Faculty and Staff

  • Gina Wingood, ScD, MPH

    • Director
    • Sidney and Helaine Lerner Professor of Public Health Promotion

    Dr. Wingood is a distinguished researcher and academic leader in the health promotion field, with decades of expertise designing and evaluating interventions that reduce health disparities in HIV. Dr. Wingood dedicated her life to developing gender- and culturally-appropriate HIV prevention interventions for African American women. Dr. Wingood’s Sisters Informing Sisters about Topics in AIDS (SISTA) intervention, as well as five other HIV prevention interventions, have been endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and implemented widely across the country. She has been invited twice as a speaker to the White House to share her experience with evidence-based, multi-level interventions. Prior to joining the Mailman School, Dr. Wingood was a Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education and the Agnes Moore Faculty in HIV/AIDS at Emory University. During her tenure at Emory University, Dr. Wingood published over 225 peer-reviewed articles across a wide array of public health and medical journals and served as Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on over 20 grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    Profile Headshot
  • Azure Nowara, MPH, CHES

    • Associate Director

    Azure Nowara, MPH, manages projects, finances and communication efforts for the Center. She coordinates the Certificate in Health Communication and organizes the Turning the Tide conference series. Azure has a background in education, nutrition and community health. She has experience working with policy-makers, community organizations and community members to advocate for healthier and more sustainable food environments in NYC. Azure received her MPH from the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health with a certificate in Health Promotion Research and Practice and a focus in urban health and chronic disease prevention. While at Mailman, she was named a “Community Scholar” by the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and designed an intervention proposal to treat and prevent obesity among adolescent girls living in public housing as her Master’s Thesis. Before pursuing her Master’s degree at Mailman, Azure spent a year in Malaysia completing a Fulbright scholarship. There, she studied race relations within the public school system and taught English and health education in an under-privileged high school. Azure is a certified yoga instructor and a passionate world-traveler.

  • Rachel Shelton, ScD, MPH

    • Associate Director of Research
    • Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences

    Dr. Shelton is a social and behavioral science researcher with expertise in cancer prevention, obesity, and health disparities. She has training in health promotion, social epidemiology, and community-based participatory research, and uses both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Her current research largely focuses on: 1) how interpersonal, structural, and sociocultural factors influence preventive health behaviors (e.g. physical activity, cancer screening behaviors) that are associated with cancer and obesity; and 2) developing, implementing and sustaining community-based and health systems interventions (e.g. lay health advisor programs, patient navigation programs, decision-aids) to reduce the risk of cancer and obesity. The overarching goal of this research is to inform interventions and policies to promote health and reduce health disparities among underserved, predominately low-income populations. Dr. Shelton is currently the Principal Investigator for a study funded by the American Cancer Society focused on decision-making and communication among providers, cancer patients, and their families when there is insufficient clinical evidence to guide decisions.

    Profile Headshot
  • Marni Sommer, DrPH, MSN, RN

    • Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences

    Dr. Sommer has worked in global health and development issues ranging from improving access to essential medicines to humanitarian relief in conflict settings. Her areas of expertise include conducting participatory research and implementing adolescent-focused interventions in low- and middle-income countries to understand and promote healthy transitions to adulthood. Dr. Sommer’s research explored girls' experiences of menstruation, puberty and schooling in Tanzania, Ghana, Ethopia and Cambodia, and the ways in which the onset of puberty disrupts girls' academic performance and transition to adulthood. Her current research focuses on the intersections of gender, health, and education for adolescent girls and boys in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. She has published girls’ and boys’ puberty books in four countries, in collaboration with each country’s respective Ministry of Education, and is the Executive Editor of the journal Global Public Health.

    Profile Headshot
  • Daniel P. Giovenco, PhD, MPH

    • Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences

    Dr. Giovenco is a behavioral scientist whose research uses geographical information systems, field data collection, and survey data to identify social and environmental determinants of tobacco use disparities. His specific areas of interest include the marketing of non-cigarette tobacco products in diverse communities, the public health implications of tobacco harm reduction, and the co-use of marijuana and tobacco. In addition to research, Dr. Giovenco teaches graduate courses in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and Mailman's Health Communication certificate program. He is a member of the Prevention, Control and Disparities Program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, holds a faculty appointment at the Columbia Population Research Center, and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). Dr. Giovenco currently serves as Principal Investigator on a grant funded by the National Institutes of Health. His project will examine how the promotion of tobacco products with varying levels of risk differs across neighborhoods and how this may influence harm reduction behaviors and subsequent health disparities.

    Profile Headshot
  • Christian Gloria, PhD

    • Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences

    Christian T. Gloria studies the protective and resilience factors that enable people to adapt, grow, and thrive against chronic stress and adversity. He has worked with and served various vulnerable communities including immigrant, marginalized, military, minority, and low-SES populations in Texas, Hawaii, and the Republic of the Philippines. His present research is focused on the health and well-being of Filipino communities locally in New York and nationally across the United States. Other professional and scholarly interests include physical activity, nutrition, weight management, employee-work engagement, and public health workforce development.

    Profile Headshot
  • Melissa DuPont-Reyes, PhD, MPH

    • Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences and Epidemiology

    Trained as a psychiatric and social epidemiologist, Dr. DuPont-Reyes is an interdisciplinary public health scholar that centers her research on issues of health equity in population mental health among young and diverse populations. Her research seeks to understand how early prevention of mental illness stigma among adolescents may help reduce disparities in mental health care access and utilization across the life course. Her current projects address three important issues in mental illness stigma research: (1) the development and testing of low-dose, high-reach mental health anti-stigma interventions via school mental health education and mass media, (2) evaluation of mental illness stigma across intersectional social identities, and (3) advancing mental health help-seeking theory to help further our understanding of familial aggregation of mental illness. Through her mental health research, Dr. DuPont-Reyes has led studies on U.S.-based Spanish language media that has broader public health implications.

    Profile Headshot

Sign Up for Updates

Receive updates from the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion

Sign Up