Education and Training
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Duke Global Health Institute
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of California Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health
Master of Public Health, University of California Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health
Bachelor of Arts, University of Michigan
I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and my MPH and PhD from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Following my undergraduate study, I worked as a paramedic and volunteered as a bilingual (English-Spanish) patient educator at a free family health clinic in Detroit, Michigan. As I became involved with patients and their needs, I learned to navigate the safety net system of healthcare for the poor in southeastern Michigan. My experiences underscored the interconnectedness of health and social disparities, particularly relating to socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and culture. I pursued graduate study in public health to gain skills and experience in addressing health from a population perspective. As a graduate student I was a predoctoral fellow of the California Center for Population Research and the UCLA AIDS Research Training Program, receiving training in demography and epidemiology. I went on to complete a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Duke Global Health Institute, followed by an appointment in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health.
I am a public health researcher specializing in social epidemiology. My research agenda centers on social and contextual determinants of health disparities, and the design and evaluation of structural interventions to eliminate health disparities. Structural interventions are “upstream” public health interventions that change policies, practices, or programs in order to change the context that shapes individual and population health. Using the structural perspective, my research has examined how families, worksites, schools, and characteristics of the community as a whole influence multiple dimensions of health and contribute to or mitigate racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender disparities in health. My substantive areas of interest are HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health, Latino/a health, and health of marginalized populations.
Much of my work to date has applied tools from epidemiology and demography to examine the multiple layers of influence on health risk behaviors. In research on women in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, I used multilevel models to show that in addition to individual-level characteristics such as education and relationship status, key measures of community-level socioeconomic status and opportunity are significantly associated with HIV knowledge and behaviors. The results demonstrated the critical role of education and poverty, even beyond the individual, suggesting that interventions to improve access to education and employment for the population as a whole may be a component of effective HIV prevention programs in these settings. As new data have recently become available, this line of research is ongoing.
I also continue to use multilevel, mixed, and fixed-effects models for rigorous outcome evaluation of community-led and community-engaged structural interventions. One example of this is my work with Project Parivartan (PI: Kim Blankenship, American University), a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to evaluate the effectiveness of a community-led structural intervention for HIV prevention in India. The intervention uses community mobilization and policy changes to prevent HIV among female sex workers. I have led efforts examining police-sex worker interactions over time, assessing which changes could be attributed to the structural intervention. My research with Project Parivartan has been published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
My future research on social determinants of health and structural interventions to address health disparities aims to:
1. Advance understanding of family structure and neighborhood dynamics and their associations with women’s and children’s health, using multilevel models and other quantitative techniques.
2. Expand use of geographic data to inform how communities affect individual and population health.
3. Improve upon methods for developing and evaluating complex community-level and structural interventions. This involves advancing understanding about the mechanisms by which families, schools, and neighborhoods affect health.
- HEA 325 Health Data Analysis
- HEA 333 Health of Women
- HEA 366 Community Health Interventions
- HEA 405 Program Planning and Evaluation
- HEA 765 Advanced Program Evaluation in Public Health Education
Links of Interest
Honors and Awards
2010-2012 Health Disparities Scholar, National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program
2009 Dean’s Outstanding Student Award, Fielding School of Public Health, UCLA
2008 Quality of Graduate Education Doctoral Fellowship, Graduate Division, UCLA
2008 American Public Health Association Student Poster Award in the Population, Reproductive, and Sexual Health Section
2005-2008 NIMH T32 Predoctoral Fellowship, HIV/AIDS Research Training Program, UCLA
2006 Center for HIV Prevention and Treatment Studies Pilot Research Award, UCLA
2006 Ruth F. Richards Academic Excellence Award, Fielding School of Public Health,UCLA
2005-2006 Fred H. Bixby Program in Population and Reproductive Health Fellowship, UCLA
2005 Raymond D. Goodman Award, Fielding School of Public Health, UCLA
2004-2005 Regents’ Fellowship, Graduate Division, UCLA
2004 Inductee, Delta Omega National Honor Society in Public Health
2003 Fred H. Bixby Program in Population and Reproductive Health Summer Fellowship, UCLA
UNCG School of Health and Human Sciences, Working Group on Research Methods Course Offerings
Grant reviewer, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives, NC Department of Health and Human Services