• University News
  • School of Public Health
Accolades & Honors

The School of Public Health named two new department chairs

the grassy front of the public health building

Two School of Public Health departments welcomed new leaders for the fall 2022 semester.

Mary Hawk has been appointed chair of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences and Yan Ma will lead the Department of Biostatistics. Both positions were effective Sept. 1.

“We are excited to welcome these leaders,” said Maureen Lichtveld, Pitt Public Health dean and Jonas Salk Professor of Population Health. “They bring extensive research and teaching experience, compelling visions and effective management skills to their new roles.”

Hawk is currently associate professor of behavioral and community health sciences and the department’s vice chair for research.

“Our students, staff and faculty do amazing work and are clearly committed to our department’s vision,” said Hawk, who completed her DrPH and MPH at Pitt. “I look forward to advancing collaborative leadership in the department and across the health sciences.”

Among her research interests are the assessment and implementation of interventions to improve health outcomes for underserved populations, including those with substance use issues; enhancing the delivery of needed services; and developing community-engaged approaches to promote public health. She is principal investigator of a National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded investigation to explore stigma and health outcomes for people living with HIV.

Hawk cofounded The Open Door Inc., a harm reduction housing program to improve health outcomes for chronically homeless people living with HIV, and is actively engaged with community organizations locally, nationally and globally. Her contributions to research and education have been honored with many awards, including the school’s James L. Craig Excellence in Education Award.

Ma comes to Pitt Public Health from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, where he served as professor and vice chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics. Ma is also founding director of its PhD program in Health and Biomedical Data Science and director of Biostatistics and Epidemiology Consulting Services.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be selected to lead this elite department of biostatistics,” said Ma, adding that Pitt health sciences also has an international reputation for excellence in research and education. “I look forward to working with the outstanding faculty, staff and students in years to come.”

Ma’s theoretical and computational statistical research interests include missing data imputation, machine learning, meta-analysis, methods for assessing interrater reliability, causal inference, complex sample surveys and longitudinal methods. Ma has collaborated on investigations touching orthopedics, anesthesiology, health disparities, cancer, HIV/AIDS, psychiatry and emergency medicine.

“We biostatisticians are always looking for collaborations,” he said.

Ma is currently principal investigator of a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities-funded project developing data driven methods for missing data imputation in surgical outcome disparities. He is a recipient of the Young Investigator Award from the American Statistical Association’s Section on Statistics in Epidemiology and the Achievement in Academia Award from the American Public Health Association.


— Michele Baum