University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences  

Louisville,  KY 
United States
  • Booth: 218

The University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences offers undergraduate (BS, BA) and graduate degrees (MPH, MS, MSc and PhD). Areas of study and research include biostatistics, bioinformatics, epidemiology, health data analytics, health policy, health promotion, health management, and global health. Online programs available: MS in Health Data Analytics, MS in Biostatics, and Certificate in Biostatistics.


The University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences
A Message to Prospective Public Health Students

 Press Releases

  • Shakeyrah Elmore, doctoral student, Dept. of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, will be conducting research in Kingston, Jamaica thanks to her Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowship. She will spend the Fall 2021 semester studying at the University of the West Indies, Caribbean Institute for Health Research and working with local hospitals and social organizations. Shakeyrah’s project will employ qualitative research methods to explore the lived experiences of postpartum depression among Jamaican women.

    Shakeyrah’s spirituality and life experiences drive her passion for public health. She explained, “I believe that health is a human right, and everyone deserves an equal chance to live a healthy life. However, we understand the unfortunate reality that this is not the case. I want to be a part of changing this narrative and impacting health, particularly within marginalized groups including populations across the African diaspora, women, and children.”

    Shakeyrah said, “I am deeply honored to receive this award and join thousands of individuals who changed the world in extraordinary ways. I am humbled to be part of such distinction and to conduct global health equity research."

    The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in more than 160 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. Administered in the U.S. by the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright program was established in 1946 to foster mutual understanding through education and cultural exchange.

  • Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer joined partners from the University of Louisville, Seven Counties Services and Spalding University on Oct. 13 to announce plans for a pilot program to deflect a number of 911 calls to a non-police response focused on problem-solving, de-escalation and referral to appropriate community services.

    The pilot, recommended in a report from the University of Louisville’s Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky (CIK), housed in the School of Public Health and Information Sciences, would initially be limited to critical incident 911 calls from LMPD’s Fourth Division. It involves establishing:

    • A Behavioral Health Hub, with health crisis interventionists integrated in the MetroSafe 911 call center. Call takers would direct certain Critical Incident calls to an interventionist, who would help further triage the crisis to determine whether it could be de-escalated over the phone, if the person in crisis would benefit from a mobile response, or if the scenario called for an LMPD response due to safety concerns. Their mission would be “to assist persons in crisis and first responders by providing empathy, connection, de-escalation, and linkage to the right-sized care,” the report says.
    • A mobile response unit consisting of trained crisis interventionists to “rapidly respond, effectively screen and assist persons in crisis in accessing the appropriate level of care.”
    • A 24-hour “community respite center,” a fully staffed safe place where individuals can stay for up to 24 hours when connected by the mobile response team. There, qualified mental health and substance use professionals will provide evaluations and connect individuals to needed services and resources, beyond what the mobile response team can provide onsite.

    The research team recommended the pilot be centered in LMPD’s Fourth Division because of its high number of what Metro terms Crisis Intervention Team-related events; an average of 11.63 events of this type occur each day.

    “Our team has been grateful for the opportunity to partner with the community to build a better way of addressing a public health crisis,” said Susan Buchino, who co-directed the research. “Our research has allowed us to examine what other communities have done, while being intentional about listening to the unique needs of our own community. The one thing emphasized by other cities is that it is best to start small, learn from the community what’s working and what needs to change, and then refine the process before scaling it.” Buchino is assistant professor in UofL’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences and assistant director of the CIK.

    Now that the report has been shared, Fischer said, UofL, Seven Counties Services and other partners will begin to work to implement the plan, with UofL’s stated goal of beginning the pilot in December 2021.

    In announcing a nearly $5 million investment in deflection and diversion programs as part of the FY22 budget, Fischer noted that “some situations are best served by a social service response, particularly when dealing with people living with homelessness, mental health challenges or substance use.”

    “By quadrupling our investment in violence prevention and capacity-building programs, including in deflection and diversion, we are acting on our shared goal of creating a safe city with fewer arrests and less incarceration for non-violent offenses," Fischer said. "I appreciate the hard work of the university team to move us closer to that goal.”

    Louisville Metro Government contracted with CIK to draft the report and implement the pilot, as part of a plan for reimagining public safety with an emphasis on the whole-of-government and whole-of-city approach, Fischer said.

    In its Alternative Responder Model report recommending and outlining the pilot model, the UofL team acknowledged the national debate around public safety, and cites “a pattern in which law enforcement has become a default response in crisis calls, even when the crisis may be a civil issue or one best resolved by health care or social services.

    “Even the officers themselves – in Louisville and elsewhere – admit they are asked to do too much, often without the best tools for serving the person in crisis, especially when it is a behavioral health need,” the report says.

