Brown School Welcomes New Faculty, Celebrates Promotions

Faculty; Public Health; Social Work

The Brown School is fortunate to welcome six new faculty members in the 2023-2024 academic year. They add their expertise, research and teaching to our vibrant community, and help us deepen our dedication to equity and impact locally, nationally and globally.

Meet all of them below.

Theresa Anasti, assistant professor tenure track, focuses on understanding the role of nonprofit and community-based organizations in bettering the conditions for underrepresented populations. She is especially interested in the role of such organizations in working with and for “unpopular” and criminalized populations stigmatized by wider society, including sex workers, active drug users, and the unhoused. Past work has included a large-scale qualitative project of relationships between mainstream human service nonprofits and a sex workers’ rights organization. Emerging work includes a qualitative study of individuals working at syringe service programs, and how they have adapted to changes in the field’s political and funding environments.

Andrea L .S. Bulungu, assistant professor research track, is a public health nutrition researcher based in Uganda, and Research Assistant Professor with the E3 Nutrition Lab at the Brown School. Andrea’s work focuses on research methods and interventions for addressing the drivers of maternal and child nutrition in resource-poor settings. She is a long-time nutrition consultant for the World Bank, and has also consulted for ILRI, ICF International, and FAO, among others.

Paz Galupo, professor tenure track, is the inaugural Audre Lorde Distinguished Professor of Sexual Health and Education. Paz’s research interests focus on the intersection of sexual orientation and gender identity, with a particular focus on understanding nonbinary expressions of bisexual and trans experience. Paz’s long-standing research program centers those most marginalized in the LGBTQ+ community (i.e., transgender, bisexual, and LGBTQ+ Black, Indigenous, and People of Color [BIPOC]).

Rachel Garg, assistant professor research track, examines the impact of individual-level unmet social needs – such as housing instability and food insecurity – on health outcomes and behaviors such as smoking cessation. She seeks to build theory around mechanisms linking social needs and health to inform future intervention development to address social needs and reduce health disparities.

Octavio Mesner, assistant professor research track, focuses on the intersection of methods and LGBTQ+ health, particularly in non-parametric causal discovery.  He completed a joint PhD at Carnegie Mellon University in the departments of Statistics and Data Science, and Engineering and Public Policy.  Prior to his doctoral work, Octavio worked as a biostatistician in HIV/STI research.

Dorian Traube is the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School and a professor. Her research focuses on early child development, home visitation and telehealth solutions for families with young children. Traube developed Parents as Teachers@USC Telehealth, the first partnership of its kind between a national home visitation model and a university-based telehealth clinic. In doing so, she also established the first virtual home visitation program, offering a reliable home visitation model via video conferencing technology.

Congratulations to the following faculty members who have successfully transitioned from the research track to the tenure/tenure track. The changes were effective August, 1, 2023.

Jason Jabbari, assistant professor tenure track, leads the education research portfolio at the Social Policy Institute , where he examines how policies, programs, and practices interact with social and environmental contexts and relate to equity and excellence in academic and economic trajectories. As the Associate Director of Community Partnerships at SPI, he cultivates partnerships with a variety of community organizations to help them understand and solve pressing social problems.

Maura Kepper, assistant professor tenure track, conducts research to reduce the burden of the social, economic, and environmental conditions that can negatively impact the health of individuals and communities. Her research intersects behavioral health, informatics, and dissemination and implementation research. She works with the teams of both the Prevention Research Center and the Institute for Informatics

Rebecca Lengnick-Hall, assistant professor tenure track, research interests focus on helping and empowering organizational leaders and staff as they implement and sustain new evidence-based practices. Her work has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, Implementation Research Institute, and the IDEAS NIMH-funded ALACRITY Center.

Stephanie Mazzucca, assistant professor tenure track, focuses her research on developing and evaluating evidence-based approaches for promoting healthy eating and physical activity to prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. A member of the Prevention Research Center, her work focuses on improving home environments, as well as organizations such as public health departments and childcare centers, to support healthy behaviors for populations at risk of chronic disease.

Virginia “Ginger” McKay, assistant professor tenure track, focuses her research on the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices addressing HIV prevention, especially the sustainability and de-implementation of interventions. Working within the Brown School’s Center for Public Health Systems Science, she supports the center’s projects related to evidence-based public health and systems science. She also consults through the Dissemination and Implementation Research Core at the WashU School of Medicine.

Diana Parra Perez, assistant professor tenure track, focuses her research on the promotion of health and wellness through community based programs for physical activity, nutrition, yoga, and mindfulness, geared towards marginalized, underrepresented, and oppressed minorities, particularly the Latinx immigrant population in the United States. She is also a yoga and mindfulness teacher and a mindfulness facilitator for the Academy for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Stephen Roll, assistant professor tenure track, focuses his research on promoting asset building, debt management, and economic security in lower-income populations. Working within the Social Policy Institute, where he is the Associate Director of Research, he is involved in research on child savings, food insecurity, and the role of financial technology services in promoting financial well-being. 

Joshua Rusow, assistant professor tenure track, focuses his research primarily on the health and wellbeing of sexual and gender minority youth and young adults — understanding how experiences of stigma and discrimination are associated with relationships, behavior, and mental, physical, and sexual health.

Rachel Tabak, associate professor tenure track, is a part of the Prevention Research Center and the Centene Center for Health Transformation, and works in obesity prevention and community-based physical activity and nutrition strategies. She is also interested in dissemination and implementation research. With a strong background in nutrition, Tabak is involved in research studies examining interventions to promote healthy nutrition and activity behaviors in families, particularly in the home environment.

Nhial Tutlam, assistant professor tenure track, centers his research on the intersection of mental health impact of war trauma and risk of health outcomes such as suicide, substance use and HIV among youth affected by conflict, with the aim of developing and testing culturally congruent community-based interventions to address the myriad of mental health challenges in this vulnerable population both in refugee settlements and resettlement settings. Tutlam’s work is conducted through the International Center for Child Health and Development (ICHAD).