Six new Faculty Fellows elected to the Carolina Population Center: Aiello, Albrecht, Gilleskie, Hummer, Ifatunji, Shanahan

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The core of the Carolina Population Center is the Faculty Fellows, UNC-Chapel Hill faculty members who conduct population research, teach population-relevant classes, and mentor students who are preparing to research population issues.

In 2014, six new Faculty Fellows were elected: Allison Aiello, Sandra Albrecht, Donna Gilleskie, Mosi Ifatunji, Robert Hummer, and Michael Shanahan. CPC now has 64 Faculty Fellows who are based in 15 UNC departments, reflecting a rich environment for interdisciplinary collaboration and research.

Allison Aiello is an epidemiologist whose research focuses on the epidemiologic and mechanistic link between social factors, infectious agents, immune response, and the development of chronic diseases of aging. Her research examines life course exposure to persistent infections and their influence on aging, immunity and health. She is the PI of an intergenerational study of socioeconomic and cultural determinants of health among Latinos living in the US and a study examining the impact of stress and infection on telomeres using data from the UK Whithall II study. She has also led intervention studies aimed at testing non-pharmaceutical measures for reducing infections in the community setting, using clustered and social network randomized study designs.

At the national level, she serves as a member of the Social Sciences and Population Studies B Study Section at the NIH and was a member of an Institute of Medicine Panel for the Committee on Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers during an Influenza Pandemic. She has served on the editorial board of the American Journal of Infection Control and as an Associate Editor of BMC Public Health.

Aiello is a Professor of Epidemiology in UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. She received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Columbia University.

Her research aligns with three of CPC’s signature themes Biological and Social Interactions, Life Course Perspectives, and Place, Space, and Health.

Sandra Albrecht is an Assistant Professor of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is a social epidemiologist whose research focuses on the socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental factors that contribute to progression of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in U.S. immigrants, and among Latinos in the US and in Latin America. Examples of recent work include examining the association between inter-generational educational mobility and body mass index in adulthood among young immigrants, investigating the social and environmental determinants of weight gain in Hispanics and Chinese immigrants, and exploring the role of ethnic enclaves in shaping diet-related outcomes in Hispanics.

Albrecht’s most recent work focuses on investigating the social and behavioral factors that contribute to Hispanics’ increased susceptibility to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. She has expertise in quantitative methods and has worked with data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), and the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL).

Her previous experience includes working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and on international projects in Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Malawi, and Zambia. She received her Ph.D. in Epidemiological Sciences from the University of Michigan. She was a postdoctoral scholar at CPC from 2011 until 2014.

Albrecht’s research interests are placed within CPC’s research themes Biological and Social Interactions, Place, Space, and Health, and Population Movement, Diversity, and Inequality.

Donna Gilleskie is a Professor of Economics at UNC. Her research interests intersect health economics, labor economics, and applied econometrics. Her work generally involves observations over time, theory-driven modeling of dynamic behaviors, and the use of rigorous empirical approaches to explore health and labor supply decisions and outcomes of individuals. Donna’s recent work explores the effect of prescription medicine coverage on the diagnostic care, medication use, diet modification, and exercise behaviors of diabetics; quantifies the impact of self-reported health history and occupation/employer tenure on wages of males with and without disability; and applies novel analytic methods using a systems-science approach to examine the complex relationships (both concurrent and dynamic) among criminal histories, welfare use, employment, and health of predominantly disadvantaged women followed over multiple years. Several current projects involve understanding the roles of friendship formation, parental health shocks, and other social interactions on smoking behavior over the life-cycle.

Gilleskie received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Minnesota. Her research relates to three of CPC’s signature themes: Biological and Social Interactions, Life Course Perspectives, and Population and Health Policies and Programs.

