College alumni Helena Chapman, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., Chad Neilsen, M.P.H., C.I.C., and Emilia Strong Sykes, J.D., M.P.H., were named to UF Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40, which honors outstanding young alumni who have made a significant impact on their industry or field and have made important contributions to their communities.
Helena Chapman, master’s in public health ’05 and Ph.D. in One Health ’16, is the associate program manager for health and air quality applications in the Applied Sciences Program (Booz Allen Hamilton) of the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters. Her team promotes the use of Earth observation data in public health applications, related to air quality management and infectious disease prevention and control. She is also a professorial lecturer in the department of environmental and occupational health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Trained in medicine and public health, she is passionate about promoting transdisciplinary collaborations that investigate and mitigate risks to human, animal and ecosystem health.
Chad Neilsen, master’s in public health ’09, is the director of accreditation and infection prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, where he is responsible for oversight of the facility’s Joint Commission accreditation and UF Health Jacksonville’s response to COVID-19. He has worked as an epidemiologist in federal, state, county and academic levels and has more than 10 years in the field of infectious disease epidemiology. His infection prevention leadership was nationally recognized by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in 2019. Additionally, he serves as a public health officer for the Florida Air National Guard, based at the 125th Fighter Wing in Jacksonville.
Emilia Strong Sykes, master’s in public health ’11, is an Ohio state representative (OH-34) who was elected in November 2014. She serves as Democratic leader of the House minority caucus, a position to which she was elected by her colleagues. As a representative, she has pushed an aggressive job creation plan, and has worked with health care professionals and colleagues to improve public health, increase access to care, and combat Ohio’s high infant mortality rate. Her passion for social justice extends to issues such as voter rights, criminal justice reform, a more efficient social safety net for struggling Ohioans, and an end to domestic violence. Her work on domestic violence issues has resulted in legislation to protect people in dating relationships, House Bill 1, becoming law.