    The report is the result of seven months of study by CIK and a multidisciplinary team consisting of the Kentucky Department of Behavioral Health, Development and Intellectual Disabilities; Spalding’s School of Social Work; Seven Counties Services (SCS); and community members, charged with assessing the feasibility and development an alternative response model that appropriately meets the need of Louisville’s residents.

    “As the region’s leading provider of mental health services, Seven Counties Services is well positioned for this community partnership to help our neighbors in crisis who need mental health treatment or other social services as opposed to a police response,” said Abby Drane, president and CEO of Seven Counties Services / Bellewood & Brooklawn. “We are hopeful that this deflection program will best serve our neighbors and aid in the effort to modernize public safety for the Louisville Metro area. This plan will provide a more streamlined path to critical services for those with a mental health or addiction crisis.”

    Their work included a review of police deflection activities in other U.S. communities; a series of interviews and focus groups with community members, behavioral health providers, and Metro Government leaders, as well as observations of Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) responses to 911 calls that could potentially be deflected and activities in the MetroSafe 911 Call Center, and an extensive review of MetroSafe 911 data.

    The team also engaged with a Community Advisory/Accountability Board, which has met routinely since April to provide oversight and recommendations to the team’s research and planning – an effort to enhance community ownership and sustainability for the new program.

    The report stresses that continual evaluation of the program is key, and that expansion beyond the pilot phase should occur “in phases that allow researchers to evaluate implementation and outcome and identify areas of improvement and success.”

  • Rawan Saleh is a sophomore student majoring in public health with a minor in biology. A first-generation immigrant from Jordan, Rawan plans to eventually apply to medical school and work as an activist in the health sector. She has a passion for social justice, developing speeches focused on ending racism toward minorities, particularly Arabs and Muslims. Rawan shares more about her life.

    You are a first-generation immigrant from Jordan. Tell us about your heritage and how you came to the United States, and ultimately the University of Louisville.

    I was eager to participate in a lot of national speaking contests. I’d only arrived in America from my native Jordan three years prior, after being well-known for that kind of talent, but of course, in Arabic. When my family left, I was just on the verge of becoming a television star. I have been on the radio, and I went to Arabs Got Talent,’ as my Mother would tell people she meets. 

    After moving to Louisville, I first attended the Newcomer Academy, a school for students who speak English as a second language. After one year, I was ready to move on to Fern Creek High School. 

    Jordan is a safe place, however, college education there is expensive. Here it’s expensive, too, but there are more opportunities to go to college because of scholarships. Jordan is a beautiful country, with a mix of the ancient Roman world, and the beauty of the modern world all in one place.  

    Explain your passion for activism and social justice. What type of activism, specifically are you involved in? 

    As a Muslim woman, I promote an understanding of Islam primarily through education and outreach. I have spoken at numerous events in school, my local community, in competitions and in festivals. 

    My biggest accomplishment was winning the 2018 New York Times Generation Z competition and being featured on the online section, and New York Times Print, where teachers around the nation use my statement and picture to make lesson plans for their students. 

     My statement reads: 

    “In this terrible moment, all I want is to be a plain old American teenager. Who can simply mourn without fear. Who doesn’t share last names with a suicide bomber. Who goes to dances and can talk to her parents about anything and can walk around without always being anxious. And who isn’t a presumed terrorist first and an American second.” 

    Just last year, I also have seen the same statement and my picture featured on eleven other national websites, as well as in discussions around the 2020 elections. 

    You have given speeches at both the national and international levels, correct? Talk about your message and who you hope to influence through your words. 

    My message is simple: it is to end explicit racism toward minorities, especially Arabs and Muslims.

    Every day, I receive emails from students and teachers around the nation who implemented my statement and picture in their school lessons, and they tell me about the impact I made changing their perspective. 

    When I won the New York Times Generation Z competition, everyone at my school knew of my story, especially my principal, who encouraged students to talk about these types of issues and changed things around in our school. We have a diversity festival at our school where we celebrate and talk about diversity. I also was invited to speak at the Louisville festival of faith, local events, including my mosque, KUNA and numerous events at my school, where people support me and tell me that I inspire them. 

    I understand you were selected as a top 20 under 20 from the Arab American Foundation. Tell us about this honor. 

    20 Under 20 in 2020 is a celebration of accomplished young Arab Americans. The program spotlights students (16–20 years old) who achieved spectacular success in academics, work/internships, community service, extracurricular activities (such as clubs, sports, music, arts and writing). Also, the award acknowledges achievements demonstrating, but not limited to, outstanding leadership, dedication to a career path, new initiatives, and commitment to Arab American heritage and culture. 

