News and Events

Columbia Mailman Professors Featured in PBS Series on Public Health

Robert Fullilove and David Rosner, both professors of sociomedical sciences, are featured in a new PBS documentary series that examines the often underfunded, undervalued, and misunderstood role that public health plays in extending and improving all our lives. The Invisible Shield(link is external and opens in a new window), which premiered on March 26, provides a historical perspective on the rise of public health in response to industrialization and disease, alongside the social, economic, and political forces that resist its efforts—tensions that boiled over during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strategies for sustaining programs that address cancer inequities

Rachel Shelton, associate professor of sociomedical sciences, will lead a R01 study funded by The National Cancer Institute, in collaboration with Co-Investigators from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and community partners from The National Witness Project. This study seeks to inform understanding of what strategies are effective in promoting the long-term delivery and impact of LHA programs focused on improving racial inequities in cancer and cancer screening among Black women.

Study Calls for Putting Menstrual Health Front and Center In Routine Pediatric Care

The onset of menstruation is an impactful milestone as a marker of the start of reproductive potential and as a social cue for transitioning further into adolescence. Although the first period is often confusing, can trigger embarrassment, and is frequently laden with stigma, timely guidance can empower patients to advocate for their health throughout life, according to a paper at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. The authors recommend that routine pediatric primary care play a critical role in this life transition to ultimately improve population-level menstrual health. Read more here.

Grant will support research on effects of social media and mental health in Latinx youth

Melissa DuPont-Reyes, an Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences and Epidemiology, has been awarded a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health titled "Leveraging Latinx Adolescents, Photovoice, and Longitudinal Data to Disentangle the Bidirectional Effects of Social Media and Mental Health".

Her research will aim to address the critical issue of adolescent mental health in the context of social media use among Latinx youth.

Research will unveil intersection of policing and cognitive health in aging populations

In an effort to unravel the link between adverse community-level policing and disparities in Alzheimers disease-related dementia, Dr. Paris (AJ) Adkins-Jackson, an assistant professor in Epidemiology, and associate in Sociomedical Sciences, has secured a substantial grant from the National Institute on Aging. The groundbreaking research, titled "The Role of Adverse Community-Level Policing Exposure on Disparities in Alzheimer's Disease Related Dementias and Deleterious Multidimensional Aging," will shed crucial light on the profound impact of structural racism on cognitive well-being among older adults. Read more here.

Q&A with Ruth Shefner, SMS PhD student with a concentration in Sociology.

Ruth Shefner, SMS PhD student with a concentration in Sociology

Ruth Shefner recently secured $100,955 funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for her qualitative project on substance use policy and treatment access in Philadelphia.

This study proposes to address the current gap in knowledge by exploring how structural, material, and psycho-social consequences of SORN policies structure a risk environment that exacerbates substance use and limits treatment access for PRR in Philadelphia.

First Representative Survey of Energy Insecurity in New York City

Researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted the first representative survey of energy insecurity and health of New York City residents. 

"The issue of energy insecurity and how it affects population health is critical to understand,” said Diana Hernández, PhD, associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and co-Director of the Energy Opportunity Lab at the Center on Global Energy Policy, and senior author of the study. “Our findings confirm there is a need for more large-scale, comprehensive and collaborative studies of this type.”

Columbia Mailman Students Advocate for Public Health in Albany

Each January, more than 200 elected members of the New York State Senate and State Assembly convene in Albany for a new legislative session to shape state policy on issues that matter to their constituents. On January 30, for the first time, they were joined by a group of 20 students from Columbia Mailman School and Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Said Chahat Hamirani, an MPH student in Sociomedical Sciences saw the chance to meet with lawmakers as an essential step in public health advocacy. “One of my intentions was to speak up for what I believe is fundamental to human rights. This experience took away the intimidation of speaking up and crystallized my commitment to advocacy. Through individual and collective action, an equitable and compassionate future is possible.”

Master’s Students Find Community at Staten Island Health Fair

Five people pose for a photo

A pair of first-year SMS master’s students volunteered at a recent health fair in Staten Island. As much as they gave to the event, they also got back. The experience gave them a glimpse into how health fairs can be a powerful tool for supporting community health. Read more here.


