Scholar Profiles

2014–2016 Cohort

Head shot of Angie BoyceAngie Boyce, PhD
Angie Boyce received her doctorate in science & technology studies from Cornell University, where she investigated historical and current instances of the development of government standards and technologies for regulating food safety and nutrition. During her graduate career, she held internships at the CDC and the FDA. As a Health & Society Scholar, Angie conducted a cross-case analysis of major public health emergencies, examining historical and contemporary debates about the infrastructure of the US public health system, and the interface between science and public health policy.
2018 update: Angie is a Hecht-Levi Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics; upon completion of this fellowship, she will become a Research Scholar at the Berman Institute.

Head shot of Rourke O'BrienRourke O’Brien, PhD
Rourke O’Brien is a sociologist who studies the connections between public policy, economic behavior, and population health. He holds a PhD in sociology and social policy from Princeton University, where he authored a dissertation on the social and structural determinants of self-reported disability. Rourke previously served as a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and he is coauthor (with Katherine S. Newman) of Taxing the Poor (2011 UC Press) which explores the link between regressive state and local tax policy and poverty-related outcomes. As a Health & Society Scholar, Rourke continued his research on how population health is impacted by household finance, taxation, and social policy.
2018 update: Rourke is assistant professor of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty, the Center for Demography and Ecology, and the Center for Financial Security.

Head shot of Colleen ReidColleen Reid, PhD
Colleen Reid conducts research focused on the health effects of climate change. She received her PhD in environmental health from UC Berkeley, where her work included an epidemiological analysis of exposure to air pollution from northern California wildfires. Colleen also has created a national neighborhood-level spatial map of vulnerability to extreme heat that can be used in preparing for future heat waves. In her work as an RWJF scholar, Colleen applied causal inference epidemiology to environmental hazards, with the aim of furthering understanding of population vulnerability vis-à-vis climate hazards and, ultimately, using this knowledge to increase environmental protection and impact health policy.
2018 update: Colleen is assistant professor in the geography department at the University of Colorado, Boulder; she is also affiliated with the Institute for Behavioral Sciences (IBS) at that institution.

2013–2015 Cohort

Head shot of Adam LippertAdam Lippert, PhD
Adam Lippert is a sociologist and demographer interested in how social disadvantage impacts physical and mental health during key stages in the life course. He recently completed a dual-title PhD at the Pennsylvania State University. His dissertation investigates how combinations of life transitions experienced by adolescents entering adulthood coincide with mobility into and out of low-income neighborhoods, and how this mobility influences obesity. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Adam is extending his research by developing more refined measures of the health environment and examining how multiple spatial territories simultaneously influence health.
2018 Update: Adam is currently an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Denver.

Head shot of Selena OrtizSelena Ortiz, PhD
Selena Ortiz’s research integrates frame analysis to study how the public understands major social health issues and how public health can effectively address these health issues. She received her PhD in health policy and management from the University of California Los Angeles in 2013. Selena’s research examines how frames and values influence public opinion and support for health policies. As an RWJF fellow, Selena examines how health care decision-making processes throughout the life course, including disease prevention and treatment-seeking behavior, are influenced by frames. More specifically, she focuses on mechanisms rooted within psychology and behavioral economics — cognitive dissonance and counterfactuals — which allows for a more nuanced understanding of the extent to which frames, and the values embedded within, influence attitudes/beliefs, public discourse, support for health policies, population health behavior change efforts and the consumption of health services.
2018 Update: Selena is currently assistant professor, Gregory H. Wolf Professor of Health Policy and Administration in the Department of Health Policy and Administration at Pennsylvania State University.

Head shot of Jessica WilliamsJessica Williams, PhD
Jessica Williams is a health policy and health economics researcher whose research examines the role of workplace psychosocial factors in health and how aspects of the Medicare Part D benefit affects prescription drug non-adherence. She received a PhD from the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA in the department of health policy and management with a specialization in health economics. As a RWJF Health & Society Scholar, Jessica has expanded her work in the area of occupational health by researching the implications of interventions to improve the physical and psychosocial work environment and looks at the impacts of the Affordable Care Act on the healthcare offerings of employers.
2018 Update: Jessica is assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center.

2012–2014 Cohort

Head shot of Courtney CogburnCourtney 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 focused 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.
2018 Update: Courtney is assistant professor of social work at Columbia University.

