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Graduate School Honors Students, Faculty, and Staff

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Graduate School Honors Students, Faculty, and Staff

Graduate students from the College of Engineering join M. Brian Blake, (second from right) vice provost of academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, as he presents the College of Engineering's Nurcin Celick with the 2014-2015 Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.

Graduate students from the College of Engineering join M. Brian Blake, (second from right) vice provost of academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, as he presents the College of Engineering’s Nurcin Celik with the 2014-2015 Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 14, 2015)— The Graduate School recognized its top graduate students, faculty, and staff at the 2014-2015 Graduate Awards Ceremony, including the Miller School’s Sandra Lemmon as the Outstanding Graduate Program Director and the College of Engineering’s Nurcin Celik as Faculty Mentor of the Year.

Noting that the ceremony, held April 10 on the Moss Terrace at the Student Activities Center, allows the UM community to celebrate the work of all of its graduate students, faculty, and staff, M. Brian Blake, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, congratulated all of the 60-plus nominees “for their accomplishments that continually enhance graduate education at the University.”

In addition to Lemmon, professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology and director of the M.D./Ph.D. Program, and Celik, assistant professor of industrial engineering, seven other individuals from multiple disciplines and all three campuses were honored in the categories of Graduate Student Exemplar, Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant, and Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant. They are:

Qinghua Yang, School of Communication
Outstanding Research Assistant

Aristotelis E. Thanos, College of Engineering
Outstanding Research Assistant

Youaraj Uprety, College of Arts and Sciences
Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Patrice E. Fenton, School of Education and Human Development
Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Alisa Be, College of Arts and Sciences
Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Xiaoran Shi, College of Engineering
Graduate Student Exemplar

Raul Velarde, College of Engineering
Graduate Student Exemplar

View more pictures from the ceremony on Facebook.


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Mindfulness-Based Training Offered at UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center

The impact of chronic stress is one of the strongest factors in determining a person’s overall health and well-being. A growing body of scientific research suggests that mindfulness-based programs significantly benefit a wide range of participants, from those suffering with chronic pain and illness, to those with anxiety and depression. Among healthy or otherwise undiagnosed individuals who want to develop better coping strategies and improve their quality of life, participants in mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) programs report enhancements in variety of ways, including greater focus, joy, stress reduction, coping, and quality of life.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction is an experiential learning program, intended to engage the mind and the body. Based on the program developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, mindfulness training teaches participants to recognize and address stressors by using a variety of meditation and yoga techniques. The program has received widespread international acclaim and is offered at leading integrative medical centers around the world. However, affordable mindfulness-based courses offered to the community by qualified facilitators have been limited in Miami.

Starting Saturdays, May 2 through June 20, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and including a session on Thursday, June 18, from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m., an eight-week mindfulness program will be offered at the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center by Debra Annane, M.A., M.P.H., R.Y.T. Debra Annane, a stress management researcher and group facilitator at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, trains at the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts. She has been a mindfulness meditation and yoga practitioner since 1987. Her warmth, knowledge of stress management and meditation training and public health research come together in a practical, effective, and comforting blend of self-healing techniques that she expertly imparts to program participants.

“The course and the practices are a walking trail into the garden of your life. It’s about seeing the whole picture—weeds, flowers, bugs, and all. When we pay attention to the exact and present moment now, just as it is, the next moment becomes a surprise. I enjoy guiding participants to develop a mindfulness practice that helps them be more fully present for simple every-day moments, just as much as for challenging times,” Annane said.

The eight-week program fee is $290 per person and includes all course materials. Full or partial scholarship may be granted to applicants who submit a written statement of need. For more information or to register for the upcoming class, call Debra Annane at 954-643-5397.


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Miller School’s SafeSpace Program Responds to LGBTQ Students’ Issues


Clockwise from left are Erryn Tappy, third-year student; Robert W. Irwin, M.D.; and Nikhill Bhardwaj, second-year student.

Special to UM News

“It’s not easy feeling you have to pretend you’re something you’re not. It’s a continual challenge, and it wears on you.”

Erryn Tappy, a third-year M.D./M.P.H. student, is talking about her sexual orientation. It is not uncommon, she says, for other students, or even faculty members, to simply assume everyone in hearing range is heterosexual and to make comments or jokes—sometimes about a student, sometimes about a patient—that are disrespectful or “heteronormative,” a term describing the belief that heterosexuality is the only “normal” or correct orientation.

“Personally, I’ve had many experiences like this,” said Tappy. “I identify as bisexual, and there have been countless occasions where I’ve been with a preceptor who assumes I’m straight, and I’m afraid to correct them. I don’t always know how they will respond and if it will affect my evaluation. I feel like I have to choose between my identity and my grades, so I pick my battles.”

Instances like those Tappy describes—some subconscious and unintended, others deliberate and critical—occur regularly at the Miller School of Medicine, she says. For LGBTQ students, it potentially has a serious impact, both personally and professionally.

