The CHRS weekly seminar series features speakers who discuss critical issues in applying social science perspectives to health. It covers cross-disciplinary topics and includes a combination of presentations, "work in progress" seminars, and thematic seminars.

For further information on the series or working groups, contact

All events are Wednesdays, 2:30-4 PM in Watkins G12.

Seminars, Spring 2017

February 1: Elizabeth Cotter, PhD

Department of Health Studies, American University
"Approaches to Preventing Obesity in Low Income Communities"

This talk will describe the development and evaluation of a community-based, culturally-tailored obesity prevention program. Community-level strategies for enhancing access to fresh produce will also be discussed.

February 8: Lynn Addington, PhD

Professor of Justice, Law and Society, American University

"Experiences with Violence and Use of Victim Services Among Emerging Adults: Findings from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey"

This study seeks to explore patterns of help-seeking and victim services among emerging adults (18-25 year olds). Particular attention is given to non-college attending emerging adults as they may be at greater risk for experiencing violence than their collegiate peers, and relatively little work has explored this particular age/education group. The present research is needed given the influence positive and negative experiences with help-seeking and victim services may have on future decision to seek support.

February 15: Adia Benton, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Program of African Studies, Northwestern University
"But What's the Prevalence?:
Innumerable Subjects in Gender-Based Violence Survey Research"

This talk will feature an anthropological reflection (work in progress) on survey research among Liberian refugees in Sierra Leone.

February 22: Monica Ruiz, PhD

Associate Research Professor, Department of Prevention and Community Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University

Talk TBD

March 1: Sarah Calabrese, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, George Washington University
"PrEP and Prejudice: How Stigma Undermines PrEP Access

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a highly effective method of HIV prevention, has the potential to fundamentally alter the course of the epidemic. Despite its approval by the US FDA nearly five years ago, uptake has lagged. This talk will highlight multiple pathways through which stigma interferes with PrEP access and consider the benefits of an inclusive vs. targeted approach to framing PrEP.

March 8: Katharine Donato, PhD

Donald G. Herzberg Professor of International Migration and Director, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
"Crossing the Mexico-U.S. Border: Illegality and Children's Migration to the United States"

Journalistic accounts and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reports reveal that children are migrating from Mexico and Central America to the United States, many unaccompanied and alone. The public and academic debates that have ensued in recent years illustrate that the experiences of child migrants are not well understood. This is in large part because many have long presumed that children are dependents joining families already in the United States, therefore subsuming children's experiences into those of their parents and families. This study is a child-centered analysis of Mexican children's migration where we examine whether and how conditions in communities of origin, as well as the characteristics of children and their parents, affect the propensity that children undertake a first migrant trip to the United States. Using data from the Mexican Migration Project (MMP), which contains substantial information about children and child migrants in Mexican households, we utilize event history models and other multivariate techniques to assess children's undocumented migration and how conditions in origin and sending communities explain its variation. Our findings reveal close links between violence in Mexico and unauthorized child migration, as well as important variation in children's propensities to initiate migration related to parents' migration histories, origin migrant networks, and period of U.S. entry.

March 15: Spring Break - No SEMINAR

March 22: Kim Blankenship, PhD

Professor, Department of Community and Prevention, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University; Research Professor in Residence, Department of Sociology, American University

Talk TBD

March 29: Mindy Fullilove, MD

Professor of The New School (Annual Spring Lecture, co-hosted with the Metropolitan Policy Center) ** NOTE CHANGE OF TIME AND VENUE: 4:00-6:00PM, FOUNDERS ROOM, SIS

Dr. Fullilove's research has focused on the health problems caused by inequity. She has conducted research on AIDS and other epidemics in poor communities, with a special interest in the relationships among urban renewal, the collapse of communities, and declines in health. To learn more about her outstanding urban health research, you can visit her blog,

April 5: PhD, Associate Professor

Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
"Structural Stigma and the Health of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Populations"

This talk will define the construct of structural stigma, and briefly describe how it differs from stigma at the individual and interpersonal levels. It will then review a variety of studies from Dr. Hatzenbuehler's research group that document the adverse health consequences of exposure to structural stigma for lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations, discuss the future directions for structural stigma research, as well as implications for preventive interventions and policies aimed at reducing the negative sequelae of structural stigma.

April 12: Molly Dondero, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, American University
"Healthy Eating and Dietary Acculturation among Mexican Children of Immigrants in the U.S."

Despite the fact that Mexican immigrant adults have relatively low obesity prevalence when they arrive in the United States, Mexican children of immigrants experience among the highest childhood obesity prevalence of all racial/ethnic groups. This project integrates quantitative analysis of dietary data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey with qualitative interviews with Mexican immigrant mothers in the U.S. to examine the ways in which family, school, and community contexts in the U.S. shape the eating behaviors of Mexican children of immigrants. The results inform our understanding of the health of this large and growing population of children and advance knowledge of processes of immigrant health and immigrant integration in the U.S.

April 19: Ethan Mereish, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Health Studies, American University
"Effects of Minority Stress on Health among Sexual Minorities "

Talk TBD

Seminars, Fall 2016

September 14

New Semester Welcome and "Mini-Presentations"

We begin the semester by welcoming new members of the CHRS community and saying hello to old friends from 2:30-3:00 and will continue with a series of "mini-presentations" from CHRS affiliates, providing introductions to or updates on, their research. Presenters include:

  • Nicole Angotti, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, American University
  • Michael D.M. Bader, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, American University
  • Rita Jalali, PhD, Scholar in Residence, Department of Sociology, American University
  • Cristel Russell, PhD, MBA, Associate Professor, Department of Marketing, Kogod School of Business, American University
  • Kirsten Stoebenau, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and CHRS, American University

September 21

Continue with "Mini-Presentations"

CHRS seminar will continue with a series of "mini-presentations" from CHRS affiliates, providing introductions to or updates on, their research. Presenters include:

  • Molly Dondero, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, American University
  • Daniel Esser, PhD, MSc, Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University
  • Sonya A. Grier, PhD, MBA, Professor, Department of Marketing, Kogod School of Business, American University
  • Mary Eschelbach Hansen, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, American University
  • Ethan Mereish, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Studies, American University
  • Thespina (Nina) Yamanis, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, School of International Service, American University

September 28

Mary Eschelbach Hansen, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, American University

"Adoption Policy and the Well-Being of Adopted Children in the US"

This presentation discusses research that measures the extent to which the well-being of children adopted from foster care in the United States changed in response to laws that encouraged speedier adoption but targeted older children who often have special needs.

October 5

Work in Progress

Dave E. Marcotte, PhD, Professor, Department of Public Administration and Policy and Director of the Washington Institute for Public Affairs Research, School of Public Affairs, American University

"Sexual Violence, Title IX and Women's College Enrollment"

While sexual violence has long been a problem on college campuses, the use of complaints filed to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights under the Title IX provisions of the Education Amendments of 1972 are new. These cases focus attention on specific colleges' responses to cases of sexual violence and raise the specter that these institutions fail to properly investigate allegations or punish perpetrators. In this paper, we examine the implications of these investigations on the college enrollment, particularly of women. We combine institution-level panel data on enrollment by age and gender, with information on Title IX investigations to study changes in women's enrollment.

October 12 - Thematic Seminar

Work in Progress

Naa Oyo A. Kwate, PhD, Associate Professor of Human Ecology and of Africana Studies, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

"Stop and Frisk, Black Bodies, and Public Health Risk"

This presentation will discuss the ways in which policing strategies such as the NYPD's Stop and Frisk undermine Black health by inducing stress, fear and trauma, acting as a day-to-day experience of racism, reducing civic engagement and eliciting mistrust, and creating a loss of use of resources.

October 19 - Thematic Seminar

Andrew Fenelon, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Services Administration, University of Maryland School of Public Health

"Housing Assistance, Neighborhoods, and Adult Health in the United States"

This project uses the recent linkage of the National Health Interview Survey to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development administrative record to examine the effect of housing assistance on adult health and health care outcomes. The analysis compares individuals receiving assistance from one of three housing programs (Public Housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Multifamily Housing) to those individuals who have not yet entered HUD housing. The results have implications for the social determinants of health and the potential added benefits of federal housing assistance.

October 26 - Thematic Seminar

Jhumka Gupta, ScD, Assistant Professor, Department of Global and Community Health, George Mason University


November 2

Rebecca J. Hester, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Science and Technology, Virginia Tech

"Culture in Medicine: An Argument Against Competence"

While there has been much debate about the role of culture in medicine, less has been said about the role of competence when it comes to dealing with diversity in clinical interactions. Focusing on this neglected topic, this talk will argue that rather than emphasizing the power of culture in our practices and pedagogies, we need to illuminate the cultures of power at work in health and medicine.

November 9

Co-sponsored by the DC Center for AIDS Research, Social and Behavioral Sciences Core

Maria De Jesus, PhD, Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University; Astrid Jimenez, Esq., Executive Director, Nueva Vida

"Community-Academic Partnerships: Benefits and Challenges"

This presentation will be an opportunity to discuss ideas on what community-academic partnerships entail, the different levels of possible participation from community partners, and the benefits and challenges to doing this type of research whether domestically or internationally. It will include an interactive component to hear from the audience as well: for example, experiences they have had, questions from those who may not have ever engaged in this type of research, and other related issues.

November 16


November 30

Ashley Currier, PhD, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Cincinnati

"Prison Sex and Politicized Homophobia in Malawi"

This presentation draws on an analysis of 101 Malawian newspaper articles that mention prison sex as well as 435 articles that provide more general information about prison conditions to address the question: Why don't some negative discourses about same-sex sexualities metamorphose or feed into politicized homophobia? It argues that not all negative discourses about same-sex sexualities agglomerate into politicized homophobia and recognizes that arguments that treat politicized homophobia as in need of urgent intervention can exaggerate the pressing priority of antigay vitriol and ignore African antihomophobic resistance.

December 7

Work in Progress

Thespina (Nina) Yamanis, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, School of International Service, American University

"Post-Ebola: Building Social Science Research and Training Capacity in West Africa"

Nina will present plans for a revised training grant proposal to NIH Fogarty International Center to serve countries that were affected by the Ebola outbreak. The purpose of the grant is to train West African public health professionals who have the research capacity to assess and address social, behavioral and cultural aspects related to emerging viral outbreaks. The proposed initiative will connect American University faculty focused on the intersection of social science and health with faculty in the Department of Community Health, College of Medical and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) at the University of Sierra Leone. The revised proposal is due February 22, 2017.