Congratulations to the 2024 Champions for Change!

The following people and programs were selected in 2024 to receive Champions for Change awards for their significant contributions in the areas of Sustainability or Health & Well-Being.

In the category of Sustainability

Augustus Hoff

2024 Champions for Change Award Winner, Augustus Hoff.

Augustus Hoff, an undergraduate student at UF, created Quail Hollow Conservation to support his band, Quail Hollow. The band plays shows within the greater Gainesville community to raise money and awareness for conservation. Since the first event in October, the Quail Hollow Conservation has raised over $1,300. Augustus thoughtfully combines music and entertainment to support a greater cause for sustainability while impacting the UF and Gainesville community.  This effort has gotten more people within the Gainesville and greater Florida music scene talking about conservation, sustainability, and the role they can play in positive change.

Daniels Lab

2024 Champions for Change Award Winners, The Daniels Lab.

The Daniels Lab strives to educate the UF community on the importance of conservation for pollinators and their habitats, and the critical need for pollinators for human survival. The lab members have brought an endangered butterfly species back from the brink of extinction by hand-rearing caterpillars in the lab and releasing them into critical conservation areas. This effort took the population from only four known adults in 2012 to more than 1,700 in the wild a decade later.  Dr. Jaret Daniels and his lab have also partnered with a local brewery to create several conservation beers that directly impact pollinator conservation while engaging the public in conservation in a fun and effective way!

Sustainable Ocean Alliance UF

2024 Champions for Change Award Winners, Sustainable Ocean Alliance.

Last fall, the Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) UF received a grant to support local cleanups. With this funding, they have cleared over 120 lbs of trash locally including the Reitz Union bus stop, local parks, and Hogtown Creek!

After SOA membership numbers dropped due to the pandemic, their executive board found innovative ways to engage new members. For example, they organized a beach trip to St. Augustine for a cleanup and brought the Director of the Florida Springs Council to speak at one of their General Body Meetings. SOA strives to connect different aspects of environmentalism through student organization and community collaborations, discussions on a wide range of topics, and opportunities to explore Florida’s unique ecosystems. 

UF Engineers Without Borders, Nepal Team

2024 Champions for Change Award Winners, Engineers Without Borders Nepal.

The UF Engineers Without Borders Nepal team applies interdisciplinary engineering principles to implement sustainable water and latrine systems that give schoolchildren in Nepal access to sanitation that allows them to focus on their studies. Their most recent achievement includes sending three team leads to Phoolbari in the winter of 2023. During the trip, the team monitored and evaluated the implementation of a handwashing station and rainwater harvesting system.

Team members also donated school supplies to the children and helped to paint murals in school classrooms.  They sourced all supplies from Phoolbari businesses to support the local economy.  Beyond their impact on the community of Phoolbari, they believe in the power of telling their stories and communicating with other university students to spread awareness of the challenges faced by rural and underserved communities and how to be part of a positive difference.

Isabelle Gain

2024 Champions for Change Award Winner, Isabelle Gain.

As a Thompson Earth Science Institute Graduate Assistant, Isabelle Gain has developed, stewarded, and expanded the Environmental Leaders Network (ELN). This initiative has helped train Florida’s future environmental leaders by increasing access to environmentally focused opportunities for hundreds of undergraduate students across campus. While there are many achievements to share in just one year of targeted recruitment, advertising, and outreach, Izzy has helped the ELN grow to include more than 350 students representing more than 74 majors. Through collaboration with partner organizations and independent research, Izzy has curated more than 200 opportunities to share with these students – ranging from internships with the Florida Park Service to research opportunities in labs here at UF.

Finally, she has redesigned and streamlined the Environmental Leaders Network newsletter while authoring a blog series on key professional development topics that help make these future leaders even more successful.  Isabelle is directly responsible for the remarkable growth in ELN membership and in supporting students from non-STEM majors but with a passion for environmental topics who feel welcomed and encouraged to pursue experiences that can help them gain professional skills related to environmental work.

In the category of Health & Wellness

Medi-Gators Team

2024 Champions for Change Award Winners, Medi-Gators Team.

In Fall 2020, the Medi-Gators program was created to improve access to the undergraduate pre-health pipeline, leading to more diverse populations pursuing health careers and improving health equity in Florida and beyond.  Led by faculty, staff, and student ambassadors, the program is available to all but is particularly geared toward recruiting students from first-generation, low-income, and other backgrounds underrepresented in medicine.

More than 10,000 UF students have participated in the program and also engaged in a 6-month mentorship program which has connected pre-health students with over 250 UF faculty members.  This successful model has been expanded to seven other universities in Florida, helping engage and inspire thousands of students around the state.

