School of Public Health welcomes new faculty
Four new professors have recently joined the School of Public Health faculty. Each of them brings rich experience to their new role at Loma Linda University. Serena Tonstad
Serena Tonstad, MD, PhD, MPH, has joined the department of health promotion and education as a professor and as head of the preventive care program. Additionally, she is a professor in the School of Medicine.
The preventive care program offers a doctorate of public health degree, which prepares specialists in wellness and lifestyle intervention. In this field, practitioners promote health and disease prevention by addressing lifestyle factors such as nutrition, exercise, stress, and addictions.
“I have been working with clinical prevention in Norway since 1990 as a clinician and researcher. This has been very rewarding and has given me many opportunities to promote prevention in teaching and through the media,” says Dr. Tonstad. “I am excited about guiding students to also find fulfillment, joy, and rewards in the practice of preventive care.”
Before joining Loma Linda University, Dr. Tonstad was most recently a professor of clinical nutrition
at the University of Oslo, in Norway, as well as head physician in the department of preventive cardiology at the Preventive Medicine Clinic at Oslo’s Ulleval University Hospital.
Dr. Tonstad is an alumna of both the School of Public Health (MPH in epidemiology) and the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University. She received her PhD in preventive medicine from the University of Oslo.Hildemar Dos Santos
Hildemar Dos Santos, MD, DrPH, CHES, is also new to the department of health promotion and education. He is an assistant professor in the preventive care program.
Dr. Dos Santos became interested in teaching at LLU when he began studying at the School of Public Health in 1992. He earned an MPH in 1994 and a DrPH in 1999.
“This is a dream job for me,” he says. “I am glad to be able to share my experience in the field of community public health, and to prepare students to help people change their behaviors in order to prevent chronic diseases related to lifestyle.”
Dr. Dos Santos most recently worked as the director of the Lifestyle Management Center at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital and Tsuen Wan Adventist Ho
Originally from Brazil, he received his physician’s training there in internal medicine and family practice.Michelle Wien
Michelle Wien, DrPH, RD, CDE, has joined the department of nutrition as an assistant professor. Like Drs. Tonstad and Dos Santos, she is also a School of Public Health alumna.
“I attended the School of Public Health from 1995 to 2002 and earned a DrPH in nutrition, which allowed me to experience the outstanding faculty, staff, and student population the School has,” says Dr. Wien. “The chance to return as a faculty member and work with the nutrition department’s research team in its ongoing nutrition trials was very appealing.”
In addition to working on nutrition feeding trials, Dr. Wien is excited about the opportunity to teach graduate-level students. She also hopes to receive grants that will allow for additional research opportunities for both faculty and students.
Dr. Wien has previously taught at schools including the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, California State Polytechnic University, and the University of Southern California.
She also has a l
ong history of experience as a clinical dietitian and health educator.Sharon Rushing
Sharon Rushing, MPH, is also an alumna of the School. She earned an MPH in international health in 2003 and has now returned to the global health department as assistant professor.
Ms. Rushing also has a secondary appointment with the department of health policy and management.
With a background in anthropology, Ms. Rushing is pleased about the opportunity to increase students’ knowledge of cultural responsiveness, as well as the socio-cultural determinants of health disparities.
She believes that the diverse student population of the School of Public Health creates an opportunity for students and teachers alike to learn from each other.
Ms. Rushing has already taught part-time for the School of Public Health for the past two years. Her previous career experience includes serving as a cultural and linguistic consultant for health care companies, as well as anthropological work including the U.S. Forest Service and consultancies for the Department of Defense.
By Heather Reifsnyder