Robert (Bob) Hummer is a social demographer whose research centers on health and mortality disparities across population groups in the United States. His disparities research has focused on two general areas: the extent and why educational attainment is related to U.S. health and mortality outcomes, and the extent and why race/ethnicity and nativity are related to U.S. health and mortality outcomes. His book with Richard Rogers and Charles Nam, Living and Dying in the USA: Health, Behavioral, and Social Differentials of Adult Mortality (Academic Press, 2000), won the Otis Dudley Duncan Award from the Population Section of the American Sociological Association for its contribution to the field of social demography. In 2010, he received the Clifford C. Clogg Award for Early Career Achievement from the Population Association of America.

Hummer’s most recent National Institutes of Health funded project focused on the widening education-mortality relationship in the United States. Among the key findings, this project showed that the widening is driven almost entirely by birth cohort effects rather than by period effects. While more recent birth cohorts of highly educated women and men enjoy much lower mortality risks compared to older birth cohort counterparts, more recent cohorts of individuals with less than a high school education exhibit mortality risks similar to their older birth cohort counterparts. This trend is part of the broader increase in inequality that may be the defining feature of the United States in the early 21st Century. Hummer’s work identifies key aspects of social change, using a general approach to these questions that integrates independent and interactive effects of multiple stratification systems including gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status on health from a life course perspective.

Since 2011, he has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the U.S. Census, and has served as a reviewer for NIH and NSF grants since 2000. He currently serves as a deputy editor of Demography and an associate editor for Demographic Research.

Hummer received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Florida State University and is joining the UNC Sociology Department as the Howard W. Odum Professor in July 2015.

His research incorporates CPC’s signature theme Population Movement, Diversity, and Inequality.

Mosi Ifatunji’s research is focused on the role that race and culture play in the manufacture of social stratification. He is specifically interested in what he calls the ‘black ethnic comparative,’ or various comparisons between African Americans and black immigrants. The utility of this comparative is that it provides for a quasi-experimental design where ‘racial phenotype’ (i.e., skin color, hair texture and bone structure) is held constant across different population groups, thus allowing for an examination of the degree to which various within group attributes, such as human capital and cultural attributes, are responsible for both black ethnic disparities and social inequality more generally. This comparative work also allows him to advance theory on ‘racialization.’ Recently, some have argued that the process of racialization includes non-physical features. Since the comparative holds racial phenotype constant across different populations, his research consolidates and tests the viability of this thinking by considering the degree to which the process of racialization is different across black ethnic groups.

He is the Instructor for Methodological Issues in Quantitative Research on Race and Ethnicity (MIQRRE), a course provided by the Inter-University Consortium for Social and Political Research (ICPSR) Summer Program, at the Institute for Social Research (ISR) of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Ifatunji received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Illinois. He was a postdoctoral scholar at CPC from 2011 until 2013. He is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UNC. His research incorporates CPC’s signature theme Population Movement, Diversity, and Inequality.

Michael Shanahan is doing innovative life course research at the intersection of biology, genetics, and sociology. He is integrating life course sociology with molecular genetics with a focus on integrating genetic factors into the analysis of human behavior. He has work with Add Health data to explore the gene-environment interplay across the life course. He is extending this work to the study of mRNA expression in Add Health and continues work exploring a sociological frame and identification of a set of social mechanisms that can be classified and understood in terms of social forces that seem to turn genes on and off.

Shanahan’s 2000 Annual Review of Sociology article on the Transition to Adulthood has been cited nearly 700 times. This paper opened several inter-related avenues for future life course research by showing that the transition to adulthood was becoming more individualized, beginning in the 1970s. The review article indicated how demographic data pointed in this direction. Subsequent studies began to focus on the measurement and modeling of individualization in the transition to adulthood and the application of these new models and measures to cross-national datasets.

Shanahan is a Professor in UNC’s Sociology department. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He was a postdoctoral scholar at CPC from 1992 until 1995.

Shanahan’s research relates to two of CPC’s signature themes: Biological and Social Interactions and Life Course Perspectives.

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