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What is public health?

public health n. The science and practice of protecting and improving the health of a community, as by preventative health practices, health education, control of communicable diseases, application of sanitary measures, and monitoring of environmental hazards. (The American Heritage Dictionary)

Students of Public Health work to improve the health and well-being of people locally, nationally, and globally through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention.

For more information about the field of Public Health, visit


Students and Professor's possed

Public health faculty lead GIS workshop for students, community members

On November 24, students, faculty and community members gathered for the first annual Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Workshop sponsored by Syracuse University’s Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. David Larsen, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, led the workshop as part of public health professor Sandra Lane’s research work in the area of neighborhood trauma and violence in Syracuse.

Charles Preuss with dog Bear Trauma REU student Charles Preuss with dog Bear - photo credits

National Science Foundation spotlights Falk REU program that trains veterans, non-veterans to conduct trauma-related research

The Trauma Research Education for Undergraduates (REU) program, launched three years ago by Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health, Brooks Gump and SUNY Oswego psychology professor Karen Wolford, trains veterans and non-veterans to conduct trauma-related research. A joint venture of Syracuse University, the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego and SUNY Upstate Medical University, the Trauma REU is offered to 10 students each year. It starts with an intense, immersive summer program--four weeks of trauma coursework while crafting a research project--and continues through the year as students conduct research under faculty supervision. Students are a mix of veterans and non-veterans. This highly interdisciplinary program includes faculty who are geneticists, psychologists and social workers and has contributed to research on stress reduction tools used by trauma patients

Luvenia Cowart Photo and Susan Komen Logo

Falk College Faculty Awarded Komen Foundation Grant for Breast Cancer Awareness, Education Programming

Public Health professor of practice, Luvenia Cowart, working with Maria Brown, assistant research professor, School of Social Work, has received a $47,293 grant from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure New York Foundation to support the project, “Breast Cancer Awareness and Education Program for African American Women in Underserved Communities.” The project’s aim is to reduce disparities in breast cancer and its associated health risks, and to promote participation in mammography and early detection services for African American women in the Syracuse community.

Lutchmie Narine Photo

Study Identifies Key Components for Prevention, Intervention Programs for Adolescent Smoking in China

Falk College professors, Ambika Krishnakumar (Child and Family Studies) and Lutchmie Narine (Public Health) authored “Parenting practices and adolescent smoking in mainland China: The mediating effect of smoking-related cognitions,” which appeared in the August 2014 edition of the Journal of Adolescence. In collaboration with Dr. Yan Wang, Drs. Krishnakumar and Narine examined the direct and indirect associations of general and smoking-specific parenting practices with Chinese adolescents' smoking behaviors. Results suggest that parenting practices and smoking-related cognitions are critical components to be incorporated in prevention and intervention programs for adolescent smoking in China.

Front cover of Healthy You Spring 2014

Healthy You Spring 2014 Magazine

Otto Welcome

Gump to continue leading Undergraduate Program for Trauma Research with Veterans with newly awarded NSF grant

Falk Family Professor of Public Health, Brooks Gump, Ph.D., M.P.H., will continue leading a program this summer for undergraduate veterans and non-veterans (five openings for each) interested in becoming trauma researchers. Gump was one of six faculty from three upstate New York universities (Syracuse University, SUNY Upstate, and SUNY Oswego) who ran this Research Education for Undergraduates (REU) program in 2012 and 2013. As one of several on-going interdisciplinary collaborations in the Falk College, the REU program includes faculty members Keith A. Alford, Ph.D., ACSW, associate professor of social work and Dessa Bergen-Cico, Ph.D., CHES, CAS, assistant professor, public health. The $285,679 grant recently awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will support the REU program for two more years, which is now recruiting undergraduate veterans and non-veterans to participate. Students can earn $3,000 for participating in an intensive four-week summer program from June 2-27, 2014 at Syracuse University.

Photo of Public Health Study Abroad in Amsterdam

Study Public Health Abroad During Summer 2014

Photo of women giving a child a shot

Larsen Focuses Research on Malaria Elimination in Zambia

David Larsen Portrait

In the Amazon port city of Belem, Brazil, David Larsen came to understand the luxury of a few pennies. Larsen, an assistant professor of public health in the Falk College, worked among the people living in extreme poverty in the favelas, while a missionary from 2002-04. "We'd be knocking on doors and saw very close up the devastating effects of the lack of health care, clean water and sanitation," he says. "They literally had nothing." And the simplest of measures—such as an ordinary antibiotic worth a few cents—could have a profound impact.

