STEER | South Texas Environmental Education and Research
PEOPLE | PRESENTERS
Laredo Course Faculty
- KIRBY C. (K.C.) DONNELLY, PHD, 1951 – 2009
- ENVIRONMENTAL TOXICOLOGY
For nearly 12 years, Dr. KC Donnelly helped educate some of the brightest young health professional students in the area of toxicology, pesticide exposure and risk assessment. As an integral part of the South Texas Environmental Education and Research (STEER) program, KC helped bridge the gap between public health and medicine for over 500 students from distinguished health professions training programs around the State and the nation. As a true pacesetter for environmental research on the U.S. / Mexico border, KC always stressed the importance of service coupled with learning and community-based research as he worked to improve the lives of colonia residents in South Texas. Those of us who had the distinct pleasure of working with KC will forever be in his debt. For the fortunate students who had the privilege of learning from this tremendous individual who routinely turned challenges into educational opportunities, you could not have had a better teacher. And for the many lives he touched through his research and dedication to science, we can all say “Thank you, KC.” From your all your friends and colleagues at the STEER program, you will be greatly missed and always remembered.
A special STEER Scholarship Fund in honor of KC Donnelly has been created. For donations, please contact the UTHSCSA Office of Development (7835) ATTN: K.C. Donnelly STEER Scholarship Fund 7703 Floyd Curl Drive San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900. Make checks payable to UTHSCSA and note on checks: K.C. Donnelly STEER Scholarship Fund.
- JAMES M. EARHART, PHD
- RIO GRANDE WATER QUALITY
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Earhart was a professor at Laredo Community College from 1967 until his retirement in 2001. He has taught a variety of science courses: general biology, general zoology, comparative vertebrate anatomy, cell and molecular biology, human anatomy and physiology, and special problems courses in river biology. In addition to teaching, he serves as a board member and past director of the Rio Grande International Study Center, and was appointed in 2002 to the Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee for the city of Laredo. Earhart earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of North Texas.
- JAMES "JIM" EICHMAN
- RABIES CONTROL
Mr. Eichman works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Webb County Health Department. His main responsibilities include addressing the rabies problem and predation of livestock on ranchland in Webb County. His efforts and involvement in the Oral Rabies Project for Texas help protect the communities from exposure to canine rabies, which is carried by coyotes and dogs. Eichman was born and raised on a farm and ranch in South Central Texas. He was assigned to the Kingsville District, Webb County, in 1992.
- HECTOR F. GONZALEZ, MD, MPH
- ENVIRONMENTAL PUBLIC HEALTH
- E-mail: email@example.com
Dr. Gonzalez is the Director of the City of Laredo Health Department. He oversees 180 employees involved with public health and disease prevention and protection efforts for this border community of 200,000. His research interests include disease prevention, access to health care services, and environmental health. Gonzalez serves on various medical and health advisories and is a member of the Texas State Medicaid/Managed Care Committee. Before coming to Laredo, he served as the director of Health Programs for AVANCE, Inc., a family support and education program that focuses on early childhood development and wellness. His Masters in Public Health has an emphasis on epidemiology and environmental health. Dr. Gonzalez has written and published articles on pesticide health care management, cultural competency, and health care delivery.
- JOHN R. HERBOLD, DVM, MPH, PHD
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Herbold is an associate professor of epidemiology and convener of the San Antonio Master of Public Health Program at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston. His many roles include director, consultant, supervising professor, and faculty member. He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (ACVPM), Charter Diplomate of the Epidemiology Specialty of the ACVPM, and a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology. Prior to joining the faculty of the School of Public Health, Herbold had more than two decades of public health practice experience at the local, national, and international levels with the Department of Defense. He earned his B.S. and D.V.M. from Texas A & M University, his M.P.H. from the University of North Carolina, and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University.
- TONY MORENO
- WATER TREATMENT
- E-mail: email@example.com
Mr. Moreno is the water treatment manager for the city of Laredo Utilities Department and manages the water treatment plant operations. He holds a Class B Surface Water certification, which included training in basic waterworks, surface water production, groundwater production, water distribution, water laboratory, management, safety, chlorinator maintenance, pump and motor maintenance, and water utility calculations. Moreno earned a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Technology from Texas State University (formerly Southwest Texas State) in 1996. His professional experience includes working as Environmental Specialist for Trans Texas Gas from 1997-1999.
