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MEZCOPH Students and Faculty Present Research at Annual Women's Health Initiative Meeting

 MEZCOPH student who participated at Annual WHI Meeting and WHI logo

Three graduate students and two faculty from the Zuckerman College of Public Health attended the annual 2023 Women’s Health Initiative Investigator Meeting, and two students won awards for their women’s health research posters.

Recent graduate Sophia Archibeque, MS, and doctoral student Hamza Butt, MSc, from the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health (MEZCOPH) were among 22 students selected to present posters at the 2023 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Investigator Meeting in Seattle this May.

The annual WHI meeting was led by MEZCOPH faculty member Dr. Cyndi Thomson, Chair of the national WHI Steering Committee. Dr. Jennifer Bea, another MEZCOPH faculty member and researcher, presented highlights of her WHI research on soft tissue and cancer. The University of Arizona, represented by both faculty members and students, was one of many prestigious universities at the WHI meetings, including Harvard, Stanford, UCLA and the University of Michigan.

During the event’s poster session, Sophia, who graduated this Spring 2023 with her MS in Biostatistics, presented her research, Comparing Imputation Approaches and Model Types for Survival Analysis Using Obesity-Related Cancer Mortality Data from the Women’s Health Initiative. She received two awards for her presentation: the Midwest Regional Center travel grant from Ohio State University, and the Vosilla Family Fund travel grant from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at MEZCOPH!

“I really enjoyed the robust discussion at WHI,” says Sophia. “And how passionate all the researchers were about public health and women’s health.”

Hamza, who just finished his 4th year in the PhD Biostatistics program, presented his poster on Predictors of Long Covid Syndrome in Post-menopausal Women in the Women’s Health Initiative. He also received a travel award for WHI poster presenters.

“Attending the conference was a thoroughly enriching experience for me,” says Hamza. “Having worked with WHI data for over a year, attending all the plenary and IGNITE sessions at the conference really helped me learn about all the WHI studies going on across the US, and what future directions they are looking into. It was also nice to meet some of my WHI co-authors in-person, such as Dr. Marian Neuhoser at Fred Hutch Cancer Center.”

Samantha Werts, a third student from UArizona, attended the meeting to network with the national faculty. Additionally, Dr. Shawna Follis, a MEZCOPH alumna who was mentored by Dr. Zhao Chen during her doctoral degree and is now a post-doctoral Fellow in Women’s Health at Stanford University, was recognized as the inaugural recipient of the WHI Early Stage Investigator Awardee.

Students in MEZCOPH have wonderful opportunities to engage in research and participate in important discussions about public health through work with the WHI and other partnerships.

“Many of our faculty and students have been involved with WHI research projects including WHI ancillary studies, special interest groups, manuscripts development and annual meeting presentations like this one,” says Dr. Zhao Chen, Associate Dean for Research. “WHI has been a great resource for women’s health and aging research. I hope this report will inspire more researchers including students to work with WHI investigators using WHI rich data for publication or grant development.”   

Congratulations to Hamza, Sophia, Dr. Follis, and all who presented!

This year also marked the 30th anniversary of the Women’s Health Initiative. The WHI continues to support research that focuses on the health needs of women worldwide. You can learn more about their research initiatives by visiting

Hamza Butt, MEZCOPH doctoral student

Hamza Butt, MSc, with his award-winning poster presentation

Sophia Archibeque celebrating her May 2023 graduation

Sophia Archibeque, MS, celebrating her May 2023 graduation

The University of Arizona red triangle graphic