Faculty Research Bios
Basmattee Boodram, PhD, associate professor of community health sciences, focuses on opioid misuse epidemiology among at-risk populations, including non-urban youth. Her research has elucidated factors driving heroin injection drug use and has developed and implemented a linkage to care intervention for persons who inject drugs. She is currently leading two National Institutes of Health grants in this area, including a study of contextual risk factors for Hepatitis C among young persons who inject drugs and a computational discovery of effective Hepatitis C intervention strategies.
David DuBois, PhD, associate dean for research and professor of community health sciences, is an expert on mentoring relationships and self-esteem development for school-age children and adolescents as well as the evaluation of programs for these age groups. He studies mentoring and self-esteem promotion interventions that are provided to youth in schools and other parts of the community. His research has shown that these types of programs can promote resilience and holistic positive development, particularly for youth from under-resourced families and communities.
Arden Handler, PhD, interim director of the division of Community Health Sciences, focuses on the exploration of factors that increase inequities in adverse pregnancy outcomes and examination of the ways in which the health care delivery system, particularly prenatal care, perinatal care, postpartum care, and preconception/interconception/well-woman health care can ameliorate these inequities.
Jennifer Hebert-Beirne, PhD, assistant professor of community health sciences, partners with stakeholders in Chicago community neighborhoods to explore how to build community health capacity to promote health in high hardship neighborhoods. This involves multilevel approaches to addressing issues relating to people, places and insuring equitable opportunity (schools, work, transportation, health care, child care). Her work includes leadership on the Community Engagement Core of the ChicAgo Center for Health and EnvironmenT (CACHET) working in partnership with the Southeast Environmental Task Force on the development of a computer application to track community identified perceived environmental hazards. This inventory will be used to advocate of policy, systems and environmental change strategies to fight environmental racism in Chicago.
Susan Hughes, PhD, professor of community health sciences, is an expert on the design and testing of evidence based health promotion programs for older adults. She directs the Center for Research on Health and Aging and is principal investigator of the NIH Roybal Midwest Roybal Center for Health Promotion. She has helped to disseminate several health promotion programs into practice in many states in the U.S. and abroad. She also currently directs an NIH supplement that is examining the impact of physical activity on cognition and brain function using f/MRI imaging.
Rohan Jeremiah, PhD, assistant professor of community health sciences, studies the pathways to differential human well-being (health disparities and structural vulnerability) at the intersection of trauma (community violence, torture, persecution), HIV/AIDS and substance use. His expertise with diverse population includes racial, ethnic and gender minority men in the United States, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa.
Joan Kennelly, PhD, is a research assistant professor of community health sciences. Her research interests relate broadly to the social determinants of population health and illness (particularly for women and children), disparities across population groups, and the effect of local contexts. She is actively involved in service activities on behalf of public health and maternal and child health in particular, from the local community to the national level.
Uchechi Mitchell, PhD, assistant professor of community health sciences, focuses on racial/ethnic disparities in the health and wellbeing of older adults. She uses data from large, national surveys to identify the pathways leading to disparities in psychosocial outcomes (e.g., hopelessness) and biomarkers of physiological functioning (e.g., allostatic load, inflammation). Her research highlights the role of stress, social support and coping in maintaining health and important health resources, like consumer technology.
Yamilé Molina, PhD, assistant professor of community health sciences, highlights the strengths of and available opportunities for marginalized and resilient populations. They focus on women’s health in the context of disparities in breast cancer, HIV, and mental health. Their research details needs and experiences of LGBTQ+-identified people of color, with foci in stigma, coping, mental health, and health behaviors. Finally, they research financial and social network factors in the context of cancer disparities research, including observational and intervention studies.
Naoko Muramatsu, PhD, associate professor of community health sciences, is an expert on home and community-based services, caregiving and the workforce serving the aging. She is passionate about improving the well-being of aging populations and the quality of long-term care systems. Her research focuses on understanding how place impacts aging, health, work, and caregiving experiences of diverse populations nationally and globally. Her current research develops cost-effective, sustainable community-based health promotion programs in partnership with older adults, caregivers, community-based organizations, and multidisciplinary research teams. Her teaching interests include aging, health, and health care, and research methods.
Nadine Peacock, PhD, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and associate professor of community health sciences, is a qualitative and mixed-methods researcher with a background in anthropology. She has focused on public health interventions to promote safe infant sleep, pregnancy intentions among African American women and community college students. In these areas, she explores racial and ethnic disparities in sleep-related infant death and in rates of unintended pregnancy. Globally, she has conducted research in sub-Saharan Africa on women’s work, energetics and ovarian function, and HIV/STI risk behaviors of young women.
Alisa Velonis, PhD, assistant professor of community health sciences, works toward solution-focused responses to intimate partner and gender-based violence. Much of her current work aims to improve health care systems’ ability to identify and respond to partner violence, especially through the use of implementation science and mobile technology, and demonstrates the importance of investing in the early stages of implementation readiness to create successful screening and response programs. Her teaching interests include reproductive health, gender-based violence, realist methodology, community health assessment and program evaluation.