I conduct mixed methods research regarding the impacts of stigma, sociocultural norms, and communicative processes on health disparities, the social determinants of health, and public health practice itself.
A central tenet of my work is that health equity cannot be realized without ongoing, reflexive innovation toward 1) eliciting and valuing diverse knowledges; 2) increasing research reciprocity; and 3) addressing histories of researcher intrusion among oppressed populations. In addition, based on the sheer prevalence and impact of trauma, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and marginalization, I pursue modes of inquiry and practice that can more equitably accommodate individuals and groups whose identities or experiences render participation in traditional studies, formats, and venues unsafe or unfeasible.
My dissertation prototypes and evaluates arts-based strategies for researching experiences and conceptions of violence among Louisville, KY females ages 11-21, comparing results to data from quantitative violence-related surveys among the same populations. I’m broadly interested in how the arts amplify and clarify voices, assets, and issues that are obscured or misrepresented by conventional methods of research, discourse, and needs assessment.
More generally, my academic and community work is grounded in research regarding stigma, shame, trauma, ACEs, intersectional disparities, mental health, and youth development. I also draw on extensive academic backgrounds in critical pedagogy, Women’s and Gender Studies, Rhetoric, and the arts to develop innovative strategies for research, dissemination, public education, and resource provision.
Some questions currently energizing my work:
What do researchers miss about a population when our means of communication cannot accommodate stigma or varied abilities, or when they cannot reach across cultural difference—or across trauma?
To what extent might over-reliance on standard research strategies or epistemological stances actually perpetuate health inequities—by requiring that health, healthcare, and health behaviors be communicated and assessed according to dominant norms? (By contrast, what might creative strategies make visible, say-able, ask-able, research-able, knowable?)
How might Public Health benefit from storytelling and other arts as means of challenging sociocultural norms that adversely affect health?
The arts are known (in part) for making difficult issues confront-able, discuss-able, disclose-able. If we know that stigma and isolation result in adverse health outcomes, what are the public health implications of increasing a community's access to the arts?
What can we learn about a community's assets, needs, and priorities by observing and analyzing the art that its members create, celebrate, and share?