2012 – 2014 Cohort
Courtney Cogburn, PhD
Courtney D. Cogburn received her PhD in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan. Her research integrates principles and methodologies across psychology, stress physiology and social epidemiology to investigate relationships between stress and racial health disparities across the life course. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, she will focus on: 1) developing a multidimensional measure of racial stress and 2) the role of racial stress and other structural and psychosocial stressors in producing biological vulnerabilities in racial/ethnic minority populations. An overarching goal of Courtney’s research is to inform theoretical, empirical and measurement issues the use of “race” in health research.
Christina A. Roberto, PhD
Christina Roberto is a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist whose research examines public health policiesaimed at reducing obesity. She received a joint-PhD from Yale University where she conducted research on menu labeling, front-of-package food labeling and child-targeted food marketing. In her work she seeks to identify key, unanswered food policy questions and conduct research that can provide policymakers with science-based guidance. The goal of this work is to identify and test creative ways of changing the food environment to promote healthier food choices. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Christina plans to expand her work on food labeling and marketing and to study behavioral economic strategies to encourage nutritious food choices.
2011 – 2013 Cohort
Esther Friedman, PhD
Esther M. Friedman is a sociologist with an interest in social stratification as it relates to health and aging. She received a Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA and a master’s degree in statistics from Columbia University. Esther’s dissertation work used data from multiple generations of the family to investigate the effects of children’s education on their parents’ later life outcomes, including health, care, and wealth. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, she is examining the degree to which the resources of broader social contexts – extended kin, friends, and neighbors – influence population health.
Jennifer Karas Montez, PhD
Jennifer Karas Montez is a social demographer whose research examines socioeconomic and gender disparities in adult morbidity and mortality. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin where her research addressed questions such as why the longevity benefits of education are different for men than for women, how socioeconomic status and marriage intersect to shape health, and whether the association between education and longevity within the United States is better explained by a human capital or credential perspective. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Jennifer is investigating the social, psychological, and biological mechanisms that link educational attainment and mortality risk.
2010 – 2012 Cohort
Amy Non, PhD
Amy Non is a molecular anthropologist with an interest in researching the genetic and sociocultural contributors to racial inequalities in health. She received a Master of Public Health degree in Fall 2009 and received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida in August, 2010. Her dissertation addressed the relative contributions of genetic and sociocultural factors to explain racial disparities in hypertension in Puerto Rico and in the U.S., as well as the evolutionary history of human populations in the Horn of Africa and Arabia. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar at Harvard, she investigated the biological consequences of racism and other psychosocial stressors, particularly during early life developmental stages, as well as investigated epigenetic modifications that may occur as a result of early life exposures to stressors that may ultimately be linked to the development of chronic diseases. 2013 Update: Amy Non is currently an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, in the departments of anthropology and of medicine, health, and society.
Andrew Papachristos, PhD
Sociologist Andrew Papachristos focuses his studies on urban neighborhoods, social networks, street gangs, violent crime, and gun violence. His research uses social network analysis to the study of interpersonal violence, criminal organizations, and neighborhood level social processes. Andrew’s research has appeared in Foreign Policy, the American Journal of Sociology, Criminology & Public Policy, as well as other peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Andrew expanded his use of network analysis to the study “crime epidemics” in U.S. cities, paying particular attention to the way violence diffuses among populations of youth. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago (2007). 2013 Update: Andrew is currently an associate professor in the dept of sociology at Yale University.
Emily Shafer, PhD
Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer’s research explores the relationship between gender, marriage and family, and several behavioral and attitudinal outcomes, such as: employment, health and socio-political attitudes. To analyze these topics, she employs an interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon theories and methods from Sociology, Demography, Economics and Public Health. In her dissertation she investigated the ways in which husbands’ influence wives’ labor force participation, the consequences of women’s surname choice in marriage, and the effect of marriage on body mass index and obesity by race and gender. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, she explored issues of gender inequality in families in regard to health. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford University in 2010. 2013 Update: Emily is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA.
Alexander Tsai, PhD, MD
Alex Tsai is interested in how mental health, physical health, and health behaviors are deeply intertwined. He recently completed two studies on how antidepressant medication treatment improves mood, antiretroviral adherence, and HIV outcomes among homeless people living with HIV in San Francisco. Currently he is studying the social and economic correlates of depression and HIV-related stigma in a cohort of Ugandans accessing antiretroviral therapy; community-based screening for postpartum depression in a South African township; and the relationships between agricultural productivity, food security, gender empowerment, and HIV outcomes in rural Kenya. Alex was awarded an M.A. in Economics from the University of Toronto, and M.D. and Ph.D. in Health Services Research from Case Western Reserve University. He completed his residency training in general adult psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. 2013 update: Alex is currently a Lecturer on Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital; Assistant in Health Decision Sciences, Center for Global Health, Massachusetts General Hospital
2009 – 2011 Cohort
Summer Hawkins, PhD
Summer Sherburne Hawkins is an epidemiologist with an interest in addressing policy-relevant research questions in maternal and child health. In 2008, Summer completed her doctoral degree in epidemiology at the Institute of Child Health at University College London; her thesis examined individual-, family-, community-, and area-level risk factors for obesity in three-year-old British children. She has also developed studies examining the determinants of health behaviors during pregnancy, infant feeding practices, and health behaviors in young children. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Summer continued to address health disparities in the field of maternal and child health. 2013 Update: Summer is currently an assistant professor at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work.
