SPHHP Students Move to Help

SPHHP students are applying their learning and research during the pandemic, which has offered them an unexpected learning environment in real time.

Public health students in frontline fight against COVID-19

MPH students at SPHHP have been helping local health departments across the state respond to the COVID-19 crisis with since March. Students Arline Matias, Rebecca Hoelzl, Madeline Toczek and Justin Rokisky, Jr., are working with five county health departments that span the western region of the state, all the way to Long Island. They’re completing epidemiologic summaries, arranging for COVID-19 testing, placing and monitoring individuals in quarantine or isolation, and communicating state and federal guidance to providers and the public. 

Additional MPH students are working at Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) to help with COVID-19-related efforts. Some answered a call to volunteer with ECMC’s Planning and Logistic Team, helping with the vaccine roll-out to frontline health care workers and first responders. Others are working as interns on other pandemic-related endeavors.

Videos and sewing machines in COVID-19 effort

Occupational therapy students broke out the sewing machines, making masks and donating them to group homes, corrections officers, grocery store workers and mental health associations. Notes included with the masks thanked essential workers for their service. 

In addition, OT students in the Class of 2021 created a series of activities for children to continue to work on developing their skills while schooling at home. They presented the activities in a series of easy-to-understand videos.

Filling in COVID-19 information gaps

MPH student Alexa Schenk.
  • When Western New Yorkers have questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, they can’t just ask New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo. But UB MPH student Alexa Schenk is making sure her family and friends have someone to turn to for information: Schenk herself. Schenk has become the de facto COVID-19 resource for family and friends since the pandemic begin. Using virtual meetings, email, social media and other channels, Schenk offers easy-to-understand information to help allay fears and educate on ways to stay safe and healthy.
  • SPHHP public health students have taken to video to help fill in gaps in COVID-19 knowledge. Marissa Kawyn (now graduated), Kristin Buell and Katelyn Rogers created short, easily digestible videos, shared on the SPHHP website and social media, on topics like properly removing gloves and the epi curve.
  • Early-career scientists at University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center have published a newsletter offering factual, evidence-based information clarifying the constant flow of information in the media and elsewhere about COVID-19. Jennifer Mongiovi, a PhD student in the UB's Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, contributed the article Epidemiology 101 to the newsletter, Science in Focus. She is a T32 Cancer Epidemiology Trainee conducting her dissertation research on metabolic syndrome and ovarian cancer survival.

Proper glove removal

How to properly remove a single use set of gloves.

Epidemiology: epi curves

What is epidemiology and epi curves.

Service Learning: COVID-19 Vaccine

This video is the culmination of a service-learning project that was part of Assistant Professor Yibin Liu’s graduate-level CHB502 Health Behavior Change course. The course is offered in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions.

In the project, students teamed up in groups to pitch an idea for filming a short video message to promote COVID-19 vaccine confidence. Each team selected a target audience of their interest and surveyed the audience using questions developed based on the Health Belief Model or Theory of Planned Behavior. They presented survey results and evidence-based information gathered from the literature, along with the idea pitch and action points proposed for filming the video. Invited judges and all students in the class reviewed each idea pitch and voted for one group to move forward with creating the video. The group with the highest votes chose to focus their message on women. Students in the group were Taylor Billings, Elizabeth DiCarlo, Sarah Lane, Cailey McGillicuddy and Elizabeth Siciliano. 

CHB502 Service Learning Project COVID-19 Vaccine