Public Health Research
About our research
The Department of Population Health Sciences is grounded in an interdisciplinary One Health approach, recognizing the dynamic interdependence of human health, animal health, and the environment and encompassing the interdisciplinary efforts of medical, veterinary, and public health professionals to protect, promote, and improve health.
In partnership with students and external collaborators, faculty conduct research that addresses the individual, social, and environmental determinants of health, reflects the human-animal-environment interface, promotes health equity, and builds healthy communities.
The public health research program consists of two main areas: infectious disease epidemiology and public health education. Faculty collaborate with colleagues to use systems science modeling of public health dynamics with a focus on global health epidemiology of infectious diseases, health systems, and environmental health.
Faculty labs conduct infectious disease research on such diseases as herpes simplex virus 1 and 2, Zika virus, hemorrhagic enteritis virus, and hepatitis E virus in chickens. Other zoonotic research uses spatial statistical analysis to study H5N1 avian influenza and salmonella. Global health-oriented secondary faculty address infectious diseases such as brucellosis and tuberculosis in regions worldwide.
The program's externally funded computational epidemiologic and lab-based approaches focus on infectious diseases and community-engaged projects in health behavior, health policy, and environmental health, and its research portfolio includes primary and secondary data analysis, lab-based research, spatial modeling, environmental health studies, and community-engaged program interventions.
While faculty collaborate with colleagues across Virginia Tech, many research endeavors include collaborations with community organizations, such as an NIH-funded evaluation of diabetes education programs that involves formal agreements with the health ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Program faculty also have formal agreements for research with community-based organizations such as Friends of West End and West Central Community Health Improvement League. The program’s overarching goal to enhance public health practice and research, particularly in Southwest and Southside Virginia, is reflected in other collaborations and in faculty members’ affiliations with the centers. For example, the mission of the Center for Public Health Practice and Research bolsters interdisciplinary collaborative public health practice and research activities at Virginia Tech, in Appalachia, and in Southside Virginia counties.
Students have been involved in the implementation and evaluation of fitness and nutrition curricula to determine the most effective entry point for sustaining parent and child involvement. Students have also had the opportunity to participate in global research in such locations as Malawi, Dominican Republic, and Tanzania, and research activities in the veterinary college and across other colleges at Virginia Tech.
Faculty research team
Bio ItemCharlotte Baker, DrPH, MPH, CPH , bio
Assistant Professor, Epidemiology
Bio ItemRyan Calder, ScD, MASc, PE , bio
Assistant Professor, Environmental Health and Policy
Bio ItemAlasdair Cohen, PhD, MPH, MSc , bio
Assistant Professor, Environmental Epidemiology
Bio ItemNatalie Cook, PhD , bio
Assistant Professor, Public Health
Bio ItemCornelia Deagle, PhD, MSPH , bio
Assistant Professor, Public Health
Bio ItemJulia M. Gohlke, PhD , bio
Associate Professor, Environmental Health
Bio ItemKathy W. Hosig, RD, MPH, PhD , bio
Associate Professor; Director, Center for Public Health Practice and Research
Bio ItemLaura L. Hungerford, DVM, MPH, PhD, CPH , bio
Department Head, Population Health Sciences; Professor, Veterinary Public Health and Epidemiology
Bio ItemThomas M. Kerkering, MD, FACP, FIDSA , bio
Adjunct Professor, Infectious Disease
Bio ItemPatrick O. Pithua, BVM, MSc, PhD, DLSHTM , bio
Associate Professor, Epidemiology
Bio ItemValerie E. Ragan, DVM , bio
Director, Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine; Associate Professor of Practice
Bio ItemCassidy Rist, DVM, MPH, DACVPM , bio
Assistant Professor, Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine
Bio ItemCorrine W. Ruktanonchai, MPH, CPH, PhD , bio
Collegiate Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences
Bio ItemAudrey Ruple, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVPM, MRCVS , bio
Associate Professor, Quantitative Epidemiology
Bio ItemRachel Silverman, PhD, ScM , bio
Research Scientist, Epidemiology
Bio ItemAmy H. Smith, PhD , bio
Collegiate Assistant Professor, Public Health
Bio ItemSophie Wenzel, MPH, DrPH , bio
Assistant Professor of Practice; Associate Director, Center for Public Health Practice and Research