Jennifer Jennings, PhD
Jennifer Jennings is a sociologist who studies racial, socioeconomic, and gender disparities in educational and health outcomes. Her dissertation examined how government accountability systems that evaluate schools based on student outcomes affect educational inequality. By making use of audit measures for which schools are not held accountable, she evaluates these systems’ effects on a broader set of outcomes, as well as our perceptions of racial, gender, and socioeconomic inequality. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, she expanded her research to examine the relationship between early health and educational outcomes, and the effects of community-level shocks on population health. She received a Ph.D in Sociology from Columbia University in summer 2009. 2013 Update: Jennifer is currently an assistant professor in the department of sociology at New York University.
2008 – 2010 Cohort
Kate McLaughlin, PhD
Kate is a clinical psychologist with general interests in the relationship between stress, socioeconomic disadvantage, and adolescent psychopathology and in the development of sustainable interventions to prevent the onset of depression and anxiety disorders. She has a joint Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and in Chronic Disease Epidemiology from Yale University and completed her clinical internship at the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at the Boston-area Veteran’s Administration Health Care System. Her research program focuses on two areas of inquiry. First, she seeks to identify determinants of adolescent psychopathology, specifically of depression and anxiety disorders. Second, she is interested in developing and empirically evaluating interventions designed to prevent the onset of adolescent depression and anxiety disorders. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Katie broadened her research on risk factors to examine social determinants of adolescent psychopathology. 2013 Update: Kate is currently an assistant professor of pediatrics & psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Arijit Nandi, PhD
Ari is concerned with the impact of macro-level factors on population health. His thesis work focused on understanding how economic processes, particularly deindustrialization, influence neighborhood environments and patterns of drug use. In other research, he has explored the social epidemiology of common mood-anxiety disorders and substance use disorders and outcomes. Other research areas of interest include migration and obesity. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Ari continued this work, while also exploring the association between political policies and population health and addressing challenges to causal inference in social epidemiology. Arijit received a PhD from the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 2013 Update: Ari is an assistant professor at McGill University, jointly appointed in the Institute for Health and Social Policy and the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health.
Elizabeth Sweet, PhD
Elizabeth is a biocultural anthropologist researching cultural and developmental aspects of racial health disparities. She uses novel applications of mixed qualitative and quantitative methods in her work to operationalize the everyday social contexts of disease. In her dissertation research with African American youth in Chicago, she utilized ethnographic data and health biomarkers to explore how culturally salient experiences of stress and social position become embodied in adolescent cardiovascular risk. She is currently conducting a pilot project exploring pregnancy-related stressors for urban, low income African American women, and plans to investigate how these stressors are associated with gestational outcomes and maternal and infant health. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Elizabeth continued to develop innovative applications of mixed-methods biocultural approaches. She focused on political economic dimensions of health disparities and how material consumption and status influence patterns of income inequality and health. She received both a Ph.D. in Anthropology and a Master of Public Health degree from Northwestern University. 2013 Update: Elizabeth is an assistant professor in the department of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
2007 – 2009 Cohort
Jason Block, MD, MPH
Jason Block is a general internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, having recently completed the Brigham and Women’s primary care internal medicine residency followed by a year as chief resident. He received his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine and his masters in public health in epidemiology from Tulane University School of Public Health. His research has explored the obesity epidemic in poor communities, focusing specifically on physicians’ knowledge and attitudes regarding obesity and the availability of fast food in poor and minority neighborhoods. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, he investigated how food availability in poor neighborhoods can directly impact disparities in chronic disease and assess ecological-level interventions to address such disparities. 2013 Update: Jason is an assistant professor in the department of population medicine at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute/Harvard Medical School; and assistant professor in the department of medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Mahason Mujahid, PhD
Mahasin Mujahid, received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from The University of Michigan in January 2007. She also holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Xavier University, New Orleans LA and a M.S. in Biostatistics from the University of Michigan. Her dissertation and her work as a RWJF Health & Society Scholar examined the relationship between residential environments and cardiovascular disease risk factors and outcomes as well as the contribution of neighborhood environments to racial/ethnic disparities in cardiovascular health. This work allowed her to apply innovative techniques for addressing various methodological issues involved in the development, measurement, and validation of neighborhood and ecologic measures. 2013 Update: Mahasin is an assistant professor of epidemiology and the Martin Sisters Endowed Chair in Medical Research and Public Health at the University of California Berkeley
Margaret A. Sheridan, PhD
