Past Health Equity Speakers
Thomas Dirth is an Assistant Professor of Multicultural Psychology at Bemidji State University. He received a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Kansas. His scholarly interests, shaped by experiences as a physically disabled person, consider a social psychological approach to wide range of disability-related phenomena elaborated within the interdisciplinary field of Disability Studies.
Sharon Obasi, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Family Science & the Director of Research Integrity at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Obasi is an interdisciplinary teacher and scholar with a background in Behavioral Neuroscience. She is currently conducting research on the impact of family on self-identity and social identity and the articulation of policy and programs to help marginalized communities.
Dr. Athena Ramos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and is affiliated with the Center for Reducing Health Dis¬parities and the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. She leads a Latino outreach and engagement team and serves as principal investigator for a number of community-based health and social research and education initiatives in such areas as occupational health and safety within the agrifood system, immigrant integration, and community well-being. She is an experienced administrator, program manager, and researcher with proven ability to develop and implement social, health, and human service programs with culturally diverse populations. She has 20 years of experience in health promotion, strategic thinking, community development, and public relations. Ramos has a PhD in International Family & Community Studies from Clemson University and two Master’s degrees – one in Business Administration (MBA) and one in Urban Studies (MS) from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Julie A. Tippens, DrPH, MPH is an assistant professor in the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a global health scholar with two decades of experience as a practitioner and researcher with populations affected by forced and survival migration in North America, Central America, Southeast Asia, and East Africa. Her current research focuses on refugees’ resilience- and health-promoting strategies in resettlement and humanitarian settings in the U.S., Kenya, and Tanzania. As an interdisciplinary, community-engaged investigator, Dr. Tippens blends ethnographic, participatory, and visual research methods to understand the socio-cultural and structural determinants of refugees’ health in diverse contexts. Prior to UNL, Dr. Tippens worked with organizations such as Physicians for Human Rights, the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, and the National Cancer Institute to address migration and health and improve health equity.View Presentation Slides Additional Resources
Sarah Beal, PhD, is an associate professor in the division of behavioral medicine and clinical psychology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She is also the scientific director for the Comprehensive Health Evaluations for Cincinnati’s Kids (CHECK) Foster Care Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Her research focuses on the impact of child welfare and healthcare involvement on trajectories of development and health for adolescents in foster care. She received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Katie M. Edwards, Ph.D. is an associate professor in educational psychology and the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families, and Schools at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Dr. Edwards is also the director of the Interpersonal Violence Research Laboratory at UNL. Dr. Edwards’ work focuses on the development, implementation, and evaluation of violence prevention and response initiatives, predominantly among adolescents and young adults. As a queer identified woman, much of her work focuses on LGBTQ+ youth and young adults. To date, she has published over 150 peer-reviewed publications on these topics and has current funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Justice.Additionally, Dr. Edwards was named in the top 2% of researchers in the world in a recent study released by Stanford University. To learn more about Dr. Edwards’ program of research, please visit: http://cyfs.unl.edu/academies-bureaus/ivrl/index.php.
Dr. Monnica T. Williams is a board-certified licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, in the School of Psychology, where she is the Canada research chair in mental health disparities. She is also the clinical director of the behavoral wellness clinic in Connecticut, where she provides supervision and training to clinicians for empirically supported treatments. Dr. Williams' research focuses on African American mental health, culture, and psychopathology, and she has published over 100 scientific articles on these topics. Current projects include the assessment of race-based trauma, unacceptable thoughts in OCD, improving cultural competence in the delivery of mental health care services, and interventions to reduce racism. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International OCD Foundation, and she co-founded their diversity council. Her Work has been featured in several major media outlets, including NPR, Huffington Post, and the New York Times.
Tierney Lorenz and Sophia Sánchez
Tierney Lorenz is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and the Center for Brain, Biology, and Behavior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (CB3). Dr. Lorenz’s research examines the interaction between women’s mental, physical, and sexual health. The Women, Immunity, and Sexual Health (WISH) lab investigates the ways that sexual behavior impact women’s immune and endocrine function, as well as ways to help women with mental and/or physical health conditions have happy, healthy sexual lives. Sophia Sánchez is a senior psychology student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an undergraduate research assistant in the WISH Lab housed within CB3.
Carolette NorwoodCarolette Norwood, PhD, is an associate professor and assistant department head in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Dr. Norwood directs the social justice certificate and leads a Reproductive Justice funded study for Ohio Policy Evaluation Network. Dr. Norwood research interests includes exploring the simultaneity and particularities of feminism(s) in the African Diaspora within and across geographical and global context; sexual health disparities at the intersection of gender, race, sexuality, place and space; stress, trauma and mental health wellbeing among midlife African-American women; and spatial distribution of HIV across the Cincinnati MSA. Dr. Norwood earned a PhD in Sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Université de Montreal in African Demography.