Head shot of Christina RobertoChristina A. Roberto, PhD
Christina Roberto is a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist whose research examines public health policies aimed 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 expanded her work on food labeling and marketing and studied behavioral economic strategies to encourage nutritious food choices.
2018 Update: Christina is an assistant professor of medical ethics & health policy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of the Psychology of Eating And Consumer Health (PEACH) lab.

2011–2013 Cohort

Head shot of Esther FriedmanEsther Friedman, PhD
Esther M. Friedman is a sociologist with an interest in social stratification as it relates to health and aging. She received a PhD 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 examined the degree to which the resources of broader social contexts — extended kin, friends, and neighbors — influence population health.
2014 Update: Esther is a behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

Head shot of Jennifer MontezJennifer 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 PhD 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 investigated the social, psychological, and biological mechanisms that link educational attainment and mortality risk.
2018 Update: Jennifer is currently a professor of sociology at Syracuse University, and Gerald B. Cramer Faculty Scholar of Aging Studies.

2010–2012 Cohort

Head shot of Amy NonAmy 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 PhD 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.
2018 Update: Amy is currently assistant professor of anthropology at University of California, San Diego.

Head shot Andrew PapachristosAndrew 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 PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago (2007).
2018 Update: Andy is currently professor of sociology at Northwestern University.

Head shot of Emily ShaferEmily 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 PhD in sociology from Stanford University in 2010.
2018 Update: Emily is currently an assistant professor of sociology at Portland State University.

Head shot of Alexander TsaiAlexander 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 MA in economics from the University of Toronto, and MD and PhD 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.
2018 update: Alex is currently an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a staff psychiatrist in the Massachusetts General Chester M. Pierce, MD Division of Global Psychiatry.

2009–2011 Cohort

Head shot of Summer HawkinsSummer 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.
2018 Update: Summer is currently an associate professor at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work.

Head shot of Jennifer JenningsJennifer 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 PhD in sociology from Columbia University in summer 2009.
2018 Update: Jennifer is currently a Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University.

2008–2010 Cohort

Head shot of Kate McLaughlinKate 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 PhD 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, Kate broadened her research on risk factors to examine social determinants of adolescent psychopathology.
2018 Update: In fall 2018 Kate joined the Psychology Department at Harvard University as an assistant professor.

Head shot of Ari NandiArijit 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.
2018 Update: Ari is an associate professor at McGill University, jointly appointed in the Institute for Health and Social Policy and the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health. He also holds a Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Global Health.

Head shot of Elizabeth SweetElizabeth 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 PhD in anthropology and a MPH from Northwestern University.
2018 Update: Elizabeth is an assistant professor of anthropology at the College of Liberal Arts, University of Massachusetts Boston.

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 master’s 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.
2018 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.

Mahasin Mujahid, PhD
Mahasin Mujahid, received her PhD in epidemiology from The University of Michigan in January 2007. She also holds a BS in mathematics from Xavier University, New Orleans LA, and a MS 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.
2018 Update: Mahasin is an associate professor of epidemiology 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.
2018 Update: Margaret is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology (Clinical Psychology Graduate Program) at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is also the director of the Child Imaging Research on Cognition and Life Experiences (CIRCLE) Lab at UNC-Chapel Hill.

2006–2008 Cohort

Kristi Pullen, PhD
Kristi Pullen received her PhD 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.
2018 Update: Kristi is Director of Science and Data for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Healthy People & Thriving Communities team.

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 PhD 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.
2018 Update: Matt is currently an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Temple University.

Kathleen Ziol-Guest, PhD
Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest received her PhD 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.
2018 Update: Kathleen is a research associate professor in the department of humanities and social sciences at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and the project director for the Early Childhood Meta-Analysis Project (funded by the National Institutes of Health) in the Institute on Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS).

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.
2018 Update: Bart is an associate professor in the department of prevention and community health at George Washington University.

Duana Fullwiley, PhD
Duana Fullwiley, an anthropologist of science and medicine, received her PhD from UC Berkeley in December of 2002. She is the author of The Enculturated Gene: Sickle Cell Health Politics and Biological Difference in West 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.
2018 Update: Duana is currently an associate professor of anthropology at Stanford University.

Kate Strully, PhD
Kate Strully received her PhD 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.
2018 Update: Kate is currently an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Albany, SUNY.