February 24, 2014
Postdoctoral trainee Dwight W. Lewis, Jr., PhD, and doctoral candidate Chelsea R. Singleton, MPH, both in the Department of Epidemiology, were recently honored at the President’s Diversity Awards Banquet, in acknowledgment of significant achievements toward developing a more culturally diverse, competent, and inclusive university community.
Dr. Lewis, who won in the Professional Student category, was recognized for the keen interest he has taken in recruiting and encouraging qualified minority students to enter the field of medical and public health research. His own research efforts show a true devotion to addressing minority health concerns. He is first author on possibly the only study of orthorexia nervosa—an eating disorder characterized by preoccupation with avoiding foods thought to be unhealthful—among African American athletes enrolled at historically black colleges and universities, who are traditionally underâ€examined in the literature.
In addition, Dr. Lewis readily shares his initial academic struggles—before becoming the first jointâ€degree PhD/MBA graduate in the history at the university—which stresses to minority students that one does not have to come from a “perfect” background or have a “perfect” educational career to make an important impact in and on society.
Ms. Singleton, who won in the Graduate Student category, also researches minority health disparities, such as examining changes in physical activity behaviors in Cuban immigrants in addition to a systematic review and metaâ€analysis of afterâ€school and communityâ€based obesity interventions in African American children. Her upcoming dissertation research focuses on how farmâ€toâ€consumer outlets influence diet, health, food security, and shopping behaviors in lowerâ€income populations in Jefferson County, Alabama.
Perhaps her greatest contributions to diversity is as president of the Black Graduate Student Association, which pursues professional and academic excellence with respect to minority graduate and professional students at UAB, and as cofounder of the mentor program BLUEprint Connect, which supports the professional development of UAB minority undergraduate students by connecting them with graduate and professional students with similar research or career interests.