Faculty Research Profiles
Child Physical Activity and Obesity. Dr. Banda’s research merges the fields of exercise science, public health, and social psychology to develop creative solutions to increase physical activity and prevent and treat obesity in children. Studies range from qualitative research to randomized controlled trials involving children, youth sports coaches, and community organizations.
Physical Activity Measurement. Dr. Banda uses wearable monitors and innovative data analysis strategies to improve estimates of child sleep, sedentary behavior, and physical activity in free living conditions.
Stewart Chang Alexander (Stewart C. Alexander)
Patient-Provider Communication. Dr. Alexander's research focuses on the Promotion of Health and Wellness of individuals by documenting and improving how medical providers talk with patients. His work focuses on enhancing patients understanding of their illnesses, ways to improve their health, and efforts to promote effective health behavior. Dr. Alexander's work provides expertise on measure development and communication analysis.
Improving Adolescent Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discussions in Primary Care. Dr. Alexander's work in adolescent sexuality is among the first to examine how physicians talk with their adolescent patients about sex. Although clinical guidelines support sexual orientation / gender identity discussion as part of their primary care, there are no evidence-based interventions intended to improve identity affirming primary care. Dr. Alexander is working towards developing solutions to this issue.
Intercultural Development. Dr. Alexander's work focuses on ways to help individuals learn how to interact effectively in culturally diverse encounters.
Andrea L. DeMaria
Genital Hygiene and Menstrual Management Practices. Dr. DeMaria’s work explores women’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding genital hygiene and pubic hair grooming. She has also explored menstruation as an extension of genital hygiene and grooming and conceptualized these findings through cross-generational and cross-cultural experiences. This body of work has resulted in public health and clinical recommendations for messaging and interventions addressing women’s genital health and hygiene, complications from pubic hair removal, and menstruation management.
Contraception Decision Making and Healthcare Access. Dr. DeMaria collaborates with health communication experts, historians, anthropologists, public health scholars, and women’s health practitioners and clinicians to understand contraception decision making and family planning dynamics. Her research continues to help develop, implement, and evaluate contraceptive access campaigns and improve shared decision-making policies as a standard of care in a range of healthcare settings, including telehealth.
International Reproductive and Sexual Health. Dr. DeMaria has explored reproductive and sexual health internationally, through developing a research-based study abroad program. Since implementing the program, she has collected data from reproductive-aged women and men (ages 18 – 50) about reproductive and sexual healthcare access and policies, condom and hormonal contraception access, and genital hygiene practices.
Early Childhood Education and Care. Dr. Duncan’s work focuses on the role of early childhood education and environments for promoting children’s cognitive, physical, and social-emotional skills. He is particularly interested in how early childhood policies and interventions promote successful development and whether/how they translate into long-run impacts.
Infancy and Childhood. Dr. Duncan studies the ways that environments in infancy, early childhood, and middle childhood can affect children’s cognitive and social-emotional development. He is particularly interested in the impacts of early environments and skill development for later developmental outcomes.Dr. Duncan’s faculty page
Promoting Healthy Behaviors. Dr. Kasting’s health behavior research focuses identifying and addressing multilevel barriers to cancer prevention including lack of provider recommendation, lack of time during a clinic visit, and concerns with physician-patient communication. Dr. Kasting’s research aims to address these barriers specifically in regards to human papillomavirus vaccination and hepatitis C virus screening by developing interventions that will streamline the clinic visit and increase uptake of these behaviors.
Epidemiologic Research. Dr. Kasting is a social epidemiologist with extensive experience conducting and analyzing national studies. Her work using nationally representative survey data is being used across the country to advocate for broad-based public health strategies incorporating systemic change, including interventions introducing best practice alerts into the electronic health record to increase hepatitis C virus screening.
Hunger and Satiety. Appetitive sensations reflect the outcome of a complex physiological signals and are important drivers of food choice, eating frequency and portion size. Consequently, they influence energy balance. Our lab aims to characterized the mechanisms and functions of these sensations in health and disease.
Taste. The prevailing view is that the sense of taste is comprised of a limited set of primary qualities. Work in our laboratory challenges this view through original research supporting a true taste component for fat. Studies also explore not only how taste modulates food selection, but also how taste signals alter lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.
Food Form and Energy Balance. The physical properties of foods and beverages hold implications for the physiological and behavioral responses to food ingestion. Work in our lab documents weaker compensatory dietary responses to beverages than sold foods and implicates beverages in weight gain.
Natalia M. Rodriguez
Community-Based Participatory Research to Address Health Disparities. Dr. Rodriguez’s work engages diverse stakeholders to inform the design and implementation of novel health technologies and complementary interventions in medically-underserved communities (racial and ethnic minority groups, socioeconomically disadvantaged and homeless populations).
Human-Centered Design. Dr. Rodriguez is working to develop innovative rapid diagnostic tests for infectious diseases (HPV, HIV, and SARS-CoV-2) through iterative operationalization of stakeholder feedback and in close collaboration with biomedical engineers.
Training of Community Health Workers. Dr. Rodriguez prepares community health workers to conduct health disparities research, community-based rapid diagnostic testing, and complementary educational interventions for infectious diseases.
Health and Wellbeing of Latinos. Dr. Ruiz’s research program examines how population mobility, vulnerability, and protective factors affect the health and well-being of Latinos, with a particular emphasis on Latino youth.
Health Behaviors Among At-Risk Youth. Dr. Ruiz’s work with vulnerable youth has demonstrated the influence of multi-level factors on behavior and highlighted the protective role of social factors (i.e., parents, providers, adult-mentors) on negative health outcomes.
Intervention Research and Health Disparities. As a strategy to empower communities to reduce health disparities, Dr. Ruiz’s community-engaged and community-based work seeks to increase competencies among practitioners, community organizations, indigenous leaders (e.g., community health workers), and youth to conduct health promotion research and activities.
Comparative Medicine. Dr. Ruple's research is primarily focused on the companion dog as a model for health and disease in human populations. She is particularly interesed in cancer prevention and treatment, and hoe to maximize healthy aging in both dogs and humans.
Infectious Disease Epidemiology. Dr. Ruple is an expert in infectious diseases, which is especially important given that up to 75% of emerging infectious diseases in human populations are zoonotic, meaning they arise from animal populations. She is particularly interested in infection control and biosecurity as well as the public's perception of risk associated with infectious disease.
Laura Schwab Reese
Family Violence Prevention. Dr. Schwab Reese examines how community-based and community-engaged programs can reduce intimate partner violence and child maltreatment.
Mental Health Promotion. Exposure to family violence may cause severe and long-lasting consequences. Dr. Schwab Reese investigates technology-facilitated programs (text/chat/online) that help young people build resilience after exposure to family violence.
Prevention and Intervention Science. Through her intervention work, Dr. Schwab Reese evaluates program development and implementation processes. This work guides other researchers and community organizations as they undertake prevention and intervention efforts.