RWJF Health & Society Scholar:
Area(s) of Expertise:
Racial Ethnic Disparities, Social Determinants of Health, Discrimination, HIV Prevention
Natalie D. Crawford received her PhD in Epidemiology from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in May 2011. Natalie’s dissertation examined the association between various forms of social discrimination and risky social network relationships among illicit drug users in New York City. This dissertation proposes a plausible explanation for persistent racial/ ethnic disparities in HIV prevalence despite lower individual risk taking behaviors among racial/ ethnic minorities. She argues that it is not necessarily how many sexual and drug use risk behaviors one engages in, but with whom the risk behaviors are performed with, that influences HIV risk and disease transmission. Natalie holds an extensive amount of experience in primary data collection, community based participatory research and community interventions. She has worked at both The New York Academy of Medicine and Columbia University as a Project Director over several federally funded grants that focus on understanding and improving health outcomes among illicit drug users. As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar, Natalie expanded on her dissertation work by integrating a more sociologically-driven perspective to understanding how discrimination influences material risks (e.g., low education, lack of access to health care) and resources (e.g., personal physician access, health knowledge) in one’s social network that have the ability to influence health behaviors and health outcomes. She also hopes to explore the intersection of contextual neighborhood features and gentrification on social network risk structures to better understand racial/ ethnic disparities in health.