We have an exciting opportunity for graduate students interested in health equity, social epidemiology, and public informatics research to join a strong interdisciplinary research team at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

This research assistant position offers opportunities to work on health equity research focusing on the impacts of structural racism and resilience on mental health through a nationally representative sample of adults. The research assistant will also be encouraged to attend and present the results of the research findings at scientific conferences, participate in study meetings and interact with collaborative research members. We are seeking motivated graduate students in epidemiology, spatial data science, urban planning, health policy, or related field. This research assistant is a 12-month position for 10 hours per week (starting fall 2022).

Required Qualification:

· Students who are currently pursuing a graduate degree in epidemiology, spatial data science, urban planning, health policy, or related fields.

· Proficient at use of a statistical software such as SAS, Stata, R, SPSS.

· Working knowledge and experience of Geographic Informatics System (GIS)

· Ability to think proactively, be a self-starter, and function both independently and as a team member

· Strong organization skills and excellent attention to detail

· Excellent written and oral communication skills

For more information or questions, please contact Dr. Yen-Tyng Chen at yentyng.chen@rutgers.edu.

Title: Connecting experienced racial discrimination and mental health outcomes to place-based structural racism and resilience measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

Principal Investigator: Yen-Tyng Chen, Assistant Professor, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (yentyng.chen@rutgers.edu)


Project abstract

Racial discrimination is a fundamental driver of health inequities, and its impact has become even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic and increasingly racialized politics with concurrent heightened stigma and discrimination toward racial minorities in the United States. There is an increasing call for improving measurement of structural racism and the use of a macro-level perspective to understand how racial discrimination impacts individual health. Developing a multi-level (individual- and place-level racism) and multidimensional (social, economic, political, institutional aspects) model for structural racism is particularly vital. Structural racism has detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. To date, studies that examined place-level racism are limited and largely focused on the White-Black gap in terms of physical health outcomes (e.g., mortality, birth outcomes). Although the strong impact of self-perceived racial discrimination on mental health outcomes is well documented, studies that examine place-level structural racism and structural resilience on mental health (e.g., depression, anxiety) through multi-level designs are still limited. There is an urgent need to use a structural lens to examine mental health disparities particularly in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic and growing political polarization when the prevalence of depressive symptoms more than tripled among adults in the United States. Additionally, structural resilience (e.g., social capital, community climate, and racial/ethnic cultural resources) can provide scientific opportunities to identify and create targets for place-based interventions that reverse the detrimental effects of structural racism. There is a need to develop socially and culturally appropriate place-level measures that are most relevant to the specific racial and ethnic group to better understand both the spatial distribution of racialized structural inequities and its association to mental health outcomes. The current study aims to: Aim 1) Construct and characterize place-level structural racism (e.g., racial prejudice, residential segregation) and place-level structural resilience (e.g., political participation, cultural enclaves) for a nationally representative sample of US adults. Aim 2) Determine the race/ethnic specific relationship of place-level structural racism and place-level structural resilience with mental health based on individuals’ residential areas using a nationally representative sample of US adults. Aim 3) Identify race/ethnic specific interactive effects of place-level structural racism, place-level structural resilience, and individual-level perceived racial discrimination on mental health using a nationally representative sample of US adults.

To apply for this job email your details to yentyng.chen@rutgers.edu