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Claudia A. Serna, Ph.D., D.D.S., M.P.H., M.B.A.

Chair, MPH Director & Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health
(954) 262-1652

Dr. Claudia A. Serna holds a dental degree from Javeriana University, a master and doctoral degree in public health with a specialization in health promotion and disease prevention from Florida International University and a Master of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University. She furthered her education by completing a residency in dental public health at NYU Langone Health, and a certificate in social media marketing from Rutgers University School of Business.

She is also master certified in health education, a certified communicator in public health, board certified in public health, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health. She is the recipient of the 2017 American Public Health Association Anthony Westwater Jong Memorial Community Dental Health Post-Professional Award, the 2017 Leverett Graduate Student Merit Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dental Public Health from the American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD), and the 2020 KPCOM M.P.H. Golden Apple Award.

Serna’s research has been published in scientific journals, including the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, American Journal of Public Health, AIDS Education and Prevention, Family and Community Health, and the International Public Health Journal. She also authored a chapter in the American Public Health Association Book Oral Health in America: Removing the Stain of Disparity.

She currently teaches the Public Health Field Experience course in the M.P.H. program and the Health Communication and the Independent Study course in the B.S. in Public Health program.


Kristi Messer, DSHc, MPH, LCSW

Assistant Dean of Bachelor Degree Programs
Director, Bachelor of Science in Public Health|
Office (954) 262-1072 | Cell (954) 817-7413

Kristi Messer relocated to Florida from Washington D.C where she had spent years working with the Department of Health and Human Services to successfully launch community health centers across the nation. As a passionate public health professional, Kristi currently serves the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (KPCOM) at Nova Southeastern University as an Assistant Dean overseeing undergraduate academic programs, as well as the Director of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health program. Dr. Messer serves on the Board of Directors for two local non-profit organizations dedicated to positively impacting individuals experiencing homelessness, Broward County Taskforce fore Ending Homelessness and Showering Love, a non-profit providing mobile showers to those experiencing homelessness. For more than twenty years, Dr. Messer has dedicated her professional life to underserved and vulnerable population groups through her involvement with the homeless, individuals with disabilities, communities affected by disasters, and persons impacted by mental illness. Dr. Messer has presented her research and academic achievements at over 40 international, national, state, and local conferences. Dr. Messer is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is committed to positively impacting communities, children, families, and adults.



Stephen G. Grant, Ph.D.

Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1375

Stephen G. Grant, a geneticist and a toxicologist, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. Grant did his research and clinical fellowships at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University of California, San Francisco, respectively. He was a staff scientist in biodosimetry at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a faculty member in Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

His work on environmental, occupational, and medical exposures and genetic predisposition to cancer has generated more than $14.7 million in funding and led to more than 100 published scientific papers and almost 300 abstracts and presentations. Grant teaches at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels and trains interns, graduate students, and postgraduate fellows in the laboratory. He has served on expert panels for the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, state and foreign governments, private foundations, and universities.


Lucas Hollar, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1498

Lucas Hollar has served as an evaluator for federally funded initiatives that address tobacco, childhood obesity, patient-centered medical home programs, interprofessional primary care and public health, housing opportunities for people with AIDS, and afterschool programming for at-risk youth. Additionally, he has performed foundation and corporation-funded research and evaluation in the areas of patient experience of care in federally qualified community health centers, cancer screening and education for underserved women, and childhood obesity prevention and intervention in public schools.

His current research focuses on policy, systems, and environmental change for improving the health of populations, patient experience of care, childhood obesity, and tobacco-control policies. Based on his research, Hollar’s work has been published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals, such as the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, and the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, among others. Hollar also serves as chair of the Health Advisory Board for Broward County, the Humana Bold Goal Broward initiative, and as a board member for two health-oriented organizations in Broward County.

As a KPCOM faculty member, Hollar teaches graduate-level courses in health policy and program planning and evaluation, as well as undergraduate courses in health policy and health equity. Before joining NSU, Hollar served as an assistant professor of government at Stephen F. Austin State University and as an adjunct professor of public administration at Florida Atlantic University. In addition to his teaching and research, Hollar is an alumnus of the class of 2011–2012 American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s Health Policy Fellowship.


