Diana Hernandez

Diana Hernandez

Diana Hernandez

Our home is where we launch our lives from on a daily basis. Therefore, housing is an important area of study and intervention as it carries vital health and social implications. For me, housing is the focus of my research, business and passion.
Associate Professor
Sociomedical Sciences


722 W. 168th St., Rm 546
New York NY 10032
Email: CV:


Diana Hernandez (PhD) focuses her work on the social and environmental determinants of health by querying the impacts of policy and place-based interventions on the health and socioeconomic well-being of vulnerable populations. Her community-oriented research examines the intersections between the built environment (housing and neighborhoods), poverty/equity and health with a particular emphasis on energy insecurity. Much of her research is conducted in her native South Bronx neighborhood, where she also lives and invests in social impact real estate. Dr. Hernandez is currently a Principal or Co-Investigator on several projects related to structural interventions in low-income housing (i.e. energy efficiency upgrades, cleaner burning fuel source conversions, smoke-free housing compliance, new finance and capital improvement models in public housing and post-Sandy resilience among public housing residents) or otherwise related to alleviating the consequences of poverty on health (i.e. attrition study of the Nurse Family Partnership Program and qualitative evaluation of the Medical Legal Partnership model). Her work is currently funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the JPB Foundation, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, among others. Her research has been published in leading journals including the American Journal of Public Health, Energy Policy, Public Health Reports and Energy Research and Social Sciences. Professor Hernandez teaches Qualitative Research Methods at the graduate level and has also taught undergraduate courses on Health Disparities and Cultural Competence. She has advised numerous master's theses and doctoral dissertations. In addition, she actively engages in a variety translational research activities through consulting, board service and social entrepreneurship.



PhD, 2010, Cornell University
BA, 2002, CUNY- Hunter College

Editorial Boards

Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education

Columbia Affiliations

Academic Appointments

JPB Environmental Health Fellow, JPB Foundation

Other Affiliations

Member, American Public Health Association
Member, American Sociological Association
Member, Law and Society Association
Member, Society for the Study of Social Problems
Board Member, South Bronx Overall Economic Development, Corp

Honors & Awards

JPB Environmental Health Fellow, JPB Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health, 2014-2017
Young Leader in Affordable Housing, National Housing Conference, 2013; Young Leadership Coalition, New York Housing Conference, 2013
PRIDE Scholarship in Comparative Effectiveness Research, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 2011-2012
Law and Social Science Dissertation Fellowship- National Science Foundation, American Bar Foundation and Law and Society Association, 2008-09

Areas of Expertise

Child Health and Development, Asthma, Stress, Community Programs and Outreach, Community-Based Healthcare, Disparities / Inequalities in Health, Minority Health, Social Capital, Social Factors in Health, Underserved Populations, Pollution--Air/Ground/Water, Climate and Health, Environmental Risk Factors, Hunger/Food Insecurity, Poverty, Welfare Programs, HIV/AIDS, Incarceration and Recidivism, Health Literacy, Public Health Education, Public Health Leadership and Management, Addiction/Drug Abuse, Smoking (Tobacco), Urban Health

Select Urban Health Activities

Beyond Implementation: Evaluating Compliance and Refining Enforcement of Smoke-free Housing Policy in Low-income Multiple Unit Housing Settings: Description: This community-based participatory research project evaluates smoke-free housing compliance within established smoke-free LIMUH buildings to track a) environmental exposures including nicotine and particulate matter and b) resident health with particular attention to asthma quality of life measures while devising enhanced enforcement strategies based on two proven public health methods- community health workers and a harm reduction approach. Funder: JPB Environmental Health Fellowship; JPB Foundation and Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health Community Partner: South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp.
Assessing the Impact of Clean Heat Policy Intervention in New York City: Description: This project examines indoor/outdoor air quality and resident health in 30 Northern Manhattan buildings prior to and one-year post heating fuel conversion mandated by NYC Clean Heat Policies. Funder: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Grant Number: 1 R21 ES024108-01 Role: Principal Investigator (with co-Investigators: Steven Chillrud, Xinhua Liu, other significant Contributor: Matt Perzanowski) Community Partner: West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT for Environmental Justice) Project Period: 1/20/2014-12/31/2016
Inter-city study of community engagement in parks, children and adolescent health: Description: Project to support the development of community-academic partnerships related to parks and health in Northern Manhattan and the Hill District in Pittsburgh, PA. Funder: National Institutes of Health- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development Grant Number: 1 R13HD071388-01 Role: Principal Investigator Project Period: 01/01/2012-12/31/2015

Select Global Activities

Enhanced HIV Care Access & Retention for Drug Users in San Juan, Puerto Rico: Description: This study evaluates both the effectiveness and cost of implementation of a community-level structural approach to maximize outcomes along the implementation cascade of testing, linkage, ART initiation, engagement and retention in care, for a disproportionately affected sub-population of marginalized injection drug users in Puerto Rico. Funder: National Institute of Drug Abuse (R01) Principal Investigators: Lisa Metsch, PhD and Jorge Santana, MD Role: Co-Investigator and Lead Ethnographer Project Period: 2013-2018

Select Publications

Hernandez, Diana and Douglas Phillips. "Benefit or Burden? Perceptions of energy efficiency efforts among low-income housing residents in New York City." Energy Research and Social Sciences. 2015
Hernandez, Diana, Feaster, Daniel, Metsch, Lisa et al., Prevalence of HIV and HCV Screening and Testing in Community-based Substance Abuse Treatment Programs AIDS and Behavior. 2015
Hernandez, Diana. Sacrifice along the Energy Continuum: A Call for Energy Justice. Environmental Justice. 2015
Hernandez, Diana, Carrion, Daniel, Perotte, Adler, Fullilove, Robert. -Public Health Entrepreneurs: Training the Next Generation of Public Health Innovators. Public Health Reports November/December 2014 : Volume 129
Hernandez, Diana. "Affording Housing at the Expense of Health: Assessing the Impact of Housing Resolution Strategies on the Health of Poor Families. Journal of Family Issues. April 2014.
Hernandez, Diana. "Energy Insecurity: A Framework for Understanding Energy, the Built Environment and Health among Vulnerable Populations in the Context of Climate Change." American Journal of Public Health. 2013. 104:3
Hernandez, Diana, Weinstein, Hannah and Munoz-Laboy, Miguel. Deconstructing Violence in Hip-Hop Culture: Youth Perspectives on the Intersection of Interpersonal Violence and Urban Culture. Youth and Society. 2012. 44(4) 587-608
Bird, Stephen and Hernandez, Diana. "Policy Options for the Split Incentive: Increasing Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Renters" Energy Policy. 2012. 48:506-514
Hernandez, Diana and Bird, Stephen. Energy Burden and the Need for Integrated Low-Income Housing and Energy Policy, Poverty & Public Policy: 2:4, December 2010
Hernandez, Diana. Gonna Call My Lawyer: Shifting Legal Consciousness at the Intersection of Inequality. Special Issue of Studies in Law, Politics and Society on Interdisciplinary Legal Studies: The Next Generation. vol. 51:95-121 March 2010

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