Research Areas

Aishia Brown, PhD
Assistant Professor
Research Interests: Dr. Brown’s research interests focus on social justice and community youth development. Some of her most recent work examines the connections between community youth engagement, youth-adult partnerships, and recreational healing spaces. Dr. Brown is particularly interested in integrating these youth development frameworks and concepts into public health community engagement approaches. 

Susan Buchino, PhD, OTR/L
Assistant Professor
Research Interests: Health policy development and evaluation; population mental health; health disparities; community-based and integrated care; health care workforce capacity and planning

Sara Choate, PhD, MSEd
Assistant Professor
Research Interests: Dr. Choate's research interests focus on mental/emotional health and sexual health of youth and young adults. Her most recent research examined digital mental health interventions for college students with an emphasis on how racial disparities in help-seeking behavior may impact access to mental health services. 

Ryan Combs, PhD, MA
Associate Professor
Research Interests: Community-based participatory research; qualitative methodologies; health disparities; health literacy; health politics and policy; healthcare systems (in particular the U.S. health system and Britain’s National Health Service); social justice; the psychosocial experiences of marginalized groups; intersectionality; LGBTQ. 

Muriel J. Harris, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor
Research Interests: Health program evaluation, socio-cultural factors that influence health, community based participatory research, disease prevention, culturally appropriate interventions, qualitative research

Jelani Kerr, MSPH, PhD
Assistant Professor
Research Interests: Dr. Kerr’s research focuses on sexual health and HIV/AIDS disparities of racial/ethnic minority youth.  In particular, he examines the individual and structural factors that affect sexual health, how these translate into increased HIV risk, and developing programming to address these issues.  He also examines primary and secondary care-engagement behaviors for individuals living with HIV/AIDS.  Dr. Kerr has been actively working with youth populations and community-based agencies to improve health outcomes and reduce inequities.

A. Scott LaJoie, PhD, MSPH
Research Interests:  My research explores the social, cognitive, and emotional factors which influence an individual’s health behaviors. Specifically, I seek to understand ways to help people make health-related decisions that are aligned with their values, goals, and preferences. Current research my students and I are conducting include: COVID-19 prevention among LGBTQ; HPV vaccination and screening among Refugees; and Use of environmental indicators to inform health risk communications.

W. Paul McKinney, MD
Professor & Associate Dean
Research Interests: Emergency preparedness and response, immunizations, epidemiology with a particular focus in infectious disease, travel medicine, and use of drones for delivery of emergency medical supplies.

Brian Patrick Schaefer, PhD, MS
Associate Professor
Research Interests: Dr. Schaefer’s research looks at the intersection of public health and the criminal legal system. In particular, he uses mixed methods approaches to identify and evaluate alternative responses in behavioral health crises and incorporate public health interventions to address crime and safety. Dr. Schaefer also studies the collateral consequences of criminal legal system and police organizations, investigations, and culture.

Tammi Alvey Thomas, PhD, MSSW
Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Public Health Practice and Undergraduate Education; Assistant Professor
Research interests: Needle exchange programs, public health workforce development and student retention.

Monique Williams, PhD, MPH
Research interests: Community-based participatory research; community capacity building; structural, cultural, and direct violence prevention and intervention; community health development; qualitative research. 

Monica Wendel, DrPH, MA, MPH
Professor & Department Chair, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice
Research Interests: Dr. Wendel’s research has included community-based studies in rural and underserved communities in Texas on topics including health disparities, access to care, mental health, childhood obesity, community capacity-building, physical activity, inter-organizational networks, and social capital. She will lead the school’s efforts to become increasingly engaged in our local community. She brings an extensive set of experiences with community-based participatory approaches to applied research and has been extremely well funded in those efforts.

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