Research Affiliates

Jean L. Freeman

Professor, Departments of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Internal Medicine, and School of Allied Health, UT-Medical Branch

Ph.D., Yale University

Jennie Sealy Hospital Room 3.132

Jean L. Freeman has designed and directed studies in health services research for over 20 years. Her recent work is focused on the use of administrative datasets (Medicare data and tumor registry data) to assess the quality of breast cancer care nationally and the factors associated with quality care. Over the past six years she has had funding from the Department of Defense (DAMD17-96-1-6215) and the National Cancer Institute (RO1CA72076) to examine the use and outcomes of mammography services in older women. Of interest is the effectiveness of screening mammography in older women, with a focus on the very old (75+) and disadvantaged populations. Also of interest is the extent to which older women are receiving appropriate care for breast cancer and how this affects health outcomes such as breast cancer mortality and survival. A major aim of this research is to investigate whether the disparities in mortality and survival observed in older minority and economically disadvantaged populations can be explained by their lower use of screening and appropriate therapy.

Dr. Freeman is also a member of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and teaches in the Preventive Medicine and Community Health Graduate Program. In the PMCH PhD Program she directs courses in the Clinical Sciences Curriculum (Methods in Health Services Research, Outcomes Research) and supervises students in their dissertation research. In the PMCH MPH program she co-directs the Health Policy and Management course with Dr. James Goodwin.

In September 2001, she was awarded a grant on "Health Services Research in Underserved Populations" by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (R24HS11618) to strengthen UTMB's capacity to conduct rigorous health services research. Through this grant she and her co-PI Gayle Weaver are building a faculty development program that includes advanced training in research methods and data analysis, short courses in scientific writing and a mentoring system to support research proposal development for NIH grant submissions.


James S. Goodwin

George and Cynthia Mitchell Distinguished Professor, Chief Medical Director, Geriatric Medicine, Internal Medicine, UT-Medical Branch

Jennie Sealy Hospital Room 3.204

Dr. Goodwin studies patterns of cancer care in the elderly, barriers to health care delivery in the elderly, and predictors of physical functioning and health in older populations.


Daniel Grossman

Vice President for Research, Ibis Reproductive Health

M.D., Stanford University

1330 Broadway, Suite 1100
Oakland, CA 94612
United States of America
Phone 510-986-8941
Fax 510-986-8960

Dan Grossman received his Bachelor’s in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University and an M.D. from Stanford University. He completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Prior to joining Ibis Reproductive Health in 2005, he held the position of Health Specialist at the Population Council in Mexico City. While at the Council, his work included qualitative research on women’s experiences with misoprostol abortion, developing an acceptability trial of female-controlled barrier methods, designing training materials on emergency contraception, and training on medication abortion. Current work focuses on improving access to contraception and safe abortion in both the US and Latin America, as well as on barrier methods for HIV prevention. Dr. Grossman also works as a clinician part-time at St. Luke’s Women’s Center in San Francisco and has a clinical faculty appointment at UCSF in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.  Dr. Grossman is currently working on two research projects with PRC faculty Joseph Potter and Kristine Hopkins:  the Border Contraceptive Access Project and the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.


Stephen D. Hursting

Professor and McKean-Love Chair, Department of Human Ecology, University of Texas at Austin, and Professor of Carcinogenesis, UT-M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

GEA 115

Dr. Hursting earned a BA in biology from Earlham College and a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry and an MPH in nutritional epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also completed postdoctoral training in molecular biology and cancer prevention as a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). From 1995 to 1999, Dr. Hursting was an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Carcinogenesis at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer, where he directed a multidisciplinary research program in nutrition and cancer prevention. He continues his affiliation with his former departments at the MD Anderson Cancer Center as a Professor of Carcinogenesis and Adjunct Associate Professor of Epidemiology.

From 1999-2005, Dr. Hursting was Deputy Director of the NCI's Office of Preventive Oncology, Division of Cancer Prevention. He was responsible for all aspects of the NCI's Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program. Dr. Hursting was also an Investigator in the NCI's Center for Cancer Research, where he was Chief of the Nutrition and Molecular Carcinogenesis Section of the NCI's Laboratory of Biosystems and Cancer. His research program focuses on the nutritional modulation of the carcinogenesis process, with a particular emphasis on the molecular, cellular and hormonal changes underlying important nutrition and cancer associations, with a focus on energy balance/obesity.


Karen Chai Kim pictureKaren Chai Kim

Research Affiliate, Center for Immigration Research, University of Houston

Ph.D., Harvard University

Karen Chai Kim specializes in the study of race/ethnicity and religion.  She has studied ethnic Koreans in Japan, Korean ethnic churches and Buddhist temples in the U.S., Chinese American Protestants in New York City, and multiracial congregations across the U.S.   In addition to numerous book chapters and articles, she is the co-author of United By Faith:  The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race (Oxford University Press, 2003).  Dr. Kim earned her B.A. in Sociology and in Japanese Studies from Wellesley College.  She earned her A.M. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University.  She also completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Rice University.  Prior to moving to Austin, Dr. Kim was an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Houston.


