Students from the Division of Health Sciences at California State University, Dominguez Hills were among a select few undergraduates who presented their scholarly research alongside respected professionals, as well as doctoral and master’s level students at the 140th American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Annual Meeting held in San Francisco in October.
“It’s one of the largest conferences in the United States. It’s also done at an international level, so there are usually a lot of international presenters. In the area of public health, and I would say in health in general, the American Public Health Association’s Meeting is probably the largest in the U.S.,” said Enrique Ortega, assistant professor of health sciences at CSU Dominguez Hills.
Jenna Alarcon, a senior majoring in health science with a community health option, and alumna Jenese Girgis (Class of ’12, B.S., health science, community health), developed and presented their research on “Family and personal predictors of marijuana use among Italian adolescents, a one-year follow-up investigation.”
Girgis also presented “Depression, sleep disturbance and unhealthy eating habits among Italian adolescents.”
Chiara Landsman and Joanna Villegas, both seniors majoring in health science, community health option, developed and presented their research on “Concurrent effects of parenting and religiosity on adolescent substance use among Italian and Dutch adolescents.”
The work presented by the students from CSU Dominguez Hills was based on data that Ortega compiled while he served as a research assistant at the University of Turin, Turin, Italy, in collaboration with Silvia Ciairano, who holds a doctorate degree from that university’s School of Human and Social Sciences.
Based on Landsman’s abstract submittal for the poster presentation, she was selected to also make an oral presentation during a session together with nationally renowned experts in the field of adolescent health behaviors.
“It was my first oral presentation, and I was presenting this investigation alongside world-renown researchers. It was definitely a wonderful experience overall, and I am so glad that I accomplished such a goal… I got to see into the world of public health research and learned how truly important it is, and I was happy to be able to contribute to it as well,” Landsman said. “I am hoping to continue to do research as I graduate from Dominguez Hills, and present more oral and poster presentations in the future.”
Juniors Christine Shurawel and Ishekia Harris, who are majoring in health science, community health option, as well as Alarcon and Landsman, presented their research at the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research held at CSU Channel Islands on Saturday. And, additional students have already submitted abstracts for the 21st Annual Meeting of the Society for Prevention Research to be held in San Francisco in March 2013, where Girgis made an oral presentation in March 2012.
Ortega, who holds a doctorate in preventive medicine and a master’s in public health from the University of Southern California, and a bachelor’s in psychology from San Jose State University, pointed out that presenting at such events helps students to build their academic curriculum, which improves their chances of being selected for graduate or doctoral programs.
As for the work health science students conduct while they are still undergraduates at CSU Dominguez Hills, Ortega hopes to bring the same research methods that have been used to analyze public health in Italian communities to their own communities.
“I want to move myself and my students to start assessing this surrounding community,” Ortega said. “My plan would be to eventually have the students work on local issues so they would be more invested in this type of work.”
For more information about the Division of Health Sciences, visit www.csudh.edu/cps/hhs/dhs/.