Public Health Pulse (news, events, announcements)

Events Calendar

May 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
(All day) Final Examinations
(All day) Commencement

Announcements (recent)

  • Please join us on Wednesday (4/29) and Thursday (4/30) to support our students at the Spring 2020 Summit offered via Zoom. Contact Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz via email for complete schedule and Zoom links.

    - Posted 1 month ago

  • Aloha Public Health Students, You should have received notification from University of Hawai‘i President Lassner about the move to online classes starting Monday, March 23 and the plan to resume in-person classes on Monday, April 13. His message, as well as information on the University’s response to COVID-19, can be found here: You probably have many questions! Please know that the Office of Public Health Studies (OPHS) is actively engaged in contingency planning to support student learning and other key functions in response to COVID-19. To this end, the following information is being provided for your reference. However, as noted in President Lassner’s email, “given the extreme fluidity of the COVID-19 situation, this guidance is subject to change as the situation evolves.”

    The UH Mānoa campus will remain open and housing, library, dining and recreation centers will continue normal operation. This includes OPHSAS and the OPHS Computer Lab. For now, the Hui Lounge will remain open to students as well. You should expect to hear directly from your instructors about what to do for each class and the link to use to access their online courses. Online classes may be synchronous (students and instructor online at the same time) or asynchronous (independent work) or a combination of both. Zoom will be the platform most faculty will use in offering their courses online. Further instructions for using Zoom will be provided shortly. You do not need a Zoom account to join a Zoom meeting/class. If you do not have access to a computer or high speed Internet, please let your instructor or advisor know. Note that a smartphone will work for Zoom. OPHSAS has access to four (4) online Zoom “rooms” that we can use to schedule virtual capstone presentations and dissertation defenses should this become necessary. When not in use for online classes, students may request to reserve these Zoom rooms to meet virtually for group projects or capstone practice sessions through OPHSAS ( following a similar model to our room reservation system. Students scheduled to graduate this spring will practice their capstone presentations online via Zoom in PH 789 to ensure you are prepared to use this format.  Doctoral students graduating this spring should coordinate with their committee chair or faculty advisor to arrange their dissertation defense and/or practice sessions via Zoom.   Please check your email regularly for updates and communication on next steps as the situation continues to be reevaluated and assessed. This uncertainty can be distressing. The following resources are available to you:  The University’s Counseling & Student Development Center (CSDC) offers support to all UHM students to assist with personal, academic and career concerns. All services are confidential and free of charge. For more information, you can visit the CSDC website or call (808) 956-7927.  For COVID-19 specific information, the World Health Organization offered the following guide: Or this from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) office:


    For travel guidance please see

    Stay Informed

    UH COVID-19 web page: UH Travel FAQs: Protect yourself from COVID-19: If you have questions specific to our public health program, please contact Tetine Sentell, Director of OPHS,  If you have questions for the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, please contact Ms. Theresa Kreif, Assistant to the Dean,

    Thanks to the OPHS Leadership Committee and the DSW leadership team for help in crafting this message! 

    Tetine Sentell, PhD Professor and Director Office of Public Health Studies

    - Posted 2 months ago

  • The Hawai‛i Chapter of Delta Omega invites all interested OPHS graduate and undergraduate students to submit an abstract for the National Delta Omega Poster Contest Display.  It will take place at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual meeting, scheduled for October 24th through 28th, 2020, in San Francisco, California.  Each chapter is able to select no more than 2 abstracts for the graduate student competition, and 1 for the undergraduate competition.

    Students whose work is selected by Delta Omega’s national committee will receive a $350 cash prize from the national Delta Omega Honor Society, which the OPHS will match, for a total of $700.  National awards will be presented during the Delta Omega Social Hour at APHA.  In addition, students will have the opportunity to present their poster during the APHA scientific poster sessions, and abstracts will be published on the National Delta Omega webpage.

    All abstracts must be submitted via email for consideration to by 3/20/2020, 5:00 p.m.  Submissions must use the attached form.  No late or incomplete submissions will be accepted or considered.

    Students from our department have been national Delta Omega student poster contest award winners for 10 of the past 12 years.  We look forward to your submissions.

    Please contact Dr. Sugimoto-Matsuda if you have any questions.

    - Posted 3 months ago

  • We are excited to welcome Tetine Sentell as the new Office of Public Health Studies director. Mahalo to Kathryn Braun for her leadership of OPHS over the past five years.

    - Posted 9 months ago

  • We are pleased to announce that our Public Health Program has been reaccredited by CEPH for a seven-year term, extending to July 1, 2022.

    - Posted 4 years ago

Events (upcoming)

News (recent)

  • Public health professor forecasts COVID-19 impacts for Hawai‘i

    When Hawaiʻi’s government officials and policy makers want to know what lies ahead in the COVID-19pandemic, they look to University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Thomas Lee, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Office of Public Health Studies in the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, to provide some answers. In his role as the forecaster and modeler for Hawaiʻi’s response effort, Lee analyzes reams of data and gives state policy makers a picture of what the coming months may hold.

    Lee creates epidemiological models of Hawaiʻi’s current COVID-19 infection rate and test results. As part the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) COVID-19 Emergency Response Team, Lee synthesizes these models with the latest science on coronavirus transmission rates, population risk factors and the effects of physical distancing to create forecasts of the pandemic’s possible impacts on the state.

    “The goal of my work is to provide decision makers in Hawaiʻi with the best available information on the possible future spread and impacts of COVID-19,” Lee said. When he began this work in early April, the urgent focus was to predict infections for the coming days and weeks. Now, as the state looks ahead to opening up, his tasks have shifted to figuring out the outcomes of different scenarios.

