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Shawn Gerstenberger Named Dean of UNLV School of Community Health Sciences

Gerstenberger, a faculty member at UNLV since 1997, was named interim dean of the school in 2013.
Campus News  |  Jul 3, 2014  |  By Megan Downs
Media Contact: Megan Downs, Office of Media Relations (702) 895-0898
Shawn Gerstenberger Dean of the UNLV School of Community Health Sciences. (UNLV Photo Services/R. Marsh Starks)

The UNLV Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost announced today that Shawn Gerstenberger, interim dean of the School of Community Health Sciences, has accepted an offer to permanently lead the school.

Gerstenberger was named interim dean of the School of Community Health Sciences in 2013, and has been a UNLV faculty member since 1997. He was instrumental in creating the School of Community Health Sciences -- then the School of Public Health -- 10 years ago and has built a department and a career out of making Southern Nevadans healthier.

"Shawn has worked for decades to address public health issues in Southern Nevada through research and community engagement," said John Valery White, executive vice president and provost. "As UNLV works to achieve a Tier One designation and create a medical school, Shawn and the School of Community Health Sciences will make a vital contribution to these initiatives."

Gerstenberger's first faculty appointment was in 1997 as an assistant professor of environmental studies in the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs.

In 2004, he left the College of Urban Affairs to help establish a new School of Public Health and create a master of public health degree. Over the past decade, the school has grown to 18 full-time faculty members and several centers and institutes, including the Center for Health Disparities Research, the American Indian Research & Education Center and the Nevada Institute for Children's Research & Policy.

"I've spent the last 10 years developing programs, community partnerships, and ensuring that the school would receive accreditation," Gerstenberger said. "I am honored to be considered for this position and will work hard to move us to the next level."

Gerstenberger is a prolific researcher whose work includes ridding hot sauce, artificial turf, tuna, candy and cookware of lead and other hazardous contaminants.

He established the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program in Nevada in collaboration with the Southern Nevada Health District and the Nevada State Health Division. This effort has led to the development of screening protocols for children, a home visitation program and a multiagency response to childhood lead poisoning cases.

In 2011, he formed the Nevada Healthy Homes Partnership, a federally funded program in collaboration with the health district, community agencies and non-profits. His team of certified home inspectors identify and correct preventable health hazards that can trigger asthma and unintentional injuries.

Also active in research to understand and mitigate invasive quagga mussels in Lake Mead, Gerstenberger and his team have published numerous studies on the emerging issue, hosted a symposium to spur collaboration among researchers, and facilitated the Interagency Quagga Mussel Monitoring and Action Plan to address the environmental and health impacts of the mussels on our local ecosystem.

He has received grant funding from agencies such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Gerstenberger received a B.S. in Reclamation from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Toxicology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The School of Community Health Sciences is dedicated to improving the health and well being of people worldwide. Its departments, programs, and research units work to provide a diverse education, practical training experience and community involvement opportunities to prepare students to become leaders and professionals in the field of public health.

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