Shannon Monnat | Lerner Chair & Director
Shannon Monnat is the Lerner Chair for Public Health Promotion and Lerner Center Director. She is also Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Policy, Place, and Population Health Lab at SU. Dr. Monnat received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the State University of New York at Albany in 2008. Monnat’s research interests broadly fall at the intersection of place, public policy, and population health. A common theme binding much of her research is a concern for rural people and places. Her most recent research has focused on fatal drug overdose and other diseases and deaths of despair, particularly trying to understand why rates of substance abuse and mortality are higher in some places than others. She has published over 70 peer-reviewed academic journal articles, book chapters, research briefs, and reports, and has presented her research to numerous public, academic, and policy audiences, including the United Nations, the National Academy of Sciences, the Aspen Institute, and at Congressional briefings. Her research has been featured in several media outlets, including CNN, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Atlantic.
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. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Kate Lee | Program Coordinator
Mary Kate Lee received her Bachelor’s of Arts 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 optimize their wellbeing. 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. Mary Kate is also a research assistant in the Syracuse University Mind Body Lab. Her research interests include the study of positive psychological and mindfulness interventions as they relate to compassion, authenticity, purpose and meaning in life.
Email Mary Kate: email@example.com
Research Assistants | 2019 – 2020
Austin McNeill Brown, LMSW | Graduate Research Assistant
Austin is the former Associate Director of Research at the Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery at Kennesaw State University. His work has spanned the breadth of recovery science, from theories of addiction recovery, recovery support systems, and collegiate recovery programs. Mr. Brown holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Texas Tech University, and Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Vermont. Austin has worked as both a clinician and a researcher since 2016.
Email Austin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Van Slyke | Undergraduate Research Assistant
Ashley Van Slyke is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing with a minor in public service. She is a member of the University Honors College, writing a Bachelor of Philosophy Thesis regarding mental health literacy, her main area of research study. This is her second summer working as an Undergraduate Research Affiliate at the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion.
Email Ashley: AJV52@pitt.edu
Claire Pendergrast | Lerner Graduate Fellow
Claire Pendergrast is a Sociology PhD student interested in aging, social policy, and health disparities. She received her Master of Public Health from the University of Washington in 2019, where her research focused on public health policy, healthy aging, and community resilience to disasters. Claire has worked at the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services, where she focused on environmental health communications and community engagement, and as the Research Translation assistant for the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, where she supported science policy and risk communication programming and research. Claire is passionate about working in partnership with communities and policy stakeholders to support evidence-based public health.
Email Claire: email@example.com
Mariah Brennan | Lerner Graduate Fellow
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.
Email Mariah: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary “Emmy” Helander | Lerner Graduate Fellow
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.
Email Emmy: email@example.com
Xiaoyan (Amanda) Zhang | Lerner Graduate Fellow
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 are on the impacts of social determinants on health disparities. She is particularly interested in how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) impact health and well-being. She aims to conduct research and evaluation that can be translated into programs or treatments to help children and their families promote their health. Her most recent research examines the effects of economic hardship and children’s adjustment using the Family Stress Model. She expanded the model by incorporating the role of neighborhood interpersonal trust.
Email Xiaoyan: firstname.lastname@example.org