Perimenopause and Menstrual Health in the Workplace

Empowering workplaces to prioritize menstrual health is crucial. As a ColumbiaGATE (Gender, Adolescent Transitions, and Environment) fellow and Columbia Mailman student, Regan Moss supports efforts to explore the experience of perimenopause in the workplace in this Student Voices piece. Employers must eliminate stigmas and structural barriers for all employees, fostering gender equality. Read more here

Kiara Tanta-Quidgeon

Centering Indigenous Voices in Pursuit of Health Equity

We love to celebrate out student's research successes! SMS MPH candidate Kiara Tanta-Quidgeon is one of those students who is excelling inside and outside the classroom. In her recent student voices piece, she highlights the work she has been doing to center Indigenous voices in pursuit of health equity. This has included an internship with United States of Care, a fellowship at Harvard Medical School, and multiple presentations at Quinnipiac University.

Interested in reading more about Kiara's research? Click here.

A world of good for mental health

The Global and Population Mental Health Program is pioneering global mental health initiatives to address urgent needs worldwide. Under the leadership of Professor Kathleen Sikkema and faculty across Mailman School of Public Health, this interdisciplinary program is adopting a task-sharing approach to bridge mental health care gaps here in the U.S. and in resource-limited countries.  Read more of the program’s story here in the Columbia Public Health Magazine 2023.

Collaboration With CVS Health Elevates Menstruation Education for Girls

CVS Health is partnering with the Columbia Mailman School GATE (Gender, Adolescent Transitions, and Environment) Program to provide free access to portions of "A Girl’s Guide to Puberty and Periods" on their Wellness Zone website. This initiative promotes early-period education for girls, empowering them with knowledge & confidence. Read more here.

Anne-Emmanuell Birn wins Arthur J. Viseltar Prize

We are excited to announce the recipient of the 2023 Arthur J. Viseltear Prize is Prof. Anne-Emanuelle Birn (Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto) in recognition of her lifetime achievement and excellence in public health history!

The Viseltear Prize is presented each year at the American Public Health Association annual meeting, in memory of Arthur J. Viseltear, MPH, PhD, a former chair of the Medical Care Section as well as a historian at Yale University. In the late 1980s SMS Prof. David Rosner requested that the Medical Care Section of APHA establish a prize in honor of the late Professor Viseltear.

The prize is awarded to historians who have made important contributions to the study of the history of public health. The committee that selects the historian most deserving of the award has been composed of faculty from the SMS Center for History and Ethics of Public Health.

Congratulations Prof. Birn and well done!

Retail License Cap Benefits Areas Overburdened by Tobacco Sales

A recent study from Columbia Mailman reveals that New York City's Tobacco Retailer Density Policy has led to a significant decrease in the number of tobacco retail licenses, with over a 30% reduction since its establishment in 2018.

“A greater number of tobacco retailers in communities is linked to a range of tobacco use behaviors, such as increased smoking initiation and lower quitting rates,” said Daniel Giovenco, PhD, assistant professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia Mailman School. Read more here.

Department of Sociomedical Sciences' retreat for faculty and staff

On October 26, 2023, the Department of Sociomedical Sciences (SMS) hosted separate retreats for its faculty and staff at the Columbia School of Nursing Rooftop Lounge. The retreats’ core objectives were to cultivate an inclusive environment, enhance well-being, and identify priorities that can be uniquely addressed by SMS to pave the way for a more collaborative work environment. The retreat underscored the significance of social connectedness, commitment to addressing social determinants of health and related inequities, and community engagement.  SMS is striving to enrich the department’s dynamics for a harmonious and productive workplace and a better understanding of what can be done within the department to enhance collaboration and maximize impact. SMS Department celebrates faculty and staff retreat.











Welcome Back Social for Faculty, Staff and Doctoral Students

On September 13th, SMS hosted a welcome back social for our faculty, staff and doctoral students at the Fox. It was lovely to connect and socialise before getting into the work of the semester. Thanks to our staff for organising! 


Welcome Class of 2025!

On August 28th Department Chair Kathy Sikkema joined other SMS faculty and staff in welcoming our first year masters students to Mailman. Our new students listened to presentations from faculty members including Assoc. Prof. Christian Gloria, Assis. Prof. Merlin Chowankyun, Professor David Rosner, Assoc. Prof. Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, Assis. Prof. Yuan Zhang, and staff member Charmagne Jones. 

Welcome to SMS class of 2025, we are so happy to have you and wish you all the best in your studies!

