MEET THE FELLOWS

Applications for the next cohort open early 2018.

“Research can’t be done effectively without community voices, and all too often those voices are excluded. Interdisciplinary Research Leaders brings community partners directly into the project design to address urgent issues.”

—RACHEL R. HARDEMAN, PhD, MPH

[Pictured Left to Right]

Rachel R. Hardeman, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Katy Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Fellows challenge themselves to apply their expertise and outside-the-box thinking to making their communities healthier and more equitable.

No matter what their background, training or discipline, they play a crucial role building a Culture of Health. They stretch beyond their daily work and collaborate with leaders from many other fields—building their leadership skills and creating change in their community and beyond.

Projects

Our current teams are working in communities across the country to advance projects related to the 2016 Interdisciplinary Research Leaders themes: Early childhood and health, housing, community development and health.

Affordable Housing & Community Advocacy for People Living with HIV: Assessing Best Practices & Health Impact
Affordable Housing & Community Advocacy for People Living with HIV: Assessing Best Practices & Health Impact
Enhancing the Arkansas Birthing Project through Technology
Enhancing the Arkansas Birthing Project through Technology
Making Baton Rouge Better – No Longer a Tale of Two Cities
Making Baton Rouge Better – No Longer a Tale of Two Cities
A Place-Based Approach to Early Childhood Wellness in Cincinnati
A Place-Based Approach to Early Childhood Wellness in Cincinnati
The Impact of Precarious Work Schedules on Early Childhood Health
The Impact of Precarious Work Schedules on Early Childhood Health
Opening Doors for All: Evaluating the Health Impact of Site-based Parenting Support in Public Housing Communities
Opening Doors for All: Evaluating the Health Impact of Site-based Parenting Support in Public Housing Communities
Health Impacts of Mass Incarceration on Indiana’s Children; Promoting Social, Emotional & Developmental Health & Well-Being in Early Childhood
Health Impacts of Mass Incarceration on Indiana’s Children; Promoting Social, Emotional & Developmental Health & Well-Being in Early Childhood
Improving Equity in Birth Outcomes, a Community-Based, Culturally-Centered Approach
Improving Equity in Birth Outcomes, a Community-Based, Culturally-Centered Approach
Comprehensive Early Childhood Parenting Supports & Children’s Health & Development
Comprehensive Early Childhood Parenting Supports & Children’s Health & Development
Increasing Housing Stability: Assessing Two Promising Tenancy Support Models to Inform Local, State & National Policy & Practice
Increasing Housing Stability: Assessing Two Promising Tenancy Support Models to Inform Local, State & National Policy & Practice
Transforming the Puerto Rico WIC Program to improve effectiveness in the promotion of healthy lifestyles early in childhood and a long lasting culture
Transforming the Puerto Rico WIC Program to improve effectiveness in the promotion of healthy lifestyles early in childhood and a long lasting culture
Public Housing & Public Health: Identifying Impacts & Experiences of Renovation & Redevelopment in San Francisco
Public Housing & Public Health: Identifying Impacts & Experiences of Renovation & Redevelopment in San Francisco
Making the Just City: An Examination of Organizing for Equity & Health in Shaw & Orange
Making the Just City: An Examination of Organizing for Equity & Health in Shaw & Orange
Assessing the Impacts of Housing Code Enforcement of Substandard Rental Housing on Health & Health-Related Outcomes in Memphis, Tenn.
Assessing the Impacts of Housing Code Enforcement of Substandard Rental Housing on Health & Health-Related Outcomes in Memphis, Tenn.
Interdisciplinary Studies of Policies & Practices Supporting Child Welfare & Child Health Collaboration
Interdisciplinary Studies of Policies & Practices Supporting Child Welfare & Child Health Collaboration

Affordable Housing & Community Advocacy for People Living with HIV: Assessing Best Practices & Health Impact

Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama

PROJECT SUMMARY: Our team will use a mixed methods approach to assess the best strategies for and the health impact of affordable housing programs and case management for people living with HIV/AIDS in West Alabama. To investigate the health impact, we will partner with Maude Whatley Health Services and West Alabama AIDS Outreach and conduct a comparative effectiveness research study. We will conduct a program evaluation of a statewide community and policy advocacy program for people living with HIV/AIDS in Alabama and examine relevant state policies and interview elected officials and people living with HIV/AIDS in Alabama.

TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured Left to Right]

  • Billy Kirkpatrick, PhD, Executive Director, West Alabama AIDS Outreach, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Safiya George, PhD, Associate Professor, Capstone College of Nursing, and Director of Scholarly Affairs, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • George Mugoya, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology and Counseling, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
"An IRL appointment should be THE goal for community partners looking to improve an agency's research capacities, which enhance programs and future funding opportunities."
— Billy Kirkpatrick, PhD

Enhancing the Arkansas Birthing Project through Technology

Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

PROJECT SUMMARY: The Arkansas Birthing Project provides in-person support during pregnancy and the postpartum period for pregnant women using peer mentors. Our research will investigate the Arkansas Birthing Project’s ability to use technology to support pregnant women and train peer mentors/community health workers, as well as assess the barriers associated with using technology to support this vulnerable population.

TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured from Left to Right]

  • Zenobia Harris, DNP, MPH, BSN, Regional Director, Arkansas Department of Health, Associate Professor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and Arkansas State Coordinator, Birthing Project USA, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Sarah Rhoads, PhD, DNP, Associate Professor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Hari Eswaran, PhD, Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Director of Research, Center for Distance Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas
"Promoting comprehensive supports for women and children of color while utilizing technological advances such as telemedicine pathways to allow the maximum use of resources will assist in placing the Birthing Project’s leadership in the forefront of Arkansas’ movement towards eliminating health disparities and assuring optimal health for all."
— Zenobia Harris

Making Baton Rouge Better – No Longer a Tale of Two Cities

Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

PROJECT SUMMARY: Research indicates that there is currently a 12-year difference in life expectancy between residents of North Baton Rouge and those in the southern part of the city. The proposed research will examine the impact of various social determinants on community health in North and South Baton Rouge. Social determinants of interest include housing, access to healthy food, neighborhood parks, social activities, living wage employment and fully funded non-discriminatory education. This study will use a mixed methods approach. The first six months of the project will involve planning and refining the research methodology. The next two years will include research implementation and evaluation. The last six months will include the development of policy recommendations, research-based programming, and preparations for various publishing opportunities regarding the research.

TEAM MEMBERS
  • [Pictured Left] Luvica Lue Russell, ThD, Community Organizer, Micah Project, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • [Pictured Right] Revathi Hines, PhD, Alphonse Jackson Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • [Not Pictured] Leslie Grover, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Public Administration, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
"The IRL program is a model endeavor to include the community's input in the subject matter of research that impacts the community. I am excited to have such inclusion to help direct a true culture of health outcome for the community I serve."
— Luvica Lue Russell

A Place-based Approach to Early Childhood Wellness in Cincinnati

PROJECT SUMMARY: Using a place-based approach to organize residents in two Cincinnati neighborhoods, this project will create a multi-level intervention to promote a culture of wellness for young children in the area.
Three research questions drive the project:

  1. What do community members identify as community assets for and barriers to optimal child health in their neighborhoods?
  2. Who and where are community “bright spots” (defined as households with children with better than expected health outcomes)?
  3. What factors are associated with “bright spot” households that could be applied to other households in the community?
TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured Left to Right]

  • Jamie-Lee Morris, BA, Community Organizer, New Prospect Baptist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Farrah Jacquez, PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Michael Topmiller, PhD, Geographer, American Academy of Family Physicians, Cincinnati, Ohio
"I am invigorated to be part of a network of academics and community partners united by the potential for collaborative research to create meaningful social change."
— Farrah Jaquez

The Impact of Precarious Work Schedules on Early Childhood Health

Location: Bridgeport, Connecticut

PROJECT SUMMARY: This project will explore the impact of precarious work schedules on early childhood health outcomes. It will also provide us with the opportunity to expand each team member and their institution’s capacity to incorporate health impacts, analysis, metrics, and a health equity focus into research and community engagement projects.

TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured Left to Right]

  • Julio López Varona, JD, State Director, Make the Road Connecticut, Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Michele Kilpatrick, JD, Research Analyst, The Center for Popular Democracy, Brooklyn, New York
  • Julia Henly, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
"Interdisciplinary Research Leaders is a great opportunity to contribute to an agenda that is driven by the community and uses evidence-based research to achieve health equity."
— Julio López Varona

Opening Doors for All: Evaluating the Health Impact of Site-based Parenting Support in Public Housing Communities

Location: Fresno, California

PROJECT SUMMARY: This study will investigate:

  1. the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) among parents with young children of diverse backgrounds living in public housing communities in Fresno, California.
  2. the impact of Abriendo Puertas; Opening Doors and providing preventative early intervention mental health at Fresno Housing sites.
  3. whether the impact of Abriendo Puertas and preventative early intervention mental health on young children varies by the severity of parental ACEs.
TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured Left to Right]

  • Yumiko Aratani, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, and Director of Health and Mental Health Unit, National Center for Children in Poverty, New York, New York
  • Irán Barrera, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Social Work Education, Fresno State University, Fresno, California
  • Sabrina Kelley, MPH, Resident Services Manager, Fresno Housing Authority, Fresno, California
"Working with Yumiko and Irán on the IRL team and process will help me build a Culture of Health framework within the low-income public housing industry, and increase visibility and awareness of the social determinants of health as well as the behavior and social norms that foster intergenerational poverty."
— Sabrina Kelley

Health Impacts of Mass Incarceration on Indiana’s Children; Promoting Social, Emotional & Developmental Health & Well-Being in Early Childhood

Location: Marion County, Indiana

PROJECT SUMMARY: Our research will investigate the impact of mass incarceration on the social, emotional, and developmental health and long-term health equity of Indiana’s young children. The project will also explore the health benefits of expanding access to quality pre-k for children from low-income communities of color impacted by over-incarceration.

IN ACTION: Shoshanna Spector’s article on why transit matters for health and opportunity was featured on the “Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity” blog.

TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured from Left to Right]

  • Angela Tomlin, PhD, Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, and Director, Riley Child Development Center, LEND Program, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Shoshanna Spector, BA, Executive Director, Indianapolis Congregation Action Network, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Karen Ruprecht, PhD, Director of Innovation in Early Education, Early Learning Indiana, Indianapolis, Indiana

 

"I have seen the devastating impact of over-incarceration on children and family health in my work at the Indiana Women’s Prison. National studies have linked parental incarceration to negative impacts in children’s mental and physical health; now, research is needed to help policymakers understand the long term public health impacts of incarceration on children and families."
— Angela Tomlin

Improving Equity in Birth Outcomes, a Community-based, Culturally-centered Approach

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

PROJECT SUMMARY: For African American women, prenatal care often fails to account for the need of culturally focused care that considers the role of institutional and interpersonal racism in their day-to-day experiences and encounters in the health care system. This study seeks to test the hypothesis that access to culturally focused care is a predictor of improved health outcomes, including family cohesion and empowerment, and management of psychosocial stress during pregnancy. Understanding and documenting best practices for culturally centered prenatal care is a secondary goal of this project.

Follow the new blog series, “Toward a Better Birth for All Women,” which will illuminate aspects of racial equality in childbirth and highlight promising practices to ensure access to a safe, empowering, healthy, and positive birth for all people.

TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured Left to Right]

  • [Not Pictured] Rebecca Polston, CPM, LM, Certified Professional Midwife and Founder, Roots Community Birth Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • [Pictured Left] Rachel Hardeman, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • [Pictured Right] Katy Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA, Associate Professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota
"Research can't be done effectively without community voices, and all too often those voices are excluded. Interdisciplinary Research Leaders brings community partners directly into the project design to address urgent issues."
— Rachel R. Hardeman

Comprehensive Early Childhood Parenting Supports & Children’s Health & Development

Location: New York, New York

PROJECT SUMMARY: Leveraging an innovative early childhood program that combines income supports, parenting education and connections to community services, this project aims to promote the early health and development of young children. A small-scale randomized controlled trial of Room to Grow will be launched to help demonstrate early parent and child outcomes of the intervention. Room to Grow’s mission is to enrich the lives of babies born into poverty throughout their critical first three years of development.

TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured Left to Right]

  • Chris Wimer, PhD, Research Scientist and Co-Director, Center on Poverty and Social Policy, Columbia Research Center, New York, New York
  • Allyson Crawford, MA, Executive Director, Room to Grow, New York, New York
"One major barrier to research informing action and policy change is the siloed nature of academic disciplines, and the incentive structures therein that are geared almost exclusively on academic publications. This narrow focus sometimes precludes valuable information being disseminated and used by those who need it, and also leads to a failure to inform policies and action on the ground. Developing real mechanisms that bring researchers from different backgrounds, disciplines and approaches together in collaboration with policymakers and practitioners can help break down some of these barriers."
— Chris Wimer

Increasing Housing Stability: Assessing Two Promising Tenancy Support Models to Inform Local, State & National Policy & Practice

Location: Durham, North Carolina

PROJECT SUMMARY: We propose to study Tenancy Support Services (TSS), which provide assistance to individuals with obtaining and maintaining housing. Because of their association with housing stability, TSS services can now be covered by Medicaid and will be submitted as a new service option with North Carolina’s upcoming Medicaid waiver request. The project will explore the delivery of TSS by two agencies in North Carolina, Homeward Bound and the University of North Carolina Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health. Our study will investigate the outcomes of supportive services and the agency environments and practices that facilitate and hinder effective TSS delivery.

TEAM MEMBERS

[From Left to Right]

  • Mina Silberberg, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina
  • Donna Biederman, DrPH, Assistant Professor, Duke University School of Nursing, Durham, North Carolina
  • Emily Carmody, LCSW, Program Director, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness, Raleigh, North Carolina
"Homelessness is a public health issue that negatively impacts the health and life expectancy of those who are caught in a cycle of shelters, crisis services and institutions. By creating homeless service systems that can resolve homelessness quickly, we can reduce the negative impacts of homelessness on health and health care. Data and research are integral to understanding how changes in service systems affect our housing insecure population. They help to build the evidence-base needed for sustainable change."
— Emily Carmody

Transforming the Puerto Rico WIC Program to improve effectiveness in the promotion of healthy lifestyles early in childhood and a long lasting culture

Location: Puerto Rico

PROJECT SUMMARY: Traditionally, education on feeding practices related to the problem of early childhood obesity in Puerto Rico is delivered through in-person meetings. However, with low participation and low adherence to WIC guidelines, there is a need to restructure the method of delivering this education, such as with information technology.
Our approach includes two phases:

  1. Evaluate novel interventions through surveys and community-based participatory research.
  2. Develop a pilot project based on formative research to improve lifestyles among WIC infants using the empowerment model and leveraging technology.
TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured Left to Right]

  • Cristina Palacios, PhD, MSc, Associate Professor of Nutrition, University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, Puerto Rico
  • Alexandra Reyes, MEd, RDN Registered Dietitian and Coordinator of Nutrition Education, WIC Program, Puerto Rico
  • Maribel Campos, MD, MBA, MSc, FAAP, Associate Professor, University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, Puerto Rico
"As a participant in the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, I will be in a position to influence my colleagues in the WIC Program, motivating them to improve their leadership skills and becoming part of the transformation of the Culture of Health in our institution."
— Alexandra Reyes

Public Housing & Public Health: Identifying Impacts & Experiences of Renovation & Redevelopment in San Francisco

Location: San Francisco, California

PROJECT SUMMARY: Our proposed research investigates how Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) policy implementation in San Francisco affects people living in public housing. RAD is a public-private partnership that transfers management of public housing sites from traditional public housing authorities to private developers in order to leverage the private capital necessary to renovate deteriorating public housing structures. Using data from two health service systems, we will investigate the change in prevalence of health conditions and health care utilization before and after renovations.

TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured Left to Right]

  • Irene Yen, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California
  • Susan Neufeld, MA, Vice President of Community Development and Programs, BRIDGE Housing, San Francisco, California
  • Leslie Dubbin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, California
"Where we build, how we build and how we engage residents around health can impact lives in real time. For the public housing developments that BRIDGE owns and manages, this need is even more imperative. Decades of neglect and mismanagement have left residents exposed to toxic social and physical environments, isolated from their communities, and disconnected from their neighbors. The IRL program offers an opportunity to link health research to our housing context so that we better serve our communities."
— Susan Neufeld

Making the Just City: An Examination of Organizing for Equity & Health in Shaw & Orange

Location: New Jersey (Orange) and Washington, DC (Shaw)

PROJECT SUMMARY: We propose to understand how two racially and economically diverse communities, Orange in Essex County, New Jersey, and Shaw in Washington, DC, organize and produce community-level mechanisms, such as affordable housing and social capital, to reduce health disparities. These similar-sized communities represent urban environments experiencing distinct types of gentrification at different stages. We are interested in investigating community-level interventions in these environments that attempt to help low- and moderate-income people remain in the communities as they gentrify, and at the same time facilitate social interactions between newcomers and long-term residents of different socio-economic backgrounds.

TEAM MEMBERS
  • Derek Hyra, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Public Administration and Policy, American University, Washington, D.C.
  • Mindy Fullilove, MD, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Clinical Social Medical Sciences, Columbia University, and Research Psychiatrist, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York
  • Dominic Moulden, BA, Resource Organizer, Organizing Neighborhood Equity – ONE D.C., Washington, D.C.
"The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation IRL program connects me with an incredible set of individuals who are deeply committed to discovering ways to reduce health disparities. By participating in the IRL program, I will gain important knowledge about effective ways to promote a culture of health across our country."
— Derek Hyra

Assessing the Impacts of Housing Code Enforcement of Substandard Rental Housing on Health & Health-Related Outcomes in Memphis, Tenn.

Location: Memphis, Tennessee

PROJECT SUMMARY: Our team proposes to study the public health impacts of housing code enforcement (HCE) interventions in Memphis, Tennessee. Our proposed research aims to address the best approach to enforce housing codes; the health and public safety impact of housing code cases that require court action; and systematic differences of housing code enforcement and litigation between low-income, predominately minority neighborhoods and affluent, predominately white neighborhoods.

TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured Left to Right]

  • Steve Barlow, JD, MA,, Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., Memphis, Tennessee
  • Christina Plerhoples Stacy, PhD, MA, Research Associate, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute, Washington, D.C.
  • Joseph Schilling, JD, BA, Senior Research Associate, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center and Policy Advisory Group, Urban Institute, Washington, D.C.
"Substandard housing is creating a health crisis; with my interdisciplinary team I can be a part of making that connection clear so that nontraditional solutions will be developed and applied."
— Steve Barlow

Interdisciplinary Studies of Policies & Practices Supporting Child Welfare & Child Health Collaboration

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

PROJECT SUMMARY: In 2015, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services passed a policy that would allow sharing of information regarding maltreatment, household risks, and treatment recommendations with health care providers who have referred a child for concerns of suspected child maltreatment. We propose to study state policies and practices that support child welfare and child health collaboration in Utah and across the United States. By analyzing challenges with the implementation of the new Utah policy, we will provide recommendations for supporting child health and welfare through policy.

TEAM MEMBERS

[Pictured Left to Right]

  • Lina Svedin, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Kristine Campbell, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Child Protection and Family Health, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Tonya Myrup, MSW, Deputy Director, Division of Child and Family Services, Salt Lake City, Utah
“These barriers are difficult. They are not, however, insurmountable. I firmly believe that the opportunity offered by the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program will help to create a new path for the action-oriented, policy-relevant research needed to improve health-related outcomes for children involved with the child welfare system.”
— Kristine Campbell