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SBPS Research and Centers

Research Areas

Faculty in SBPS focus on behavioral and social science research. Behavior and context are central to all of public health. Many of the major diseases causing death and disability stem from behavior – such as smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating, inactivity, sexual risk-taking, and violence – so public health practitioners need to understand the reasons people engage in these behaviors and how we can work with people and communities to have healthier lives.

Factors that influence health behavior range from individual to interpersonal, community to structural levels, including knowledge, attitude, family structure, economic status, social norms, and the built environment.

In Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences our research is geared towards serving the communities we work with. We study the individual, social, and environmental determinants of unhealthy behaviors, effective interventions leading to positive behavior change, and the translation of evidence-based research to public health practice.

Faculty research in SBPS explores how behavior and context are implicated in the major public health problems of our day, including drug abuse, risky sexual behavior, under– and over–nutrition, maternal and child mortality, and violence. Our research also focuses on promoting healthier behavior, healthier environments, and universal coverage of essential services, and how to plan, monitor, and evaluate programs that pursue these goals.

Research Centers

Mary Amelia Center for Women’s Health Equity Research (MAC)

The Mary Amelia Center seeks to reduce inequities in women’s health and to enhance health and well-being through community building, interdisciplinary research on health promotion and determinants, advocacy, and leadership development.  This center is endowed by the Frost Foundation with projects funded through the NIH and other agencies.  Projects include:

  • Neighborhood Stress and Physiology among children study (NIH)
  • Cardiovascular Responses to Stress in Pregnancy Study
  • Maternal Transmission of Stress Study
  • Tulane Stress and Environment Research Collaborative on Health Disparities (SERCH)
Tulane Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Education, Science, and Practice (CEMCH)

Tulane Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Education, Science, and Practice (CEMCH) is a training program working to expand and strengthen the MCH workforce for the purpose of improving the health status of women, infants, children, youth and families in Louisiana and beyond. It is supported by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The CEMCH offers seminars and workshops, student mentoring, and professional development resources. In addition to the CEMCH Scholars program, which provides additional training to select MCH students, the CEMCH also supports the MCH-focused academic program, ensuring alignment with MCH national and program competencies; offers opportunities for MCH student exposure to research projects and translation of research to practice; and works closely with MCH-related community organizations and MCH governmental agencies to provide technical assistance and opportunities for student involvement.

Violence Prevention Institute

Violence Prevention Institute (VPI) at Tulane functions as a hub for supporting and expanding multidisciplinary violence prevention-related research, teaching, community programs, and advocacy efforts across Tulane University, New Orleans, and beyond. The VPI aims to build a collaborative network of faculty, staff, students, alums, community partners and other stakeholders interested in violence prevention. The VPI is designed to strengthen the work of its members by creating new connections, circulating violence-related funding opportunities, and disseminating violence prevention information and resources. The VPI website and social media highlights the violence prevention-related work of over 50 participating faculty and doctoral students across 7 Tulane University schools and 12 departments ranging from social work to public health to neuroscience, and more. The VPI website also houses digital reservoirs of publications, new faculty-led research projects. Tulane courses, media appearances, and community resources related to violence prevention. Examples of VPI research focus areas include:

  • Prevention of child physical punishment
  • Trauma-informed learning environments
  • Infant mental health and psychopathology
  • The epigenetic impact of violence (how they get "under the skin" biologically)
  • The impact of oppression / systemic violence on caregiver and child health over time
  • Neighborhood and social network influences on susbstance abuse, mental health, and health outcomes

The VPI is directed by Dr. Katherine Theall, PhD and managed by Timothy Craft (tcraft@tulane.edu)

Center for Youth Equity

The Center for Youth Equity (CYE) is framed within anti-racist and anti-oppressive constructs that aim to address the root causes of youth exposure to violence and acknowledge the ways systemic and structural violence manifest as lower socioeconomic opportunities, disinvestment in schools and neighborhoods, and discriminatory law enforcement that overwhelmingly affect Black and African American communities.

The CYE is directed by Dr. Julia Fleckman.

Society, Health, and Racial Equity Lab (SHARE

Society, Health, and Racial Equity Lab (SHARE) serves as a forum for research on health and social equity, and the role of racism in generating and perpetuating injustices in health. As part of this work, we examine multiple ecological levels of influence on health—ranging from broader social forces to the cellular level—using a developmental lens.

SHARE is directed by Dr. David Chae.