Robert W. Strack, Ph.D.

Promoting Health, Engaging Communities, Changing Lives

Robert W. Strack, Ph.D.



Department of Public Health Education

School of Health and Human Sciences

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

P.O. Box 26170

Greensboro, NC 27402-6170

(336) 334-3239 (office)

Office Location: 420-K Mary Channing Coleman (HHP) Building

LinkedIn Profile

Education and Training

1992-1997          Ph.D. in Health Promotion and Education, School of Public Health University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina; Dissertation:                                        “Development of a Context Evaluation Model: A Qualitative Assessment of a Community-Based Health Initiative”
1989-1991          Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
1982-1985          Marketing B.A. from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Curriculum Vitae

I received my foundational social science training as a doctoral student in the Department of Health Education and Health Promotion from the School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.  The first five years of my academic career landed me in Baltimore, Maryland where I worked for the Center for Adolescent Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.  The Adolescent Research Center was part of the CDC Prevention Research Center’s program charged with bridging the research-practice divide.  It was in Baltimore where I was able to embed myself with our community partners, hone my interests and approach in applied research and further shape my thinking as a contributing scientist.  My research interests in Baltimore, as well as in South Carolina, focused on the health of adolescents, youth development and empowerment, program evaluation and community-based participatory programming and research.


I have been a part of the Department of Public Health Education faculty team at UNCG since the fall of 2001. While I am currently a UNCG Spartan, years ago I was also a Spartan at Michigan State University as an undergraduate student in Marketing. After working for several years I pursued and completed an MBA from Indiana University with the intention of securing a PhD in business.  In 1992 I started the Organizational Behavior doctoral program at the University of South Carolina only to find my true passion for health promotion, which prompted my switch into the health education health promotion program in their School of Public Health.  I have never looked back and still remember the words of my faculty member who stated, “We do good things in public health!”  I was hooked and that drive to make a difference still burns strong.

It was during my doctoral education, completed in 1997, that I formed my interest in understanding the social issues influencing the health of adolescents. Under the guidance of Dr. Murray Vincent I completed my dissertation, entitled ‘Development of a Context Evaluation Model: A Qualitative Assessment of a Community-Based Health Initiative,” where I researched a community’s response to a community-based intervention targeting adolescent pregnancy. Through reading, deep academic conversation and immersion in this community’s response to their adolescent pregnancy issue I developed an appreciation of the social ecological model’s contribution to our understanding and a personal conviction that social issues are more effectively impacted through a combination of policy, systems and individual-level change strategies.

On a personal note, I am an avid cyclist (road and mountain bike), camper, nature lover and political junkie who enjoys spirited debate.  I have two daughters, Claire and Sage, whose growth inspire me daily and am married to a wonderful partner, JoAnn.

Research Interests

My research has primarily focused on the health and social issues of youth and adolescents which specifically includes research interests in: Photovoice methodology, program planning and evaluation, adolescent programming and health promotion advocacy and policy. Recognizing that many favor Band-Aid solutions, my passion is to invite us all to look deeper to root cause challenges and to collectively seek answers and strategies.

Current Studies

My aim is to build on the science around photovoice and to provide tools that help communities address social issues from their own lens.  Over the past several years National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding has enabled our research team to construct an on-line resource we call PhotovoiceKit. PhotovoiceKit is a complete web-based toolkit combining photography, dialogue, digital media, public photo exhibits, and social action to address issues a community identifies and cares about. With the roll-out of our PhotovoiceKit tool we hope to be able to observe, hone and measures the utility of this applied research endeavor and witness positive changes in communities throughout society.

Picture Me Alcohol Free: Engaging Youth in Community-Based Prevention
This NIH-NIAAA (SBIR) research project proposes to test the feasibility of developing an online training program, Picture Me Alcohol Free (PMAF), intended to empower youth to become active participants in community-based efforts to reduce underage alcohol use and related consequences. The Picture Me Alcohol Free project is focused on using an existing ethnographic process (Photovoice) and instructional technology (online course) to develop a web-based strategy that can be used by schools, after-school programs and communities. Once fully developed the Picture Me Alcohol Free program will be used by youth with adult facilitators as a forum for raising community awareness and engaging policy makers on the topic of underage alcohol use. The ultimate goals of the PMAF project are to increase local efforts to: 1) reduce the availability of alcohol, 2) improve effectiveness of law enforcement, and 3) change social norms in communities regarding underage use.

Picture Me Fit (PMFit)
PMFit is a multi-component online resource designed to train community members, including youth to: a) represent environmental factors contributing to obesity in their communities by using a process known as photovoice and b) use photo projects to assess the physical environment of a community, raise community awareness, mobilize stakeholders, and inform environmental strategies and policy changes.  Both PMAF and PMFit form the basis of PhotovoiceKit which we hope to be 1) an easy to implement tool for assessing the qualitative aspects of a community environment and 2) a vehicle for communities to develop strategies for using that data to raise awareness, mobilize stakeholders, and inform environmental and public policy changes.

Courses Taught

  • HEA 340                     Community Observation and Assessment
  • HEA 405                     Program Planning Evaluation
  • HEA 470/670              Adolescent Health
  • HEA 609                     Community Health Interventions
  • HEA 625                     Community Health Research and Evaluation
  • HEA 645                     Health Policy
  • HEA 648                     Applied Program Planning
  • HEA 650                     Health Education Internship/Practicum
  • HEA 751                     Foundations of Research

Links of Interest


Society for Public Health Education

American Public Health Association

Ford Foundation

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

FrameWorks Institute

Kaiser Family Foundation – Health Policy Research

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

National Institute of Nursing Research

Honors and Awards

  • South Carolina Public Health Association’s Public Health Student Scholar Award (1995)
  • Delta Omega Outstanding Paper Award, South Carolina Public Health Association: Comparison of adolescent sexual knowledge, attitudes and behaviors based on a constructed “family values” profile (1995)
  • UNCG School of Health and Human Performance Teaching Excellence Award (2009).
  • Guilford Coalition for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, STARR Professional Award (2009).
  • Adolescent Pregnancy Campaign of North Carolina, Program Excellence Award for the 2009 “Adolescent Pregnancy in Guilford County: A White Paper.” (2010).