Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, PhD

Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, PhD

Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, PhD

Faculty Highlight – Dr. Watanabe-Galloway currently teaches two courses: Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Health Information/Public Health Surveillance. She has been an academic advisor to 11 MPH students and served on 17 service learning/capstone committees. She has also served on dissertation committees for nine PhD students and mentored two MPH interns.

Dr. Watanabe-Galloway’s teaching philosophy is “The more we put in as faculty, the more we get out of our teaching and advising experience.”  Dr. Watanabe-Galloway finds it important for students to develop adequate scientific writing skills before they graduate. She encourages all MPH students to publish at least one paper as the primary author and publish more as co-authors. Publishing in peer-reviewed literature provides students an opportunity to integrate what they learned in class as well as disseminate study findings beyond the research group. Dr. Watanabe-Galloway’s teaching experience has been well-received by her students. She received the college’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011.

Dr. Watanabe-Galloway’s research interests include disparities in cancer and in psychiatric service. Over the past decade, Dr. Watanabe-Galloway has worked with the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board (GPTCHB) and tribes in the Northern Plains region to build the public health infrastructure in the Northern Plains region and eliminate health disparities. “Mapping Pathways to a Healthier Future,” a five-year project funded by the US Department of Health, Office of Minority Health, is one project on which she collaborates with GPTCHB. Each year, a group of public health professionals from American Indian communities in the four-state region (South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa) participate in face-to-face workshops and webinars to learn Geographic Information System (GIS) and epidemiology software. The project is in its third year and has had participation from 15 of 18 tribal communities thus far. The project is a good example of academic-community collaboration to address health disparities through public health infrastructure building.

Dr. Watanabe-Galloway serves on two of the college’s Governing Faculty Committees, Research and Development, and Student Recruitment and Admissions. She chairs the subcommittee for the MPH program within the Department of Epidemiology. She is a member of the Nebraska Cancer Registry Advisory Committee and Northern Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center Advisory Committee.

Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, PhD, is an associate professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Epidemiology.

Caryn Vincent

Student Highlight – Caryn Vincent is an MPH student in the maternal and child Health concentration. She is from York, Nebraska. She has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in psychobiology, with a minor in public health. Caryn is also the current president of the College of Public Health Student Association.

Caryn Vincent

Caryn Vincent

Caryn first became interested in public health while participating in the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at UNMC. Through this program she was introduced to issues of health disparities and poor access to health care. For most of high school and college, Caryn planned to attend medical school and work as a physician in a public health clinic. However, after completing a minor in public health and learning about all that public health has to offer, she decided that a career in public health was the right fit. Caryn was able to further her interest in public health by volunteering with the Friends Program in Kearney, which is a youth mentoring program similar to Big Brothers Big Sisters. She was matched with a young, low-income girl, and through this relationship, she was able to see how disparities and poor access to health care affect individuals and families. Caryn saw how devastating not being able to access health care can be for a child whose leg hurts or has a toothache, but who is unable to have it cared for because her family cannot afford the care.

Caryn’s experience with the Friends Program introduced her to the world of maternal and child health and helped her recognize how important it is to advocate and work for children and families—the main reason why she decided to pursue a masters of public health degree with a concentration in maternal and child health.

Caryn is interested in adolescent health, particularly STD and pregnancy prevention in adolescents, as well as in adolescent mental health. Her career goal is to work in the field of adolescent health, working with programs that promote safe sex practices and work to reduce teen pregnancy and STD infection.

Caryn has found that being a part of the College of Public Health has been far more rewarding than she could have imagined. The students, faculty, and staff have been so welcoming and have really helped her become more knowledgeable in public health. She also had the opportunity to take on leadership positions within the college that have helped her develop leadership skills that will help her become a public health leader as she finishes the program and enters the workforce.

Health Benefits of Yoga

GB yogaPublic Health Community Advisory – September is National Yoga Month (sponsored by the Yoga Health Foundation and included in the US Department of Health & Human Services’ 2013 list of national health observances), designed to educate about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle. – See more at about National Yoga Month at the Yoga Health Foundation website.1

Yoga is defined as the stilling of the changing states of the mind.2 Yoga practice includes meditation, postures (or asanas) and controlled breathing and is recognized as complementary or alternative medicine because of numerous health benefits. A comparison study of yoga and other exercise programs found yoga to be equally or more effective.3 Before you begin practicing yoga, consult your physician. In your yoga class, tell your teacher of any health conditions or concerns.

Why should you do yoga? Here are a few reasons to give it a try:

1. Improved physical fitness. Yoga uses poses and one’s body weight as resistance (think push-ups). Your physical strength and range of motion will inevitably improve. You will also get better posture as a bonus. Many of us work at a desk job, which means we lean over most of the day. By increasing body awareness and strengthening back and shoulder muscles, yoga can improve posture and help alleviate back and neck pain

2. Increased balance and flexibility. Balance is incorporated in many yoga poses, and repeated practice helps increase balance and flexibility. Also, strength and range of motion will improve. Yoga works!

