Public Health Faculty

The College of Public Health's diverse practitioner faculty bring years of professional experience with them to the classroom. As leading experts in applied public health, they are committed to using real-world experiences and examples to help students put theory into practice.

They also welcome students to work alongside them on cutting-edge research projects in areas such as:

  • Access to Care
  • Community-Based Interventions
  • Drug Use
  • Health Indicators
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Health Needs Assessment
  • Health Literacy
  • HIV/STD Prevention
  • Physician Practice Patterns
  • Prevention
  • Health Service Utilization Patterns
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Social Psychology of Women: Gender Differences
  • Cognitive Factors that Affect Success with Health Behavior Change
  • Child Health Disparities
  • Violence Prevention
  • Adolescent Health
  • Substance Abuse
  • Health Communication
  • Physical Activity Across the Lifespan
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Qualitative Research Instruction

Sonia Alemagno, Ph.D.

Dr. Alemagno joined Kent State University after having spent the past 10 years at the University of Akron. Her most recent roles at the University of Akron were as director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy and chair of the Department of Public Administration and Urban Studies. Dr. Alemagno received the University of Akron Outstanding Researcher Award in 2005. Dr. Alemagno has focused her research on substance abuse and HIV/STD prevention, particularly examining public health services delivered within criminal justice settings such as prisons and detention centers. As principal investigator, she has been awarded more than $5 million in funded research from agencies that include the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Justice, the Centers for Disease Control and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.


PhD, Medical Sociology, Case Western Reserve University, 1991

MA, Sociology, Kent State University, 1984

Heather Beaird, Ph.D

Dr. Heather Beaird is an assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, and Epidemiology. She teaches courses in introductory epidemiology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She received her B.S. in Biology from Kent State University in 1998 and her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Case Western Reserve University in 2005. In addition to teaching, Dr. Beaird spent nearly 10 years serving in local public health as the Epidemiology Chief for Summit County Public Health and the Portage County Health Department. The majority of her work in local public health has involved the management of local surveillance systems, community health assessment, program evaluation, and the development of methodologies for effective public health data utilization. Her passion lies in the application of large administrative data for the investigation of health disparities, particularly as they apply to local populations in need of targeted public health services.

PhD, Epidemiology, Case Western Reserve University, 2005

BS, Biology, Kent State University, 1998

Tina D. Bhargava, DrPH

Dr. Bhargava is a Kent native, and after eight years in California and six in Pittsburgh, PA, she is glad to be back in Kent and at the College of Public Health at Kent State University. She joined the Kent State College of Public Health faculty in 2012 and currently serves as the undergraduate studies coordinator for the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, including the new undergraduate concentration in community-based public health. Dr. Bhargava coordinates and teaches the undergraduate Strategies for Prevention, Health Disparities and Capstone Experience courses. Her dissertation, completed at the University of Pittsburgh, focused on cognitive interference in response to weight loss stimuli in individuals in structured weight loss programs.


DrPH, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 2012

MA, Curriculum Studies & Teacher Education, Stanford University, 2003

BA, Human Biology, Stanford University, 1999

Madhav P. Bhatta, Ph.D., MPH

Dr. Bhatta has almost 20 years of administrative, teaching, training and research experience in the field of public health, especially in infectious disease epidemiology and global health. He has taught for the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (health without borders; infectious disease surveillance and control; global perspectives in disease control and prevention) and served as the program director of the UAB Sparkman Center for Global Health. Dr. Bhatta currently also serves as a consultant epidemiologist for the Carroll County and Tuscarawas County General Health Districts in Northeast Ohio as part of their Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program. As such, he is an integral part of the emergency preparedness response for those two counties and advises the health departments on all the epidemiologic aspects of emergency response and action. Dr. Bhatta currently teaches courses in global health at the undergraduate level and epidemiologic methods at the graduate level. Dr. Bhatta has published about a dozen articles, book chapters and abstracts on topics in public health.


Ph.D., Epidemiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, 2007

MPH, Epidemiology and International Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, 1999

Sheryl L. Chatfield, Ph.D.

