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Source: Michael Cates, 785-532-2117,
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News release prepared by: Joe Montgomery, 785-532-4193,

Friday, April 8, 2011


MANHATTAN -- National Public Health Week, April 4-10, is bringing honors to three students, a faculty member and a recent graduate of Kansas State University's master of public health program.

The awards were presented at the third annual Excellence in Public Health celebration April 7. The event is sponsored by K-State's master of public health program in recognition of National Public Health Week. It also honors significant contributions by students, graduates and faculty in the program.

Award winners include:

* Robert Larson, the Edgar E. and M. Elizabeth Coleman Chair in Food Animal Production Medicine at K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine, the Outstanding Master of Public Health Faculty Member. Larson earned his doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1987 and a doctorate in 1992, both from K-State. He also serves as director of veterinary medical continuing education at the college. For the last three years Larson has worked with the master of public health program's emphasis on infectious diseases and zoonoses. He has been one of two instructors for the program's core course, DMP 708, and this year he developed and taught a new online epidemiology course, DMP 754, which is now part of the master of public health program's core curriculum. He lives in Clay Center.

* Gina Besenyi, master's student in public health, Holton, the 2011 Outstanding Master of Public Health Student. Besenyi, who earned a bachelor's degree in kinesiology from K-State in 2003, plans to complete her master's degree in May. She's involved with research in the kinesiology department, including serving as project manager for the development of a community stakeholder park audit tool project, funded by the Robert Wood Jonson Foundation's Active Living Research program. She also has been a team leader for the Promoting Lifelong Activity and Nutrition Through Schools program and a research assistant in other projects in the department's Youth Health Behavior Research Laboratory.

* Tyler Kane, the 2011 Outstanding Master of Public Health Program Graduate, Wichita. Kane received his bachelor's in kinesiology from K-State in 2003 and graduated from the master of public health program in 2006. He has worked for the Sedgwick County Health Department since 2007, first as a community health educator and now as a community health analyst. He provides leadership and expertise to many public health issues in his county and in the state, including tobacco prevention, infant mortality, community assessments and agency accreditation.

* Aaron Boyd, Arroyo Grande, Calif., and Julie Pickler, Sachse, Texas, the Best Public Health Video. Boyd and Pickler teamed up to produce Both students are in the public health physical activity area of emphasis of the master of public health program. Boyd received his bachelor's from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo in 2010, and Pickler received her bachelor's from Washington State University in 2007.

K-State's master of public health program was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents in January 2003, with its first students admitted that fall. To date, 41 students have earned their master of public health degrees, and two students have received a graduate certificate in public health core concepts. The interdisciplinary program offers integrated multidisciplinary expertise with more than 50 primary and support faculty from eight departments in four colleges and two support units at K-State. The program's mission is providing education, research and service across multiple disciplines of public health, impacting human, animal and community health locally, regionally and globally. The program's director is Michael Cates, a veterinarian and the James B. Nichols Professor of Veterinary Public Health at the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine.