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Black History Month Research Series

2024 Series

“The Virus of Racism: Understanding Its Threats and Mobilizing Defenses” | Feburary 8th, 2024

David Williams is the Norman Professor of Public Health and Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. An internationally recognized authority on social influences on health, he has been invited to keynote scientific conferences in Europe, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, South America, the Caribbean, and across the United States. Williams will present “The Virus of Racism: Understanding Its Threats and Mobilizing Defenses” — a discussion of racism, the multiple ways it operates in society, and its profound consequences on health.

Moderator: Trenette Clark Goings, Ph.D., UNC Sandra Reeves Spear and John B. Turner Distinguished Professor of Social Work

Watch the recorded session here.

“Towards a More Holistic Conceptualization of Mental Health Among Black Populations | Feburary 15th, 2024

Theda Rose, PhD is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore, School of Social Work. She earned her PhD in Social Work from the National Catholic School of Social Service, Catholic University, an MSW from Stony Brook University in New York, and a BA in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Using an asset-based approach, Dr. Rose’s current research interests center on 1) comprehensively assessing adolescent mental health, using wellbeing and pathology; 2) exploring contextual correlates of mental health and wellbeing among Black adolescents; 3) incorporating youth perspectives in research and intervention design and implementation; and 4) developing, adapting, and evaluating culturally relevant school- and community-based interventions that promote mental health, wellbeing, and positive youth development among Black adolescents.

Dr. Camille R. Quinn, PhD, AM, LCSW, LISW-S
is an Associate Professor of Community Engagement Research in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. She is a health criminologist scholar whose research focuses on investigating the health equity of African American adolescents and young adults at the intersections of race, gender, health, crime, and system involvement. Dr. Quinn is the Principal Investigator of a National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities R21, City of Columbus awards, and the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge.

Dr. Orrin Ware, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Watch the recorded session here.

“Community and Neighborhood Level Interventions for Black Populations” | Feburary 22nd, 2024

Sonyia Richardson, Ph. D., MSW, LCSW, is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s School of Social Work. She also serves as the university’s director of the Race and Social Equity Research Academy and is the founder and director of the Mental Health Research and Practice Lab. As a clinical behavioral researcher, Richardson’s agenda focuses on developing and testing novel interventions aimed at reducing suicide among Black youth. In her lab, she aims to identify and remove barriers to mental health treatment for racially minoritized populations and eliminate resulting disparities through mixed-methods, community-engaged research.

Von E. Nebbitt, Ph. D., is the associate dean for research and director of the Center on Urban Violence and Crime in the School of Social Work at Morgan State University. He earned his bachelor’s in fine art/sociology from St. Louis University. Nebbitt earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. His practice experiences range from service coordination in the juvenile justice system, to public administration in the St. Louis Housing Authority. Nebbitt’s research seeks to enhance practice by assessing how various protective factors such as self-efficacy and community cohesion are directly and indirectly related to adolescents’ wellbeing.

Moderator: Dr. Rainier Masa, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Watch the recorded session here.

“Indigenization of Mental Health for Africans and Africans in the Diaspora | Feburary 29th, 2024

Lily Kpobi, Ph. D., is a research fellow from the University of Ghana. She has a background in psychology and public mental health and conducts research on improving access to mental health support. Her research seeks to understand pathways to mental health care in Ghana by examining so-called “alternative” approaches to care. Kpobi is also involved in participatory projects with people with lived experience of mental health difficulties, exploring ways of using creative arts for advocacy and activism in mental health.

Elias Mpofu, Ph. D., is a professor of aging and rehabilitation sciences at the University of North Texas. He also serves as an honorary professor of health sciences at the University of Sydney, a visiting professor at the University of Johannesburg, and an adjunct research professor with Western Sydney University’s Translational Health Research Institute. Mpofu’s rehabilitation sciences research focuses on the development, implementation and evaluation of resilience, social supports, and other health-promotive relationships, applying integrative approaches for a holistic person-environment interaction perspective in which contextual factors are moderators between health and wellbeing components.

Moderator: Dr. Kemesha Gabbidon, University of South Florida

Watch the recorded session here.

2023 Series

Transforming Institutional Practices That Harm Black Families: Moving to Action | February 22, 2023

1st Panelist, Dr. Darcey Merritt, is a Professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago. Dr. Merritt’s empirical scholarship is meaningfully informed by her vast experience as a practitioner in private and public child welfare systems. Her research centers on child maltreatment prevention, specifically neglect, and parenting in socio-economic contexts. She is dedicated to elevating the voices of systems-impacted parents and children in the discussion of prevention methods and service delivery. Her research has been published extensively. Merritt received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College with concentrations in sociology and psychology and earned her MSW and PhD in social welfare from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare.

2nd Panelist, Shereen A. White, is the Director of Advocacy & Policy at Children’s Rights. Shereen joined Children’s Rights in 2019 and, in 2021, transitioned from litigation to lead CR’s Advocacy work, focusing on reimagining systems impacting youth and families. Previously, she worked on special education matters with the Philadelphia School District and as a Child Advocate at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Shereen earned a J.D. from Villanova Law School and a B.A. in political science from Duke University.

Moderator: Dean Ramona Denby-Brinson, Ph.D., UNC School of Social Work

Watch the recorded panel discussion here.


Women, Maternal and Child Health Disparities: Moving to Action | February 20, 2023

1st Panel Presentation by Dr. Arden Handler on The Story of Postpartum Medicaid Extension in Illinois. Dr. Handler is the Director of the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health and a Professor of Community Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. Her research career reflects her long-standing commitment to reducing inequities and improving the health of women, pregnant and postpartum persons, children, and families. Her research investigates factors that increase the risk for inequities in adverse pregnancy outcomes and how prenatal, postpartum, and well-woman care can ameliorate risks and reduce inequities. Dr. Handler is the PI of several research projects. She is a former member of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality.

2nd Panel Presentation by Dr. Millicent N. Robinson on “Won’t Kill Me. Won’t Kill Me. Throw the Hammer Down and We’ll Be Free”: How John Henryism Shapes Chronic Health Conditions among African American and Caribbean Black Women. Dr. Robinson is an interdisciplinary scholar, consultant, and certified practitioner of Reiki Therapy. Dr. Robinson is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the UNC School of Social Work through the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity, where her research centers the stress, coping, healing, and health experiences of Black women. More specifically, her research investigates the biopsychosocial mechanisms that shape the mind-body connection and related mental and physical health outcomes among Black women. Her research has been published in several academic journals. Dr. Robinson a “Triple Tar Heel”; B.A. in Psychology MSW, and MPH. She earned her PhD from UCLA.

Moderator: Gina Chowa, Ph.D., Professor, UNC School of Social Work

Watch the recorded panel presentation and discussion here.


Racial Disparities in HIV Prevention and Care: Moving to Action | February 15, 2023

1st Panel Presentation by Dr. Kemesha Gabbidon on Navigating stigma: An interpretive phenomenological analysis of young Black and Latin same gender-loving men. Dr. Gabbidon is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida. Her academic training is in public health and her scholarly expertise is in the area of intersectional stigma, youth sexual health, health promotion, disease prevention, and the use of qualitative and mixed methodological approaches.

2nd Panel Presentation by Dr. Latoya Small on Perceptions of Healthcare Accessibility and Medical Mistrust among African American Women Living with HIV in the U.S. Dr. Small’s research focuses on health disparities, specifically regarding mental health and treatment engagement among women and children living with HIV in the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa. In the U.S., Dr. Small examines how systemic barriers to care, poverty-related stress, and mental health interact and relatedly impact HIV treatment engagement among Black and Latina women in urban communities.

3rd Panel Presentation by Dr. Sylvia Shangani on The Challenge of Engaging Black Women in HIV Prevention: Role of Intersecting Social Determinants of Health. Dr Shangani is a public health behavioral scientist. Her expertise centers on health disparities, HIV prevention strategies, and the implementation of community-engaged public health interventions. Her current research focuses on understanding the underlying behavioral and social risk factors for health disparities, with applications to HIV. She earned her PhD and ScM, both in behavioral and social health science, from Brown University School of Public Health.

Moderator: Rainier Masa, Ph.D. Associate Professor, UNC School of Social Work

Watch the recorded panel presentation and discussion here.


Confronting Racism Denial: Naming Racism and Moving to Action | February 8, 2023

Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, PhD is a family physician and epidemiologist who is currently a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London. Her work focuses on naming, measuring, and addressing the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of our nation and the world. Her allegories on “race” and racism illuminate topics that are otherwise difficult for many Americans to understand or discuss: that racism exists, racism is a system, racism saps the strength of the whole society, and we can act to dismantle racism. Dr. Jones has held faculty positions at Harvard and Emory Universities, and Morehouse School of Medicine. She was a Medical Officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard, and a Presidential Visiting Fellow at the Yale School of Medicine. She is also an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Past President of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Jones earned her BA in Molecular Biology from Wellesley College, her MD from the Stanford University School of Medicine, and both her Master of Public Health and her PhD in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Watch Dr. Jones’ presentation here:


2022 Series

Coping Amidst COVID as BIPOC | February 24, 2022

Although we have learned of the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on BIPOC, we are yet to understand the full extent of the impacts as investigators provide evidence. Rachel Goode presented on the effects of COVID on the specific impact of the pandemic on Black women reporting disordered eating behaviors. This innovative study focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on the eating behaviors of Black women. Anjalee Sharma presented a study that assessed stress, coping, and anxiety among essential workers of color during COVID-19. Specific mechanisms of coping assessed included binge eating and substance use. Other factors assessed included anxiety levels and perceived stress during the pandemic. Sharon Parker presented a qualitative analysis on the impact of COVID-19 and the intimate partner relationships of Black women attending  Historically Black Colleges and a predominately White University in the Southern United States. She explored how COVID-19 impacted partner communication and sexual behavior.

Watch the recorded 1-hour panel presentation and discussion here.


Measurement in Research, using an Anti-Racism Framework | February 17, 2022

Measurement in research is critical as it lays the foundation for a more accurate understanding of the magnitude of a phenomenon, the impact of an intervention, or other causal relationships that will translate into practice models and policies that have real-life implications on people’s lives. In this panel, Kirsten Kainz provided a brief review of recommendations for social science measurement from the National Research Council (2011) and repositioned those recommendations within a systems science worldview for the purpose of proposing anti-racist measurement practices. Underlying the presentation was the assumption that not all system science is anti-racist, but anti-racist science requires systemic framings.  Melissa Villodas presented a study that used exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses to investigate the empirical and theoretical meaningfulness of the modified Neighborhood Cohesion Index within a population of African American youth living in public housing. Michael Lambert presented the theoretical and empirical methods of item response theory (IRT), which can permit antiracist measurement across different socio-ethnic groups. A set of critical questions to guide anti-racist measurement practice were discussed.

Watch the recorded 1-hour panel presentation and discussion here.