James A. Keith Excellence in Teaching Award: Courtney Monroe
Courtney Monroe, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB), uses technology to promote and measure physical activity. She shares this passion with her students, using lessons learned from her mother, a special education teacher, and other mentors she encountered during her programs of study, including a Ph.D. in Kinesiology and Sport Studies (University of Tennessee). She joined the Arnold School’s SmartState Technology Center to Promote Healthy Lifestyles in 2014 as a postdoctoral fellow and stayed on with the HPEB department. Monroe teaches graduate courses in health promotion theory, implementing/monitoring health promotion interventions, social and physical environment interventions, and consumer health in contemporary society. She has mentored dozens of students at all levels and is the 2021 winner of USC’s Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.
“My main hope is that someday the students I interact with will recall their experience with me and extend the same effort, guidance and kindness that I have shown them to help others succeed,” Monroe says. “It would be the most meaningful manifestation and impact of my teaching philosophy.”
Faculty Research Award: Jihong Liu
A professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Jihong Liu joined the Arnold School in 2005 after completing her doctoral degree at Harvard University and a Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Fellowship with the CDC. The reproductive/perinatal epidemiologist is Division Director of Epidemiology, director of the HRSA-funded Maternal and Child Health Catalyst Program and MCH LEAP program, and has led or co-led numerous studies examining maternal morbidity and mortality, obesity and obesity-related behaviors, and intergenerational linkages on cardiometabolic health and health behaviors. More recently, she has expanded this work to study the contributing multilevel factors to racial and rural health disparities in maternal health, health behaviors, and access to quality maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of her career, Liu has garnered over $13 million in extramural funding (with several more proposals under review) and published more than 130 peer-reviewed papers.
“Creativity has always been an important hallmark of my scholarly work,” Liu says. “It has played a critical role in determining research directions, selecting research questions and integrating the latest methods or tools – such as big data analytics, machine learning and electronic health records – into my research projects.”
Faculty Service Award: Alicia Flach
A 2008 alumna of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, Alicia Flach gained nearly a decade of research and clinical experience before returning to the Arnold School as a faculty member in of the Department of Exercise Science. The clinical associate professor teaches courses in the DPT program, receiving USC's 2023 Clinical Practice Teaching Award, and is also committed to research and service for populations with Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. Her work aims to improve gait and balance for individuals with these conditions through physical therapy interventions. She also provides volunteer clinical services to underserved communities. Since returning to USC, she has increased her advocacy and service efforts to support these populations.
“As a healthcare provider, I have always been passionate about advocating for the people I have worked with,” Flach says. “Over the last decade, I have expanded this passion for advocacy and service by serving in national and regional leadership roles to bring resources to the people living with neurologic degenerative diseases in my local community and beyond. In my role as a healthcare educator, I believe it is critical to involve students in the many ways that advocacy happens early in training to cultivate interest in service that will serve them throughout their careers.”