Dr. Chatfield joined the social and behavioral sciences faculty at Kent State University in 2015. She previously held faculty positions at the University of South Alabama and the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Chatfield’s focus is on development, implementation and evaluation of interventions and programs directed toward acquisition and maintenance of health-promoting behavior practices. Her work is influenced by social cognitive theory, in particular the mechanisms related to self-regulation. Dr. Chatfield’s research methods include qualitative methodologies, multivariate and multilevel statistical models, and mixed and multiple methods designs. Her current favorite data analysis software programs include R, Dedoose, and Quirkos. Dr. Chatfield has specialist training in recreational therapy and holds a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) certification. She also earned a graduate certificate in qualitative research methods from Nova Southeastern University.


Ph.D., Health and Kinesiology, University of Mississippi, 2014

MS, Recreation, University of Southern Mississippi, 2008

BA, Communication, The Ohio State University, 1986

Vinay K. Cheruvu, Ph.D., MS, MSC., PGD-MISCA

  • Ph.D., Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
  • M.S., Statistics, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
  • PGD-MISCA, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India
  • MSc, Statistics (Econometrics concentration), Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, India

Abbey Eng, Ph.D.

Dr. Abbey Eng is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biostatistics, Environmental Health, and Epidemiology. Before coming to the College of Public Health, she spent six years as the primary data analyst on multiple federally and locally funded program evaluations involving a variety of mental health, substance abuse, and juvenile justice programs in the Cleveland area. She also spent three years working as the project coordinator for an NIH-funded longitudinal survey research project examining adolescents’ relationships with parents, peers, and romantic partners, as well as their HIV risk-taking behaviors. She teaches introductory biostatistics at both the undergraduate and graduate level. She is interested in mental health issues involving adolescents and their families, and has worked on a number of research projects involving school-based prevention programs, as well as community-based prevention and treatment programs for both adolescents and adults. She enjoys helping others learn strong research methodology, with a focus on data analysis.

Jeff Hallam, Ph.D, FRSPH

Dr. Jeff Hallam is the interim associate dean for research in the College of Public Health at Kent State University and professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. He came to the College of Public Health in July 2013. Prior to his position at Kent State University, Dr. Hallam was professor and director of the Center for Health Behavior Research at The University of Mississippi. He has held faculty positions at Baylor University and The Ohio State University.

Dr. Hallam's research focuses on the construct validation of health behavior interventions, specifically physical activity behavior. He also conducts community-based participatory research and examines how the built environment and policy influence physical activity. Dr. Hallam has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living Research, U.S. Department of Education, NCAA, Anheuser-Busch, National Center for Safe Routes to School, Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi and the James C. Kennedy Foundation.

He has extensive experience in developing and testing tools to measure theoretical variables. He currently serves on the board of the Akron Division of the American Heart Association. Dr. Hallam is an elected member of the Executive Board of the American Public Health Association and the immediate Past-President of the American Academy of Health Behavior.


Ph.D., Health Promotion & Education, The Ohio State University, 1995

M.A., Sport Management, emphasis in Fitness Management, The Ohio State University, 1991

B.S., Recreation Education, The Ohio State University, 1988

John Hoornbeek, Ph.D.

John Hoornbeek joined the faculty of the College of Public Health in 2011, after serving as a Center Director and faculty member in Kent State University’s Political Science Department since 2006. Dr. Hoornbeek has worked on environmental, water, and public health issues at the federal, state, and local levels of government for more than a quarter century. His experiences have included appointments with the Wisconsin State Legislature, the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Congress, and the National Environmental Services Center at West Virginia University. His research interests are in environmental policy and regulation, inter-governmental relations, and public management. His recent work has focused on water pollution policy, collaborative inter-governmental relations, and alternative management strategies for health services administration. He has authored multiple publications in peer-reviewed outlets and produced professional research products for a variety of public and non-profit sector organizations. Dr. Hoornbeek has served as a Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on more than $3.5 million in externally funded projects over the last decade.


Ph.D., Political Science, University of Pittsburgh, 2004

M.A., Public Policy and Administration, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 1986

B.A., Liberal Arts, Beloit College, 1981

Eric Jefferis, Ph.D.

Dr. Jefferis is one of the founding faculty of the College of Public Health. Currently he is an associate professor, the graduate program coordinator and the vice chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. He came to Kent State University in 2002 as a research fellow at the Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence, and he previously taught in the Justice Studies Department. Prior to coming to Kent State, Dr. Jefferis was a social scientist for the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice.


