Connecting the social and built environment to health and health inequalities


Since its inception in the early 1960s, the Social Environment and Health Program (SEH) has been a leader in theory development and empirical research on the role of psychosocial factors in the etiology and trajectories of mental and physical health and illness. SEH was first led by psychologists John R. P. French, Jr., Robert Kahn, and Floyd Mann. However, it has always been a multi-disciplinary program with collaboration among environmental health scholars, demographers, gerontologists, epidemiologists, and sociologists, notably including James House.

Today, the SEH program has expanded its interdisciplinary lens and includes scholars trained in sociology, geography, demography, architecture, gerontology, human development, epidemiology, health behavior, psychology, environmental engineering, and environmental health. We focus on context and its relation to health and, in particular, health inequalities. For example, one major focus has been on the role of neighborhood resources on social inequalities in aging and health throughout the adult life course. Our research also includes a focus on the intersection of the social with the physical environment, including climate change and environmental hazards, on socioeconomic and racial inequalities in health. In addition to empirical research, the SEH program houses several major data projects, including the Americans’ Changing Lives (ACL) longitudinal cohort study, the National Neighborhood Data Archive (NaNDA), and the Landscapes of Racial Dispossession and Control (Landscapes).

The SEH program is dedicated to training the next generation of interdisciplinary scholars at all educational and career stages from high school students in the University of Michigan Wolverine Pathways Program to SEH post-doctoral fellows. We also house the University of Michigan Transdisciplinary Approaches to Research on Racism (RacismLab) interdisciplinary research collective for the training of doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty in the study of racism through critical perspectives.


SEH people

Core Faculty

Philippa Clarke

Philippa Clarke

Research Professor

Other affiliations:

Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health

Disability Inclusive design Aging in place Social context and cognition Assistive technology Built environment

Margaret Hicken

Margaret Hicken

Research Associate Professor

Other affiliations:

Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Michigan Medicine;

Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research

Structural racism Cultural racism Racial segregation Environmental toxicants Social epigenomics Chronic kidney disease

Felix Kabo

Felix Kabo

Assistant Research Scientist

Social Environment & Health Program

Carina Gronlund

Carina Gronlund

Research Assistant Professor

Social Environment & Health Program

Climate change Air pollution Vulnerability Health impact assessment

Grace Noppert

Grace Noppert

Research Investigator

Social Environment & Health Program

Research Staff

Iris Gomez-LopezIris Gomez-Lopez, Geospatial Analyst
Iris Gomez-Lopez joined SRC-Social Environment and Health as a Geoinformatics Data Analyst. Iris has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of North Texas. Her work in Computational Epidemiology integrates disciplines such as Geoinformatics, Data Mining, Natural Language Processing, Data Analytics, and Modelling. She completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Michigan SI, with the Neighborhood Effects Project research group. Most recently, she was employed by Miami University for one academic year as a VAP in the Computer Science and Software Engineering department. Iris enjoys spending time with her family, pets, and friends. She is involved in community projects and organizations in A2 to help and support immigrants and other population minorities.


Robert MelendezRobert Melendez, Geospatial Data Specialist

Robert is a data analyst who has expertise in the data we use in order to understand neighborhood context. For example, he takes all of the data from the US Census to create measures of neighborhood poverty, affluence, and segregation.

Megan ChenowethMegan Chenoweth, Data Manager/Curator
Megan is a librarian with experience in information management, technical writing, training, and technical support. She helps SEH researchers create and preserve datasets of neighborhood contextual measures in NaNDA and provides data management support for wave 6 of Americans’ Changing Lives. Megan has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Hamilton College and a master’s degree in library and information science from Drexel University.

Administrative Staff

Amanda Donovan

Amanda Donovan

Amanda Donovan is a project coordinator for the Social Environment and Health Program, where she assists with post-award project management, financial documentation, social media activity, and website maintenance. She received her BA from Michigan State University in 2008.

Michelle DownerMichelle Downer

Michelle Downer is the administrative assistant for the Social and Environmental Health program. She has her Associates in Applied Science and is currently working toward her Bachelors in Psychology through the University of Michigan. Michelle spends most of her time with her husband and son, she enjoys boating in the summer and reading & staying warm in the winter.

Nick PrieurNick Prieur

Nicholas Prieur is a Research Process Senior Manager in the Social Environment and Health Program, where he serves as SEHI’s overall research administrator. In his role he manages all pre-award research activities, financials, HR transactions, restricted project data contracts, IRB’s, and other program needs. He also leads the program’s shared administrative team, with specializations in post award, editing, publication production, social media, website maintenance and computing support. He received his BS from Michigan State University in 2002.

Post-doctoral Fellows

Michael EspositoMichael Esposito

PhD in Sociology
from University of Washington

Michael (Mike) Esposito is a postdoctoral fellow at the Survey Research Center, University of Michigan. Mike received his PhD in sociology from the University of Washington. His work is, generally, pointed towards advancing ideas of how race matters in population health. His work: (1) explicates how/why disparities in health outcomes are generated among the United States population (rather than in only quantifying the size of said inequalities); (2) connects larger structural features that are related to race (e.g., mass incarceration; racial residential segregation; socio-cultural environments) to health outcomes and disparities; and (3) examines how other socio-locational features that organize US society—e.g., gender; skin-tone—intersect with race to stratify health.

Jessica FinlayJessica Finlay

PhD in Geography
from University of Minnesota

Jessica Finlay is a postdoctoral research fellow. She received her PhD in Geography and Gerontology from the University of Minnesota in 2018. Her work is based primarily in qualitative and geospatial methods with expertise centering on the role of built, social, natural, and microbial environments for health in later life. For her postdoctoral research, Jessica collaboratively investigates socio-environmental factors linked to changes in cognitive function, and is developing a new area of applied clinical geography. When not at her desk, Jessica enjoys running, gardening, cooking, and spending time outdoors with family and friends.

Personal website:
Book website:

Ketlyne SolKetlyne Sol

PhD in Psychology
from Loma Linda University

Ketlyne Sol a clinical psychologist with a clinical training emphasis in rehabilitation psychology, which focuses on the holistic assessment and treatment of individuals with chronic/progressive disabling illness and acquired/traumatic physical disability. Trained within a scientist-practitioner framework, she is interested in evaluating psychosocial factors, contextual factors such as sociocultural and physical environment, and processes to help improve coping and quality of life of individuals with physical disabilities. Due to the disproportionate amounts of older adult ethnic minorities who develop Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD), she is further leveraging her clinical training and research experiences to additionally develop her skill and expertise in conducting research in disparities in ADRD to inform culturally relevant points of intervention and policy changes to reduce this disparity in aging.


Pre-doctoral Fellows

Shanice BattleShanice Battle


Shanice Battle is a PhD student at the School of Public Health in the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health. She previously worked at the CDC, Morehouse School of Medicine and Emory School of Medicine on various research projects focusing on the prevention of HIV/AIDS, childhood obesity, cardiovascular disease and maternal substance abuse. Her current research focuses on structural factors as a predictor of depression in black women and the ways social supports or stressors can impact that relationship.

Anam KhanAnam Khan


Anam is a Doctoral student pursuing her degree in Epidemiology at the School of Public Health. She received her MPH degree in Epidemiology from the University of Toronto (Canada) in 2016 and has experience using large health administrative and vital statistics databases to examine socio-demographic and geographic disparities in health care utilization and outcomes. Her research interests include chronic disease epidemiology, the role of social determinants of health in explaining health disparities, including for diseases of aging, and access to care and health systems functioning. Anam is currently working on projects assessing socio-environmental and health-related factors that influence cognitive decline and aging.

Dominique SylversDominique Sylvers

Health Behavior and Health Education

Dominique Sylvers is a doctoral student in the department of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE) at the School of Public Health. She received her Master’s of Public Health from HBHE in 2017, after which, she was involved with various aspects of chronic disease intervention research. As a pre-doctoral trainee in Social Environment and Health (SEH), her interest center around cognitive aging in African American adults, specifically the contextual influence of environmental factors such as neighborhood residential segregation and education inequality. Dominique also has an interest in Population Health and is a Population Studies Center Trainee.

Min Hee Kim

Min Hee Kim

Social Work and Sociology

She is a doctoral candidate in the Joint Program in Social Work and Sociology. She studies health and aging with an emphasis on understanding extra-individual forces (i.e. built environment) that influence dynamic processes of disablement in later life. Her dissertation examined how the amenities and aging services, which redistribute resources across geographic locations, shape in later life cognitive health. She is interested in developing and implementation of innovative place-based policies and programs to reduce mental and cognitive health risk among older adults with mobility disability and chronic conditions.

Megan MullinsMegan Mullins


Megan is a doctoral candidate in the Epidemiology Department at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She received her MPH from the University of Michigan in 2015. Her research interests include cancer epidemiology, clinical epidemiology, social determinants of health, implementation science, decision science, and health disparities. Drawing on her background in clinical settings, she is excited to apply novel epidemiology methods to health services questions. Her current work focuses on social determinants of racial disparities in care among women with ovarian cancer. Megan is an active member on several projects evaluating neighborhood drivers of cognition and cognitive decline in the Social Environment and Health group at the Institute for Social Research. She also works with the Michigan Oncology Quality Consortium on analytics and reporting.