    Anything else you’d like to share with us? 

    I have published my own children's book, From Lina to the WorldInspired by true events. It's a form of activism for health minorities and what they face during the Covid-19 pandemic. I also give free English conversational lessons to more than eight-thousand students around the globe for Arabic speakers.

  • A second-year doctoral student is co-editor of Economics of COVID-19: Digital Health, Education and Psychology. Naiya Patel, M.P.H., B.D.S., is focused on health policy in the Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences. Naiya discusses the new book. 

    Q: Give us a brief synopsis. 

    A: The book makes an effort to broaden the COVID-19 pandemic’s potential impact on different sectors worldwide, particularly in India. It intends to prepare all critical areas like economics, public health, education, digital strategies, psychology and telemedicine, by providing insights through valuable research and opinions of authors worldwide. This way, it will offer a single author’s perspective and the richness of research qualities from multiple experts. 

    The book intends to address each domain of evidence-based public health policy like:

    • Process: The researchers of the book have substantially performed primary or secondary data analysis of COVID-19 policy implications globally, and particularly in India. The goal is to understand approaches and policy implications.
    • Content: The authors of each chapter have identified policy elements affecting economic, health, psychology, education, public service and digital health sectors locally and globally.
    • Outcome: The chapters of the book provide details about the impact of existing/new governmental policy affecting the economic, health, psychology, education, public service and digital health sectors. 

    Q: How did you get involved as co-editor?  

    A: The lead editor reached out to me with a proposal for the book. I accepted and reviewed all potential papers for conceptual work and originality. I then provided feedback to the shortlisted papers, which qualified the first pass inclusion criteria. We also developed the editor’s note, table of contents, book summary and preface. Additionally, we reached out actively to experts in the field with the book's impact report for the potential foreword and sponsorships. I also applied for a couple of book grants and reached out to potential N.G.O.’s involved in COVID-19 work. We finally received a foreword and book sponsorship from India professor, Sukhadeo Thorat, Padma Shri Award winner and renowned economist. 

    Q: How did you become interested in this field of study? 

    A: During my final year of dental school, I took a public health dentistry course, through which my interest developed. I continued to explore by earning a Master’s degree in Public Health (M.P.H.) and publishing my research work in several journals. I was honored to graduate with an Academic Excellence Award. Additionally, I got the opportunity to work in the corporate world through Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical company, which introduced me to health management as a feasibility specialist in clinical trial optimization. I’ve continued my interest by undertaking doctoral coursework at UofL through a merit-based scholarship. 

    Q: Tell us how you landed at the University of Louisville. 

    A: I hold a Bachelor’s in Dental Surgery (B.D.S), and was accepted at NYU for an M.P.H Epidemiology major. I completed one semester, continued working as a graduate assistant for the NYU Tobacco SEED lab and completed one publication with the lab. I then wanted to pursue general public health rather than a specific major and NYU wasn’t offering it at the time. I accepted a transfer student offer with a merit-based scholarship to Long Island University’s M.P.H. program. 

    At LIU, I graduated with Alpha Eta honors, the Academic Excellence Award and worked as a GRA. I have one publication in a reputable pedagogy journal through that position. Over this period, I explored health management in oncology as a feasibility specialist intern (clinical trial designing) at a top pharmaceutical company. This led me to study health management and systems science as a doctoral degree at UofL. I thank the faculty who interviewed me, Drs. Johnson, Creel and Jennings. Without the golden opportunity of acceptance, it wouldn’t have been possible to be part of this wonderful academic environment at UofL. 

    Q: What are your future career goals?  

    A: I’m yet to decide as I am in the second year of my coursework. However, I would love to continue working in academia or a health policy research-intensive position in the industry like my previous position as a feasibility specialist or a Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) professional. 

    Q: Anything else you'd like to share?  

    A: You can now find the book on Amazon! It wouldn’t have been possible if the University of Louisville and my department had not been so supportive. In these uncertain times, I cannot give enough thanks to the university for making sure graduate research assistants and students receive the resources we need. The people of UofL are welcoming, wonderful, and I cannot trade being part of UofL for anything in the world. 

  • By: Monica Wendel, DrPH, MA, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice, Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, Co-Director, Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky

    Racism is a Public Health Crisis

    The disproportionate impact of COVID-19, along with widespread protests for racial justice, is forcing a long overdue reckoning with the history of our country in general and Louisville specifically, and how that history has shaped the systems, policies, practices, collective narratives, and behaviors we exist with today. Many individuals and organizations have made statements to clarify their position regarding white supremacy, systemic racism, racial injustice, and police brutality. Although the words of solidarity are encouraging, the reality is that they must be followed with actions and change or they are just words…which our community has used to placate Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) throughout history.