Ph.D., Criminology and Policing, University of Cincinnati, 2004

MA, Criminal Justice, Radford University, 1993

BA, Administration of Justice Department, Pennsylvania State University, 1990

Deric R. Kenne, Ph.D.

Deric R. Kenne, PhD has over 15 years of experience as a researcher and practitioner in the field of substance abuse in both academic and nonprofit settings. He has helped secure over $7.6 million in state and federally-funded research and service grants and has authored or co-authored numerous articles on the topic of substance abuse. His teaching experience includes graduate and undergraduate courses in general psychology, program evaluation, behavioral statistics, drug abuse and policymaking. He has interests in adult and adolescent substance abuse prevention and treatment, community-based interventions, integrated care, policy and evaluation. His current research activities include studies examining the impact of prenatal opiate exposure on neurodevelopment in young children, barriers to treatment and health services access among opiate-using pregnant women, substance use and risk behavior among adolescents and college students, integrated care, and electronic cigarette use, awareness, and perception of harm.


Ph.D., Public Administration, The University of Akron, 2010

M.S., Psychology, Mississippi State University, 1998

Kristina Knight, Ph.D.

Dr. Knight has more than 15 years of experience in the field of public health, having worked in academic, community-based and governmental sectors. Most recently, she was the director of community initiatives and assistant program director for the MPH program at Case Western Reserve University, where she also held an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Dr. Knight has served as a lead trainer for the Cuyahoga County Youth Work Institute and the national training cadre of National Health Promotion Associates, where she has provided training and technical assistance to national prevention and youth development organizations.

Prior to this, she worked as a project director in a local health department to support the development, implementation and evaluation of community-based substance use prevention programming. Her teaching and research interests include community-based and participatory approaches, social determinants and health disparities, health and learning, adolescent health and youth development.


Ph.D., Health Education and Promotion, Kent State University, 2014

MPH, Public Health Policy & Management, Case Western Reserve University, 2003

BS, Biology, University of Toledo, 2000

Bethany Lanese, Ph.D.

Bethany Lanese, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. Dr. Lanese is the coordinator for the Online MPH Program, as well as teaches courses in the MPH and BSPH programs. Dr. Lanese has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in Public Health, Public Administration, and Healthcare Management. She has also taught public policy, state and local politics, organizational behavior, public personnel, human resource management, public budgeting, and American government. Dr. Lanese worked for almost five years at a non-profit community hospital in healthcare management as the Co-Management Administrator/ Coordinator of Special Projects. She also held appointments at Cleveland State University and Eastern Michigan University.


PhD, Political Science, Wayne State University

Graduate Certificate, Healthcare Administration, University of Akron College of Business

Peter J. Leahy

Peter J. Leahy holds a Ph.D. in social science from Syracuse University. Leahy has previously held tenure-track appointments at Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University and The University of Akron. Leahy retired as senior research associate from the Institute for Health and Social Policy at The University of Akron in 2013. He returned to academia at the Kent State University College of Public Health in 2016 as a professor of Health Policy and Management, with an appointment in the Center for Public Policy and Health, where he is currently managing several evaluation projects. Leahy's area of academic specialization is program planning and evaluation, especially program evaluation in human service organizations.

Leahy has published over 46 refereed articles and book chapters. He is also the author of numerous evaluation reports and monographs. He has presented evaluation workshops at the state and local levels, and has conducted workshops on program evaluation in Hungary and Russia through a grant from the United States Information Agency. He has worked with a wide range of evaluation sponsors in the area of the social determinants of health, and has also conducted strategic planning and needs assessment efforts for health partners.

Jennifer L.N. Miller

As assistant dean of the College of Public Health, Dr. Jennifer Miller is a top-performing, highly motivated and results-oriented management professional with several years of experience, and an exceptionally strong track record of success in higher education, training and development, recruiting, personnel management, and organizational leadership.