Dr. Shireen Madani Sims

2024 Champions for Change Award Winner, Shireen Madani Sims.

As the Clerkship Director for the New Career Advising Program, Dr. Shireen Madani Sims has played a pivotal role in guiding medical students through career advising and residency application processes. Through her work, medical students are engaged starting in their first year to be better equipped to identify residency programs that align with their aspirations and goals and to navigate the residency application process successfully.

This new career advising program collaborates with all core departments to identify career coaches.  These coaches receive ongoing training and support, emphasizing best practices and maintaining open communication channels leading to a more personalized approach for students that transforms their educational experience. 

Dr. Mayra Montalvo Perero

2024 Champions for Change Award Winner, Mayra Montalvo Perero.

Dr. Mayra Montalvo Perero has worked tirelessly over the past two years to improve the health and well-being of the residents in the UF Neurology program.  Medical residents are a crucial, but heavily pressured group of professionals in the US medical system.  Residents work some of the longest hours for relatively low salaries, and being in training they have very little recourse to self-advocacy for improved work conditions. 

As the Associate Program Director, Dr. Montalvo Perero has incorporated new and fun ways to reinforce important concepts and learning objectives, while developing a more holistic approach to resident training that promotes self-care alongside high-quality academic training. 

Dr. Bryce Catarelli

2024 Champions for Change Award Winners, Bryce Catarelli.

The work of Dr. Bryce Catarelli improved the well-being of nurses and nurse leaders, another critical group in our medical systems.  Dr. Catarelli and her team have been working to implement ways to address the issues associated with burnout and provide a fulfilling work environment that can increase work satisfaction and retention.  She has spent time understanding the needs of healthcare workers, especially nurses and nurse leaders, and developed sustainable interventions to improve the work environment.  This has included installing an electronic recognition board in the hematology/oncology unit and working with communications and events to coordinate the mentorship and professional development programs.

The impact on the staff of the hematology/oncology unit has been tremendous, with an increase in work satisfaction, joy, and well-being, as well as improved retention among healthcare workers, including nurses and staff!

UF Health Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit

2024 Champions for Change Award Winners, Mobile Stroke Team.

This team of physicians, administrators, and practitioners has created a groundbreaking initiative to improve stroke care in Florida. Collaborating with healthcare professionals, researchers, and community stakeholders, they designed and equipped specialized ambulances with state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment capabilities to address the critical need for faster stroke treatment and diagnosis.

By providing immediate care and treatment to stroke patients in transit, the Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit significantly reduces the time it takes to make an accurate stroke diagnosis and administer time-sensitive therapies. This rapid intervention can save critical moments, minimize long-term disability, and improve clinical outcomes for stroke patients.  This unique program is a model for other healthcare institutions nationally and highlights UF’s leadership in stroke care innovation.

Jenna Lammers

2024 Champions for Change Award Winner, Jenna Lammers.

Jenna Lammers is a Clinical Specialist in Pediatric Physical Therapy and Neonatal Therapy. To provide some background – 100,000 infants are born in the US with medical complexity each year and struggle to participate in play routines while in key developmental positions. Caregivers attending the UF Neuromuscular Clinic were reporting limited to no access to early intervention therapy which was negatively affecting their child’s outcomes.

From 2020-2024 Jenna worked to create an affordable portable exercise structure to help children at the clinic and their caregivers. She developed and refined prototypes in partnership with UF Innovate, the GatorNest Entrepreneurship program, and community pediatric therapists. This solution is now an on-market product, the GiggleFIT Therapeutic Play Gym.  Her efforts were also recognized at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Academy of Leadership and Innovation’s 2024 Physical Therapy Invention of the Year Award.

Care One Clinic Team

2024 Champions for Change Award Winners, Care One Clinic Team.

Established in 2012, Care One Clinic is a unique comprehensive clinic that cares for local vulnerable patient populations such as those without insurance or limited finances to pay for care, undocumented immigrants, those with limited health literacy, and those with unaddressed mental health needs or drug addiction problems.  73% of the patients served by Care One clinic have entered with unaddressed mental health issues in addition to their other medical needs.  

Care One Clinic is one of only a few such clinics in the United States with a combination of medical, dental, social work, pharmacist, and mental health provided in one space. Without a clinic like this, many target patients would be limited to engaging in the medical system through emergency medicine departments. Over the years, the Care One Clinic’s combined interventions have reduced emergency department utilization by their patients by more than 25%.  Further patient tracking has documented that clinic patients have been successful as they move forward in managing their overall health and wellness.

Learn more about the Champions for Change Awards and the winners from previous years here.

Published: April 16th, 2024

Category: Highlights