- DAVID NEGRETE ARROYOS
- WASTEWATER TREATMENT - NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Negrete is a civil engineer and the director of technical operations of the wastewater treatment plant for the city of Nuevo Laredo. As such, he is the Nuevo Laredo representative for the International Commission of Boundaries and Water (CILA), which is part of the Secretary of Exterior Relations Department in Mexico. Prior to this position he was a design topographer for the Governor of the state of Chihuahua’s Urban Planning Department, from 1983-1985, and held the position of Fiscal Inspector from 1978–1985 in Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua. Negrete received his civil engineering degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, Instituto de Ingenieria y Arquitectura in Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico in 1986. In 2000, he earned a masters degree in Strategic Administration from the Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
- JIMMY L. PERKINS, PHD, CIH
- AIR POLLUTION AND RISK ASSESSMENT
- E-mail: email@example.com
Dr. Perkins is a professor of environmental science at the University of Texas at Houston School of Public Health, at the San Antonio Regional Campus. Prior to his appointment in Houston, Perkins was a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health until October 1996. He served as the Industrial Hygiene Program director from 1985 to 1991 and as the Environmental Health Sciences chair from 1994 to 1996. Perkins has taught numerous short courses for various universities, government agencies, and private corporations on topics such as asbestos sampling and analysis, chemical protective clothing, industrial hygiene, and exposure assessment strategies. He has presented courses on an international level in Kenya, Australia, Colombia, and Mexico, and has had consulting agreements with a wide range of industries. Perkins earned a B.A. in biology from the University of Texas at Austin, and an M.S. in environmental health and a Ph.D. in industrial hygiene/environmental health/human ecology from the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston.
- TONY RAMIREZ
- HERBAL MEDICINE
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Ramirez is a botanical researcher and herbal consultant to the herbal and natural supplement industry. He is presently conducting research for a book on the traditional medicinal plants of the border cultures of northern Mexico and South Texas. He has also authored articles on horticulture and ethnobotany. Ramirez has held positions as project horticulturist at the Texas-Israel Exchange Farm, project manager of the Texas-Israel Exchange Demonstration Farm, and project director of the Green Dragon Growers Experimental Farm at Laredo Community College. Ramirez developed and formulated GLORIOSO, an herbal tonic, and established an international horticultural import/export company. For the past several years, he has been working on an alternative medicine program through the IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social Programa Solidaridad), which enabled him to become registered with the Mexican government as a medico tradicional (doctor of traditional medicine).
- CARL R. SCRUGGS
- WASTEWATER TREATMENT
- E-mail: email@example.com
Mr. Scruggs is the plant operator for the City of Laredo Utilities Department. He holds an operator III classification and has 21 years of experience in the operation of wastewater treatment plants. His training includes wastewater treatment operations, wastewater treatment process control testing, laboratory testing in BOD 5, TSS, VSS, pH, total Cl2 and NH3, total coliform, and COD. He attended Austin Community College and Laredo Community College in Texas.
- THOMAS VAUGHAN, PHD
- WATER QUALITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Vaughan is an associate professor of biology in the Department of Natural Sciences at Texas A&M International University. He teaches mammalogy, herpetology, evolution, the natural history of South Texas, general biology, and a survey of life sciences. His present research interests focus on water quality issues of the Rio Grande, especially in the Laredo and Nuevo Laredo segment of the river. In addition to his research in monitoring four sites on the river for basic water chemistry parameters and fecal coliform bacteria, he is conducting studies on the macroinvertebrates at an upriver and a downriver site. He also serves as president and chairman of the board of directors of the Rio Grande International Study Center, a nonprofit organization founded in 1994 with the goal of protecting and improving the water quality of the Rio Grande. Vaughan earned a B.S. in biology from Eastern New Mexico University and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Arizona.
- TATJANA WALKER
- E-mail: email@example.com
Tatjana Walker, R.D., C.D.E., is a Research Associate and Registered Dietitian working at STEER’s San Antonio office. Her experience includes communications, community-based assessment, teaching, and clinical research. Her professional expertise includes adult and professional health education.