Alex OrtegaAlex Ortega, PhD, an epidemiologist, health services researcher, and community health interventionist, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy and Director of the Center for Population Health and Community Impact in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. Ortega is internationally-recognized for his research and public advocacy in improving the health and well-being of Latino children and families in the United States, especially for those who are undocumented or are otherwise disenfranchised. He has directed NIH, AHRQ, and foundation-funded research in a variety of sites and contexts, including Puerto Rico, New England, and Southern California. His research has been in a variety of areas focused on Latino health and health care, including: access to and use of health services for youth and families, the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on disparities, mental health services and psychiatric epidemiology, and community-engaged interventions to improve food environments in urban food swamps.
Stacy Rasmus, PhD, is Director of the Center for Alaska Native Health Research (CANHR) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She holds a joint appointment with the Northwest Indian College, in western Washington state where she is PI of a Native American Research Center for Health (NARCH) program. Dr. Rasmus has worked with American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities for over two decades and has built an international program of research focusing on the promotion of Indigenous strengths, wellbeing and resilience in Alaska, the Arctic and the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Rasmus is trained in the social and behavioral sciences with specific expertise in the translation of Indigenous knowledge and practice into health interventions that are community-driven and culturally-centered. She currently leads several NIH, NSF and SAMHSA grants that together engage AIAN populations in research and evaluation initiatives to eliminate disparities in youth suicide and substance use disorders, with a special focus on alcohol, opioids and co-occurring disorders. In addition to her research program, Dr. Rasmus also directs NIH capacity building and training grants, most recently becoming the Alaska PI for the American Indian and Alaska Native Clinical Translational Research Program (AIAN CTRP), a collaborative program bridging universities and Tribal partners in Alaska and Montana.
Mohan Dutta's research examines marginalization in contemporary healthcare, health care inequalities, the intersections of poverty and health experiences at the margins, political economy of global health policies, the mobilization of cultural tropes for the justification of neo-colonial health development projects, the meanings of health in the realms of marginalized experiences in highly underserved communities in the global South, and the ways in which participatory culture-centered processes and strategies are organized in marginalized contexts to bring about changes in neo-colonial structures of global oppression and exploitation. Engaging in dialogues with subaltern communities at the global margins in imagining alternative spaces that resist neoliberal formations forms the crux of Professor Dutta's academic and activist projects.
Framed by the tenets of the minority stress model, intersectionality, and positive youth development, his research identifies malleable family and other salient contextual (i.e., school, community) features that contribute to and mitigate health disparities experienced by marginalized adolescents in the United States. Largely, his research has examined these relationships with explicit attention to the minority-specific stressors of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination that contribute to the disparate rates of negative outcomes experienced by sexual and gender diverse adolescents and Latinx youth, and the protective factors (e.g., family support, acceptance) that buffer these associations. Although most of his work has examined these populations separately, his current research integrates these two distinct – but conceptually similar - lines of research, and focuses on how the amalgamation of individuals’ multiple marginalized identities contributes to their contextual experiences and well-being.
Rebecca Smith, PhD is a scientist-educator who has supported science teaching and learning in the public schools of San Francisco for more than 20 years. As Co-Director of the UC San Francisco Science & Health Education Partnership, Rebecca has designed innovative learning experiences that engage students, from youths to adults, as scientists helping them to discover big ideas in science and to learn how to think critically and make conclusions using evidence. Rebecca is a contributing author of STEM to Story: Enthralling and Effective Lesson Plans for Grades 5-8 and a co-author of Watch Your Mouth, a project led by UNL’s Judy Diamond. Rebecca’s most recent project, the San Francisco Health Investigators, builds teams of high school Student Researchers who investigate knowledge and awareness of health issues in their communities. The students leverage their unique cultural capital to develop health messages and research the effectiveness of these messages.
Dr. DiClemente’s research has 4 key foci: (1) developing interventions to reduce the risk of HIV/STD among vulnerable adolescents and women; (2) developing interventions to enhance vaccine uptake among high-risk adolescents and women, such HPV vaccine; (3) developing implementation science interventions to enhance the uptake, adoption and sustainability of HIV/STD prevention programs in the community; and (4) developing diabetes screening and behavior change interventions to identify people with diabetes who are unaware of their disease status as well as reduce the risk of diabetes among vulnerable populations.
