Shannon Monnat | Lerner Chair & Director
Shannon Monnat received her PhD in Sociology at the State University of New York at Albany in 2008. Prior to her appointment at Syracuse University, she was a faculty member for five years at University of Nevada Las Vegas and for four years at Penn State University. As a scholar of social inequality and social demography, Dr. Monnat’s research examines the correlates and consequences of social disadvantage, particularly at the intersections of place, public policy, and health. A common theme binding much of her work is a concern for rural people and places. Her current research focuses on spatial differences in opioid misuse and mortality and other diseases and deaths of despair. In another line of research, she examines associations between various social and public health policies and health behaviors and health care access.
Alexandra Punch | Associate Director
Alexandra Punch received her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Northeastern University in 2012. Prior to working at Syracuse University, Alexandra served as the Director of Drug User Health at ACR Health. There, she focused on innovative treatment practices and community collaborations for addressing opioid dependence using the Harm Reduction model of care. She is the Chair of the Harm Reduction subcommittee for the Onondaga County Drug Task Force, and Board Member for the non-profit Road2RecoveryCNY. Alexandra also worked at the Onondaga County Health Department as a Research Technician in the Bureau of Disease Control, where her primary focus was HIV/STIs, Tuberculosis, and other communicable diseases.
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Mary Kate Lee | Program Coordinator
Mary Kate Lee received her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development from the State University of New York at Oswego. The focal point of Mary Kate’s work at SUNY Oswego was developing and implementing outreach initiatives for students to engage in healthy lifestyle practices. This work has translated to her professional life as the Center’s program coordinator, where she is responsible for managing and expanding the Healthy Monday Syracuse campaign and maintaining campus and community partnerships.
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Lerner Graduate Fellows | 2019 – 2020
Mary “Emmy” Helander
Mary “Emmy” Helander received her Bachelor’s in CIS and Math from the State University of New York at Potsdam, and Master’s and PhD degrees in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research from Syracuse University and the State University of New York at Buffalo respectively. Mary was a Senior Researcher and Software Architect at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center. Mary returned to graduate study at Syracuse University so that she could redirect her skills in data and network science, problem solving, and IT to study societal issues through the pursuit of a PhD in Social Sciences. Mary is interested in: research that explores topics in public health and its intersection with emergency medical services; social inequity in health care, education and employment and how it effects the elderly; and social science research methodology.
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Mariah received her Bachelors degrees in Political Science and Anthropology at the University of Connecticut in 2016. While studying political science, Mariah interned for Congresswoman DeLauro in Washington DC. As an intern she focused on health and military policies. Following her internship, Mariah pursued her Masters in Public Administration while maintaining a research fellowship with the Connecticut Democrats. Her experience in local and national politics combined with her background in policy research has inspired her to more closely examine veteran policies through a public health lens. Mariah will be beginning her PhD in Social Science this fall.
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Xiaoyan (Amanda) Zhang
Xiaoyan (Amanda) Zhang is a doctoral student in the department of Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) at Syracuse University. She received her Master’s Degree in HDFS at SU in 2018. Her broad research interests lie on the impact of social determinants on health disparities, particularly she is interested on how Adverse Childhood Experiences impact health and well-being. Her ultimate efforts in research is in conducting research and evaluation which can be translated into programs or treatments to help children and their families and promote their health. Her recent research examines the effects of economic hardship and children’s adjustment using the Family Stress Model and expanded the model by incorporating the role of neighborhood interpersonal trust.
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