Margaret Sheridan received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2007 prior to receiving her degree she completed a clinical internship at NYU Child Study Center/Bellevue Hospital. She has a general interest in the effect of the social environment on brain development. Her graduate research focused on the neural correlates of working memory and inhibition in adolescents with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). While at Berkeley she also examined the neural correlates of learning and inhibition in children from low and high socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds using fMRI. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Margaret continued a cross-disciplinary investigation into the effect of environmental variables associated with SES on neural development. She focused on the role that SES-associated stress plays in neural development with a view towards understanding how changes in neurobiology may mediate the relationship between social variables and health outcomes. 2013 Update: Margaret is an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a research associate in the Developmental Medicine Center Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience in the department of medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston
2006 – 2008 Cohort
Kristi Pullen, PhD
Kristi Pullen received her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley in May of 2006. Her thesis focused on the structural and functional characterization of PstP, the single Serine/Threonine phosphatase in M. tuberculosis. This class of protein is thought to be involved in the cellular response to environmental stress, and Pullen used x-ray cry allography and additional biochemical techniques to further the understanding of the roles metals play in the fold and function of this phosphatase. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Pullen implemented the use of quantitative biological assays as a way to reveal possible molecular mechanisms by which social factors affect the health of populations. 2013 Update: Kristi is a staff scientist at the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) and an Honorary Fellow at the Nelson Institute for the Environmental at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Matt Wray, PhD
Matt Wray is a sociologist with a general interest in understanding how social and health inequalities result from processes of social solidarity and differentiation. He has specialized in understanding how these processes differ between minority and majority groups. Wray, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, holds a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and is co-editor of White Trash: Race and Class in America, Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life, and The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness and author of Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Wray examined the racial and spatial heterogeneity of suicide rates in the American West, with a particular emphasis on Las Vegas, the city with the highest metropolitan suicide rate in the U.S. 2013 Update: Matt is currently an associate professor in the dept of sociology at Temple University.
Kathleen Ziol-Guest, PhD
Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest received her Ph.D. in public policy from The University of Chicago in 2005. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, she continued her research which focused on an important policy question; namely, the influence of welfare reform policies pertaining to child support enforcement on child support receipt among divorced custodial parents, as well as the role child support plays in the economic well-being of custodial and non-custodial parents. Among the outcomes examined, along with traditional economic outcomes such as income and poverty status, were material hardship and food insufficiency. She also studies the factors associated with Food Stamp Program and WIC participation and the role these programs have in impacting health of participants. 2013 Update: Kathleen is a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University in the department of policy analysis & management; and a senior researcher, Statistics Norway, Social & Demographic Research.
2005 – 2007 Cohort
Jeffrey Bingenheimer, PhD
Jeffrey “Bart” Bingenheimer is a social epidemiologist whose interests include mathematical representations of the spread of infectious diseases through human populations as well as microeconomic and behavioral ecological approaches to understanding human social behavior. He holds a PhD from the University of Michigan. His work looks at the growing disparity between black and white Americans in rates of HIV infection, AIDS, and AIDS-related mortality. He has worked extensively with data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, he continued his empirical research on heterogeneity in the spread of HIV, and the development and analysis of formal theoretical model that places health inequality within the broader context of a dynamic, intergenerational process of social stratification. 2013 Update: Bart is an assistant professor in the department of prevention and community health at Georg Washington University.
Duana Fullwiley, PhD
Duana Fullwiley, an anthropologist of science and medicine, received her Ph.D from UC Berkeley in December of 2002. She is currently completing a book, with the working title “The Enculturated Gene: Making Sense of Sickle cell Difference in Modern Africa,” on how cultural practices of ensuring health actively inform genetic renderings of sickle cell anemia in contemporary Senegal. Her work on sickle cell has been funded by the NSF, the Wenner Gren Foundation, the USIA Fulbright Program, the Social Science Research Council and the National Academies of Science. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar she continued fieldwork in U.S. genomics laboratories, and other related sites, on how rationales of “tailored medicine” have created new grounds for genetic uses and understandings of race. 2013 Update: Duana is currently an associate professor of anthropology at Stanford University.
Kate Strully, PhD
Kate Strully received her Ph.D. in sociology from New York University in 2005. Her research seeks to understand the causal pathways responsible for economic disparities in health, particularly how health influences-and is influenced by-social position. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar she explored how social programs and policies (ranging from Medicaid to TANF to special education) mediate relationships between socioeconomic status and health. In this vein, she is concerned with the relationship between job loss, unemployment, and health. 2013 Update: Kate is currently an assistant professor in the department of sociology at the University of Albany, SUNY.