The goal of my research agenda is to determine how to better promote social justice for residents of disadvantaged communities.


I am analyzing data from a recent community-engaged research project. I conducted phone interviews as part of an asset mapping in a community-engaged project in a nearby community in 2016. I reported results to the community collaborative including geographic maps and network maps of programs and services. Using this data, I am currently examining networks among programs, the spatial location of programs, and perceptions of barriers and solutions to community issues.

I am collaborating with researchers in Public Health and Sociology to examine housing instability in Johnson County, Iowa. Funded by the University of Iowa’s Office of Outreach and Engagement, we are investigating how local residents and students experience our tight housing market. Data collection is currently underway.

I am also currently analyzing data from the Anne E. Casey Foundation’s Making Connections intervention. One of my research questions examines the relationship between neighborhood tenure, donated social support, and neighborhood participation. Another project examines neighborhood collective efficacy and participation in neighborhoods.


I examined neighborhood activism in my dissertation research, employing data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study (CCAHS), which include a neighborhood-based survey of residents along with observations of neighborhood conditions. In the first paper, I found that participation in neighborhood activism is associated with psychological well-being and social ties (published in the Journal of Community Psychology). In the second paper, I tested three theories about the types of neighborhoods that are more likely to have residents engaged in activism. I found that individuals who live in neighborhoods with high affluence, high disadvantage, or both are most likely to engage in neighborhood activism in Chicago (published in the Journal of Urban Affairs). My research demonstrates that neighborhood activism is an important strength of disadvantaged communities.

Using  CCAHS data, I examined how neighborhood context matters for coping (in the Journal of Community Psychology) and the stress process (in the Journal of Urban Health). I also examined how neighborhood organizational resources contribute to resident health (in Health & Social Work). I looked at the spatial clustering of organizational resources (in Journal of Community Practice) and whether neighborhood organizational resources matter for resident participation (in Social Service Review).

While a postdoctoral researcher, I joined a research team studying the changing birth outcome disparities in Wisconsin. In Dane County Wisconsin, infant mortality among blacks declined sharply between 1999 and 2007—an improvement that was not seen in other communities or among other racial and ethnic groups. I analyzed survey data collected by an interdisciplinary team, including my postdoctoral mentor, Stephanie Robert, Ph.D. I investigated the relationship between neighborhood context and 1) birth outcomes and 2) mental health of mothers. Through this work, I further developed my expertise in social determinants of health and my skills in health disparities research.

I worked with a colleague at the University of Iowa School of Social Work to examine predictors of homeless chronicity in a sample of service users in Scott County, Iowa in the Quad Cities. This project informed the work of the United Way of the Quad Cities Area in efforts to address issues of poverty and economic inequality in the community.