Senior spotlight: Samantha Mundt (4+1 public health)

UIndy 360 had a chance to talk with 4+1 Public Health student Samantha Mundt, who is currently in her first year of a Master of Public Health degree and final year of a Public Health Education and Promotion undergraduate degree.  


How is the public health program preparing you for the next steps in your career?

“The public health program has done so much to prepare me for the next steps in my career. This program has given me the opportunity to implement real interventions within my community. I have had the opportunity to work with organizations such as the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, the Hoosier Environmental Council, the YMCA, the South Indy Quality of Life Project, and so many others. Additionally, I have been able to speak at national conferences relevant to my field and hold leadership positions within state and national professional organizations.”

Have any UIndy faculty mentored you? 

“Mentorship from UIndy faculty members such as Dr. Heidi Hancher-Rauch and Dr. Angelitta Britt-Spells has led me to earn two internship positions. Dr. Kara Cecil has led me to compete in multiple case study competitions. My professors have given me all the skills necessary to ensure that I am well prepared to not only enter the workforce but also to be a leader in my field.”

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities? 

“As a UIndy student, I am president of our Eta Sigma Gamma chapter, a health education honorary. I am the Collegiate Champion for the National Society for Public Health Education at UIndy as well as the Student Representative for InSOPHE.  In addition to this, I am a Contact Tracer, Graduate Assistant, Writing Lab Tutor, and former Greyhound Ambassador for the university. This is just a few of an even longer list of all the ways in which I have been able to be involved while a student at UIndy. Each of these experiences has heightened how much I value being in a program that pushed me to do more than just work towards my degree. Because of the public health program at UIndy, I am constantly striving to reach new heights and often finding myself at the top.”

Have you had any internships? 

“In my time at UIndy, I have had two internships. The first was with the Indiana Minority Health Coalition and our work was focused on maternal & child health and minority health. The second internship was with the Hoosier Environmental Council and we worked on the topic of instances of childhood lead poising in rental situations. Each of these internships emphasized utilizing policy and advocacy to tackle these issues. I have gained important skills from these internships such as professional communication and writing as well as research.”

Can you talk about your experience on the contract tracing team?

“Communication and empathy have been a big part of my role as a contact tracer. Every day that I go in I speak with countless UIndy students and employees. Not only do I need to be able to share and gather important information but I also need to show empathy when discussing a topic which often leads to feelings of vulnerability. My biggest takeaway from my role as a contact tracer is the importance of open communication and transparency during crisis situations.”

Have you had any academic research opportunities at UIndy? 

“As a student at UIndy, I have had many research opportunities within my curriculum. I have researched and carried out studies on topics from hepatitis vaccination uptake among college students to the impacts of maternal age on infant birth weight. Alongside public health faculty, I am working on four additional research projects outside of my curriculum.”

What would you like to do following graduation? What are your long-term career goals? 

“Following graduation, I hope to work in health administration, health education, or health policy & advocacy. While working in one of these fields, I hope to freelance as a writer and editor for nonprofit organizations. After a few years, I hope to go back to school and earn a doctorate in public health so that I can eventually become a college professor.”

What’s your favorite thing about UIndy?

“My favorite thing about UIndy is the support which I receive from university faculty as well as the friendships I have made both within and outside of my program. UIndy has done so much to support me in my education, and it has allowed me to accomplish more in the past three years than I could ever have imagined doing in such a short period of time.”

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?

“My advice for incoming freshmen is to jump at every opportunity that comes their way and to seek out those that don’t. College flies by quicker than you can imagine so it’s important that you use this time to the fullest. Make sure you’re nourishing all the realms of your health; physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual because each one is important in supporting you through the next four years.”

Using arts to improve the quality of life of older adults

The University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community (CAC) has received a $600,000 contract from the Indiana State Department of Health to design, implement, and coordinate a project that will improve the quality of life of older adults living in long-term care facilities through the use of the arts.

The Expressive Arts in Long Term Care project will educate long term care professionals in best practices for using visual art, dance, drama, music, writing/memoir in individual and group settings for residents living in long-term care facilities.

“We have assembled an outstanding team of faculty for this project,” said CAC Senior Projects Director Ellen Burton, MPH. “The arts are a key way to enhance the quality of life for older adults, especially those living in nursing facilities. By focusing on the wide spectrum of the expressive arts, we can help Indiana’s long-term care facilities offer meaningful experiences to their residents.”

