The College of Allied Health Sciences would like to welcome Melinda Butsch Kovacic, MPH, PhD, to the position of associate dean of research! Kovacic came on board the first week of September and is naviagting the onboard process with great aplomb. However, we'd like to give those who haven't met her yet a way to connect a face to a name, and her title (s).
We'v heard, in jest, that you work 24/7…is that an overstatement?
It is true that I have many "jobs” and wear many hats. In addition to my appointment in the College of Allied Health and at Cincinnati Children’s, I mentor graduate students at the University of Phoenix and occasionally teach an online Health and Well-being course just for fun. I also, serve on the board of trustees at the Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses Findlay Street Community Center in the West End, where I am an active volunteer. Finally, my husband and I are co-directors of the Catholic Engaged Encounter Program in the Diocese of Covington.
What is your educational background?
I have a bachelor's in chemistry and biology from UC's McMicken College of Arts and Sciences ('96), a masters in public health (MPH) from the Harvard School of Public Health ('03) and a PhD from Ohio State Biochemistry Program ('02). I am also a Cancer Prevention Fellow, National Cancer Institute.
Is there any particular area of great interest to you at work?
I am an epidemiologist. I primarily study human papillomavirus infection and head and neck cancer risk in families with a rare disorder called Fanconi anemia. In addition, I study genetic and environmental risk factors and obesity in childhood asthma. More recently, I have begun partnering with community organizations serving minority, low-income families to study asthma and environmental and socioeconomic factors related to chronic stress.
I have a passion for mentoring young faculty and helping them to navigate the research process including determining short and long-term research and career goals, prioritizing research projects, identifying and researching funding mechanisms, writing and preparing grants and networking to identify collaborators and research teams. I truly believe in collaborative, interdisciplinary team science.
What do you like the most about Cincinnati?
I grew up in Northern Kentucky and went to the University of Cincinnati. I do not believe that I really appreciated Cincinnati for all that it has to offer until returning after my graduate and post-graduate training. I find Cincinnati to be rich in culture and art and have so many opportunities, especially for families. The University and Cincinnati Children’s are full of faculty and staff that are intelligent and driven.
Do you have family here?
I have been married to Al Kovacic for 16 years and we have four sons – Aidan (12), Owen (9), Brayden (4) and Avery 2. My older two boys are active in sports – running cross country and soccer respectively, in addition to academic team and scouts. This keeps us busy!
What do you do for a hobby/spare time?
I have to say that I have previously been a runner but more recently been attending boot camps and kickboxing classes at 5 a.m., three days a week. I read a lot – often five books at a time – and most of these books are parenting and leadership books.
Something people would be surprised to know about you: I showed dogs for years (from age 12 to 32 years) both in confirmation and agility. I once owned 12 dogs at the same time. My current dog (yes-only one!), an American Cocker Spaniel, is Champion Cliff-side’s Black Orchid (call name ‘Fleur’).
Any other outside activities...if there's still time ?
I also, serve on the board of trustees at the Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses Findlay Street Community Center in the West End, where I am an active volunteer. Finally, my husband and I are co-directors of the Catholic Engaged Encounter Program in the Diocese of Covington.