Dara Mendez’s research interests explore the role of social context in determining outcomes related to pregnancy, birth and women's health. She specifically applies frameworks and approaches focused on the social determinants of health equity and health disparities. She employs novel methods to measure and understand neighborhood environments, various forms of racism (including institutional and structural racism) and social stress. In October 2020, Interim Dean Everette James appointed Mendez to the leadership of Pitt's Center for Health Equity.
The Coalition for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and 15 national health organizations selected Mendez as the recipient of the 2020 Award for Effective Practice at the Community Level. In 2018, she founded the Maternal & Child Health Equity Scholars group, which serves as a platform for learners and early-career researchers to exchange ideas, network and collaborate on projects related to health equity, reproductive justice and maternal and child health.
In 2014, Mendez was a recipient of the Manners Award for her study, The Development of a Measure of Neighborhood Well Being for Pittsburgh Neighborhood. The goal of the study was to develop, which data from the Pittsburgh Neighborhood and Community Information System, a neighborhood well-being index that can be utilized to identify neighborhoods with either a positive or negative impact on public health. Mendez is also a founding member of the Allegheny County Core for Enabling Systems Study of Neighborhoods.
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