- SISTER ROSEMARY WELSH, RN, RSM
- MERCY HEALTH MINISTRIES OF LAREDO
- E-mail: rwelsh@Mercy.net
Sr. Welsh is a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, a Roman Catholic order of religious women. Sr. Rosemary is the past community health outreach nurse educator/coordinator for the primary health care programs of Mercy Regional Medical Center in Laredo, Texas. She currently directs Mercy Health Ministries of Laredo, working with local health care and social service providers to improve the delivery of services to the families of Laredo and surrounding areas. She currently serves as Laredo’s representative on a binational project, Border Vision/Vision Fronteriza, which stresses the importance and contributions of community outreach workers and local leadership and partnerships. She developed the area’s first shelter for abused women and their children, and has made numerous presentations on domestic violence. Prior to coming to Laredo, she was involved in missionary work in communities in Guatemala, Honduras, and Chiapas. She earned a B.S.N. from St. Louis University, and an R.N. from St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, St. Louis.
- ROBERT C. WOOD, MPH, DrPH
- DENGUE FEVER AND WEST NILE UPDATE
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Wood holds the position of biostatistician for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio (UTHSCSA). He has held numerous positions in science and health fields that have involved teaching, biostatistics, and research. Wood’s MPH thesis was designed to address the need for a disease surveillance system whose structure was conditioned by the realization of the linkage between the risks of disease outbreak and the public health infrastructure. He holds a B.S. in psychology and an M.P.H. and DrPh in community health from the University of Texas Houston School of Public Health (UTHSPH).
Harlingen Course Faculty
- CRISTINA BARROSO, DrPH
- ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
- E-mail: email@example.com
Dr. Barroso is an Assistant Professor at UT Brownsville, where she teaches Behavioral Science and she works with the Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) and En Vivo programs. Her main research interests include physical activity; nutrition; genetic epidemiology of chronic diseases (gene-environment interactions; design and analysis of school-based health promotion interventions; use of mass media to promote health promotion interventions; and health disparities. Dr. Barroso received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan and her M.P.H. and Dr.P.H. from the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center School of Public Health.
- THOMAS DEMAAR, DVM
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas DeMaar, D.V.M., is the Senior Veterinarian at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, which is considered one of the ten best zoos in the United States. Dr. DeMaar’s experience includes wildlife and zoological medicine, human-animal interfaces, international agriculture development, environmental research, wildlife rehabilitation, mixed animal practice, and conservation education in the US, Mexico, Uganda, Pakistan and Kenya. From 1988 to 1990, Dr. DeMaar was in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico as Technical Director of a Rotary International-sponsored dairy development project. From 1995 to 2003, he created and managed an ecosystem conservation veterinary practice in Kenya. Dr. DeMaar is a graduate of Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts and holds a faculty position there as a clinical assistant professor in the department of environmental and population health. Dr. DeMaar is a firm believer in “One World, One Medicine” medical practice.
- STANLEY I. FISCH, MD
- CLINICAL PROFESSOR
- E-mail: email@example.com
Stanley I. Fisch, M.D., is a clinical professor in the UTHSCSA Department of Pediatrics and Director for Pediatric Programs at the Regional Academic Health Center. He graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York and completed his residency in pediatrics and social medicine at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center, Bronx, New York. From 1973 until 1982, he served on the staff of Su Clinica Familiar, a migrant and community health center serving residents of Cameron and Willacy counties in South Texas. Dr. Fisch is founder, partner, and CEO of Harlingen Pediatrics Associates, a private group practice of six board-certified general pediatricians, two nurse practitioners, and one social worker. He is the founder and presiding officer of the LRGV Child Fatality Review Team, chair of the Texas Medical Association’s Council on Medical Education, and member of the Valley Baptist Health Plans Board of Directors. Recently he has worked with a multidisciplinary group to create the Child to Adult Abuse Response Team (CAART) at Valley Baptist Medical Center. Dr. Fisch serves as the team’s medical director.
