News & Events

Leja’s ‘Care Van’ Pitch Wins Big Idea Competition


Liana Leja, an Allegheny College senior majoring in biology, won first prize and $5,000 in Allegheny’s 11th Annual Big Idea Competition, a contest sponsored by the college’s Center for Business and Economics and modeled after ABC’s popular “Shark Tank” show.

Leja’s big idea: a mobile health care van, called the “Care Van,” that would operate in conjunction with Meadville Medical Center to provide basic health care to a mostly rural, underserved population.

Leja with Entrepreneur in Residence Chris Allison, co-director of Allegheny’s Center for Business and Economics. Photo by Sarah Holt.

Greg Bras, a senior economics major from Saegertown also earned an honorable mention in the competition for his work on additive manufacturing.

See full coverage in The Meadville Tribune here.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

US Public Health Service’s Annual Scientific and Training Symposium

Professor Becky Dawson traveled with Erica Salizzoni (’16) and Elizabeth Schafer (’17) to Atlanta, GA in late May to attend the US Public Health Service’s Annual Scientific and Training Symposium. At the conference they presented their project “Identifying and Addressing Perceptions and Epidemiological Data in Meadville, PA”. This was the culmination of research completed during the first year of the CHNA (Community Health Needs Assessment) project.  Under the Affordable Care Act, a community health needs assessment (CHNA) must be completed every three years by non-profit hospitals such as Meadville Medical Center (MMC) and Titusville Area Hospital (TAH).

The main purpose of the CHNA is to identify factors influencing the health status of community members, locate resources within a region and then use reliable information from the assessment in order to implement a practical and cost-effective solution. The final results of their research showed that community health needs in Meadville include chronic diseases, mental health, sexually transmitted infections, and vaccine-preventable diseases. Public health interventions, health education programs and further research are needed to address these needs.

The highlight of their presentation was that it caught the eye of US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. The students and Professor Dawson had the honor of not only meeting Dr. Murthy, but also talking with him about the health needs and disparities in Meadville.

Left to right: Erica Salizzoni (’16), US Surgeon General Dr.Vivek Murthy, Elizabeth Schafer (’17), and Professor Becky Dawson


Allegheny College Faculty Member Named as a Professor Under 40 Who Inspires

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Rebecca Dawson, Allegheny College assistant professor of biology and global health studies, has been named to NerdScholar’s list of “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire.”

According to NerdScholar, the professors were chosen based on “their ability to captivate and engage students in the classroom, their outstanding involvement on campus and in the community, and their overwhelming passion for their subject matter.” Nominations were collected through student, alumni and faculty recommendations following an open call to several hundred colleges and universities across the country.

“Receiving this award is such an honor,” says Dawson, a native of Allison Park, Pa. “It is so very special to me because my nomination came from my students. They are what make this job so great; to know the feeling is mutual is priceless.”

Senior Erica Bryson, one of Dawson’s students who nominated her for the award, says you can tell by Professor Dawson’s enthusiasm and energy in class that she loves the material she is teaching. “Professor Dawson is a practice-what-you-preach type of person as a result of her passion in epidemiology, and she encourages those around her to do the same,” Bryson says. “I know she puts 100 percent into everything she does, and I am honored to have her as a professor and mentor.”

Sophomore Matthew Zaborowski, another student who nominated her for the honor, agrees. “Being an Allegheny College alumna, Professor Dawson is very passionate about the liberal arts and the environment and atmosphere that each student displays while attending Allegheny. She is a true inspiration, a great role model and a wonderful professor who is caring, committed and passionate,” he says.

Professor Dawson received her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Allegheny, her master of public health degree in environmental health from Emory University and her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Her research interests have focused on topics related to environmental epidemiology, and she has made an impact on the local community through her work with the Community Health Needs Assessment in Meadville.

In August 2014, she collaborated with a professor at George Mason University to publish the first undergraduate textbook on epidemiology titled “Understanding Epidemiology: Concepts, Skills & Applications.”

To view Professor Dawson’s feature, go to

About NerdScholar
NerdWallet is a consumer finance website that helps people make better decisions when it comes to their money. NerdScholar is the higher education branch that offers advice and resources specifically for students.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Zaborowski, Dawson present poster

Matthew Zaborowski ’17 and Assistant Professor of Global Health Studies and Biology Becky Dawson ’00 , presented a poster entitled “Investigating the Root Cause: Oral Health Emergency Department Admissions” at the National Association of County and City Health Officials Annual Meeting in July. Zaborowski’s poster was one of two completed by a student to be accepted into this year’s conference.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Darrouzet-Nardi’s research accepted by top journal

Assistant Professor of Global Health Studies Amelia Darrouzet-Nardi’s article, “Non-violent civil insecurity is negatively associated with subsequent height-for-age in children under age 5 years born between 1998 and 2014 in rural areas of Africa” was accepted for publication in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a peer-reviewed scientific journal which was rated as one of the top 100 most influential journals in biology and medicine of the past 100 years by the Special Libraries Association.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Dawson, students publish findings of community health assessment

Assistant Professor of Global Health Studies and Biology Becky Dawson ’00, along with Erica Bryson ’15, Elizabeth Schafer ’17, Daniel Favaro ’17 and Austin Cosgrove ’15 published a paper titled “Is Perception Reality? Identifying Community Health Needs When Perceptions of Health Do Not Align with Public Health and Clinical Data” in the Journal of Community Medicine. The paper highlights the initial findings of the Meadville Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA).

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Guimaraes, Dawson publish paper on ER admissions

Thais Rafael Guimaraes (international student at Allegheny 2015-16) and Assistant Professor of Global Health Studies and Biology Becky Dawson (’00) published a paper titled “Seasonality of ER Admissions in northwestern Pennsylvania: A cross-sectional study” in the Open Journal of Emergency Medicine in June 2016. The article can be read online at

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

New Global Health Studies Professor: Amelia Darrouzet-Nardi

headshotI am a food economist, and my research focuses on the linkages between agriculture and child nutrition in low-income settings, particularly farm families. I received my PhD from the Tufts Nutrition School in May 2015. I did my dissertation research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the support of a U.S. Borlaug Fellowship in Global Food Security.

The DRC is one of the most undernourished countries in the world, yet has ample resources (beautiful soil, plentiful rainfall, lots of land) for food production. This is quite the paradox, because one would expect crop productive potential to be associated with good nutrition. In one of my dissertation papers, I used a natural experiment strategy to assess the protective health effects of a household’s access to services.

My dissertation also included a study on endemic civil conflict and child nutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa, and a study of the effects of nearby urbanization on the nutrition of farm families. I look forward to continuing my research program using large-scale spatial data – including climate and land-cover data – from around the world, and also collecting data locally in the Meadville area to investigate the links between the food system and health here in the U.S.A.



Faculty Member/Student Present at Meeting of the Society for Public Health Education

Becky Dawson ’00, assistant professor of global health studies and biology, and Erica Bryson ’15 presented at the 67th Annual Meeting of the Society for Public Health Education on March 31. Their presentation, “Partnering to Complete the Affordable Care Act’s Mandated Community Health Needs Assessment,” focused on the multi-year community-based research project that has been coordinated by Allegheny College and the Meadville Medical Center. Co-authors on the presentation included Garrett Devenney ’16 and Elizabeth Schafer ’17.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research