Jennifer Maizel, Ph.D., M.P.H., CHES

Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health
(954) 262-1505

Dr. Jennifer Maizel is an Assistant Professor of Public Health with expertise in diabetes, health behavior, health equity, community engagement, and capacity building. She has a PhD in Public Health: Social and Behavioral Sciences from University of Florida, a MPH in Health Promotion from The George Washington University, and a BS in Psychology from George Mason University. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

She teaches courses on health communication and marketing, health education, leadership and management, and contemporary health issues. Her research aims to improve outcomes for people with diabetes by reducing disparities and strengthening healthcare capacity. Her research and programs have been funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and industry organizations, published in journals such as Diabetes and Diabetes Care, and presented at international conferences. She formerly worked as a Senior Manager of Professional Engagement at the American Diabetes Association (promoted from Manager and Consultant) and as a Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant at University of Florida.


Christi M. Navarro, Ph.D., M.S.

Assistant Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1837

Christi M. Navarro is an assistant professor of public health at NSU, where she earned her M.S. in Educational Leadership. She has a Ph.D. in Public Health with a concentration in health promotion and disease prevention and a graduate certificate in women’s studies from Florida International University.

Navarro is a dedicated and enthusiastic educator who is driven to inspire students to academic success. She has more than 20 years of combined experience in education, public health, research/evaluation and social service. She has worked as an instructor in both secondary and higher education settings and has experience developing curricula. Navarro has previously worked in the South Florida community implementing, developing and evaluating community‐based programs that address overall health, mental health and risk behaviors among youth. Additionally, she has planned and implemented training programs for community stakeholders on results‐based accountability and evidence‐based practices.

Navarro is the course director for Community Health, Mental Health as Public Health, and Epidemiology Honors for the B.S. in Public Health program. She is also the course director for the Integrative Learning Experience—the culminating experience course for the M.P.H. program.


Stacey Pinnock, D.H.Sc., M.S.W.

Assistant Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1819

With a background in both the health and human services, Stacey Pinnock has extensive experience working with disadvantaged populations and meeting the needs of underserved communities. She previously served as a clinical social worker in both hospital and in-home settings and as a health promotion specialist and junior policy analyst in governmental settings in Canada. Pinnock is experienced in managing and working on federally funded training grant initiatives that educate medical providers in interprofessional education and geriatric care provision. Her current research interests are in health behavior, aging, and mental health.


Kasi Lou Van Heel, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.

Assistant Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1613

Kasi Lou Van Heel is a DrPH Health Education and Promotion graduate of Loma Linda University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Spelman College and her Master of Public Health degree (M.P.H.) from Morehouse School of Medicine. After 10 years in Metro Atlanta, Kasi recently returned to her hometown of South Florida where she is currently a member of KPCOM Public Health Department. Her experience in public health ranges vastly from environmental health practice at Dekalb County Board of Health to economic development and public health consulting within the non-profit sector. With a niche for social media and infodemiology, her interests in public health mainly include increasing access to health education and health information resources for lay audiences and marginalized groups. Her research is grounded in her interest to explore social determinants of access to health information particularly via internet use. Her goal as a public health professional is to help others utilize and navigate credible resources in ways that are safe, accurate, and complemented by care or knowledge from professional providers.


Ashleigh Bennett, M.P.H.

Assistant Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1613

Ashleigh Bennett, M.P.H., is currently an Assistant Professor of Public Health at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and a doctoral student. She received her Master of Public Health degree from Dartmouth College in 2020. During graduate school her research was focused on shared decision-making and coproduction of health. Post-graduation, Ashleigh served as a research coordinator in the Medical Specialties department of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). While at DHMC, she became involved in CPD-related research and received a specialization in Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare from Stanford University’s School of Medicine.


Jayson Forbes Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1613

Dr. Jayson Forbes is currently an Assistant Professor at Nova Southeastern University. Previously he worked as a Teaching Assistant Professor at Florida International University, which is where he obtained both his Ph.D. in Public Health and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He is currently researching various communities’ culture for health. He is currently conducting a study aimed at analyzing health disparities in hospitals based on how marginalized healthcare providers perceive patient safety culture in hospitals. This research can hopefully help improve hospital conditions in the United States, as well as globally, for patients and providers. He first served as the Chair of Member Services for the National Association for Health Services Executives (NAHSE) Florida from 2020 – 2021. Starting in 2022, he created and started the Chair the Student Services for NAHSE Florida and is a member of NAHSE National Young Professional Committee. Furthermore, Dr. Forbes serves on the Committee for Health Equity for the American Public Health Association, where he has been involved with presentations and initiatives aimed at expanding health equity communications and education.

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