  • Ph.D., Kent State University, 2022
  • MBA, Kent State University, 2009
  • MEd, Kent State University, 2006
  • BBA, Kent State University, 2002

Lynette Phillips, Ph.D., MSPH

Dr. Phillips is a cancer and genetic epidemiologist with expertise in breast, colon and cervical cancer research. She has worked on large cancer studies including the Carolina Breast Cancer Study and the Colon Neoplasia Sibling Study. Her current research focuses on increasing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine rates in adolescents. Dr. Phillips also serves as statistical consultant for the Kent State College of Nursing.


Ph.D., Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007
MSPH, University of South Florida, 1998
Certificate in Health Informatics, Kent State University, 2018

Ken Slenkovich, MA

Ken Slenkovich is the MPH Online Coordinator of Kent State University’s College of Public Health and a member of the faculty in the department of health policy and management. Mr. Slenkovich has over 25 years of professional experience including serving as the William C. and Elizabeth M. Treuhaft Chair in Health Planning at the Center for Community Solutions, a Cleveland-based nonprofit policy think-tank. He was the founding Program Director for the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation and oversaw the State of Ohio’s tobacco prevention and cessation programs. He has also served as the Local Health Department Liaison for the Ohio Department of Health, and Director of Policy & Planning for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. He holds a master’s degree in Cross-Cultural Studies, and received his graduate training from the University of Florida, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Case Western Reserve University. His undergraduate studies were done at the University of Colorado. Mr. Slenkovich is a sought after consultant with extensive experience facilitating strategic planning processes and conducting community needs assessments for non-profit organizations and governmental agencies. Examples of organizations he has consulted with include Ohio Department of Health, Summit County Health Department, Mahoning County Health Department, Union County Health Department, Summa Health System, Akron General Health System, and Coalition for Hispanic Issues and Progress (Lorain County, OH). Mr. Slenkovich teaches graduate courses in health policy and program management in the College of Public Health.

Tara C. Smith, Ph.D.

Dr. Smith joined the faculty of Kent State University College of Public Health in August 2013. An Ohio native, she previously spent nine years in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, where she directed the College’s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases and attained the rank of Associate Professor with tenure. She completed postdoctoral training in molecular epidemiology at the University of Michigan prior to beginning her professorship at the University of Iowa. She obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Toledo and her BS in Biology from Yale University.

Dr. Smith’s research generally focuses on zoonotic infections (infections which are transferred between animals and humans). She was the first to identify livestock-associated strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the United States, and has pioneered the investigation of this organism in the U.S. Dr. Smith has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. (Full publication list can be found at Google Scholar; a full CV including presentations can be found here). She has received over $3 million in funding from AHRQ, USDA, and NIOSH to carry out these studies. She has presented her research at numerous national and international platforms, including talks on Capitol Hill on the topic of agriculture and antibiotic resistance. Her work has been profiled in many major publications, including Science, Nature, and The New York Times, as well as in "Superbug: the Fatal Menace of MRSA" by Maryn McKenna and "Pig Tales: an Omnivore's Quest for Sustainable Meat" by Barry Estabrook.

Dr. Smith is also very active in science communication and outreach. She has maintained a science blog since 2005, and has written books on Group A Streptococcus, Group B Streptococcus, and Ebola. A second book on Ebola, "Ebola's Message," was published by MIT Press in 2016. She also writes about infectious disease for several national sites, pens a column for, and serves as a member of the advisory board of the Zombie Research Society. She lives in rural Ohio with her partner and her three children.


Ph.D., Microbiology, University of Toledo, 2002

BS, Biology, Yale University, 1998

Maggie Stedman-Smith, Ph.D., MPH, MS, RN

Dr. Stedman-Smith joined the faculty of Kent State University as part of the new College of Public Health in August 2009. She has over 10 years of clinical experience as a perinatal nurse, and a clinical subspecialty in occupational health and safety. Dr. Stedman-Smith’s dissertation focused on mothers’ perceptions of childrens’ exposures to pesticides and other environmental health agents using a community-based participatory research methodology called Photovoice. Since joining the Kent State College of Public Health faculty she has established a research trajectory in occupational health promotion for reducing communicable infectious disease among employees in the work environment. Dr. Stedman-Smith has been the recipient of funding from the Kent-Summa Initiative for Clinical and Translational Research/GoJo Industries, Akron, Ohio, and funding from the Kent State University College of Public Health Dean’s Office with material support from GoJo Industries.


