Stempel College faculty recognized by the City of Miami for COVID-19 response efforts

On Thursday, January 13, 2022, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and City of Miami commissioners recognized three FIU faculty members from the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work for their expertise and tireless contributions to the city’s COVID-19 response efforts. The award ceremony took place during a City of Miami Commission Meeting at the Miami City Hall.

Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, chair and professor of epidemiology; Dr. Zoran Bursac, chair and professor of biostatistics; and Dr. Gabriel Odom, assistant professor of biostatistics, have continuously worked with mayors and representatives from across South Florida since the start of the pandemic, helping them translate complex data into clear messages to help communicate the state of the pandemic to their constituents and make policy decisions. The faculty have spent countless hours curating data, giving interviews to local and national media outlets, and writing reports on daily COVID-19 cases, testing, vaccinations, hospitalizations and deaths. Their work was made available to the public through the Miami COVID Project, which was created to inform researchers, scientists, policymakers, and the general public regarding the projected impact of COVID-19 on Miami-Dade County.

“I know how hard Dr. Trepka, Dr. Bursac and Dr. Odom have worked throughout this pandemic to keep our policymakers informed and keep communities across South Florida safe,” said Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of Stempel College. “I am so proud of them and am thrilled they were recognized by the honorable Mayor Suarez and the City of Miami.”

The three faculty members received Certificates of Merit and were joined by Emir Veledar, courtesy professor of biostatistics and director of Baptist Predictive Analytics, and Roy Williams, former Stempel College MPH student and biostatistician at the Miami-Dade County office of the Florida Department of Health. Veledar provided critical data from Baptist Health South Florida, which helped with epidemiological modeling of the virus spread in the region. And Williams served as a data analyst on the Miami COVID Project.

“This was truly a team effort and could not have been possible without the support from our many partners such as the Department of Health, Baptist Health South Florida and Jackson Memorial Hospital,” said Dr. Trepka. “We thank Mayor Suarez and the City of Miami for recognizing our efforts to help keep communities safe during this unprecedented time.”

*Featured photo: (Left to right) Dr. Gabriel Odom, Dr. Zoran Bursac, Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, Emir Veledar and Roy Williams