With the new academic year underway I am pleased to announce the appointment of three new department chairs who assumed their positions at the start of the fall semester. All three are accomplished scientists, educators and leaders in their fields who bring a great deal of expertise to their positions.
Susan Nittrouer, Ph.D., chair of the department of speech, language, and hearing sciences, is a nationally renowned authority on language acquisition who has made major contributions to theory, research and clinical care related to communication disorders. She most recently served as a professor in the departments of otolaryngology and speech and hearing science, and as the director of otologic research at The Ohio State University.
She leads two research projects supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: a study of the early development of spoken language in children with hearing loss and a study of how children develop phonological abilities with the goal of understanding the causes of language problems in disorders such as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She is the associate editor of the International Journal of Audiology and the author of numerous articles and the book “Early Development of Children with Hearing Loss.”
Tara Sabo-Attwood, Ph.D., chair of the department of environmental and global health, is a leading environmental toxicology researcher. She joined the PHHP faculty in 2011 from the University of South Carolina, where she was an assistant professor in the Arnold School of Public Health and leader of the Nano Environmental Focus Group.
In her research she has explored the molecular mechanisms controlling cellular, tissue and organism responses to air and water contaminants, including nanomaterials, asbestos and other air particulates, as well as hormone-disrupting compounds. In a recent study published in the journal Particle & Fibre Toxicology, Dr. Sabo-Attwood and colleagues demonstrated that lung cells exposed to carbon nanotubes are more susceptible to infection with H1N1 influenza virus. Carbon nanotubes are microscopic cylinder-like structures that are added to a number of household and industrial products, such as sports equipment and electronics, and are emerging contaminants of concern.
Glenn E. Smith, Ph.D., chair of the department of clinical and health psychology and the Elizabeth Faulk endowed professor, joined UF from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he was a professor of psychology in the College of Medicine, the associate director of education resources at the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and deputy director of education at the Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.
An internationally recognized neuropsychologist and dementia researcher, Dr. Smith’s research has focused on early diagnosis, outcomes, depression, behavioral issues and successful cognitive aging. He led the development of the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Action to Benefit Thinking and Independence, an intensive program for people with mild cognitive impairment. The program combines physical and mental exercise, memory compensation training and patient and caregiver education and support. Studies by Dr. Smith and his team have shown the program helps people in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease maintain their functional independence.
Dr. Nittrouer, Dr. Sabo-Attwood and Dr. Smith have exciting visions for their respective departments and I have no doubt they will lead outstanding departments to even greater levels of national prominence.