Kaufman is a demographer/sociologist with major research interests in: (1) The cultural and community context of adolescent sexual health risks; (2) the adaptation, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of theory-based health interventions within and across diverse communities; and (3) new applications and approaches in research design and methodology.
Roberto Abadie is an anthropologist who has conducted extensive research on HIV, Intravenous Drug Users and the ethics of clinical trials research. He is a Senior Researcher at SNRG (Social Network Research Group) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Abadie is the Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a field director for the NIH-funded study of “Injector Social Networks in Rural Puerto Rico.”
Adams’ research revolves around addressing how networks constrain or promote the diffusion of information and/or diseases through populations. Much of this work has focused on HIV/AIDS in “high risk” populations in the US and Sub-Saharan Africa. He has a primary interest in using social network theory to improve strategies used in the design and implementation of primary data collection projects.
Denis is by training a mental health nurse and adult (medical-surgical) nurse. However, in mid-career he moved into engineering and computing but now works in health research, largely as a statistician. He was a statistical consultant to the Oxford Health Alliance for the Communities in Health programme 2011-2016, and is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.
Wen is a sociologist of health, migration and child development. Her research centers on social determinants of health and well-being throughout the life course and across settings. She also scrutinizes disparities in energy balance outcomes by race, ethnicity, immigrant, and legal status and the mediating factors underlying these disparities.
Gary L. Kreps
Dr. Kreps’ areas of expertise include health communication and promotion, information dissemination, organizational communication, information technology, multicultural relations, risk/crisis management, health informatics, and applied research methods. He is the Director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication, serves on the Governing Board of the Center for Social Science Research, and is a faculty affiliate of the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics, the Center for the Study of International Medical Policies and Practices, Center for Climate Change Communication, the Center for Consciousness and Transformation, and the Center for Health Information Technology, at George Mason.
Dr. Olga Davis
Dr. Davis is passionate about enhancing communication to improve the health and wellbeing of underserved populations. She helped establish a health coalition for refugee women in Maricopa County, and was appointed by Governor Napolitano to serve on the State Commission on Women’s and Children’s Health. In addition, Dr. Davis is intricately involved in promoting health among the African American community in Arizona.
Professor Moore has research and teaching interests in the sociology of family, race, gender, sexuality, qualitative methods, aging, and adolescence. She has done research on the intersection of race and sexual orientation for family-building and lesbian identity among African-American Women. She is currently doing research involving the negotiation of religious and community life for lesbians and gay men of faith, and the promotion of health aging for racial and ethnic minority elders.
Dr. Brown is an assistant professor of sociology and the co-director of the Center for Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research. His research examines how and why racial/ethnic stratification and other axes of inequality combine to shape health and wealth across the life course.
Fields’ primary research examines factors related to the initiation and maintenance of tobacco smoking in children and adolescents in order to inform and develop effective treatments. Her secondary research line extends the knowledge learned from adolescent addiction research to eating behavior and obesity in adolescents. Through both areas of research, she is also studying the neural mechanisms that underlie performance on laboratory behavioral tasks modeling impulsive behaviors in order to better inform prevention and treatment interventions.
Dr. Viswanath’s work, drawing from literatures in communication science, social epidemiology, and social and health behavior sciences, focuses on translational communication science to influence public health policy and practice. His primary research is on documenting the relationship between communication inequalities, poverty and health disparities, and knowledge translation through community-based research to address health disparities..
Kirk Dombrowski’s research focuses on broad interdisciplinary approaches to addiction and its related social and personal harms. This means that his work crosses fields including sociology, anthropology, psychology and political-economy. His areas of specialization include social network analysis, ethnography, urban public health, community-based participatory research and Native Americans.
Dr. Hummer’s research is focused on the accurate documentation and more complete understanding of health and mortality disparities by race/ethnicity/nativity and socioeconomic status in the United States. His current work includes projects that accurately document and provide a more complete understanding of educational and race/ethnic disparities in U.S. health and mortality.
James S. Jackson
James S. Jackson’s research revolves around issues of racial and ethnic influences on life course development, attitude change, reciprocity, social support, and coping and health among blacks in the Diaspora. He is the Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education, school of Public Health, and Director of the Institute for Social Research, all at the University of Michigan.
Timothey P. Johnson
Johnson’s main areas of expertise include survey methodology and health behaviors in disadvantaged populations. Within the field of survey methodology, his work has focused primarily on sources of measurement and non response error. His measurement error work is concerned with cultural variability in the cognitive processing of survey questions, in the cognitive processing of survey questions, an area in which much of his work has been invested over the past decade. He has also conducted numerous investigations designed to validate self-reported health information.