Dr. Sappenfield joined the faculty at the University of South Florida (USF) in the College of Public Health in 2011. He serves as a USF Distinguished Professor and teaches on maternal and child health, epidemiology, and public health practice. His current research projects include: maternal and infant mortality, chronic diseases during pregnancy, assistive reproductive technology, unintended pregnancy and contraceptive use, non-medically indicated deliveries prior to 39 weeks, population-based perinatal quality improvement efforts, access to childhood preventive dental care, and use of data file linkages in maternal and child health.
His teaching and research over the years has focused on maternal and child health, epidemiology, and public health practice. Major contributions to the field include early efforts to develop community-based fetal and infant mortality reviews, to adapt the perinatal periods of risk approach to assess infant mortality in U.S. communities, and to propose state preconception health indicators. He has published extensively on maternal and infant mortality, morbidity and related health issues. He has also focused on mentoring and teaching young professionals to serve as maternal and child health epidemiologists in governmental public health agencies at a local, state and national level and training multidisciplinary teams of public health practitioners and community members to effectively use data to improve maternal and child health. Dr. Sappenfield continues to mentors CDC's senior MCH epidemiologists assigned to public health agencies around the nation. He mentors on best practices in applied public health epidemiology and assists with conducting policy and program relevant MCH epidemiological research.