Ph.D., Environmental Health, University of Minnesota, 2008
MPH, Environmental Health, University of Minnesota, 2004
MSN, Nursing, University of Minnesota, 2004

Mary M. Step, Ph.D.

Dr. Step received her undergraduate and graduate training in communication studies and has taught public speaking, interpersonal communication, nonverbal communication, persuasion and media effects. She is a trained group facilitator and was recently certified as an Executive Coach through the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Step also completed a NCI-sponsored postdoctoral fellowship in cancer prevention and control at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her research reflects various clinical communication processes, including breast cancer decision-making, prognosis discussion, cancer prevention in primary care, tobacco dependency and cessation, HIV support and health related social media. She has secured over $4 million in funding as a primary or co-investigator of independently sponsored projects. She currently serves as a member of the Planning & Oversight committee of Cuyahoga County Alcoholism, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board.


Ph.D., Communication Studies, Kent State University, 1998

MACT, Communication Studies, Cleveland State University, 1992

BA, Communication Studies, Cleveland State University, 1990

Peggy C. Stephens, Ph.D.

Dr. Stephens (Tonkin) joined the Kent State University faculty in 2012 as a non-tenure track instructor, after thirteen years as a researcher and faculty member at the University of Akron. Her area of expertise is in substance abuse prevention and treatment. Her research agenda has focused on quantitative methodological approaches and the application of social theories to examine the health and social problems associated with substance abuse and risky behaviors. She has been involved in several large, multi-site evaluations of drug abuse prevention and treatment programs and has been awarded more than $250,000 in extramural funding in these areas. Dr. Stephens is an author of more than 18 peer reviewed articles.


Ph.D., Sociology (Social Psychology), University of Akron, 1999

M.A., Sociology, University of Akron, 1997

Jonathan Vangeest, Ph.D.

Dr. Jonathan VanGeest is Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management in the College of Public Health at Kent State University. Prior to his arrival at Kent State, Dr. VanGeest served as a Department Chair in the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University, where he also directed the university’s Center for Health Informatics, Planning and Policy. He also has previous experience working as a Senior Scientist and Program Director in Science, Quality and Public Health at the American Medical Association (AMA) and as a Scientist in the AMA’s Institute for Ethics, an academic research and training center uniquely situated within the nation’s largest medical professional association.

Dr. VanGeest’s research focuses on racial and ethnic disparities in health care, limited health literacy, and care outcomes associated with structural changes in medicine. He also has extensive experience in survey research methodology and program evaluation. Dr. VanGeest has published in leading health and policy journals and co-edited one of the first textbooks on limited health literacy. He is an Associate Editor for BMC Medical Research Methodology and he is on the Editorial Boards for Evaluation and the Health Professions (EHP), a quarterly journal providing a forum for health professionals interested in health evaluation research and practices, and the Journal of Substance Abuse and Alcoholism. A guest-edited special issue of EHP on surveying clinicians was published in September 2013. Dr. VanGeest has served on numerous state and national committees, including the Institute of Medicine’s Liaison Panel on Assuring the Health of the Public in the 21st Century and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel to Evaluate U.S. Standard Certificates and Reports. He currently serves as a Section Councilor for the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association.


Ph.D., Medical Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago 1998

M.A., Sociology – Urban Studies (Dual Degrees), Michigan State University, 1991

B.S., Sociology, Michigan State University, 1988

Chris Woolverton, Ph.D.