CAC will host a total of six training workshops around the state, each four days in length. Faculty for the Expressive Arts in Long-Term Care project include:

  • Visual Art: Sarah Tirey, BFA, Associate Adjunct Faculty of Art & Design, University of Indianapolis
  • Dance: Heidi Fledderjohn, MA, BC-DMT, RYT, Dance/Movement Therapist, Facilitator and Teacher, Know Wonder, St. Vincent Health, Still Waters Adult Day Center
  • Drama: Sally Bailey, MFA, MSW, RDT/BCT, Professor of Theater and Gerontology and Director of the Drama Therapy, Kansas State University
  • Music: Rebecca Sorley, DA, Professor of Music, Director of Student Support, and Coordinator of the Music Business Concentration, University of Indianapolis
  • Writing and Memoir: Katharine Houpt, MAAT, ATR, LCPC, director of an expressive arts therapy program at a nursing facility in Illinois

The first workshop is scheduled to take place in Indianapolis November 14-16 and November 29, 2016. The cost is $100 for the four days. Long-term care professionals interested in registering may do so here.

Five additional workshops will be scheduled and held throughout the state. Each workshop is limited to 50 participants. There will also be two “train-the-trainer” workshops, two-day sessions developed to ensure sustainability for the teaching of expressive arts beyond the scope of this project.

Rethinking aging: Dr. Bill Thomas brings “Age of Disruption Tour” to UIndy


Renowned aging expert presents Disrupt Dementia and Aging: Life’s Most Dangerous Game

On October 19, 2016, the University of Indianapolis will host Age of Disruption, a national tour that brings a radical new approach to growth and aging. The brainchild of Dr. Bill Thomas, one of the most innovative and creative thinkers working in medicine today, the Age of Disruption Tour will roll into Indianapolis in a rock n’ roll tour bus ready to engage the community with new and vastly more rewarding visions of aging.

The 2016 tour features two nonfiction theatre performances: the paradigm shifting Disrupt Dementia and Dr. Thomas’ signature show, Aging: Life’s Most Dangerous Game, featuring the unconventional pairing of a physician (Dr. Thomas) and a musician, Nate Silas Richardson.

Disrupt Dementia is a first-of-its kind event inviting people living with dementia and their allies to experience a new vision for living with cognitive change. This immersive and transformational experience turns convention on its head by focusing on what we can all learn from people living with dementia, rather than from experts and includes music, storytelling, and exclusive outtakes from a new film by Alive Inside director Michael Rossato-Bennett.

Read more

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders to speak Sept. 29

Joycelyn_Elders_official_photo_portraitThe first University Series event this semester will feature former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders as part of UIndy’s 2016 Katherine Ratliff Symposium.

“Dr. Joycelyn Elders: Healthcare Issues in the Minority Community” is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, September 29, in Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center’s Ruth Lilly Performance Hall. This free event is open to the public and L/P credit is available to UIndy students. Online registration is requested. Symposium Workshops will take place on Friday, September 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Panelists from multiple disciplines will discuss current health care disparities and what can be done to address these issues. Visit this page to register for the Friday workshop. For questions about the symposium, please contact Heini Seo at

Dr. Elders was the first African American woman to hold the position of U.S. Surgeon General. She was known for her outspoken views and she served only 15 months before being forced to resign in 1994 as a result of her controversial remark about sex education. She is currently a professor emerita of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

The Katherine Ratliff Memorial Conference on Ethics, Values and Human Responsibility was established in memory of Dr. Katharine G. “Kate” Ratliff. Dr. Ratliff was a University of Indianapolis faculty member from 1985 through 1990. She was a licensed clinical psychologist and taught psychology courses in the Department of Behavioral Sciences.  She was a tireless advocate for her students and clients and embodied a commitment to social justice and social responsibility.

Theater performances focus on health issues

TanglesUIndy’s Department of Theatre has a great season planned for the coming year, but two productions on campus over the next few days are connected instead to the College of Health Sciences.

Friday night brings Tangles, a unique stage musical about a family’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease. The play is part of the national conference on physical therapy and aging taking place this week at UIndy.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Ransburg Auditorium, with a discussion to follow at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person and may be purchased at the door or in advance at this link, which also has more details on the story.

ModifiedOn Tuesday and Wednesday, Dr. Sally Wasmuth of the School of Occupational Therapy will premiere a sequel of sorts to the theater-as-therapy project she staged in June. Modified, the new play by local writer Ben Asaykwee, features a cast of seven people in substance-abuse recovery who signed on for the six-week project as an alternative to group therapy or other more conventional approaches to maintaining sobriety.

The performances begin at 7 p.m. each night in UIndy’s Studio Theatre, located in the lower level of Esch Hall, and each will be followed by a 15-minute discussion session with the players. Admission is free and open to the public.

UIndy hosts national geriatric PT conference

More than 150 health and gerontology professionals from the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia are on the UIndy campus today through Saturday for ExPAAC II, a conference on exercise, physical activity and aging presented by the national Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy.



The event gives physical therapy practitioners the knowledge and tools they need to help the growing population of older adults achieve maximum function and independence.

