Merlin Chowkwanyun

Merlin Chowkwanyun

Merlin Chowkwanyun

Donald H. Gemson Assistant Professor
Sociomedical Sciences


722 W. 168th St. R931
New York NY United States 10036
Website address: Email:


Merlin Chowkwanyun's work centers on the history of community health; environmental health regulation; racial inequality; and social movement/activism around health. He is working on a book examining localism and health politics in the post-WWII, using case studies on medical care and environmental health controversies in four regions (Los Angeles, Cleveland, Central Appalachia, and New York) and another about political unrest at medical schools and neighborhood health activism during the 1960s and 1970s. He is also the PI (co-PI David Rosner) on a recent National Science Foundation Standard Research Grant for, a depository of millions of pages of once-secret documents on industrial poisons. He is affiliated with the Department of History and a faculty member of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health and the Data Science Institute. He teaches courses on health advocacy and mixed methods, and in the CORE, co-teaches the social determinants module with Professor Lisa Bates.



PhD, 2013, University of Pennsylvania
MPH, 2012, University of Pennsylvania
BA, 2005, Columbia University

Mailman Affiliations

Faculty, Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health

Honors & Awards

2018 Innovation in Teaching Award, Mailman School of Public Health
2017 Excellence in Teaching Award, Mailman School of Public Health
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2013-2015)

Areas of Expertise

Data Management, Spatial Analysis, Community-Based Healthcare, Disparities / Inequalities in Health, Immigrant Health, Pollution--Air/Ground/Water, Healthcare Policy, History of Public Health

Select Publications

More Data, More Problems: Big Data and Public Health Methodology, American Journal of Public Health, forthcoming
Two Cheers for Air Pollution Control: Triumphs and Limits of the Mid-Century Fight for Air Quality. Public Health Reports, forthcoming
Cleveland vs. the Clinic: The 1960s Riots and Community Health Reform. American Journal of Public Health 101(November 2018), forthcoming
'Precision' Public Health: Between Novelty and Hype, New England Journal of Medicine, e-pub advanced print DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1806634 (with Ronald Bayer and Sandro Galea)
"The Neurosis That Has Possessed Us": Political Repression in the Cold War Medical Profession, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 73, no. 3 (July 2018)
The War on Poverty Health Legacy: What It Was and Why It Matters, Health Affairs 37, no. 1 (January 2018)
ToxicDocs ( from history buried in stacks of paper to open, searchable archives online, Journal of Public Health Policy 39, no. 1 (February 2018) (with David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz)
Biocitizenship on the Ground: The Medical Governance Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s in Kelly Happe, Jennell Johnson, Marina Levina, eds., Biocitizenship (New York: New York University Press, 2018)
Race, Class, Crisis: The Discourse of Disparity and its Analytical Discontents,Socialist Register 48, no. 1 (2012) (with Adolph Reed Jr.)
The New Left and Public Health: The Health Policy Advisory Center (Health/PAC), Community Organizing, and the Big Business of Health (1967- 1975), American Journal of Public Health 101, no. 2 (Feburary 2011)

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