Professor Rosner in the news

Professor David Rosner, has been quoted in a series of media relations recently regarding lead pipes. He was quoted in a Gothamist article titled, “1 in 5 New Yorkers may be drinking water from lead pipes, new report says”. Fox5 referenced the same topic in an article titled, ‘Almost half of Manhattan, Brooklyn buildings served by lead pipes: Report” and Professor Rosner was quoted, “"It's not as bad as it was, but it's still a problem, and it shouldn't be for any child. We shouldn't have to worry about what comes out of our taps." 
Finally, Youth Today quoted Professor Rosner in an article titled, “EPA proposes lower lead exposure limit in daycares, homes.” Rosner states, “The whole history of efforts to do something about this problem really goes back at least a century at this point.” “We now have this explosion of concern because thousands of thousands of children are becoming disadvantaged in life.” 

Study Examines Interaction Between HIV and Mental and Oral Health

A multidisciplinary research team composed of scientists from University of Miami and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health including SMS assistant professor Carrigan Parish, DMD, PhD, will explore the links between oral and mental health in women with HIV. The collaborative study, supported by a $2.15 million five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, is designed to provide insights that could improve overall health and quality of life for the estimated 300,000 women living with HIV in the United States. Read more here.

Prof. Merlin Chowkwanyun receives Teaching Award

Student Awards - Rikki Eijima

We're proud to announce that Riki Hisayo Suzuki Eijima, SMS MPH ’23, was one of two students who received the 2023 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award which recognizes exceptional contributions by a teaching assistant who displays peerless
dedication to student learning, remarkable commitment to supporting course operations, and excellence in communication with students.




Student Awards - Tom Devine

Tom Devine is an MPH student all the way from New Zealand, studying on a Fulbright Scholarship with a certificate in Health Promotion Research and Practice. He works as a Principal Advisor at the New Zealand Ministry of Health and has worked for the SMS department doing communications.

He is also the recipient of the Jack Elinson Award for Outstanding merit for his article titled “Equity, Public Health Messaging, and Traditional Māori Knowledge: the Te Ranga Tupua COVID-19 Response”. Congratulations Tom!

Student Awards - Emily Tillet

Emily Tillet is an MPH student with a certificate in Health and Human Rights and is passionate about harm reduction and overdose prevention. She has worked as a TA for Jane Bogart this spring and a Foundations TA last fall for the Core.

Her thesis sponsor was Rob Fullilove, and she is the recipient of the SMS Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award for her work titled “Seeking a living solution – barriers to accessing harm reduction resources for Black people who use drugs in urban settings & implications for expansion of harm reduction in New York City”. Congratulations Emily!

SMS End of Year celebration

Thank you to all those who came to the SMS End of the Year Social and special congratulations to the graduating Class of 2023!! A special acknowledgment to Charmagne Jones and Neha Ali for organizing the social.

Celebrating a life in Public Health - Professor Ron Bayer

Students, faculty, and staff gathered on May 1st to bid farewell and celebrate the illustrous career of Professor Ron Bayer. The event was hosted by the SMS department to tribute Professor Ron Bayer and captures both our personal love for him, as well as his contribution to the field of public health and public health ethics. A panel discussion looked at the broad scope of his work over the past 45 years -- from his days at Hastings through his years here at Columbia. The discussion was then followed by a reception

Congratulations on your retirement Ron!

Congratulations to our 2023 Student Award Recipients

The Department of Sociomedical Sciences has announced the recipients of our 2023 student awards. The Jack Elinson Award for Outstanding Merit has been awarded to Aarushi Shah, a PhD student in the anthropology track, and Tom Devine, an MPH student with a certificate in health promotion research and practice. 

The SMS Distinguished Master's Thesis Award has been awarded to Emily Tillet.

Congratulations to you all and well done!

Shankar Das Seminar 

On April 25, Shankar Das, PhD, Yusuf Hamied Fellow, Professor and Dean of the School of Health Systems Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences gave a great seminar on "Mental Health and Psychosocial Aspects of COVID-19 in India: The Challenges and Response". Dr. Das is completing a fellowship in the SMS Department and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to hear about his research and perspectives on global mental health. Watch the recording here.

Seminar Series in Gender, Sexuality, and Health

On Wednesday April 19th, Assistant Professor Goleen Samari, PhD gave a seminar on Compounding Structural Inequities and Reproductive Health: Experiences of Immigrant Women in NYC. This seminar was part of the SMS sponsored Pre-Doctoral Training Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Health (GSHTP). Thanks to all who attended!

The Annual Eugene Litwak Honorary Lecture: Darrick Hamilton, PhD

SMS chair Prof. Kathy Sikkema was honored to introduce Darrick Hamilton, PhD, The New School, University Professor and Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, Founding Director, Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy. Dr. Hamilton gave an invigorating seminar on the neoliberal paradigm and the negative health consequences of working twice as hard to get by. 

