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Faculty & Staff

The faculty complement of the BSPH will be interprofessional in nature and will constitute faculty from across NSU, including the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (KPCOM); KPCOM’s Department of Public Health Program; KPCOM’s Department of Nutrition, College of Health Care Sciences, and the College of Medical Sciences.


Alina M. Perez, JD, MPH, LCSW

Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1655

Alina M. Perez is a Professor of Public Health at Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, Master of Public Health Program. In addition to 17 years of experience in academia, she brings more than 15 years of practical experience as a licensed clinical social worker in the areas of inpatient and outpatient mental health, inpatient oncology, emergency care and hospice care. Ms. Perez’s clinical practice, scholarship and community involvement has focused extensively on addressing legal, ethical and public health issues of the aging population, minorities and the underserved. She has presented at many local, national and international conferences and frequently provides lectures and continuing education sessions for students and professionals in the community and other colleges within NSU.


Christi M. Navarro, PhD, MS

Assistant Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1837

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

Dr. Navarro is a dedicated and enthusiastic educator driven to inspire students to academic success. She has over 20 years of combined experience in education, research, evaluation, public health, and social service. Dr. Navarro has worked as an instructor in both secondary and higher education settings, and has experience developing curricula for new programs and working with students to encourage learning and academic success. She has a strong background in developing, implementing, and evaluating data‐ driven programs. She has also planned and implemented training programs for community stakeholders on results‐based accountability and evidence‐based practices. Dr. 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.

Dr. Navarro currently teaches Community Health, Epidemiology Honors, and Global Outreach & Applied Learning for the BSPH program. She also facilitates the culminating experience course, the Integrative Learning Experience, for the MPH program.


Claudia A. Serna PhD, DDS, MPH, MCHES, CPH

Program Director, MPH Program
Assistant Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1652

Dr. Claudia A. Serna holds a dental degree and a master and doctoral degree in public health with a specialization in health promotion and disease prevention from Florida International 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, certified communicator in public health, board certified in public health and Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health. She is the recipient of the 2017 American Public Health Association (APHA) Anthony Westwater Jong Memorial Community Dental Health Post-Professional Award, and the 2017 Leverett Graduate Student Merit Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dental Public Health from the American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD). Dr. Serna's research has been published in Scientific Journals including the American Journal of Public health, AIDS Education and Prevention, Family and Community Health and the International Public Health Journal.


Debra Cohn Steinkohl, MHSA

Course Director, IGC I, II & III
Course Director, Community Service
Course Director, Public Health Seminar (BSPH) Scholarship, Honors & Awards Committee Chair Faculty Advisor for AMSA, MSFC and Anderson Society
(954) 262-1441

Professor Steinkohl is an Assistant Professor in the NSU‐KPCOM Department of Family Medicine and in the Department of Public Health. She is South Florida native who takes great pride in being an NSU Shark for 28 years. She has received numerous NSU and community awards, including the 2019 KPCOM award for “Most Student‐Centered Faculty” and was the NSU Student Life Achievement (STUEY) Award Co‐Curricular Advisor winner for service in advising student organizations. Her professional interests include developing/cultivating enriched, experiential, interprofessional learning opportunities, whereby students remain motivated, service‐ and career‐oriented, and are free to discover their unique passion for service in healthcare, while being engaged with the 'real‐world' laboratory. She is the Course Director for BPH Seminar; BPH Domestic Outreach; and is the Administrative Director of the IGC and Community Service Programs. She is also the Faculty Advisor for AMSA, MSFC and the Anderson Society; is the Chair of the Scholarship, Honors & Awards Committee; and serves on over six other committees, including Admission, Student Progress and Community Outreach. Topics for research include best practices in teaching and service, interprofessional learning, women's health, end‐of‐life decisions, disparities in healthcare, and prevention. As the faculty lead, Professor Steinkohl pioneered the Annual AMSA Florida Rural Mission for Health, which just celebrated its 20th year serving the ‘Glades communities’ bordering Lake Okeechobee.


Kristi Messer, MPH, MSW, LCSW

Director, KPCOM Undergraduate Programs
Assistant Professor, Master of Public Health
Assistant Professor, Master of Science in Disaster and Emergency Management
(954) 262-1072

Kristi Messer, MPH, MSW, LCSW 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 as an Academic Administrator and Professor in the Bachelor of Science in Public Health program. Kristi is also an Assistant Professor of Disaster and Emergency Management and assists community health centers across the state with developing robust emergency preparedness plans. Kristi 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. Over the past 7 years, Kristi has presented her research and academic achievements at over 40 international, national, state, and local conferences. Kristi is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is dedicated to positively impacting children, families, and adults.


