Alumni, young and old, returned in October to the place where their lives in public health began.
For the first time in 13 years, the annual Alumni Day was held at the School of Public Health's main building at 60 College Street where most faculty offices, classrooms and research labs are located.
Dean Paul D. Cleary personally welcomed the returning alumni to the school. The venue provided a chance to reconnect with the school and to witness some of the breakthrough public health science that is currently underway at Yale. Alumni were taken on guided tours of the tick lab, directed by Professor Durland Fish and home to 10,000s of infected and uninfected ticks in varying stages of development, and the tsetse fly lab, where researchers led by Professor Serap Aksoy are seeking to reduce the threat posed by African sleeping sickness. Tsetse flies transmit the disease to humans.
"For most of our alumni their formative experiences were in this building, so it is only fitting that they return here to celebrate the School and its achievements," said Martin Klein, Associate Dean for Development and External Affairs.
The morning was rounded out with faculty-led discussions on some of the study centers at YSPH--including the Global Health Initiative (Professor Elizabeth Bradley), the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies Center for Eco-Epidemiology (Professor Durland Fish), and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (Executive Director Elaine O'Keefe). There were also presentations on innovative public health research led by professors Michael Bracken (using genetics to predict disease risk and personalize therapy), Trace Kershaw (using cell phones and social networks to promote better health), and Jody Sindelar (who explained how financial models can be used to modify behaviors such as smoking).
"We, in public health, have been slow to embrace technology," Kershaw said. "We don't use all of the capabilities available to us."
A luncheon in the nearby Harkness Ballroom was followed by an awards ceremony that honored three alumnae for their outstanding accomplishments.
- Katrina Clark, MPH '71, was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award for 40 years of work as the executive director of New Haven's Fair Haven Community Health Center. During her tenure, Fair Haven grew from a fledgling clinic into a health care pillar that today serves some 15,000 patients each year. Clark retired in last year.
- Kee Chan, PhD '07, was presented with the Eric W. Mood New Professionals Award. Chan is an assistant professor at Boston University and develops mathematical models to determine optimal public health responses. Her research focuses on infectious diseases, newborn screening and genomics.
- Linda Schwartz, DrPh. '98, was inducted into the Alumni Public Service Honor Roll. Schwartz has worked in Connecticut, nationally and internationally to identify and advocate for the health care needs of veterans.