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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Florida International Epidemiologist Honored with William R. Jones Outstanding Mentor Award

At the annual McKnight Doctoral Fellows Meeting, the Florida Education Fund presented Dr. Mary Jo Trepka of Florida International University (FIU) Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work with the 2017 William R. Jones Outstanding Mentor Award.

[Photo: Dr. Mary Jo Trepka]

“This award is just one more example of the outstanding teaching and mentoring that our faculty provide. We are so proud of Dr. Trepka and our entire faculty at Stempel College,” said Dr. Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of Stempel College.

Dr. Trepka is an infectious disease epidemiologist who focuses on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

She received this award in recognition of her outstanding mentoring efforts for a doctoral Stempel College student in the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program. The prestigious McKnight program seeks to increase the number of African Americans and Hispanics who earn doctorates and thus address the underrepresentation of African Americans and Hispanics among faculty of Florida universities and colleges. Dr. Trepka believes in the power of this program because it offers both financial support and training workshops in research skills and professional development.

Dr. Dudith Pierre-Victor, a graduate of Stempel College’s epidemiology doctoral program in 2016, nominated Dr. Trepka for the award.

“I was very touched and surprised that Dudith nominated me; mentoring our students is one of our most important responsibilities as faculty and watching them become successful public health professionals and scientists is very rewarding. I consider it to be one of the most enjoyable activities that I partake in,” said Dr. Trepka.

In addition to guiding doctoral students through the public health-epidemiology track, Dr. Trepka has been involved in other mentoring activities.

She is serving as member of the core research team for the newly funded FIU-RCMI (Research Center at a Minority Institution) at Stempel College, which recently received $13.1 million from National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. As lead of the investigator development component, her role is to provide pilot funding and research training to postdoctoral fellows and assistant faculty to help them obtain funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and to conduct research in the areas of health disparities in HIV/AIDS and substance use problems in South Florida.

She was principal investigator of the Research and Training Core of C-Salud, a P20 Center headed by Stempel College’s Dr. Mario De La Rosa. This work involved training and mentoring graduate students from ethnic and medically underserved populations to become behavioral researchers in the area of health disparities in HIV/AIDS and substance use problems.

Dr. William R. Jones of Florida State University was an internationally recognized activist, theologian, philosopher and professor who devoted his career to developing anti-oppression initiatives and analyzing racism. This award honors his academic efforts to better the community by combatting intolerance.