Dr. Maria E. Fernandez, professor and director of the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health, recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from her alma mater, the University of Maryland School of Public Health.
The award is given to outstanding alumni who have made significant contributions to their field, attained major leadership roles in the field or who can be considered role models for other School of Public Health graduates.
[Photo: Dr. Maria E. Fernandez]
“It was a great honor to receive this award. It gave me the opportunity to thank the University of Maryland and UTHealth, academic homes that have been instrumental in my career. It was a fantastic event and I felt humbled to be among the distinguished honorees selected by other University of Maryland colleges and schools,” said Fernandez. “During my acceptance speech, I thanked my former mentor Dr. Robert Gold, founding dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health. I aspire to be the kind of mentor that Bob was and continues to be for me.”
Dr. Fernandez is an internationally known expert in the field of health promotion and cancer control and prevention. She has extensive experience in community-based participatory research in cancer control and prevention among underserved populations, a field she in which she began working while a student at the University of Maryland under Gold’s mentorship.
She has conducted studies ranging from the description of conceptual models to the development and evaluation of interventions to increase cancer control and prevention. She has also worked to understand and accelerate the use of evidence-based interventions in real-world settings.
Dr. Fernandez has received more than $12 million in funding as a principal investigator during the past five years and collaborates as a co-investigator on other studies. Her work is featured in 106 peer-reviewed publications and several book chapters. She also co-authored the book “Planning Health Promotion Programs: An Intervention Mapping Approach.”
Dr. Fernandez was recognized at the University of Maryland Alumni Association Awards Gala on Sept. 30 in College Park, Maryland.