“In a survey of Miller School medical students last year, 17 percent of the 132 respondents reported they had been harassed, marginalized, or judged because of their orientation,” said Robert W. Irwin, M.D., associate clinical professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and assistant dean for Student Affairs. “In addition, 54 percent had overheard faculty and students making comments that were not LGBTQ-inclusive.”

The survey also found that nearly 20 percent of medical students know someone who, or themselves, had felt the need to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity, and 60 percent were unaware of any resources available for LGBTQ medical students.

As a result, the Miller School has adopted a new training program, called SafeSpace, to give members of the administration, faculty, and staff a greater sensitivity regarding LGBTQ issues and prepare them to serve as mentors or allies for LGBTQ medical students. The offices of those who complete the SafeSpace program become a “safe space”—identified by a stylized “U” logo—where LGBTQ medical students can feel welcome. On the Coral Gables campus, the IBIS Ally Network has a similar mission of training faculty, staff, and students to be effective allies to UM’s LGBTQ community and will hold its inaugural training session on Thursday, April 2.

“We are committed to fostering diversity, and the SafeSpace program is an important part of that commitment,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs, Dean of the Miller School of Medicine and CEOof UHealth, who was one of the first administrators to attend the 90-minute SafeSpace workshop. “Diversity enriches and strengthens the medical environment, and it better prepares us to face the challenges of the future.”

The larger issues extend far beyond the boundaries of the Miller School campus.

“There are serious concerns—not just with medical students, but also with the patient population we serve,” said Irwin, who oversees SafeSpace. “Here in Miami, 20 to 40 percent of the homeless teens on the street are LGBTQ; so are 40 percent of all suicides, on a national level. We want to be able to reach people who want to talk and need to talk with someone who understands their issues.”

Nor are they confined to UM.

“In 2007, the Association of American Medical Colleges came out with national survey results in which one medical student in five reported they had been subjected to abuse,” said Irwin. As a result, the Miller School program has had strong support from LGBTQ students.

“In my second year, I was co-director of MedicOUT, the Miller School’s student LGBTQ organization, so SafeSpace was a natural extension of those interests,” said Tappy, who is one of two student trainers working with Irwin. After the program was initiated by fourth-year M.D./M.P.H. student Adam Crosland and Irwin, she took the lead role in conducting and analyzing the Miller School survey, and she is making it her capstone project.

“We wanted to learn what the experiences have been for Miller School students,” she said, “and the data has been very rich and very telling.”

In fact, some of the instances reported on the survey have been startling:

• Publicly humiliating students about their sexual orientation and asking detailed questions about their sexual behaviors

• Criticizing male students for the way they walk or stand, or suggesting they are gay for having effeminate mannerisms

• Discouraging students from pursuing certain medical specialties because of their gender

• Being treated differently and spoken to less after being found out to be gay

• Being subjected to fear and stress from openly anti-gay conversations that took place in a preceptor’s office

“Improving the campus climate for LGBTQ students means increasing knowledge about and sensitivity toward challenges they may face,” said Tappy. “Part of the training is case-based learning, and we have adapted situations that came out of our survey for the cases.”

Here are the three cases used in the workshop that Goldschmidt and other administrators attended:

Case 1: A small group of medical students is talking between classes. One of them compliments a female student on a new piece of jewelry she is wearing. Another asks if it was a gift from her boyfriend. Later the female student tells a peer that the question made her uncomfortable because she identifies as a lesbian. The peer then makes an inappropriate sexual comment about her identity.

Case 2: A preceptor being shadowed by a student makes a homophobic comment about an HIV-positive patient. The student, who identifies as gay, has heard this same preceptor make similar remarks and tells his advisor that he wishes to switch preceptors.

Case 3: A transgender student is told by her attending during surgery rotation that she should dress more like a “normal” man because she was making a patient uncomfortable. The student was very upset but didn’t want to say anything to jeopardize her evaluation. She confides in her advisor, who later runs into the attending at a lunch meeting. During the conversation, the attending continues to make transphobic remarks.

The trainers have also decided to continue with the survey, to see if there are changes over time. They recognize that changing how people think and act—especially when they mean well and don’t realize that they may be making others uncomfortable—can be a difficult task.

“Stereotypical beliefs are often very subconscious, and much of what we discuss involves undoing some of the ways we may have been taught to think,” said Nikhill Bhardwaj, a second-year M.D./M.P.H. student who is the other trainer in the program. “The workshop gives participants time for reflection, and the feedback so far has been very positive.”

The participants focus on a mix of cases, terminology, and interactive exercises that Irwin says are intended to make them an “ally”—someone LGBTQ students can seek out, knowing they will be both familiar with and supportive of any issues they want to discuss.

SafeSpace is really just a starting point.

“Looking across the country, however, only five hours out of four years of medical school, on average, are spent discussing related topics, and that includes AIDS and HIV,” said Irwin. “Moreover, in our survey, only 40 percent of respondents said we were addressing LGBTQ-specific health topics in our medical curriculum, and only 35 percent said they felt ‘very much’ or ‘quite a bit’ prepared to provide healthcare to LGBTQ patients.”

