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Source: Michael Cates, 785-532-2117, mcates@vet.k-state.edu
Photos available. Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-6415.
News release prepared by: Joe Montgomery, 785-532-4193, jmontgom@vet.k-state.edu

Friday, April 9, 2010


MANHATTAN -- Outstanding accomplishments in public health and contributions to Kansas State University's Master of Public Health program have earned a recent graduate of the program and a K-State faculty member honors.

Dr. Jennifer Akers, a veterinarian and clinical assistant professor at K-State's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, was named the 2010 outstanding Master of Public Health student. The 2010 outstanding Master of Public Health faculty honoree is Dr. Lisa Freeman, associate vice president for innovation at K-State at Olathe and a veterinarian and professor of pharmacology in the department of anatomy and physiology at K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine.

The awards were presented by Carol Shanklin, dean of K-State's Graduate School, at the Excellence in Public Health awards reception April 5 at K-State.

Akers earned her Master of Public Health degree, with an emphasis in infectious diseases and zoonosis, from K-State in December 2009. Her major professors were Justin Kastner, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, and Dr. David Renter, a veterinarian and associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.

Her thesis, "Addressing Curriculum Deficiencies in Veterinary Public Health: A Comparison of Other Health Professions' Experiences," provided a systematic assessment of the veterinary profession's curricular inadequacies in public health education and examined potential solutions for addressing the educational deficiency by documenting approaches from other health professions. She has already authored one peer-reviewed paper on public health education, and is working on at least one other first-author manuscript based on her thesis work.

Akers said her greatest professional passion is to enhance public health awareness and education as it relates to infectious and zoonotic diseases. As a student, she voluntarily contributed to numerous public health education outreach activities. She has been the adviser to the K-State Public Health Club since 2007, and served as a mentor for junior K-State veterinary students enrolled in the zoonoses class. She also has spoken to the State Animal Response Team about zoonotic diseases, the Girls Researching Our World program about disaster preparedness, and local kindergartners about dog bite prevention.

Akers received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University.

Freeman has been a driving force for improved public health education, research and practice throughout Kansas. She has served on the Master of Public Health coordinating committee since 2008 and as an adviser for Master of Public Health students. Freeman also has served as a mentor to a number of K-State students, working with them one-on-one about their educational opportunities and future careers.

Freeman also has helped developed a public health collaboration network between Kansas community colleges and K-State to inform undergraduate students about public health jobs and educational opportunities. This network includes the recruitment of students interested in public health to K-State programs.

In addition, she has been a catalyst for the development of the One Health Kansas Initiative, which created new positions to support public health programs across the state to better educate the general population about the importance and interdisciplinary nature of public health. The initiative also provides information about current and future educational opportunities and careers.

Freeman is leaving K-State at the end of the school year to become vice president for research and graduate studies at Northern Illinois University.

K-State's Master of Public Health program was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents in January 2003 and admitted its first students in fall 2003. Since then, 87 students have enrolled in the degree program, with 33 graduates. Currently, the program has 43 students. The 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 mission of the program is to provide education, research and service across multiple disciplines of public health, impacting human, animal and community health locally, regionally and globally.

Director of the program is Dr. Michael Cates, a veterinarian and the James B. Nichols Professor of Veterinary Public Health at K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine.



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