Speaker Biographies for "Battlefield Earth: Global Health and Violent Conflict"

2014 Conference | Conference Schedule | Speaker Biographies | Reading Materials

Newman Abuissa

Newman Abuissa

Syrian-American Activist

Newman Abuissa was born in Damascus, Syria in 1961 and came to South Dakota State University in 1983 where he received his B.S. and then M.S. Civil Engineering in 1989. He works for the Iowa Dept. of Transportation and covers state highways in five counties in this area. He is active in the grassroots presidential primaries in Iowa and was elected as alternate delegate in Iowa to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004. Other notable roles: Board President of Council for International Visitors to Iowa City, 2010-present; Parish Council Chairman and founder of St. Raphael church in Iowa City, 2001-2006; Iowa City Human Right Commission Board President, 2008-2009; and Arab American Institute Iowa Chair, 2002- present. Abuissa has appeared on Aljazeera Arabic and BBC Arabic covering American politics.


Neil Arya

Neil Arya

Family Physician, University of Waterloo, Western Ontario, Canada

Neil Arya, MD, is a family physician in Kitchener Ontario and founding Director of the Global Health Office at Western University. He is former Vice-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, and of President of Physicians for Global Survival (PGS) and has written and lectured around the world about Peace through Health.

Dr. Arya continues as founder Director of the Kitchener/Waterloo Refugee Health Clinic in collaboration with the Kitchener Waterloo Reception Centre where he provides case-specific care to newcomers and those in need of specialized care and was lead physician developing the Psychiatric Outreach Project, providing mental health for those homeless or at risk in St. John’s Kitchen in Kitchener, tasks which led to him receiving the 2009 College of Family Physicians of Canada Geeta Gupta Award for Equity and Diversity. He remains Assistant clinical professor in Family Medicine at McMaster University (part-time) and Adjunct Professor in Environment and Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo.

In 2011 Dr. Arya has received an honorary doctor of letters D. Litt from Wilfrid Laurier University on their 100th anniversary, the Advocacy Award from KW Reception Centre celebrating 25 years of refugee health work and the mid career award in international health from the American Public Health Association.


Gene Bolles

Gene Bolles

Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Colorado

Dr. Bolles practiced at Boulder Community Hospital for most of his career until joining the faculty at the University of Colorado Department of Neurosurgery in 1994. He practices at Denver Health and Hospital Authority. Dr. Bolles is a consultant with the military and has practiced in Germany and recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was hired as a private contractor as the chief of neurosurgery at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center where he oversaw the treatment for thousands of U.S. military casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan. He is active in the World Federation for Neurosurgery.


Christine Brunner Luse

Christine C. Brunner Luse

Coordinator, Global Health Studies Program, University of Iowa

Christine received her B.S. in Nursing and her M.A. in Public Administration from Northern Illinois University. As an Illinois native, she started her nursing career doing home health nursing visits in the high risk areas of Rockford, IL, while working as a “jail nurse” at the Winnebago County (Illinois) jail. After the completion of her M.A, she supervised a home health agency in Elgin, IL, followed by working as the Director of Nursing for the McHenry County Health Department in Woodstock, IL. In 1995, she started her own management consulting agency, specializing in non-profits, local government institutions, and local and state health departments. She has held several board positions in the past, including chairperson of the McHenry County Hispanic Liaison Committee; and the March of Dimes, Chicago Chapter, Public Affairs Committee. During her time as a consultant, she has had a variety of clients, including the City of West Chicago, numerous county health departments, the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators, and McHenry County Domestic Violence Board. She was instrumental in developing and implementing the start-up of a low-income clinic in Elgin, IL. Christine is interested in many local and global public health issues, including human trafficking, preventable communicable diseases, and the effects of conflict on children and mothers.


Eloise Cranke

Eloise Cranke

Organizer, Methodist Federation for Social Action

Eloise Cranke is a lifelong teacher and peace maker.  She is an active member of many Des Moines area peace and justice committees.  Ms Cranke serves as an organizer for the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA).  She began her work with the Methodists as the Coordinator of Missions and Justice Ministries in 2002.  Before that she was the regional director for American Friends Service Committee.  She has a long history of community volunteerism and service as a counselor for local youth groups.  When not busy in all of the above she loves singing, gardening, biking with friends and members of her large extended family. 