GMH at Mailman APEx event

The Global Mental Health at Mailman team hosted an APEx information session on Friday 31st March. SMS Chair Prof. Kathy Sikkema introduced the speakers who presented on their current research and the opportunities they have. Students then transitioned to breakout groups to have informal dicussions with each speaker. It was a great turn out, thank you to the students who came along. 

Rosner Seminar Series: Chief Medical Officer of Partners in Health Dr. Joia Mukherjee

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed glaring inequities in the distribution of key health resources across the globe: from unequal distribution of vaccines and anti-retrovirals to unstable foriegn aid even before the pandemic. Dr. Joia Mukherjee gave a talk entitled "The Politics of Global Health, Inequality, and Social Justice in the Age of New Pandemics and Instability." Dr. Mukherjee drew on her experience as Chief Medical Officer of Partners in Health (founded by the late Paul Farmer) to survey the global health landscape and what's needed to achieve equity and justice around the world.  A recording will be updated shortly. 

Chat and Chew: Paris "AJ" Adkins-Jackson, PhD, MPH

The SMS Department hosted a conversation with Assistant Professor Paris Adkins-Jackson, Departments of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences titled "Don't be a racist in the world while studying racism in these academic streets". The discussion was engaging and thought provoking. The room was packed with students, staff, and faculty. Thank you AJ for such an insightful discussion!

Food for Thought: SMS Doctoral Students' Presentations

On March 27th two doctoral students presented their research as part of the SMS Food for Thought seminar series. Speakers included: Alyssa Basmajian, MA, MPhil PhD Candidate, Anthropology - Reproductive Gerrymandering, Bureaucratic Violence, and the Erosion of Abortion Access in the United States, and Sonia Mendoza-Grey, MA, MPhil PhD Candidate, Sociology - Latinidad in Precision Medicine: Examining the Emergence of Imagined Genetic Communities. Watch the recording here

A New Scorecard for Progress in Sexual Health

Moving away from a focus on risk of disease to a more positive, holistic, and health-promoting approach to sexual health is key to improving health outcomes, according to a new study led by Jessie V. Ford, PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia Mailman School. The study, which proposes indicators to assess broad progress in sexual health outcomes, appears in the open-access journal Frontiers in Public Health. Read more about this story here.

Tests Conducted by Giants of Industry Uncover Fraudulent Data on PCB Products in the 1970s

The first paper to look at the relationship between the corporate funders of research and its fraudulent practices in the 1970s has been published by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health  in the American Journal of Public Health.

“Monsanto contracted with IBT in 1969 to perform two-year studies including chronic toxicity studies, one of which did not meet the company’s expectations as it did not turn out to be ‘as favorable as Monsanto had hoped or anticipated’. Particularly Monsanto arranged with IBT to repeat “some of the studies in order to arrive at better conclusions,’” said author David Rosner, PhD, professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and co-founder of its Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health. Read more about this story here.

Meet the Sociomedical Sciences Department: Virtual welcome for 2023 admitted students

On Tuesday 7 March the SMS department hosted a virtual welcome session for admitted applicants. In the the one-hour session Associate Professor Christian Gloria gave a brief overview of SMS, highlighted faculty/student mentorship, student thesis projects, TA and/or research collaborations; summer APEx/Practicum; student activities, clubs, leadership, and more. Welcome to all our new students we look forward to seeing you all in the Fall!

Extreme heat is a health crisis, Columbia experts say

ABC News Online cited the research of Diana Hernandez, Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences. “Hernandez said a community-focused approach, especially with an emphasis on engagement that is inclusive, will be successful in implementing a wide range of climate adaptation strategies.” Read the full article here

Rosner Seminar Series: Professor Julie Maslowsky

Prof. Julie Maslowsky, Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health University of Illinois School of Public Health, presented on Abortion and Adolescent Contraception Access Post-Dobbs as part of the Alex and Sophie Rosner Seminar on Health, History, and Social Justice.

Food for Thought: Dr. Seth J. Prins

SMS Chair Prof. Kathleen Sikkemma introduced Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences Seth J. Prins, PhD, MPH for our February "Food for Thought" series seminar for the academic year on Wednesday February 15th. Watch the recording here

Associate Professor Rachel Shelton inducted into ACPS

SMS Associate Professor Rachel Shelton was one of sixteen faculty members from across Columbia University Irving Medical Center inducted into the Academy of Community and Public Service on Jan. 31 in recognition of their community and public service efforts. The ACPS honors faculty members from the medical center’s four schools—the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, and the College of Dental Medicine—who have gone above and beyond to promote health, well-being, and overall quality of life in the Washington Heights community and around the world. 