Christopher J. Woolverton, Ph.D., is a professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health at Kent State University. Woolverton is a recipient of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine's Jefferson Science Fellowship (2020-2021). He is a member of the graduate faculty of the Kent State University College of Public Health, School of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences and the Northeastern Ohio Medical University. Woolverton serves on the faculty of the National Biosafety and Biosecurity Training Program of the NIH and is the manager of the NIH Designated Training Facility (BSL-3 Training Laboratory) at Kent State. He is also a member of the Cooperative Medical Technology Program of Akron (Ohio) faculty. Woolverton received his graduate training in medical microbiology from West Virginia University School of Medicine. He spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow studying cellular immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Woolverton has received additional training in Biological Safety, Security and Policy Analysis from MIT, ABSA International (formerly American Biological Safety Association), and Emory University; and training in coronavirus contact tracing from Johns Hopkins University. He has been at Kent State since 1995.Woolverton’s research is focused on the detection and control of bacterial pathogens, and biological safety and security issues. He is co-inventor of the liquid crystal biosensor and co-inventor of the fibrin sealant antimicrobial drug delivery system. His teaching scholarship is centered on adult learning. He has presented and published internationally his biosensor, antimicrobial drug delivery, biosafety and pedagogical research.Woolverton previously served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, the pedagogical journal of the American Society for Microbiology. He is a member of several societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Microbiology, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, ABSA International, and the Ohio Public Health Association. He is co-author of the undergraduate textbook Prescott’s Microbiology (7th-10th editions). He is an international lecturer on biosafety and biosecurity, as well as liquid crystal biosensors. Woolverton also serves on the City of Kent Board of Health and the Portage County (Ohio) Medical Reserve Corp.


Ph.D., Medical Microbiology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, 1986
M.S., Medical Microbiology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, 1984
M.S., Biology (Psychology minor), Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 1982
Postdoctoral training, Cellular Immunology, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1986-1988

Ken Zakariasen, PH.D., DDS, M.S., M.S. (ODA)

Dr. Ken Zakariasen is a Professor in the College of Public Health at Kent State University. He is the Director of the Health Policy and Management MPH Program (Concentration in Leadership and Organizational Change) at the new Twinsburg Regional Academic Center. Dr. Zakariasen has served as an academic in six universities, including 13 years as a Dean of colleges of dentistry and health professions. Dr. Zakariasen’s academic and consulting work is in the area of leadership and organization development, particularly in healthcare and universities. He focuses on innovative whole systems approaches to organizational change, and leadership and leadership team development. He currently has funding from Health Canada First Nations and Inuit Health Branch for developing the use of virtual communities of practice to connect reserve healthcare workers and leaders in widely dispersed communities for professional development, problem solving, idea exchange, etc. He also recently completed a Worldwide Universities Network-funded project with colleagues from the University of Leeds and the University of Wisconsin looking at the development of future public health leaders who can function effectively at the highest levels of multi-sectoral collaboration for public health improvement. When not enthusing about the wonders of the “human equation”, Dr. Zakariasen can be found totally captivated by his little granddaughter Lily, swimming or covering long distances on his favorite motorcycles.


B.A., DDS, M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota

Advanced Management Program Certificate, Harvard Business School

M.S. in Organization Development and Analysis and the Certificate in Developing Leadership through Emotional Intelligence, Case Western Reserve University

Melissa Zullo, Ph.D., MPH

Dr. Zullo joined the faculty of Kent State University as part of the new College of Public Health in August 2009. Since joining the faculty, Zullo has been awarded RO3 funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, was a co-investigator on a successful grant with SUMMA Health Systems, and has received grant funding from the Initiative for Clinical and Translational Research. She has multiple peer-reviewed articles and has presented at numerous conferences at both the national and regional level. Her research on metabolic syndrome management was presented the Beginning Investigator Award from the Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Zullo's research is related to cardiovascular disease, obesity, disability and illness burden, and quality improvement.


Ph.D., Epidemiology, Case Western Reserve University, 2009

MPH, Kent State University/Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine, 2003

MA, Exercise Physiology, Kent State University, 1998

BA, Psychology, Kent State University, 1994

BA, Sociology, Kent State University, 1994

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Featured Articles

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Healthcare and public health practitioners and policymakers have become increasingly aware of the many nonmedical factors that contribute to health disparities for diverse populations and the negative consequences those disparities create. Read about addressing health disparities in diverse populations, including one Kent State alumni's experiences.
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May 01, 2023
To better understand the needs of Cleveland's residents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, the Kent State University College of Public Health (CPH) launched the Greater Cleveland LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment project led by Andrew Snyder, CPH adjunct instructor. Learn more about the project here.
April 27, 2023
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April 21, 2023
Learn more about Dr. Jeffrey Hallam, professor and associate dean for Research and Global Affairs.
March 07, 2022
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define epidemiology as the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states and events in specified populations. To complete this study of “health-related states and events”, scientists use a tool called the epidemiologic triangle, or the epidemiologic triad.