Public Health Undergrads' Hard Work Pays Off with Successful Undergrad Summit

After months of data collection, analysis, and thinking critically about public health issues, more than 50 undergraduate public health students put their hard work on display on Thursday in the Public Health Undergraduate Summit.

The bi-annual event drew students and faculty members from all over the UH campus, as well as alumni and public health community members, who came to see the students' posters exhibited at the Biomed building.

"This semester's summit was a huge success," said Denise Nelson-Hurwitz, assistant professor and chair of the public health undergraduate program. "These projects from our undergraduate students make a valuable contribution to the public health community and to research being conducted here in Hawaiʻi."

The students' projects spanned all aspects of public health, and many projects focused on the health of Native Hawaiians or other Indigenous peoples. Leila Chang's project explored the relationships between globalization and changes in the diet of Samoans, and Cherry Yamane's project looked at ways to reduce health disparities in Indigenous populations using interventions that are based on culture.

In one project, which dealt directly with health at UH Mānoa, Pua Yang conducted an assessment of mosquito breeding sites on campus. Mosquito larvae were found most often in littered coffee cups, which accumulate standing water. So, something as simple as reducing litter could prevent the spread of mosquito-born infections on campus.

Prevention was a popular theme with other students as well, with a project on preventing cardiovascular disease from Kelly Knowles, a project on preventing breast cancer by Nathalie Lozano, and one on preventing diabetes by Haleigh Romero.

Some students presented their literature reviews, an early step of completing a project, and are slated to present their completed projects at the next Public Health Undergraduate Summit in May 2019. Julia Andaya presented her literature review on promoting oral health education in kids, and Charlene Mikee Nguyen presented her early findings on promoting breastfeeding for expectant women.  

"Student capstone projects make a difference in the way we understand the public health issues facing our communities," Nelson-Hurwitz said. These capstone projects are completed over three semesters of coursework, where students first familiarize themselves with a public health topic, then work to address it under the mentorship of a community-based or research faculty advisor, then finally link their field experiences and academic learning into a final paper and poster presentation.  

“The projects show that our students are truly well-prepared to enter the public health workforce in Hawaiʻi or go on to graduate school,” Nelson-Hurwitz said. "It is always exciting to see where our students go next with their work."

The Bachelor of Arts in Public Health at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is a new and exciting undergraduate degree program, preparing students for careers in multiple professional pathways in public health. High school students applying to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa may declare Public Health as their major upon entry. For further information about the program, contact the Undergraduate Advisor at

Photo credit: Denise Nelson-Hurwitz

Public Health Fall 2019 Undergraduate SummitBAPH Student and Mentor Fall 2018 Undergraduate Summit

Public Health Fall 2018 Undergraduate SummitPublic Health Fall 2018 Undergraduate Summit

This is a news item. It was posted Dec 6, 2018 at 11:18am and last updated Dec 6, 2018 at 11:18am.

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