Congratulations on your incredible work Rachel!

Dr Rachel Shelton (front row, fourth from the left) with other CUIMC members inducted into the ACPS.

Assistant Professor Daniel Giovenco awarded NIH grant

Daniel (Danny) Giovenco, assistant professor of sociomedical sciences, was awarded an NIH Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Cancer Center, effective February 1, 2023. The grant is titled, “Assessing the impact, equity, and mechanisms of a novel policy intervention to reduce tobacco retailer density in communities”, and the summary total for the five-year grant is $2,912,828. 

SMS End of Year Celebration

On 8th December, students, faculty, and staff were invited for some holiday cheer to celebrate the special time of the year at the annual SMS Department End of Year Celebration. A raffel was drawn by Prof. Sikkema and students enjoyed food and drinks. Happy Holidays to all and congratulations to the raffle winners! We hope all members of the department have a restful winter break. 

Community partnership boosts digital and health literacy 

Students, faculty, and staff volunteers at CUIMC with leaders from the Upper Manhattan community are working to improve health literacy while closing the digital divide.  L.E.A.R.N.I.T, created during COVID-19 as a complimentary five-week seminar series on race and health disparities, held its most recent program last weekend and was attended by about 100 participants. Led by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Professor Robert Fullilove in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences, and Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons Professor Julie Glickstein in the Department of Pediatrics/Division of Pediatric Cardiology, workshops offer such services as one-on-one tech support and blood pressure screenings administered by certified community health workers from the Columbia Wellness Center’s InTOuCH program. To read more, click here.

Food for Thought: Dr Kelly Knight

On November 16, Dr. Kelly Ray Knight, PhD, Professor, University of California, San Francisco presented a seminar as part of the SMS department "Food for Thought" series. Dr Knight spoke about using social scientific theory to improve research and clinical care for people experiencing homelessness, and co-occuring mental health and substance use disorders. A recording of the event can be found here.

Professor Chowkwanyun awarded Arthur J. Viselttear Prize 

On November 8, Professor Merlin Chowkwanyun was awarded the Arthur J. Viseltear Prize 2022 at the American Public Health Associationn convention in Boston, Massachusetts. The Arthur J. Viseltear Prize is awarded to historians who have made important contributions to the study of the history of public health. The 2022 award was for Professor Chowkwanyun's book, All Heallth Politics is Local: Battles for Community Health in the Mid-Century United States (UNC Press, 2022). 

From left to right ( Oliver T. Fein, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, Merlin Chowkwanyun, Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences).

America without Roe v. Wade: Where we are, what comes next and how you can fight back

Assistant Professor Dr. Merlin Chowkwanyun was happy to introduce Madeline Gomez, J.D., Policy Counsel at Planned Parenthood Federation of America to give a presentation on America without Roe v. Wade. This was part of the Alex and Rosner Seminar series on Health, History, and Social Justice. 

Madeline discussed the key legal doctrines at stake, developments on the ground that led to this point and how we can fight back in this dangerous time. There was a great turn out from faculty, staff and students. Thank you Madeline for an exceptional seminar. A recording will be uploaded soon. 

Chat and Chew: Climate Change, Health, and the Social Sciences 

On October 19, the SMS department hosted a 'Chat and Chew' with Associate Professior Dr. Diana Hernandez and Assitant Professor Dr. Merlin Chowkwanyun. In this session, students and staff were given the opportunity to have a facilitated conversation on climate change, health, and the social science, in particular, opportunities for research and collaboration. To view a recording of the event, click here.




Event Launches Interdisciplinary Global Mental Health Program

The October 10 launch event for Global Mental Health @Mailman took place on World Mental Health Day and was the first in a full schedule of Public Health Equity Week programming at the School. A full recording of the event can be found here.

A cross-departmental panel discussion between five faculty members concluded the event launch. Left to right: Alejandra Paniagua-Avila, Kate Lavero, Claire Greene, Bob Fullilove, and Jeremy Kane on screen.

Food for Thought: Dr. Christian Gloria

SMS Chair Prof. Kathleen Sikkemma was very happy to introduce Dr. Christian Gloria for our first in person "Food for Thought" series seminar for the academic year on Wednesday September 28th.

A Q&A With Prof. Merlin Chowkwanyun

Click here to read a Q&A with SMS Professor Merlin Chowkwanyun.