3. Reduced stress:4 numerous studies have found an association between yoga and reduced stress and anxiety. The harmful effects of daily stress are known risk factors for a variety of acute and chronic conditions. Yoga also helps manage chronic conditions, from back pain to depression to anxiety. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, yoga helps relax the body and contributes to feeling peaceful.

4. Increased composure and improved physiological function. Breathing is an integral part of yoga. You learn breathing techniques on the mat that you can apply off the mat to help you maintain your composure in difficult situations. Yoga helps you control your breathing. Controlling your breathing can in turn help you control your body and quiet your mind. Regular practice has been associated with improvements in several physiological functions such as blood pressure, respiration and heart rate, metabolic rate, and overall exercise capacity.5

5. Better mood!6 Yoga was found to be associated with greater mood improvement than going for a walk. One study used magnetic resonance imaging to monitor levels of neurotransmitter gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA). Higher levels of GABA are associated with lower anxiety and improved mood. The researchers found that yoga practitioners reported greater increases in mood and had higher GABA levels than did walkers.

6. Immune system boost.7 The beneficial effects of yoga on the molecular level may begin immediately after practice. Taking a nature walk or listening to music is known to increase the immune system response, and yoga may be an even better helper for your immune system. Researchers at the University of Oslo assessed 10 participants during a weeklong retreat as they practiced yoga and meditation for the first two days, and then went on nature walks and listened to jazz or classical music on the remaining days. The researchers drew blood before and after each session and analyzed immune cells (peripheral blood mononuclear cells). Although nature walks and music produced changes in the expression of 38 genes in the circulating immune cells, yoga changed 111 genes. This means that yoga is 2.9 times as effective at boosting the immune system as nature walks and music.

7. Boosts self-esteem and confidence, which in turn helps you with your relationships and overall well-being.


1Yoga Health Foundation,


3Ross A, Thomas S. The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16(1):3-12. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0044.

4Chong CSM, Tsunaka M, Tsang HWH, Chan EP, Cheung WM. Effects of yoga on stress management in healthy adults: a systematic review. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2011;17(1):32–38.

5Raub JA.Psychophysiological effects of Hatha Yoga on musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary function: a literature review. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2002;8(6):797-812. doi:10.1089/10755530260511810.

6Streeter CC, Jensen JE, Perlmutter RM, Cabral HJ, Tian H, Terhune DB, Ciraulo DA, Renshaw PF. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2007;13(4):419-426. doi:10.1089/acm.2007.6338.

7Qu S, Olafsrud SM, Meza-Zepeda LA, Saatcioglu F. Rapid gene expression changes in peripheral blood lymphocytes upon practice of a comprehensive yoga program. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(4): e61910. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061910

This article was written by Lina Lander, ScD, an associate professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Epidemiology. Dr. Lander’s research interests are in identifying sources of occupational injuries and musculoskeletal trauma; case-crossover study design methodology and applications; and medical errors and adverse events.

Winter Weather Safety (already?)!

GBsnowPublic Health in the National News – Did you know that Omaha averages 28 inches of snow per year, Des Moines averages 33 and Chicago 38? Going west Scottsbluff averages 40 inches, Denver 60, and Cheyenne 55?  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting that a ‘wavering’ El Nino will mean a warmer and drier winter for the Midwestern US. Good news, right?

It is good news, but don’t let this early prediction fool you. Ice and snow can be dangerous, and it’s a good idea to think about it before you run into bad weather. In fact, the National Weather Service recommends that we prepare well before the first snow starts to fall. Keep this in mind when you are planning travel for this fall if you’re headed to states that have white winters.

One way to stay safe and healthy this winter is to put a winter weather kit in your car. Start putting your kit together now, so you can spread the expense over several months. The kit should include:

  • Phone charger and/or an extra battery

  • First aid kit

  • Shovel and tow rope

  • Battery booster cables

  • Blankets, extra clothes, hats, mittens, etc.

  • High calorie, non-perishable food

If you should get temporarily stranded in your car, stay inside until help arrives (unless you are stalled in the middle of the street, of course). In most cases, you are safer staying in your car.

You should also have some supplies in case you get stranded at home.  Stock up on non-perishable food before the storm. And, be particularly careful with alternate heat sources like fireplaces and some space heaters. The risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning increases when these sources are used. Do NOT run generators in your house!

When the snow and ice stop and you can finally venture outside, be sure to stay as dry as possible; cover all exposed body parts and layer your clothing. Also, be sure to eat and drink enough to keep your energy and prevent dehydration.

The National Weather Service provides the latest weather forecast, including potentially hazardous conditions. NOAA has teamed with the Red Cross to provide a  preparedness guide for winter weather. Many state Departments of Transportation (or Department of Roads) also provide information on road conditions. Or you can call 511 in most states for information as well. There are also a multitude of weather-related phone apps that provide up to the minute forecasts and warnings.

Winter can certainly be a wonderland. Just be sure you don’t underestimate the power of ice, cold, snow and wind. Be safe and enjoy the season!

Keith Hansen, MBA, is the assistant director of the Center for Preparedness Education, a joint endeavor between the UNMC College of Public Health and Creighton University School of Medicine, and an instructor in the UNMC COPH Department of Health Services Research and Administration.