Michele Devlin
Michele Devlin

Michele Devlin

Professor, Global Public Health, University of Northern Iowa

Dr. Michele Devlin is Professor of Global Public Health at the University of Northern Iowa, and Director of the Iowa Center on Health Disparities, a model organization established by the National Institutes of Health to improve health equity for underserved populations. She is the recipient of the Iowa Civil Rights Award, One Iowa Award, the Iowa Immigrant Champion Award, and other local, state, and national honors for outstanding teaching, scholarship, and service. Dr. Devlin completed her doctorate degree in international public health at the University of California at Los Angeles. Her primary areas of specialty include emergency and disaster response with refugee and minority populations, as well as cross-cultural communication. She has led and/or participated in multiple medical missions around the world in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. She has provided training and technical assistance on human terrain and cultural context issues to thousands of public safety, search and rescue, disaster response, law enforcement, public health, and emergency management organizations at the federal, state, and local level. Dr. Devlin has extensive travel experience, and has worked, visited, or studied in over 50 nations around the world. She also served with the United States Army in 2013 on a deployment to Afghanistan as a lead social scientist and community liaison specialist.


Martine Etienne-Mesubi

Martine Etienne-Mesubi

Professor, Global Health Studies Program, University of Iowa

Dr. Martine Etienne-Mesubi is an epidemiologist with over a decade of experience in global public health. Throughout her career, Martine has worked with counterparts in the public and private sector, NGOs, and community based organizations to strengthen health systems. She also has a strong background in technical areas ranging from HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, primary health care, and health policy. Martine has lived in and provided technical assistance to a broad range of countries, including: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Guyana and Haiti.


Ruth Flower

Ruth Flower

Associate Executive Secretary for Legislative Program, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

As FCNL’s legislative director, Ruth Flower coordinates the work of the “hill team”. Ruth leads FCNL’s lobbying team in advocating for a better world in areas ranging from foreign policy to domestic priorities to climate change. Ruth first joined the FCNL staff in 1981, where she served as a lobbyist on domestic issues until June of 1996. In 1996, she became the government relations director and later the director of public policy for the American Association of University Professors. She returned to FCNL in March, 2006. Ruth graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of California, Davis, School of Law; she is a member of the California and Federal bars.


Ira Helfand

Ira Helfand

Co-President, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)

Ira Helfand, MD, is co-President of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, and he is co-Founder and Past President of Physicians for Social Responsibility, IPPNW’s US affiliate. He has published studies on the medical consequences of nuclear war in the New England Journal of Medicine, and the British Medical Journal, and has lectured widely in the United States, and in India, China, Japan, Russia, Israel, and throughout Europe on the health effects of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. He has spoken at seminars in the French Senate, and in the Israeli and Turkish Parliaments, and has testified before the US Senate Homeland Security Committee, and presented at the 2013 Oslo conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear War attended by 130 state delegations. He represented PSR and IPPNW at the Nobel ceremonies in Oslo in December2009, honoring President Obama, and is the author of their report, Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk?

Dr. Helfand was educated at Harvard College and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  He is a former chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine and President of the Medical Staff at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and currently practices as an internist and urgent care physician at Family Care Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.


Salam Ismael

Salam Ismael

Clinical Research Fellow in Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery, Royal National Orthopedic Hospital, UK

Salam T. Ismael graduated from Baghdad medical school and lived the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq, working as a physician in civilian hospitals. He joined the Red Cross / Red Crescent movement in 2005, working in different conflict zones and progressed to be country director in Somalia 2007. He finished his masters from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2008 with his thesis examining the health workforce in Iraq. 

As a human rights activist, he has been one of the participants of International Human rights Academy in Cape Town in 2005. He is a strong advocate of medical neutrality and protection of medical personable and units in conflict zones. Part of International Health Protection Initiative. 

Dr. Ismael finished his core trauma and orthopaedic training in North West Deanery.  He then did fellowship in plastic surgery in Liverpool before joining the well-known Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London working as Spinal surgery registrar. He is well rounded in basic surgical experience in war trauma. He has worked in many conflict and natural disaster zones especially Iraq, Lebanon, Chad, Somalia and Haiti, dealing with orthopaedic trauma within limited resources and setting surgical field trauma management clinics. 

He has extensive experience in humanitarian public health field especially in health policy, management and health needs assessment. He has founded and chaired few medical relief charities inside and outside Iraq. He is a lecturer in humanitarian assistance with publications in public health and surgery. He has represented Iraq in many international events and platforms such as WHO, European Parliament, Australian Parliament, and others, explaining health and humanitarian situation in Iraq post American invasion especially the attack on Fallujah city. He has worked in collaboration with many humanitarian charities, including Oxfam, Medico International, MiST, QRCS etc.


