduates (23 undergraduates, 7 MPH/MS students, 1 PhD student). Best wishes on your journey ahead!

The Fall OPHS Undergraduate Summit was held in the BioMedical Sciences Building D-Courtyard on Thursday, December 1, 2016. Forty-five students presented posters of their Applied Learning Experience (APLE) (20 project proposals and 25 final projects) as part of their undergraduate capstone experience.

To request an undergraduate student, please see the APLE Student Request Form.

Save the date! Our Spring 2017 Undergraduate Summit will be help on April 27, 2017 from 4:00PM - 6:00PM in D-Court.
Guess which faculty...
Got to bottle-feed four lion cubs and lost her slipper to one as a chew toy?

Scroll down to the end of the newsletter for the answer.

Maya Heipo‘ala Tsark Uemoto, DrPH Candidate
Maya Heipo‘ala Tsark Uemoto is a current doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program.  She earned her MPH from OPHS, and her B.A. in psychology from the University of Washington.  She is a Native Hawaiian student that is passionate about working with local communities.  Her current research is on Indigenous Evaluation in Hawaii.  She works as a graduate assistant and enjoys mentoring undergraduates.  Maya looks forward to teaching opportunities and has offered seminars on Native Hawaiian health, community engagement, and racism.  Besides being an academic, Maya is also a local artist that has murals in Honolulu and Seattle.

Loren Fujitani, MPH Candidate
Loren’s interests in public health began in undergraduate school at San Jose State University where she obtained a B.S. in Health Science with a concentration in Gerontology. After completing her undergraduate studies, she pursued an internship in the Office of Research & Development at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System (VA) in Northern California. She went on to work full-time at the VA, where her interests in public health and research continued to develop.
Eager to gain international experience, in 2013 she moved overseas to a rural town in Japan, where she taught English as a second language to elementary and junior high school students. Curious to know the secrets of some of the longest living beings in the world, she volunteered at a local, countryside hospital, teaching English to health care professionals where access to the language was limited. It was here where she gained exposure to the inner workings of a universal health care system, and a society where many public health measures are built into the culture.
After returning to Honolulu in 2015, Loren was fortunate to have been accepted into the MPH program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in the Fall of 2016. Specializing in Epidemiology, she aims to apply her academic, work, and volunteer experiences in studying and aiding in improving the overall wellbeing of the unique populations of Hawai‘i. She is also serving as the Spring 2017-Fall 2017 Hui Ola Pono Graduate Treasurer.   

Dejah Fa‘asoa, BA Candidate
Dejah Fa’asoa is from Honolulu, Hawaii, and graduated from Kaimuki High School.  She is currently in her final semester at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa as a Public Health Major.  She is a Samoan student who is passionate about Public Health and maternal and child health care, and her existing research focus is on Cultural Competency and prenatal care among Pacific Island women in Hawaii.  She works as a student assistant at the office of Public Health Studies.  After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts degree she plans to further her education in Public Health by getting her Masters degree in the maternal and child health.  In Dejah’s free time she enjoys exercising, reading fictional novels, and promoting a healthy life style. 
Danielle Nebalasca (BA '15) is working at the University of California at San Francisco Center for Reproductive Health. Remi Kimura (BA '15) is working at the Hawai‘i Public Health Institute. Danielle Lazarus (BA '16) work in Southern California both at a behavioral company in Newport Beach and for the Children's Hospital of Orange County. Sasha Madan (BA '16), Chevelle Davis (BA '16), Aprilei Ramirez (BA '16), and Michelle Tong (BA '16) are all working through their MPH degrees at OPHS. Jenna Lee (BA '16) is working as a Lung Health Coordinator at American Lung Association- Hawai'i.

You can read additional profiles on our Alumni page.

We love hearing from our alumni! Please keep us up-to-date on new addresses, emails, employment, etc. Update your information at
Aloha mai kākou (Aloha to all). She:kon sewakwekon (Mohawk- greeting to everyone).

I am Treena Wasonti:io (it’s a beautiful evening) Delormier. I am faculty with the Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health MPH program. I moved to Honolulu, to take this exciting position, and to begin my academic career, four years ago. Prior to coming to Hawai‘i, I was living in Montreal, Quebec Canada, and working with my home community of Kahnawake (By the rapids), a Mohawk community, on health promotion research addressing diabetes prevention. In 1994, a community-university research partnership called the Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project formed to look at ways ‘to do something’ to ensure future generations would not carry the burden of type 2 diabetes that too many community members are dealing with. This project, which became a movement, was a critical research education for me because it showed me the power of community coming together to address a common cause.

KSDPPs research legacy was my inspiration to pursue doctorate work, and much of my community based research training was learned here. We undertook many diverse research projects, looking at questions of nutrition, physical activity, school well-ness policies, ecological interventions, community research ownership, and community perspectives of diabetes and food security. Most inspiring was working with our community directing rigorous scientific research that would make changes for a healthy future, and valuing our culture and knowledge as foundational for this work.

My own research is concerned with the social context of food practices in families. In the field of public health and health promotion we recognize that the ways in which societies are structured create opportunities for some groups of people to be healthier than others. Therefore understanding how ‘the social’ shapes these opportunities to make healthy choices is what I study. My goal is to demonstrate how the social circumstances in which people live their daily lives shape their food routines and patterns. This work could support advocacy efforts that increase people’s opportunities to make better food choices, such as having adequate incomes to purchase food that is needed, and to support land policies dedicated to producing the traditional foods, so foundational for physical, mental and spiritual health of Indigenous Peoples.