Kyriakos S. Markides

Annie and John Gnitzinger Distinguished Professor of Aging; Professor and Director, Division of Sociomedical Sciences; Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Texas Medical Branch;Editor, Journal of Aging and Health

Ph.D., Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

University of Texas Medical Branch, 700 Harborside Drive, Room 1.128, Galveston, Texas 77555-1153

Kyriakos S. Markides received his Ph.D. in Sociology in 1976 from Louisiana State University.  He is currently the Annie and John Gnitzinger Distinguished Professor of Aging and Director of the Division of Sociomedical Sciences, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.  Dr. Markides is the Editor of the Journal of Aging and Health which he founded in 1989.  He is the author or co-author of over 300 publications most of which are on aging and health issues in the Mexican American population as well as minority aging issues in general.  His research has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health since 1980.   He is currently Principal Investigator of the Hispanic EPESE (Established Population for the Epidemiological Study of the Elderly), a longitudinal study of the health of 3,952 older Mexican Americans from the five Southwestern states. Dr. Markides is credited with coining the term ‘Hispanic Epidemiological Paradox' (with J. Coreil) which is currently the leading theme in Hispanic health. He is also the editor of the Encyclopedia of Health and Aging published by SAGE Publications in 2007. The Institute for Scientific Information (ISA) has listed Dr. Markides among the most highly cited social scientists in the world. Dr. Markides is the 2006 recipient of the Distinguished Mentorship Award of the Gerontological Society of America, and the 2009 Distinguished Professor Award in Gerontology and Geriatrics from UCLA.  He was also the inaugural recipient of the Pearmain Prize for outstanding service to the field of aging from the Roybal Institute on Aging at the University of Southern California.  The prize was awarded in February, 2010.


Jennifer L. Matjasko

Behavioral Scientist, Division of Violence Prevention,

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Human Ecology, UT-Austin

Ph.D., University of Chicago


Dr. Jennifer L. Matjasko is a Behavioral Scientist in Violence Prevention at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her research interests focus on the development of at-risk adolescents and the factors that promote their health and well-being. Her research emphasizes the use of ecological, lifecourse, and person-centered approaches in understanding the relationship between individual, family, school, and community factors and adolescent functioning in order to inform prevention and intervention efforts targeted to at-risk youth.


Matthew McGlone

Assistant Professor, Communication Studies

Ph.D., Princeton University

CMA A7.122

Matthew McGlone studies the cognitive, cultural, and social foundations of interpersonal communication. He teaches courses on topics in interpersonal communication and persuasion.


M. Kristen Peek

Associate Professor, Division of Sociomedical Sciences, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Texas Medical Branch

Ph.D., Duke University

1.128 Ewing Hall, UTMB, Galveston, Texas 77555-1153

Kristen Peek is an Associate Professor in the Sociomedical Sciences division in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and a Fellow at the Sealy Center on Aging at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). She received her PhD in Sociology from Duke University in 1996 and then completed an NIA post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Florida.

Professor Peek’s research focuses on the effects of race and ethnicity on aging and physical and mental health. Since joining UTMB in 1998, she has conducted research on sociocultural processes affecting transitions into and out of disability among older Mexican Americans. In addition, she recently completed an R01 examining dyadic data on changes in spouses’ mental and physical health over time among older Mexican Americans. Currently, she is exploring the construct and predictive validity of allostatic load as a physiological marker of stress accumulated over the life course in a sample in Texas living near a petrochemical complex. Recent publications can be found in Social Science and Medicine, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Journals of Gerontology, Annals of Epidemiology, and The Gerontologist.


Laura Rudkin

Professor and Interim Chair, Preventive Medicine and Community Health, UT-Medical Branch; Fellow, Sealy Center on Aging

Ph.D., Princeton University

1.116 Ewing Hall, UTMB, Galveston, TX 77555

Laura Rudkin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and a Fellow at the Sealy Center on Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). She is Program Director for UTMB’s Public Health Program and for the Graduate Programs in Preventive Medicine and Community Health. She received her PhD in Sociology and Demography from Princeton University in 1992 and then completed an NIA post-doctoral fellowship at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Rudkin’s research examines the effects of socioeconomic position and other social factors on health outcomes, with a focus on older populations. Currently, she is examining correlates and consequences of sleep problems among older Mexican Americans. She also participates in community-based research projects in the Houston-Galveston area and emphasizing practical applications of scientific program evaluation techniques in community health promotion programs.


