Join Our Team as a Lerner Graduate Fellow or Postdoctoral Scholar!


Shannon Monnat headshot

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. ​

Email Shannon: smmonnat@syr.edu

Lerner Center Associate Director Alexandra PunchAlexandra 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.

Email Alexandra: aepunch@syr.edu 

Mary Kate Lee Program CoordinatorMary 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.

Email Mary Kate: mlee77@syr.edu

Graduate Lerner Fellows

Lerner Fellow Stephanie Spera

Stephanie Spera

Stephanie Spera is a duel Master’s in Public Administration/International Relations student at the Maxwell School. She received her Bachelor’s degree in History from St. John Fisher College and spent two years working in the education sector before returning for her Master’s at Syracuse University. Stephanie has also worked at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and 211 community helplines. In summer 2018, she undertook an internship in Cape Town, South Africa, where she worked to improve health literacy initiatives among illiterate women and children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Her research interests include public health, education, affordable housing, and immigration.

Lerner Fellow Katie Mott

Katie Mott

Katie Mott earned a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry. Prior to attending graduate school, she designed green stormwater infrastructure for the Philadelphia Water Department. She now is a graduate student in the Falk School, earning a Master’s of Science in Food Studies. Katie’s interest in Public Health arose when interning with NGO Soil for Life, an organization that teaches urban gardening in townships lacking access to basic necessities such as food and clean water, in Cape Town, South Africa. Katie’s thesis research focuses on an independently-owned grocery store in a predominantly African American and Latino neighborhood, where 40% of residents live below the poverty line.

Lerner Fellow Sean Withingon

Sean Withington

Originally from the U.K., Sean Withington grew up in various places around Scotland and England before moving to France, and, soon after, Dubai. A short career in public relations followed Sean’s graduation from the University of Leeds with a degree in Economics and History. Four years after completing his undergraduate degree, he decided to return to university with the eventual goal of starting a career in conflict prevention and resolution.