I joined the faculty in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS) 2012 after receiving my Doctor of Public Health from BCHS that same year. Prior to the doctoral program I worked in the nonprofit sector, focusing on HIV/AIDS supportive services, grants management, and organizational leadership. I am currently an Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Research, Co-Director of the Evaluation Institute for Public Health, as well as an affiliated member of the Center for LGBT Health Research. I have the pleasure of teaching BCHS 2523: Public Health Program Planning and Proposal Writing. In this class I aim to help students develop applied skills, which include practicing the operationalization of program plans as well as learning how to write successful funding proposals. I believe that preparing students to be excellent public health professionals and researchers is one of our most important investments in public health, and that helping them learn to work effectively within communities is critical. In Fall 2019 I launched a new class titled Harm Reduction Approaches in Health and Public Health Settings.
My primary research foci include implementation of structural interventions to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS and improve clinical outcomes for marginalized populations, as well as program evaluation to assess outcomes and improve service delivery in public health systems. I am the Principal Investigator of an NIMH-funded (R01) study that explores the impact of a financial management intervention on antiretroviral treatment HIV adherence among unstably housed people living with HIV/AIDS. I also conduct research and evaluation studies to address the opioid crisis, which include several federally-funded projects with the Allegheny County Health Department. In 2016, I received funding from the Dean’s Pilot Grant Program to advance research on opioid overdose. In this study, I worked with academic colleagues, students, and community partners to conduct qualitative research with people at high risk for overdose to explore opportunities to expand Naloxone access. We then applied these qualitative results to an agent-based model of Naloxone distribution to predict optimal methods of reversing opioid overdose.
In 2011, I received the Catherine Cartier Ulrich Memorial Award for Public Health in Service to the Underserved for my work evaluating the effect of housing on viral loads of people living with HIV/AIDS. I subsequently published the first study to use HIV viral load to measure the impact of the housing first model of care on homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. I am a founding board member of The Open Door, a local housing program that uses harm reduction and housing first approaches to engage marginalized people living with HIV/AIDS in clinical care. In addition, I was inducted into Delta Omega in 2013 and am on the Editorial Board of AIDS and Behavior. I was honored to receive the 2016 James L. Craig Award for Excellence in Teaching.
My work is driven by a commitment to social justice and the belief that the best way to address public health problems is by empowering communities. As a nonprofit leader I have helped to create community-rooted interventions and then used my academic role to partner with these and other programs to research and replicate “bottom-up” public health programs. An example of this is the R01 study referenced above, which builds on local service and research conducted with staff and residents of The Open Door. Partnering with those most impacted by a public health problem can create effective public health solutions.