Kate Sullivan

Program Specialist, Research and Evaluation, SEDL

Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin

Kate Sullivan is currently working as a Program Specialist in the Research and Evaluation Division at SEDL, a private, nonprofit education research, development, and dissemination (RD&D) corporation based in Austin, Texas. She received a BA in Psychology from Saint Louis University and a MA and PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.  She was also awarded National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Pre-doctoral Traineeship from 2007 through 2009.
Dr. Sullivan's current work focuses on adolescent literacy and program evaluation using randomized controlled trials. Her past work has focused on adolescent reproductive and sexual health, union and family formation, life course development, and demographic trends. Her recent publications can be found in the Sociological Spectrum and Maternal and Child Health Journal.


Margaret Vaaler

Research Specialist, Texas Department of State Health Services

Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin

1100 W. 49th St., Austin, TX 78756
512-458-7111 ext. 2428

Margaret Vaaler is currently working as a Research Specialist in the Office of Program Decision Support at the Texas Department of State Health Services.  She received her Ph.D. in Sociology in 2008 from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Vaaler’s current public health research examines race/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in maternal and child health, teen pregnancy, pregnancy intention, family planning, breastfeeding, obesity prevention, and Texas-Mexico border health.  Her past research interests include religious influences on family transitions, help-seeking for relationship violence, attitudes toward corporal punishment, and children’s mental health outcomes.  Her recent publications can be found in the Maternal and Child Health Journal and the Journal of Marriage and Family.


Rebeca Wong

P. & S. Kempner Distinguished Professor in Health Disparities
Senior Fellow, Sealy Center on Aging
Professor, Preventive Medicine & Community Health
Director, WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center on Aging and Health

Ph.D., University of Michigan

Rebecca Sealy Building 6.300

Dr. Wong's research agenda deals with the economic demography of Hispanic and immigrant populations in the U.S. and in Latin America, especially Mexico. Her research focuses on two main areas: 1) migration and old-age consequences, and 2) health and aging. In these broad topics, Wong applies a cross-national perspective to study health and aging processes of the population. In a 2005 paper in Population and Development Review with Ken Hill, she uses data from Mexico and U.S. censuses to estimate the net flow of migrants from Mexico to the U.S., yielding an estimate of 400,000 net migrants per year. In the area of health and aging, she and colleagues are using this cross-national perspective to study the determinants of health among older adults in Latin America. In a 2006 special volume of the journal Health and Aging edited by Wong and colleagues Alberto Palloni and Martha Peláez, and a special volume of the Panamerican Journal of Public Health, several papers use data from different countries to conclude that regardless of context and the stage of demographic and epidemiologic transitions, the perceived quality of memory dominates the self-report of global health by older adults in Latin America. Also using a cross national perspective, in a 2006 paper in Research on Aging, Wong and former student Juan José Díaz find that health insurance plays a key role in the propensity to use health care among Mexicans in both Mexico and the U.S. However, the effect varies by type of health care service, concluding that health insurance plays a major role for the type of service for which there are no low-cost alternatives in the country, such as doctor visits in the U.S. In a 2007 paper in International Migration Review, Wong and co-authors find that, after controlling for migration selectivity, older adults in Mexico who are former U.S. migrants have large wealth advantage over Mexicans who never left for the U.S. The paper concludes however, that the mechanisms of this wealth advantage may not be straightforward. The accumulated wealth advantage may not necessarily originate from the old adults own trips to the U.S.; part of the economic gain may be due to skills they acquired in the U.S. which provided them with higher earnings upon returning to Mexico, or by their children's subsequent U.S. migration which allowed the older adults to accumulate wealth through remittances. In a forthcoming book , Wong and colleagues (Estelle James and Alejandra Cox-Edwards) examine the consequences of social security reforms with a gender perspective in three countries of Latin America, and draw lessons for policy makers in other countries seeking to revamp their social security systems.

Dr. Wong joined the UTMB faculty in January 2008.


Bugao Xu

Professor, Human Ecology

Ph.D., University of Maryland

GEA 225

Bugao Xu is a professor in the Program of Textiles and Apparel Design, the Department of Human Ecology of UT Austin. He received his Ph. D. in 1992 from the University of Maryland at College Park. His investigative work has focused on development of methods characterizing textile products, instrumentation of textile testing, and new technology for apparel mass customization. His research work has been awarded by NSF, USDA, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Food and Fiber Commission, and Cotton Inc. He is also affiliated with the Center for Transportation Research of UT Austin and conducts research on new imaging technology for automated pavement surface distress inspection, which has been sponsored by Texas Department of Transportation since 1999. He has published more than 50 papers in referred journals since he joined the UT faculty in 1993. He has taught Advanced Textiles, Advanced Textiles Lab, Research Methods in Merchandising, Computer Applications in Human Ecology, and 3D Technology for Apparel Mass Customization.

Dr. Xu is also a member of the Graduate Studies Committee of the Biomedical Engineering Program at UT Austin. His biomedical research interests include 3-D imaging of the human body, biometrics for personal identification, and ultrasound prosthetic imaging.

Dr. Xu was recently awarded TxDOT Innovation Award. 


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