    Lee is currently figuring out how Hawaiʻi’s case count may change if the state decides to screen all travelers, rather than not screen them. He is working on predicting how many COVID-19 patients may require long-term hospitalization, and at what point it makes sense for the state to create a dedicated skilled nursing facility to care for them. His scenarios on future cases inform HI-EMA’s calculations on how much personal protective equipment Hawaiʻi will need for the second wave of infections.

    Lee’s background

    Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, Lee is an alumnus of the public health program for which he now teaches.

    “The UH Mānoa public health program does a great job in training epidemiologists to be multidisciplinary,” Lee said. Prior to the pandemic, most of his research focused on modeling rates of chronic conditions, such as Alzheimer disease and risk factors for depression.

    As a U.S. Army reservist placed on active duty, Lee relies on his military training to understand the logistics and planning aspects of the state’s larger pandemic response effort. His role as HI-EMA‘s forecaster requires not only data analysis skills, but also the ability to engage in communications, education, coordination and planning.

    “In the military and public health, I’ve learned to look at problems holistically, and that perspective has certainly been needed in this response effort,” he said.

    As part of his work at UH Mānoa, Lee participates with other faculty members in the Hawaiʻi Pandemic Applied Modeling (HiPAM) workgroup. This group includes epidemiologists, data scientists and health care workers, and helps the state in adapting models and other tools for Hawaiʻi’s unique context.

    “Thomas has a rare combination of strong scientific and technical expertise in epidemiology, as well as humility and excellent powers of listening and reflection that are the basis of his excellent communication skills,” said Victoria Fan, chair of the HiPAM workgroup and an associate professor at UH Mānoa. “I believe Thomas is instrumental for the Office of Public Health Studies in bridging the gap between the academic and the real world.”

    Hawaiʻi moving forward

    Lee said that an important part of his work is communicating to policy makers the limitations of the data. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said. “My job is to communicate the forecasts along with the assumptions and caveats that we used to develop the forecasts.” Any possible scenario could lead to a range of outcomes, and Lee feels a massive responsibility to explain to policy makers that his models are meant to provide likely outcomes, not definitive answers.

    Ultimately, Hawaiʻi’s ability to move forward will depend on each person’s efforts to adhere to the best public health practices, such as maintaining physical distancing and staying informed.

    “We all have an impact on how we continue to open up, and how healthy we are as a state,” Lee said. “Everyone has a responsibility to do their best.”

    - Posted Tuesday, May 26

  • COVID-19 Resource Guide and Volunteer Opportunities

    Master of Public Health students, Angel Lynn Talana and Taylor Ronquillo have created a COVID-19 Resource Guide and Volunteer Opportunities Guide as part of their special practicum. This resource guide includes information about COVID-19 parenting resources, childcare services, food support, financial support, and more. They also compiled a volunteer list for those who wish to help communities in need.

    These lists will be updated every other week so make sure to check regularly for any updated resources and volunteer opportunities.

    - Posted Wednesday, May 20

  • Public Health student research event presented virtually

    The Public Health Undergraduate Summit, a much-anticipated biannual event that highlights student projects, went virtual in April at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. From living rooms across the islands, students, faculty members, alumni and public health community members joined via Zoom to watch students explain their completed, or proposed, projects.

    This spring semester, 37 students presented posters of their literature reviews (an early step of the capstone project), and nine others shared research findings or policy analyses based on completed service-learning experiences.

    The capstone projects are completed over three semesters, where students familiarize themselves with a public health topic and apply it, either in a community or research setting while working with a community mentor or faculty advisor. Then students spend a semester linking the academic preparation to their field experiences and presenting their work.

    “We’re so proud of these students,” said Vanessa Buchthal, an assistant professor with the Office of Public Health Studies, who helped coordinate the summit. “We moved to online education while the students were in the middle of working on their projects, and they’ve come through.”

    Many students focused their projects on public health issues facing Hawaiʻi. Yongqi Ou investigated ways to prevent opioid misuse in Hawaiʻi, Taryn Furman studied access to water sports for children with disabilities and Kaitlin Tilitile researched how to increase suicide prevention awareness among teachers in Hawaiʻi. Samantha Harper looked at policies to increase access to after school programs for youth in Hawaiʻi and Christine Quiaoit examined ways to prevent falls in older adults.

    “We’ve received some wonderful feedback from alumni and community members who were excited to participate via Zoom this year,” said Denise Nelson-Hurwitz, the undergraduate chair for public health.

    “The students have done a lovely job, and we’re excited to see some of them graduate and join the community of public health workers in Hawaiʻi,” Buchthal said. “A strong public health workforce is needed now more than ever.”

    - Posted Wednesday, May 20

  • Gene–obesogenic environment interactions on body mass indices for older black and white men and women from the Health and Retirement Study

    PhD-Epidemiology student, Mika Thompson is the lead author of an article "Gene–obesogenic environment interactions on body mass indices for older black and white men and women from the Health and Retirement Study". This study of older adults provides further evidence of genetic contributions to obesity, while also showing that vigorous physical activity, especially in women, may reduce some of the obesogenic consequences of genetic predisposition. Of interest, results were not consistent across black and white participants in this study. The full article is available in the International Journal of Obesity.

    - Posted Tuesday, May 19

  • Soft Launch of PHAC Website

    The Pacific Health Analytics Collaborative is pleased to announce the soft launch of our interim website. 

    PHAC Pacific Health Analytics Collaborative is recruiting!

    - Posted Tuesday, May 12