Drew Kitchen

Andrew “Drew” Kitchen

Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa

Kitchen graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. He then obtained an M.Sc. (Biology) from the University of Oxford (Hertford College) in 2003, before getting both an M.A. (2004) and a Ph.D. (2008) in Anthropology from the University of Florida. Before joining the University of Iowa in 2012 as an Assistant Professor in the Anthropology department, he was a postdoc in Eddie Holmes’ lab in the Center of Infectious Disease Dynamics at the Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Kitchen is interested in the evolutionary history of modern humans, including the evolution of human pathogens and parasites. He uses both human and pathogen genetic data to investigate the historical population dynamics of humans, including behaviors and shifts in human ecology that lead to the emergence of novel pathogens. His current research is focused on the molecular evolution of pathogens (primarily viruses and bacteria), including macroevolutionary patterns of pathogen emergence and divergence, and investigating the dynamics of human populations using both contemporary and ancient DNA data.

Ktichen's research involves the application of population genetic (i.e. coalescent) and phylogenetic analyses to human and pathogen genetic data, as well as substantial modeling and simulation. Though his work is primarily computational and analytical in nature, he is interested in exploring how complementary lines of evidence (e.g., geographic, climatic, epidemiological or archaeological data) may be best incorporated into molecular evolutionary studies. Critically, his broad interest in molecular evolution has led to the development of collaborations studying the evolution of a wide range of animals and pathogens.


Maureen McCue

Maureen McCue

Professor, College of Public Health & College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Iowa
Coordinator, Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility

Dr. Maureen McCue is a founding member, faculty, and former director of the University of Iowa Global Health Studies Program as well as a founding board member for the UI Center for Human Rights. As Adjunct Clinical Professor in the Colleges of Public Health and of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Dr. McCue has been teaching Health and Human Rights courses since 1997. Before coming to Iowa, she worked as a primary care provider with marginalized communities and has worked for a local women’s clinic for the last 16 years. She has coordinated the Iowa Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility for the last 10 years. Endeavors in each arena have focused broadly on the human right to health within a life supporting sustainable planet. Specific interests have focused on health impacts of militarism, energy/climate change, food policy, women’s and disability rights. Dr. McCue has traveled, consulted, and worked extensively as a peace maker, researcher, and physician.


Oleta McKenna

Oleta McKenna

Police Officer, University of Iowa Police Department

Oleta McKenna is a Police Officer working in Crime Prevention with the University of Iowa Police Department.  She received a B.S. in Health and Human Performance at Iowa State University and is currently working on her M.S. in Criminal Justice Administration.  She started her career in Denver, CO as Posture Therapist with Egoscue Pain Free Clinics.  After spending a few years enjoying the mountains of Colorado, she moved back to Iowa to be close to family.  She began her career as a police officer with the North Liberty Police Department.  She has been with the University of Iowa Police Department for two years.  As a Crime Prevention Officer, she works close with the University of Iowa, local law enforcement agencies, and local organizations to provide education to the community and continued joint crime prevention efforts.


Nathan Miller

Nathan Miller

Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Social Justice, University of Iowa College of Law

Nathan Miller is an Assistant Director of the Center and the Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Iowa College of Law. He directs the International Legal Clinic at the College of Law, where students provide legal assistance to governments and nongovernmental organizations on projects related to human rights, development, and the rule of law. He also teaches undergraduate human rights courses as part of the Center’s Certificate program. Nathan joined the College of Law in 2011 after a decade of international advocacy spanning more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the United States. During its transition from civil war to constitutional democracy Nathan served as a legal advisor to the government of what is now South Sudan, where he lived for three years. He has served at the United Nations and as the inaugural human rights officer at the International Senior Lawyers Project in New York. He is a graduate in philosophy and Spanish from the University of Dayton (1998), and in law from the New York University School of Law (2002).


Sara Morgan

Sara Morgan

Visiting Instructor of Kiswahili, University of Iowa

Sara Morgan is currently a Visiting Instructor of Kiswahili at the University of Iowa.  She graduated with Honors from the University of Iowa with BA in International Studies and Linguistics with emphases in African Studies and Post-Conflict Restoration and a minor in History. She has studied and travelled extensively in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. Her research interests involve the role of formal and informal educational systems in identity formation in East and Central Africa as well as education in post-conflict restoration and peacebuilding. 