T. Lucas Hollar, PhD

Associate Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1498

Dr. T. Lucas Hollar is an Associate Professor of Public Health within Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (KPCOM). He has served as an evaluator for federally-funded initiatives addressing tobacco, childhood obesity, patient-centered medical home programs, interprofessional primary care and public health, Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS, and after school 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, Dr. Hollar’s work has been published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals, such as American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, and Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, among others. Dr. Hollar also serves as the Chairperson of the Health Advisory Board for Broward County, Humana Bold Goal Broward initiative, and as a board member for two health-oriented organizations in Broward County, FL. As a KPCOM faculty member, Dr. Hollar teaches graduate level courses in health policy and program planning and evaluation and undergraduate courses in health policy and health equity. Before joining NSU, Dr. Hollar severed as an Assistant Professor of Government at Stephen F. Austin State University and Adjunct Professor of Public Administration at Florida Atlantic University. In addition to his teaching and research, Dr. Hollar is an alumnus of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine's Health Policy Fellowship, Class of 2011-2012.


Maria F. Montoya, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor
(954) 262-1498

Throughout her career, Dr. Montoya has focused on addressing the health needs of under‐served populations. She believes that public health has been successful at improving overall health and longevity, but health disparities among minorities are persistent. As an Assistant Professor at NSU KPCOM, Dr. Montoya strives to highlight the needs of minority populations in hopes of alleviating the health inequalities that exist. She truly enjoys working with students and serving the South Florida community. Dr. Montoya’s research interest includes chronic diseases, health behavior, and issues related to vulnerable populations.


Melissa Boguslawski, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1633

Melissa Boguslawski earned her PhD in Health Behavior with an emphasis in Education Leadership and Law from Indiana University‐Bloomington, and earned her MPH from Nova Southeastern University. Prior to joining the faculty of the Public Health Program in KPCOM and her education from Indiana University, she was a Health & Wellness Director at a statewide non‐profit in Jackson, Mississippi that focused on obesity prevention at the K‐12 school level. Through her work in Mississippi, Melissa developed a further passion for health‐related education policy and its influence on student health outcomes. Her area of expertise and research is in the field of school health, specifically comprehensive school health education, food security, obesity and chronic disease prevention, and K‐12 education law and policy. She has over ten years of experience working in the field of public health, including working in the clinical, non‐profit, fitness, and academic setting. For fun, Melissa loves to compete in Olympic weightlifting, keep up with the Detroit Tigers, relax on the beach, and spend time with her puppy, Dottie Hinson.


Nicole Cook, PhD, MPA

Associate Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1505

Nicole Cook, PhD, MPA, focuses on community-based research and program evaluation in the following areas: chronic disease; experience and access to care for vulnerable populations; telemedicine; and, gun violence and resiliency after trauma. She teaches epidemiology, community health assessment, community health and population health. Dr. Cook has a B.A. in Sociology from Brandeis University, an MPA in health finance and policy from New York University and a PhD in Epidemiology from University of Miami.


Shari Ramchal, MPH

Instructor, Student Outreach Coordinator
(954) 262-1182

Shari Ramchal has been with Nova Southeastern University for two years. She currently teaches Domestic Outreach and the First Year Experience UNIV course. Prior to joining NSU, she worked as a Safety Program Analyst at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Shari graduated from Boston University with her Bachelor’s in Philosophy and Political Science, and Emory University with a Master’s in Public Health.


Stacey Pinnock, DHSc, MSW

Assistant Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1819

Stacey Pinnock currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health for the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine at Nova Southeastern University. With a background in both the health and human services, Dr. 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. Dr. Pinnock is experienced managing and working on federally-funded training grant initiatives educating medical providers in interprofessional education and geriatric care provision. Her current research interests are in health behavior, aging, and mental health.


Stephen G. Grant, PhD

Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1375

Stephen G. Grant, Ph.D. is a geneticist and a toxicologist. He got his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children and had 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 faculty 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 over 14.7 million dollars in funding and led to over 100 published scientific papers and almost 300 abstracts and presentations. Dr. Grant teaches at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels as well as training 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.

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