Community Health

There is a growing recognition in the public health arena that a key to promoting and sustaining the health of populations is to understand the complex interplay between community members, their environments, and the healthcare system at the local level. Community-based participatory research is unique in that community members work side-by-side with researchers to identify and address the most pressing issues in the local community.

In working closely with these community members and the institutions that serve them, more trusting relationships can create a “climate of goodwill” that would encourage personal investment among local citizens and more self-sustaining interventions.

The Community Health Cluster will be strategically oriented around the community-based participatory research methodology that has been effective in analyzing and addressing determinants of health and health disparities. It will be headed up by a core group of five faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education.

They are: Chris Burke, associate professor in the department of psychology; Judith Lasker, professor in the department of sociology and anthropology; George White, professor in the College of Education and Managing Director for Student Access and Success; Breena Holland, associate professor of political science and the Environmental Initiative; and Kelly Austin, associate professor of sociology.

This core group will also work with Jessecae Marsh, associate professor and director of Health, Medicine & Society program, Beth Dolan, associate professor of English, and Dena Davis, professor of religion studies and Presidential Endowed Chair in Health, to achieve both the research and teaching goals of the cluster.

Donald Hall, the Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as lead dean for the Community Health cluster, which will fund up to three new faculty positions.


Faculty Lead: Chris Burke, associate professor of psychology

Appointed August, 2014:
Lucy Napper
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Lucy Napper earned her doctorate degree in health and social psychology and her bachelor's in psychology from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. She was the recipient of a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award to develop a measure of HIV risk perception. Before joining Lehigh's faculty, Napper was the Codirector of the HeadsUp Alcohol Research Lab at Loyola Marymount University and the Principal Investigator of a grant examining the efficacy of a parent-based alcohol intervention. Her research interests include substance abuse, responses to health risk information, psychometrics and the evaluation of health interventions. She has presented her work nationally and internationally and has published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Prevention Science and Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Appointed Fall 2015
Sirry Alang
Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology
Sirry Alang earned her doctorate in health services research, policy and administration at the University of Minnesota, her master’s in sociology from Lehigh University and her bachelor’s in sociology and anthropology from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Prior to joining Lehigh’s faculty, Alang was principal planning analyst at the Hennepin County Public Health Department and a teaching fellow at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Alang’s research interests include mental health and illness, mental health services, health disparities, and social determinants of health. She has several publications, some of which have appeared in journals such as Society and Mental Health, Mental Health and Prevention, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health, and Journal of Race and Ethnic Health Disparities.

Appointed August 2016
Julia Lechuga
Assistant Professor, Counseling Psychology
Julia Lechuga (Education and Human Services and The Community Health Research Group) earned her doctorate in health psychology, her master’s in experimental psychology and her bachelor’s in psychology/communication at the University of Texas at El Paso.  Before joining Lehigh’s faculty she served as an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her research consists of developing and testing health behavior change interventions for ethnic minority communities using community based participatory research methods.  She has presented her work at numerous conferences and has published in Social Science & Medicine, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Journal of Clinical Nursing, Health Promotion and Practice and the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health.