Hieu Pham

Hieu Pham

Eastern Iowa Multilingual Advocate & Outreach Coordinator, MONSOON United Asian Women of Iowa

Born in Vietnam and raised in Iowa, Hieu Pham now serves as an advocate for Asian Pacific Islander(API) survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault throughout the state. Her work at Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa also includes community outreach, organizing and education to eliminate all forms of violence in the API communities. Hieu graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Journalism & Mass Communities. A former reporter, she covered city government for the Iowa City Press-Citizen and presidential campaigns for Agence France-Presse (AFP).


Anne Sadler

Anne G. Sadler

Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Investigator and Acting Chief of Psychology, Iowa City VA Medical Center

Dr. Sadler is a health services researcher at the Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE) COIN at the Iowa City VA Health Care System, and an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She also serves as the VA Women’s Practice Based Research Network post-deployment health site lead. She was selected for this position to investigate the health, safety, and post-deployment adjustment of Reserve, National Guard, and Regular military service women returning from Iraq/Afghanistan. In addition, she completed a Nursing Research Initiative (NRI) study investigating reproductive health outcomes associated with women veteran’s lifespan sexual violence exposures. Dr. Sadler is PI on one of the grants comprising the Evidence Based Treatment for PTSD CREATE, leading a study that uses internet based approaches to improve post-deployment mental health education and access to VA care for OEF/OIF Reserve and National Guard service women following their return from deployment to combat areas. Dr. Sadler mentors new women’s health researchers, including Career Development Award (CDA) applicants. She is a licensed Marital & Family Therapist and works clinically with women and families impacted by trauma, including gender-based and domestic violence, as well as combat. Dr. Sadler also serves as the Deputy Director of the Mental Health Service Line at the Iowa City VA and oversees a multi-disciplinary mental health care team within the Mental Health Service Line.


Chris Squier

Christopher Squier

Director of Graduate Studies & Professor of Oral Pathology, College of Dentistry, University of Iowa
Director, Global Health Studies Program, University of Iowa

Dr Christopher Squier is Director of Graduate Studies and a Professor of Oral Pathology in the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa. He also directs the Global Health Studies Program at the University of Iowa.

Dr Squier received his education at the University of Cambridge and the London Hospital Medical College; he is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (London). Dr Squier is actively involved at the national and international level in tobacco control and oral cancer prevention. He has worked on tobacco control in Iowa for over 25 years, during which time he served three terms on the State Commission for Tobacco Control. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Midwest Division of the American Cancer Society. Dr Squier’s research is concerned with the mechanisms by which tobacco causes oral cancer and with the role of oral health professionals in assisting their patients with tobacco cessation. He has published over 200 books, chapters and peer-reviewed articles.


Mary Swander

Mary Swander

Poet Laureate of Iowa
Professor, English Department, Iowa State University

In 2009, Governor Chet Culver appointed Mary Swander the Poet Laureate of the State of Iowa. Ms. Swander received her M.F.A from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. She is a professor of English and a Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University. She is the author of the recent memoirs The Desert Pilgrim and Out of this World as well as three books of poetry, Heaven-and-Earth House, Driving the Body Back, and Succession. Currently, Swander is touring her play Farmscape, a docudrama capturing the changing rural environment, and Vang, a drama about recent immigrant farmers. Ms. Swander has won numerous awards and has published work in such places as The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Poetry magazine.


Naeem Zafar

Naeem Zafar

Dr. Naeem Zafar is Associate Professor, Paediatrics Medicine at Rashid Latif Medical College, Lahore. He is founding President, PAHCHAAN (Protection and Help of Children Against Abuse and Neglect), a non-profit organization working for the rights of the child. He is also Convener of Child Rights Committee, Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA).

Previously he has been General Secretary, Rising Sun Educational and Welfare Society for Mentally Handicapped Children, General Secretary and Vice President of Pakistan Pediatric Association (Punjab), member of Punjab Provincial Commission for Child Welfare and Development and member of Working Group against Child Sexual Abuse (WGCSA).

He has many national and international studies on health and child protection issues and has organized National Child Rights Conferences of PPA in 2010 and 2000 besides supporting its many other conferences on Child Rights and International Biennial Pediatric Conferences. He has read papers in many international and national conferences of Pediatrics and Child Protection.