    Now must be different. The criminalization of Blackness and state sanctioned violence against Black people must be dismantled. The words without actions play is not fooling anybody. In Louisville, this is evidenced in the ongoing protests for #JusticeForBreonna and the full-throated public indictment of Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Metro for their slow, tone-deaf, and inadequate responses, despite the efforts of some local leaders. The mayor’s words and lack of action continue to result in further death, trauma, and destruction of community. Failure to act on the side of justice has cost the lives of David McAtee and Tyler Gerth and further alienation and traumatization of the Black Louisville community. These wounds fester. If we want healing, we have to choose it and do the work.

    First, we must learn the reality of historyRace is an inventedconstruct. There is no scientific basis for race – it was created specifically for the purpose of oppression and justifying slavery and white supremacy. This country was born of and is steeped in racial violence. From genocide to colonization to slavery to indentured servitude to sharecropping to Jim Crow to redlining to insidious laws and systems to mass incarceration. And to consider these issues is both inherently political and inherently apolitical. These issues are so often framed as political issues (right vs. left; conservative vs. progressive) to shift the focus and avoid having to actually address the issues themselves. However, these are fundamentally moral issues, driven by what we believe about the value and inviolable rights of human beings, as well as who qualifies as human and thus deserving of those rights.

    Racism is a public health emergency. The field of public health touts its foundations and grounding in social justice, but we are not innocent. Racism is a pandemic that has been driving inequitable morbidity and mortality for centuries, and public health has done little to “remove the handle from the pump.” As the field’s understanding of social ecology, structural and social determinants, and root causes deepens, we must sharpen the focus of our actions to address them.

    Justice is a prerequisite for health equity.

    This requires action at all levels. What do we do as individuals? What do we do as social groups? What do we do as organizations? What do we do as communities? What do we do as societies? As suggested by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, we are either racist or anti-racist; there is no middle ground. Silence is choosing a side. Complacency is choosing a side. Ignoring the issue is choosing a side. Deflecting attention from the issue is choosing a side. As stated by Paolo Freire, “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” In line with Freirean philosophy, whether we recognize it or not, systemic injustices dehumanize us all. He argues that every single person seeks fulfillment that is achieved by becoming more fully human. My participation in the dehumanization of others—whether directly or by my silence—inhibits my progress toward becoming more fully human. If I allow my good fortune to blind me to the suffering of others, we are both dehumanized. If I allow my privileged position to callous my soul against systemic injustice, I am dehumanized. And the dehumanization of any of us in a community robs us all of the tremendous potential that exists when the humanity of every individual is honored and liberation is achieved. As stated by American poet Emma Lazarus in 1883 and later echoed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, and Maya Angelou, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” All means all. Let us not mistake our privilege for freedom. Let us not mistake our comfort for freedom. Let us not mistake our wealth for freedom. Let us not mistake our patriotism for freedom.

    My humanity is bound to yours, my liberation to yours, whoever you may be. Because of that, I commit to actively seeing, acknowledging, and elevating your humanity in any way that I can, however uncomfortable or risky that may be. I commit to listening, especially when it’s hard. I commit to not looking away. I commit to being open to critical feedback in my pursuit of becoming more fully human. I personally commit —as a faculty member, a mentor, a research leader, a department chair, an associate dean, an institute director—to embedding justice and equity into the processes and structures and content of whatever I influence with my position and power.

    Specifically as public health professionals, we must engage in praxis. We must listen to the voices of our fellow humans in pain. Their pain isn’t new. They have been telling us the need to fix all of this for years—we just haven’t listened. We must critically reflect on our own thoughts and actions, and based on what we find, think and act in ways that promote justice and healing.

    For those of us who benefit from whiteness, we must consciously de-center our own experiences—in humility, realizing that our experiences should have never been considered the norm or the standard. We must bear witness to the realities of others’ lives. De-centering myself means recognizing that my experience is one of many that make up the whole of humanity, not the one by which others’ experiences should be assessed as weird or abnormal or uncivilized. We must acknowledge and re-create our systems of power that advantage some and exploit others. We must relinquish our proclivity to white saviorism and paternalism toward the communities we have hurt. And we must institutionalize all of this into the way we educate ourselves and others, both in the structures of our institutions and in the focus and content of what we teach. The mission of our field is to advance equity. To do that, we must choose to use our power and platforms to demand and pursue justice.

    SPHIS Dean Craig Blakely moderated a discussion on racism as a public health issue. Dr. Monica Wendel and Trinidad Jackson, MS, MPH, Senior Research Associate, Office of Public Health Practice, participated in this discussion. Click to view a recording of the event.  


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