UIndy, home to the College of Health Sciences and the Center for Aging & Community, makes a logical host site. Dr. William Staples, associate professor in UIndy’s Krannert School of Physical Therapy, is president of the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, a division of the American Physical Therapy Association. Dr. Stephanie Kelly, dean of the College of Health Sciences, welcomed the attendees this morning. Dr. Stephanie Combs-Miller, director of research for the Krannert School of Physical Therapy, is among the presenters.

“It is an exciting time for the academy to educate our members about the importance of physical activity for older adults and the direction that our profession is progressing,” Staples said. “Geriatric practice is growing, and we hope to bring inspiring people together to ensure we keep practitioners on the cutting edge.”

Keynote speakers include Kathleen Cameron, senior director of the National Council on Aging’s National Falls Prevention Resource Center, and Howard Friedman, author of The Longevity Project.

In the news: Sociology, Business, PT



Dr. Amanda Miller of the Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice continues to draw national attention with her research on marriage, cohabitation and household dynamics. Most recently, she is coauthor of a study suggesting that couples who share household chores equitably are also busier in the bedroom. Read about it in the New York Post (“Wanna have more sex? Do the dishes”) and Glamour.

*               *               *



Dr. Timothy Zimmer of the School of Business likes to apply his economics acumen to the world of sport. One of his number-crunching finds is that a Major League Baseball team that goes for an extended time without winning a World Series (a la the Chicago Cubs), and has a fan base built around that “lovable loser” image, can actually lose fans in the long run after a winning season. Read about it in The Atlantic.

*               *               *



The world is still discovering the research performed by Dr. Stephanie Combs-Miller and her Physical Therapy students and colleagues to show the positive impact of Rock Steady Boxing therapy in improving life for clients with Parkinson’s disease.

Their work most recently grabbed the attention of U.S. News and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (for the second time this year). Also appearing in recent weeks were stories by Missouri’s Kansas City Star and Springfield News-Leader, each of which was picked up by the Associated Press and shared by news outlets nationwide.

Profs’ project shows issues facing refugees

UIndy researchers spent nine months working with local Congolese women



UPDATE: Read NUVO Newsweekly story

Today has been declared World Refugee Day by the United Nations, and two UIndy professors will share their research on local refugees at a downtown event marking the occasion.

Dr. Shannon McMorrow, interim director of UIndy’s Master of Public Health program, and Dr. Jyotika Saksena, graduate director of the International Relations program, have spent the past nine months working with refugee women who fled political and gender-based violence in their home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.



In a research technique known as photovoice, the participants were given cameras and asked to take photos of objects and scenes in their lives that relate to their integration into U.S. society and, more specifically, their access to and experiences with health care and other services since arriving. The researchers interviewed the women to develop captions explaining the significance of the photos.

“The idea behind this project was to hear the perspective of refugees by giving them a voice and empowering them to tell their own stories,” Saksena says.

McMorrow and Saksena will share some of the results today at the Indianapolis observance of World Refugee Day, taking place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the City Market. Organized by Exodus Refugee Inc., the free event will include the photo exhibition, a cooking demonstration, international music and other cultural activities.

Read more

Orlando: UIndy faculty offer analysis, advice

Journalists have called upon UIndy faculty this week for insights on the tragic mass shooting in Orlando.

AThomasDr. Anita Thomas, dean of the School of Psychological Sciences, was interviewed Monday at RTV6’s Monument Circle studio, discussing the murderer’s possible motivations and how to ease children’s fears about violent events.

“I would certainly encourage parents to have an open dialogue with their children, to ask them how they’re feeling, how they’re responding, to talk to them about any anxiety or stress they might be having in terms of, ‘Could this happen to us?'” Thomas told anchor Jason Fechner. Watch the clip.

KThomasOffering her own take on that advice was Dr. Kendra Thomas, also of Psychological Sciences, who spoke in the WTTV/CBS4 studios with anchors Bob Donaldson and Debby Knox. She cautioned against media overexposure and offered tips for talking with kids of various ages.

“Children often catch a lot more than we give them credit for,” she said. “Something that kids often don’t pick up on is the where and when … . If it’s always being covered in the news, that child might get a sense that it’s always happening.” Watch the clip.



On the incident’s possible connections to terrorist groups, WRTV’s Chris Proffitt spoke with Dr. Douglas Woodwell, Associate Professor of International Relations. That clip was not immediately available.

PT students get taste of life with disabilities

A rite of passage for first-year Doctor of Physical Therapy students at the University of Indianapolis is an event some call “disability lunch.”

The students are outfitted with slings, braces, gloves, blindfolds and other appliances to simulate the effects of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and other conditions common to older adults. They then struggle through a buffet lunch and subsequent exercise session in an experience designed to help the future practitioners empathize with their clients’ limitations.

“It’s putting them in their patients’ shoes,” said Associate Professor William Staples, who hosted the latest such event Tuesday at the UIndy Health Pavilion.

More information on the Krannert School of Physical Therapy is available at

1 2 3 11