Denver, Colo., November 9, 2010 —
The American Public Health Association Student Assembly Public Health Mentoring Award, which recognizes the essential role of mentoring in public health and leadership development, was presented to Connie Kohler, DrPH, professor of health behavior in the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Public Health. The award was given during the Association’s 138th Annual Meeting and Exposition in Denver.
Kohler has been a major contributor to the school’s classroom teaching and has served as graduate program director for a number of years. Her innovative research in health communication has attracted many students to seek her as a mentor. Ten of her former doctoral advisees now hold faculty positions across the United States, while another six are employed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Earlier this year, Kohler received the Graduate School Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship.
She is a member of the Association of Schools of Public Health/Pfizer Public Health Academy of Distinguished Teachers and served as president of the Upsilon Chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Society for two years.
“As a mentor, she encourages her students to set and achieve their short- and long-term goals,” said former student Alyssa Robillard, PhD, CHES, assistant professor of health at Arizona State University. “She is an excellent role model, setting an example for success in one’s career and success in life — even when life presents us with tragic circumstances.”
Said former student Beth Kitchen, assistant professor at UAB in nutrition sciences, “Whenever I am struggling with ‘what do I do now?’ Dr. Kohler points me in the right direction. I am continually amazed at the references and resources she pulls out of her head!”
Kohler is one of the very few who have implemented and evaluated the entertainment education approach to health promotion in the United States. She has won several awards for production of an original radio drama that aims to prevent chronic disease among African Americans older than 35.
She is a scientist with the UAB Lung Health Center, director and charter faculty member of the Health Communications Unit at the university’s Center for the Study of Community Health and associate scientist at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, among her other current duties. She is a member of the Association for Treatment of Tobacco Use & Dependence and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Her many grant-funded research projects have focused on such topics as unintended pregnancy among young Hispanics, testing the use of mass media for diabetes prevention and using barbers as peer educators to convey cancer early detection information.
For many years, Kohler has been the driving force behind the BodyLove serial radio drama project that brings health messages to traditionally under-served populations in Alabama.
“Dr. Connie Kohler is the reason why I strive to continually improve my skills as a teacher and mentor,” said former student Jessica Legge Muilenburg, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. “She has a way of nurturing ideas. In the classroom, we all learned by practical application of behavioral models and theories. We all participated. We thought outside the box, largely because she encouraged it.”