Part of the answer, said Bhardwaj, is for the program to grow.

“So far we have only worked with deans and administrative staff, but we hope to expand the program to include the larger Miller School community,” he said. “Ideally, exposure to the SafeSpace material will not be confined to just one session, but will be integrated into student learning throughout all four years.”

Information about SafeSpace, including a downloadable copy of the training manual, can be found here on the Miller School website. Individuals seeking additional information can contact Irwin at RIrwin@med.miami.edu or 305-243-2003.

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Miller School Moves Up Again in U.S. News Rankings


Miller School Moves Up Again in U.S. News Rankings

Miller.SchoolIn its continued rise in the rankings, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has climbed to No. 45 in the 2016 edition of “Best Graduate Schools” published by U.S. News & World Report.

The Miller School of Medicine, under the leadership of Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and CEO of the University of Miami Health System, has risen 11 spots in the past nine years in the U.S. News annual ranking of the nation’s top research medical schools.

“The quality of our students, teaching, research and clinical faculty, staff, and our programs continues to improve each year,” Goldschmidt said. “Our mission at the University of Miami is to transform lives through teaching, research and service. It is exciting to see that our commitment to that mission is being recognized on a national level.”

“Our students continue to do us proud,” said Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., Executive Dean for Education and Policy. “Each year, at the end of four years with us, they match very well to highly competitive programs around the country, and that reflects positively on the quality of their education.”

For the research medical school rankings, 118 schools provided the data needed for the ranking calculations. The research medical school ranking model is based on a weighted average of eight indicators, including quality assessment, peer assessment, NIH research activity, and student selectivity.

In addition, the Miller School’s physical therapy doctoral program remains at No. 9 in the nation. The program has consistently ranked in the top 10 since U.S. News began ranking physical therapy programs in 1995; the current No. 9 ranking is from 2012.

The U.S. News & World Report “Best Graduate Schools” guidebook will be on newsstands April 7.

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UM Trustee Appointed to National Panel on Airport Scanners

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UM Trustee Appointed to National Panel on Airport Scanners

UM News

Edward Dauer

Dr. Edward A. Dauer

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (February 6, 2015)—University of Miami Trustee and triple alumnus Dr. Edward A. Dauer, a distinguished diagnostic radiologist in the community and research associate professor of biomedical engineering, radiology, and family medicine at UM, has been appointed to the National Academy of Sciences’ special advisory panel on the safety of ultrasound scanners used to screen passengers in airports across the nation.

As a member of the scientific committee on the millimeter wave machines, Dauer, the director of radiology at Florida Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, will review how the Department of Homeland Security and equipment manufacturers estimate the level of non-ionizing millimeter wave radiation exposures that air travelers are exposed to when scanned by the advanced imaging technology. These screening machines are in use at approximately 160 airports across the nation. Unlike x-ray scanners, which use ionizing radiation that can break bonds in living cells, millimeter wave machines use low-energy, non-ionizing, radio frequency waves to detect weapons, explosives, or other hidden objects.

Appointed by Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council, the committee is also charged with evaluating whether traveler and operator exposures to non-ionizing radiation meet health and safety standards, and whether the design, and the operating and maintenance procedures for ultrasound machines are appropriate for preventing over exposure.

“It is encouraging that an independent panel of scientists and researchers will be able to study and evaluate objective scientific data to assess the safety of this imaging technology and to protect the traveling public,” Dauer said.

James Tien, Distinguished Professor and Dean of the College of Engineering, said he immediately thought of recommending Dauer for the expert panel when he learned about the upcoming study of millimeter wave screeners. “As both an engineer and a medical doctor, he is uniquely qualified to be a member of the study committee,” Tien said. “Obviously, NAS President Dr. Ralph Cicerone was equally impressed with Dr. Dauer’s qualifications.”

Chaired by Kathryn V. Logan, the principal research engineer emerita at Georgia Institute of Technology and an adjunct professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, the 14-member panel’s report is due next year.

Dauer, the first undergraduate at UM to study biomedical engineering, earned his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering in 1972, his medical degree in 1975, and his master’s in biomedical engineering in 2001. His current academic work at UM includes medical physiology, unified medical sciences, radiation physics, and radiation biology. He established the new research lab in scanning electron microscopy at the College of Engineering and is working on electron microscopy analysis of biomedical devices and tissue engineering. He also served on the Florida State Board of Medicine, the state’s licensing board for physicians, for 11 years, including two terms as chairman.

Dauer has served as a member of the UM Board of Trustees since 1996 and is currently a member of the Executive Committee. He was a member of UM’s President’s Council and of the Medical Dean Leadership Cabinet, and is an active member of the Miller School of Medicine Admissions Committee.

A member of Iron Arrow since 1996, he received the School of Medicine Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2000 and the Henry King Stanford Alumnus of the Year Award in 2001 for his ongoing dedication to the University.

Over the years, he and his family have been generous donors to the University, supporting the Richter Library, the Convocation Center, Athletics, the College of Engineering, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing and Health Studies, and student scholarships.




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