SU Student with South African Student studying

Syracuse University and a South African youth program team up to provide educational and enrichment initiatives on two continents

When Ivy Green ’14 signed up for a community health education class last spring, she had no idea it would lead to a life-altering journey to South Africa. The focus of the class was to develop a curriculum that would help educate communities about specific health problems and provide possible solutions. Green is interested in global health, so when Professor Mary Ann Middlemiss (Falk College Associate Professor of Public Health) suggested she work on an HIV/AIDS project for an educational and enhancement program called Inkululeko in Grahamstown, South Africa, she jumped at the chance. “As soon as we started collaborating with folks in South Africa by e-mail and Skype, I just knew I had to go there and work with them in person,” says Green, a public health major in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics who traveled to South Africa as part of a four-week SU Abroad summer program. “I was so excited—I bought my plane ticket in February.”

Punting in Cambridge England

Global Public Health Policy: Spring Break 2014 in Cambridge, England

Students interested in the short-term Global Public Health Policy Course being held at Anglia Ruskin Univ. in Cambridge, England over Spring Break 2014 should visit the SU Abroad website for complete information, including dates, costs, and lecture topics. If you are interested in participating in the course, please also submit your application per instructions on the SU Abroad website as soon as possible. During spring semester registration in November, you must also register for this course HTW 300, SEC M001 on MySlice, along with your other spring classes.

Healthy You Fall 2013 Explores New Food Co-op.

The latest health news and trends are featured in Healthy You Fall 2013, now available!

Healthy You news magazine is published by students for students each semester. The health newsmagazine increases health awareness, initiates dialogue about health trends and issues, promotes good health-seeking practices, and fosters disease prevention and healthy living. It has been honored consistently with a Chancellor’s Award for Pubic Engagement and Scholarship.

Public health study seeks participants who have family member, friend with intellectual disability

There are 4.3 million adult Americans with intellectual disabilities who experience substantial health disparities. Consequently, they are at increased risk for preventable mortality, infections, asthma, cardiovascular disease, violence victimization, and mental health problems. A new research study conducted through the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition is currently seeking participants who have a family member or friend with an intellectual disability. Group interviews will be at Syracuse University and will last approximately two hours. Individuals will receive $40 and transportation costs for their participation. For more information, and to sign up to participate, call (315) 443–5981 or e-mail

Syracuse Lead Study

Gump leads NIH study aimed to improve children’s cardiovascular health; currently seeking participants for Syracuse Lead Study

Brooks B. Gump, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor, Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to investigate the relationship between race, socioeconomic status, blood lead levels, cardiovascular responses to acute stress and cardiovascular disease risk.

Participants are now being sought for the Syracuse Lead Study, which will examine environmental toxins that collect in the human body, such as lead, to understand their impact on stress response and cardiovascular health. The Syracuse Lead Study is a four-year project focused on children ages 9, 10 or 11, who live in the 13203, 13204, 13205, 13207 or 13208 zip code areas and identify their race as black or white. Participants and their parents/guardians will be compensated for their time with a stipend of up to $120. The study consists of two appointments at Syracuse University. The first appointment involves a venous blood draw to measure lead levels and questionnaires regarding stressors and support systems. The second appointment requires two echocardiograms and the completion of several computer games in a laboratory setting. Time commitment is approximately five-hours on campus.

To learn more about the study and To participate in it, please call (315) 443-4907 or email

Brooks Gump

Brooks Gump named Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health

Brooks B. Gump, Ph.D., M.P.H., has been named the Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health. Dr. Gump joined the Falk College faculty in 2010 and is currently a professor in the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, where he also serves as the graduate program director for public health.

embody, your well-being, your way

It’s All in Your Mind

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction is about getting in tune with the patterns of your thinking and understanding how your mind works,” says Dessa Bergen-Cico, assistant professor of public health and lead faculty of addiction studies in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. “We spend most of our time thinking about things we’re supposed to do, or things that have happened in the past. We spend little time actually engaged in the present moment. This program cultivates that skill, and there is substantial research on the physical and psychological health benefits of mindfulness.”

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