Three members of the Yale School of Public Health academic community have been selected by the Class of 2021 for their commitment to advancing academic achievement and advancing the student experience.
The awards – Distinguished Teacher and Distinguished Student Mentor – were announced by Dean Sten H. Vermund. Each of the honorees – Yasmmyn Salinas, Jacob Wallace and Michael Wininger – will be recognized next week (Monday, May 24), and their names will be added to the awards wall outside the Winslow Auditorium.
“We are grateful for their commitment to world-class public health education, student success and creativity in their research efforts,” said Vermund, MD, Ph.D. “High-quality academic and thesis supervision is one of the most important influences on a student’s experience at Yale. These three people are doing extremely well.”
Distinguished Teaching Award
Yasmmyn Salinas, Ph.D. ’19, MPH, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology of Chronic Diseases, received the YSPH Distinguished Teaching Award, the school’s highest award.
The students who chose Salinas cited her “passion for research, carefully prepared course and instructional materials, and detailed but concise delivery of the materials.” They also praised her “incredible passion” for teaching.
Her research focuses on the intergenerational transmission of obesity and its associated co-morbidity, approaching their problem from a genetic lens. She has conducted genetic epidemiological studies to investigate cross-ethnic differences in the genetic determinants of the body mass index and to elucidate the shared genetic determinants of asthma and body mass index. Salinas also examines the interactions between genetic factors and early age risk factors related to obesity and other metabolic outcomes over the life course.
I am very honored to receive this award, ”said Salinas. “I am incredibly grateful to have been able to teach such smart, curious and hard-working students. Interaction with the students is my favorite part of teaching. “
She said some of my most joyful moments of the past year were those she spent in the (virtual) classroom. She loves to witness (and be partly responsible for) students’ light bulb moments.
“I loved talking to them about how we can apply the methods we are learning to their current and future research. I was thrilled to see them grow as epidemiologists, ”said Salinas.
She joined the Faculty in 2019 and currently teaches Principles of Epidemiology II and Advanced Applied Analytic Methods in Epidemiology.
Two prominent student mentors
Jacob Wallace, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, and Michael Wininger, Ph.D., Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Biostatistics, were jointly recognized with the Distinguished Student Mentor Award.
The mentor award recognizes educators who are leading the way in shaping the next generation of public health practitioners and who serve as role models for their students. It also radiates passion for public health and their particular field; and who have clear and high expectations of their students; encourages their students to grow and reach their full potential; is sensitive to the needs and concerns of students; provides ongoing feedback and makes extraordinary efforts to help their students.
Wallace was praised by his students for his generosity with his time and attention to the individual graduation process.
“He constantly found the time to patiently guide me through my thesis and treated the project with the importance of one of his own,” wrote one student in nominating Wallace for the award.
Wallace’s research focuses on the economics of health insurance markets, with particular emphasis on the impact of managed care in public insurance programs. This area of research is increasingly important as the government increasingly contracts managed care plans to provide benefits in Medicaid and Medicare.
“It is an honor to receive the Distinguished Student Mentor Award. Learning from and being inspired by the students at YSPH is the best part of this job, ”said Wallace. “It never ceases to amaze me what our students can achieve, even in the most challenging of circumstances.”
Wallace joined the faculty 2017 and teaches Methods in Health Services Research.
Wininger has been praised by students for being extremely accessible and concerned about their progress, and has even been known to respond to emails from students in the early hours of the morning.
He goes beyond teaching with his impact and even asks students who are no longer enrolled in his course about their concerns, feelings and insights, ”wrote one student in their nomination for Wininger.
Wininger, meanwhile, said he is working to create an environment where students quickly realize they are with family, a place where they can ask all their questions without self-awareness, learn without friction or fear, and create with maximum freedom.
In his course, Biostatistics in Public Health, he has a scaffolding approach to mentorship, and anyone can participate. He mentioned incredible educators, who are flawless role models for our freshmen. He also promotes mentorship among students: Mid-term through the semester, he calls on those who are comfortable with the material and want to step forward as “guides” who will help others explore the content further.
“This creates a framework in which mentorship is much less vertical, and much more horizontal,” said Wininger. “We can all mentor each other and accomplish the mission.”
Wininger’s primary focus is the design and operation of clinical trials. He is the lead statistician on the safety and efficacy of ICD implantation in the elderly and specializes in the analysis of continuous streams of data from biomedical devices, including electromyography (EMG), interfacial pressure measurement, intracranial pressure monitoring and kinematic measurements. He joined the faculty in 2015.
“I love to be recognized,” said Wininger. “I myself would like to thank my mentors, at faculty, staff and administration levels, who provided their guidance and directly impacted my approach to mentoring and teaching.”
And while he does respond to emails very early at times, Wininger noted that he works hard to maintain a good work-life balance.
“I love receiving emails from my YSPH family, so when I get them I’m really excited to come back,” he said. “To be honest, emails from students are often the highlight of my day.”