In 2006, Dr. Fisch received the Job Lewis Smith Award for Leadership in Community Pediatrics from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- SUSAN P. FISHER-HOCH, MSC, MD, MRCPATH
- PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan P. Fisher-Hoch, M.Sc., M.D., MRCPath, is a professor of biological sciences and epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Brownsville Regional Campus. She has considerable expertise and extensive experience in infectious disease research, including significant contributions to knowledge regarding infectious agents such as Ebola and Lassa fever. In the mid-1980s, she moved from the United Kingdom to the CDC in Atlanta, where she stayed for eight years, first in the Special Pathogens Laboratory. Her responsibilities included primate studies of pathophysiology, vaccine evaluation, clinical and epidemiological advice for the United States and other countries, and supervision of the Sierra Leone Lassa Fever Research Unit. She was a member of the team responsible for opening and operating the newest biosafety level 4 (BSL4 – the highest level of containment, used for the most dangerous viruses such as Ebola and Lassa) laboratory at CDC. In 1993, she became Research Professor and supervisor of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Aga Khan University in Pakistan. In 1997, Dr. Fisher-Hoch took charge of the design, construction, and scientific program of a new BSL4 laboratory in Lyon, France, which is today the world’s most technologically advanced laboratory for handling dangerous viruses.
In January 2001, she moved to Brownsville, Texas, to join her husband who was appointed Assistant Dean for the new Brownsville campus of the UT School of Public Health. She is a full professor in the new school, taking particular responsibility for establishing the new laboratory, teaching and setting up studies of diseases important in the border communities. Her research program includes the Hispanic Health Research Center, a study of the genetics of Human Papilloma Virus in Hispanic women in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Mexico, and a study of emerging MDR tuberculosis across the US/Mexico border.
- DORES JAY-PANG FREEMAN, ADN, MA, MPH
- E-mail: email@example.com
Dores Jay-Pang Freeman, ADN, MA, M.P.H., is Director of the Center of Excellence For Health Professions Development at the Nursing & Allied Health Division of South Texas College, McAllen, Texas. Most of her time is dedicated to creating ways to deliver and disseminate information on minority health issues to the healthcare workforce to help reduce health disparities in the United States. Her work on health education and promotion, and prevention programs for minority and migrant populations in the US has received professional recognition from South Texas College, the Healthy People 2010 Projects Award, US-Mexico Border Health Commission Models of Excellence, the Colorado Governor’s Recognition for Prevention Programs, and the Passion for Justice Award from La Puente Homeless Shelter in Colorado.
She holds an ADN degree from the Escuela Nacional de Enfermeria, Manizales, Colombia, a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado-Boulder, an MA in applied medical anthropology from the University of Memphis, and an MPH in community & behavioral health from the Texas A & M University School of Rural Public Health.
- JOSEPH B. McCORMICK, MD
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph B. McCormick, M.S., M.D., is regional dean and James H. Steele Professor of Epidemiology of the University of Texas School of Public Health, Brownsville Regional Campus. In 1977, he founded the CDC Lassa Fever Research Project in Sierra Leone. There, he conducted extensive and definitive studies of the epidemiology and treatment of Lassa hemorrhagic fever, publishing a landmark paper in the New England Journal of Medicine on effective antiviral treatment for this disease. He returned to Atlanta in 1979 and became Chief, Special Pathogens Branch, Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC, directing the BSL4 laboratories for nine years. He subsequently led the original team that did the first AIDS investigation in Africa and established the Project SIDA in Kinshasa, Zaire, and later the Project Retro-Ci in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. In 1993, he became Chairman of the Community Health Sciences Department at the Aga Khan University Medical School, Pakistan, where he established an epidemiology program resembling the CDC Field Epidemiology Training Programs, and a master’s degree in epidemiology. In 1997, he moved to France where he founded epidemiology programs for the Institute Pasteur and for Aventis Pasteur. He returned to the US in 2001 to start a new regional campus of the UT-Houston School of Public Health in Brownsville.
Dr. McCormick earned his MS from the Harvard School of Public Health and his MD from the Duke University Medical School. His awards include the US Public Health Service’s Meritorious Service Medal, and humanitarian awards from Florida Southern College and Duke University Medical School.
