Inside USF: The Podcast


Welcome to “Inside USF: The Podcast,” created especially for University of South Florida faculty, staff and alumni.  We know you’re busy – so busy, in fact, that it can be hard to find the time to learn about the important work taking place across our three campuses. We’re here to help. Every other Friday, we’ll talk with a member of the faculty or staff about their expertise and their contributions, including in ground-breaking research, inspiring community service efforts, the arts, athletics and much more. You’ll meet members of the faculty and staff who, like you, are helping to make this America’s fastest-rising public university.


Season 1 | Episode 2

While access to health care continues to be a challenge for many Black Americans, their opportunity to attain optimal health is also impacted by a variety of social factors, according to Kyaien Conner, associate professor in USF’s Department of Mental Health Law & Policy. Unless the significant disparities in who has access to education at all levels, gainful employment and safe and affordable housing, as well as in who is over-represented in the criminal justice system, are addressed, disparities in health outcomes will persist. In this wide-ranging conversation, Conner also explores the historical issue of mistrust in the Black community with regard to health care and mental health care, the need for more providers of color, the importance of medical students learning cultural humility and a recent grant award that supports her community-based Care Transitions Intervention research. Conner also shares her passion for West African dance and the “life-changing moment” when she learned she had been selected as a member of the cast for the Eddie Murphy comedy, “Coming 2 America.”

Additional resources

Examination of The Evidence-Based Care Transitions Intervention Enhanced with Peer Support to Reduce Racial Disparities in Hospital Readmissions and Negative Outcomes Post Hospitalization

Dr. Kyaien Conner, PhD, LSW, MPH, Associate Professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, received a $2.5 million dollar research award funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI AD-2019C1-16066). Her project is entitled: Examination of The Evidence-Based Care Transitions Intervention Enhanced with Peer Support to Reduce Racial Disparities in Hospital Readmissions and Negative Outcomes Post Hospitalization. This grant is a large research grant via PCORI’s Addressing Health Disparities mechanism that will examine the impact of a community-based Care Transitions Intervention (CTI) enhanced with peer support to reduce disparities in hospital readmissions and other negative post-discharge outcomes (e.g. mortality, quality of life, ED visits) among older African Americans and Latino/Hispanics living with chronic disease. Dr. Conner is principal investigator (PI) on this project and has Co-I's from multiple USF colleges and departments: Mental Health Law and Policy (Drs. Amber Gum and Larry Schonfeld), Nursing (Dr. Usha Menon), Internal Medicine (Dr. Daniel Haight), Public Health (Dr. Jason Beckstead), Aging Studies (Dr. Hongdao Meng) and Child and Family Studies (Dr. Linda Callejas). This project will also fund two doctoral students in the interdisciplinary PhD program in Behavioral Healthcare, Erica Anderson, MS and Ana Aluisy, MS. This award is in partnership with 3 local hospitals (Tampa General, Advent Health and Lakeland regional). Dr. Conner hopes that this research will contribute to the evidence base supporting culturally relevant community-based interventions toward reducing disparities in health outcomes.  

Kyaien Conner in full make-up

Kyaien Conner, associate professor in USF’s Department of Mental Health Law & Policy, in full West African dance make-up.

Up Next

In our June 18 episode, Sarah Howard, curator of public art and social practice at the USF Contemporary Art Museum, discusses “Skyway 20/21: A Contemporary Collaboration”. The exhibition is a collaboration among the USF Contemporary Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota and the Tampa Museum of Art. Sarah and the curators from the other institutions offer context for the diversity of art being created in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. In addition, Sarah looks ahead to future exhibits at the Contemporary Art Museum, including “Constant Storm: Art from Puerto Rico and the Diaspora,” which opens in September.

Season 1 | Episode 1

One of the lessons learned over the past year is that individuals and teams can accomplish goals, meet deadlines and maintain effective communications while working remotely. As we emerge from the pandemic, while many are anxious to return to our campuses on a full-time basis – or whose jobs require that they do so -- many others may prefer to continue working remotely or establish a hybrid arrangement. Donna Petersen, dean of the College of Public Health and chair of the USF COVID-19 Task Force, and Angie Sklenka, vice president and chief human resources officer, share their perspectives on how we can create a healthy future together as we re-imagine what work will look like, both near- and long-term.

Additional resources

Inside USF: The Podcast. Recording of the first episode of the first season. Host Tom Woolf with guests Angie Sklenka and Dr. Donna PetersenLeft to right: Angie Sklenka, vice president and chief human resources officer; Tom Woolf, Editor-in-Chief and host; Donna Petersen, dean of the College of Public Health and chair of the USF COVID-19 Task Force.

Season 1 Trailer

Where to Listen

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To our production team at WUSF Public Media, and to Jack Wilkins, director of Jazz Studies in the USF School of Music, for the use of "Black Bucket Stomp," which is from his CD, "The Blue and Green Project" on Summit Records.

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Have an idea for a future episode?

We welcome your suggestions for colleagues we should interview, or topics we should explore, in future episodes. Share them by filling out our submission form. Here are some general ideas about what we’re interested in:

  • Groundbreaking research
  • Unique programs/initiatives
  • Efforts that make a positive difference for others
  • University-wide initiatives
  • USF-community partnerships