Kent State to compete in fifth annual Public Health Scholar Bowl

Abigail Winternitz

Kent State’s College of Public Health Scholar Bowl Team is heading to St. Louis this weekend to compete in the fifth annual Public Health Scholar Bowl, hosted by the College for Public Health and Social Justice at Saint Louis University (SLU).

The competition will be held March 31 through April 1 in SLU’s Busch Student Center.

The team will go head-to-head with 12 other teams from schools across the nation, including The Ohio State University, Johns Hopkins University and The George Washington University.

Chelsea Kennedy (CQ), a public health graduate student, and a coach for the team, said it’s an incredible opportunity to compete with top public health schools from all around the country.

“It’s really cool to interact with students who are in the same program as we are — and hopefully beat them,” Kennedy said. “I’m glad we get to be a part of it.”

This year’s team consists of three students: freshman public health major Clara Varndell (CQ), junior public health major Priscilla Wiafe (CQ) and senior public health major Emily Volz (CQ).

Volz, a member of the team for the past three years, said the team feels well prepared for competition.

“We’re so ready,” Volz said. “A lot of big universities will be there, and we had a bit of a later start than we normally do, but we’ve really hit the ground running these past couple months and have worked really hard. I’m confident in our abilities.”

The team has been practicing diligently for the past month and a half to prepare competition, said Lauren Malthaner, a second-year public health graduate student in social and behavioral sciences and the second Kent State team coach.

“Their hard work is really paying off,” Malthaner said.

The competition consists of two parts; the first part is a quiz bowl tournament, where schools compete against each other by answering current public health topics. These topics can range anywhere from disease outbreaks to global and community health, according to the SLU website.

Kennedy said the schools they will compete with in the quiz bowl tournament are chosen at random at the competition.

“It’s kind of like a basketball bracket,” Kennedy said. “You go against the teams you get paired with at competition and if you win, you advance to the final round.”

The second part of the competition consists of a case study, where team members work together to propose a solution and prepare a presentation. This presentation will be judged by leading public health professionals.

The teams are sent the case study two weeks prior to competition. This year’s case study focuses on mental health on college campuses.

Kennedy said SLU does a good job of choosing relevant topics for the case study each year.

“They really try to make it a topic that students would be interested in and would want to find solutions for,” Kennedy said.

The College of Public Health has sent a team to the competition for the past five years, but never placed.

Malthaner, a competitor for three years on the team and a coach for the last two years, said she is confident her team will do well this year.

“Every year the team has a varied dynamic, but they always come together to give it their all,” Malthaner said. “This team is no different, and I believe that this could be our year.”

For more information about the Public Health Scholar Bowl and a list of all competing schools, log on to

Abigail Winternitz is the College of Nursing and Public Health reporter, contact her at [email protected].