- BELINDA REININGER, DRPH
- ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
- E-mail: email@example.com
Belinda Reininger, M.P.H., DrPH, is an assistant professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Brownsville Regional Campus. Dr. Reininger’s research has focused on ecological approaches to improving health with minority populations, including a special emphasis on capacity building efforts. Dr. Reininger has extensive experience conducting both qualitative and quantitative research, particularly in conducting and analyzing interviews, focus groups and written surveys. She has served as principal investigator for several projects focused on the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities. One such project examined community-based evaluation strategies for health disparities projects; another focused on community engagement strategies around diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. She has also served as principal investigator of a CDC-funded initiative to examine factors influencing the success of community-based initiatives to address teen pregnancy. Dr. Reininger earned her M.P.H. and DrPH degrees and performed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas School of Public Health.
- BLANCA I RESTREPO, PHD
- ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blanca I Restrepo, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Brownsville Regional Campus. She received her Ph.D. from the UTHSCSA in 1994. Dr. Restrepo’s research interests include tuberculosis pathogenesis and immunology, human tuberculosis, and tuberculosis in the Texas-Mexico border population. A major focus of her laboratory’s research is to use immunological and molecular approaches to understand the biological basis of the association between tuberculosis and diabetes.
- LAURA E. ROBINSON, DVM, MS
- E-mail: email@example.com
Laura E. Robinson, D.V.M., M.S. has been with the Texas Department of State Health Services in Region 11 (Harlingen) since 1994 as the Regional Zoonosis Control Veterinarian and served as the Regional Coordinator for Public Health Preparedness and Response during 2002 and 2003. She was a Commissioned Officer with the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia for two years. There she worked as a public health epidemiologist and focused on viral and rickettsial zoonoses, including rabies.
Dr. Robinson attended Texas A & M University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Science (in Epidemiology) degrees.
- BRIAN R. SMITH, MD, MPH
- SALMONELLA, TB, DENGUE, LISTERIA, OBESITY, DIABETES, HEPATITIS C
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian R. Smith, M.D., M.P.H., is the Regional Director of the Texas Department of State Health Services Region 11 in Harlingen. He began with the agency in 1992 as the tuberculosis clinician. In 1998, he was selected to fill the Regional Director position. Dr. Smith received his medical degree in 1976 from University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas Southwestern Medical School. He earned a master’s degree in public health from University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health in San Antonio in 1990. After medical training, Dr. Smith directed a hospital in Nigeria, and worked in mobile clinics in Cameroon where he met his future wife, Ruth. Together they worked in public health with the Choctaws in Oklahoma, and in the jungle of northern Guatemala until war required them to return to Oklahoma. He worked seven years with the Cherokees in eastern Oklahoma, where two of his and Ruth’s three children were born.
Dr. Smith was named "Physician of the Year" winning the UTHSCSA/Kleberg Foundation First Annual President's Excellence Award in 2005 for public health leadership and commitment. He has joint publications near publication with the CDC and the School of Public Health in Brownsville in tuberculosis, polio, and dengue. He has served eight years as civilian lead for Operation Lone Star, a joint effort among county, state and military officials that provides resources, information, and free medical and dental services to Rio Grande Valley citizens.
- ADELA S. VALDEZ, MD
- CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
- E-mail: email@example.com
Dr. Adela S. Valdez was born and raised in Harlingen, Texas. She received her MD degree from Baylor College of Medicine and finished her residency in the UTHSCSA-McAllen Family Practice Program. She is currently Regional Assistant Dean at the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC), a regional campus of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Harlingen, Texas. Dr. Valdez was previously the Director of the Area Health Education Center (AHEC), a state indigent hospital administrator and Medical Director. Dr. Valdez helped initiate the VBMC Family Practice Program and was their first Interim Medical Director from 1995-1996. She also assisted in the establishment of the academic infrastructure in her role as VBMC RAHC Coordinator. In 2000 she completed a one year NYU/NHMA fellowship in Health Disparities with emphasis in cultural competence. From 2001-2005 she was Presiding Officer of the governor appointment State Health Disparities Task Force. In 2004 Dr. Valdez was named the state’s representative to the Agency for Health Research and Quality national conference which focused on best practices and review of the National Health Disparities Report. She has lectured at state health disparities conferences on health disparities, and presented in academic medical centers on Folk Medicine and Mexican American belief systems. She serves on various committees and advisory boards. She has been honored by the Hispanic magazine VISTA, the Texas Board of Health, and the Association of University Women.