I strive to share what I have learned with the students in OPHS and beyond. My research aims to benefit Indigenous communities, to contribute to the vision of re-vitalizing the health our ancestors once enjoyed.  Some of the ways I am doing this is teaching and mentoring students, of course. I am also a member with International Union of Nutrition Sciences Taskforce on Indigenous, Traditional and Food and Nutrition. This year I had the great experience of being selected to write and debate a policy paper called, “Disparities in Food Insecurity: An Indigenous Public Health Perspective “ at a forum hosted by the Institute on Science for global Policy at Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia, Canada. Food security has become a key area of interest following my participation in 2014 on the Council of Canadian Academies expert panel that published an assessment of Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada.

One of my proudest moments since coming to UH – in addition to being part of the launch of the only Indigenous Master of Health Program around  - was co-presenting at 2016 He Huliau Health Conference with Malia Tector. Malia is from Nanakuli, and trained with me to become a research assistant for our study looking at food practices in Nanakuli and Ma’ili. It was her first time presenting research at a scientific conference.  An added bonus was having Blane Garcia, also resident of Nanakuli, and NHIH MPH graduate, present his poster on a study we worked on for his capstone. I hope to continue research that builds research capacity of Indigenous communities, and health benefits for the future.

Dr. Al Katz (Epidemiology) participated in the CDC gonorrhea press release 

Dr. Yuanan Lu (Epidemiology) has been appointed as APACPH Regional Director for America. 

Dr. Victoria Fan (HPM) had book launch for The Health Workforce in India. 

Dr. Catherine Pirkle (HPM) developed a mobile app, BeneFISHiary, that has the potential to empower pregnant women to make informed decisions about the fish they eat. BeneFISHiary received second place in the 2016 Techawards competition put on by the government of Bermuda. 

Dr. Claudio Nigg (SBHS) playground redesign 

Welcome to our newest additions to our OPHS ‘ohana:

Jason Mitchell, PhD, assistant professor of Health Policy and Management and Social and Behavioral Health Sciences

Dr. Jason Mitchell's area of expertise include: LGBT health, HIV and STI prevention, substance use, use of technology for health promotion, intervention development, and enhancement of couples' relationship dynamics for health promotion and prevention. Currently, Dr. Mitchell has 4 NIH-funded grants (3 with gay may couples, 1 with gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men) that aim to develop and test preventive interventions. He's an avid writer, enjoys mentoring students, and has several research opportunities available.

We are pleased to announce that Lee-Ann Arakaki has been added to our staff as our Undergraduate Academic Advisor.

We bid a fond Aloha to staff, Trina Adaro-Bell and Joyce Gum. We wish them well in their future endeavors.
Director of OPHS: Kathryn L. Braun, DrPH
Associate Director of OPHS: Al Katz, MD, MPH

Undergraduate Chair: Denise Nelson-Hurwitz, PhD
Master's Degree Graduate Chair: Al Katz, MD, MPH
DrPH Graduate Chair: Kathryn L. Braun, DrPH
PhD Graduate Chair: Eric Hurwitz, DC, PhD

Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Master of Public Health (MPH)
Master of Science (MS)
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Epidemiology (MPH, MS, PhD)
Health Policy and Management (MPH)
Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health (MPH)
Social and Behavioral Health Sciences (MPH)
Community-Based and Translational Research (DrPH)
With your support, we can continue to move forward toward our goal of becoming a top-ranked public health program. Your gift will:
  • Help students attend and present at conferences
  • Go abroad for practicum or applied learning experiences
  • Provide tuition assistance
  • Promote a sense of community among our students and faculty
Yuanan LuYuanan Lu, PhD
Professor, Epidemiology

The financial support can help to build a better and stronger Hawaii and China exchange program in Public Health and to promote our international collaboration with China -- the most populated nation in the world. Most importantly, the financial support will help to strengthen our current education in public health globally and enhance the success of our training for future leaders in global health.
Valerie Yontz, PhD
Specialist and Practicum Coordinator

I give to the Public Health Dean's Fund because I want to see our Office of Public Health Studies Program become a School of Public Health again. Mighty things happen with each step taken and everyone giving what they can. I try to do my part along the way.

If you would like to consider a donation in 2017, here are some funds that support our students:
  • The Public Health Undergraduate Student Support Fund (127-3040-4), which supports undergraduates as they engage in service learning projects with community agencies.
  • The Elmer J. Anderson Professional Travel Award Fund (121-4230-2), which supports graduate students selected to present their work at national conferences.
  • The Dean’s Enrichment Fund (120-1710-4), which supports alumni outreach and student recruitment efforts.
  • The China-Hawai‘i Public Health Exchange Fund (127-4830-4), which helps us send OPHS students to study public health in China.
  • The Public Health General Scholarship Fund (121-8340-4), which helps students cover tuition.


Dr. Pirkle was able to bottle-feed lion cubs as a going away present from a friend in South Africa. 
Previous issues of the Pulse may be found at
Copyright © 2017 Office of Public Health Studies, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp