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Sarah Gollust (Cohort 6) Health Talk, University of Minnesota

AHC Gamechangers: Sarah Gollust

In August 2010 Assistant Professor Sarah Gollust, Ph.D., became a faculty member in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Though new to the game, Dr. Gollust has already set her sights on changing it.

The daughter of two journalists, Gollust’s deep rooted interest in the media and its relationship to public health policy is reflected in her research. Gollust’s research has the capacity to spur progress on some of the toughest health issues of our time, including cancer screening, vaccines, and childhood obesity, through its focus on the intersection of media, public opinion, public policy, and health.

“A lot of public health research articles end with discussing policy implications, but most don’t elaborate on what the research means for public understanding,” says Gollust. “Where that research ends is where I like to focus. Examining how communication affects the policy process is a different approach to research in my field, but I believe it has a high potential for impact.”

Gollust frames all her research around one main question: what does the general public know about health issues? Her goal is to focus on current health issues utilizing tools adapted from sociology, political science, and communications. These unique research methods give Gollust the chance to turn her public health research into positive actions like increasing public understanding and changing the perception of health issues.

Sarah Gollust’s publication record is remarkable for its quality and range of journals represented. Not only has Gollust published in top medical and public health journals, such as JAMA, the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health, she’s also published in significant social science journals ranging from Milbank Quarterly to Political Psychology to the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law.

Gollust is also a gifted educator. Educating students growing into the roles of practitioners is a part of Gollust’s job she finds important and worthwhile. Gollust developed and teaches a public health ethics course receiving positive reviews from class participants.

“Through my teaching I am able to learn a lot from and about my students, while also instilling skills to improve the way they think about public health issues and ethical challenges,” says Gollust. “It is a very rewarding experience.”

This ambitious gamechanger’s unique approach to studying problems and seeing solutions has widely recognized and transformative potential throughout the University of Minnesota and across the country. After only two years of being a Gopher, we are already certain Sarah Gollust’s impact will be profound. #UMNProud

For more Academic Health Center Gamechangers, visit the Health Talk blog next week!