Skip to main content



Martha Jones:

  • I have changed the content of my MHS2420 class (Economic Demography and Global Health) to cover COVID-19.  The aspect we are emphasizing is an analysis of some of the economic policies put in place (or not put in place) at the federal/state/local level to deal with the crisis. So, we’re looking at the intersection between public health and economic policies.

Laura Stark:

  • Speaking - panelist on a Covid-19 special session for the American Sociological Association annual meeting.
  • Co-authoring - essay with three students on Covid vaccine trials and a new book about ethics review, which will be published in Contemporary Sociology. The students are in my seminar, Critical Bioethics. Two are in-coming 4+1 ; the other is an MHS major heading to med School.

Ken MacLeish:

  • Revised the final week of my MHS 1920 Politics of Health class to focus on pandemics as cultural narrative and as sites of racial and class-based health disparity and structural violence.
  • Students in MHS 1920 and MHS 3250 are preparing/presenting final group research projects on coronavirus as racialized trauma and the management of stigmatized populations, showing how the acute crisis of pandemic can only be understood through a comprehensive perspective on ongoing health inequalities.
  • I am writing a piece on war rhetoric and pandemic response for Somatosphere, should be published next week
  • On the horizon: Odie and I are revising our planned health-focused submission for the NEH Dialogues on the Experience of War program (fall submission) to include an element on COVID and infectious disease

Lauren Gaydosh:

  • I am allowing students to change their course projects to focus on policy response to the pandemic. See note below from a student – Abhi Nathan: After we were all sent home for the semester, I found it difficult to focus on a lot of my classwork amidst this unprecedented pandemic. As an MHS major, it was shocking to see the real-life effects of issues that I had learned about in the classroom, and it was frustrating that a lot of my coursework was going ahead as planned without addressing this very present issue. I really appreciated Professor Gaydosh's offer to switch our class policy memo to a topic concerning the COVID-19 crisis. By focusing my classwork around something that was taking up a lot of my headspace, I was able to turn some of my worries into productivity and education. Furthermore, while I was doing research for the policy memo, I began to think about how certain populations will be overlooked or neglected during this global health crisis. Specifically, I thought of Nashville's large immigrant population and how legal, socioeconomic, and cultural barriers may limit their access to health resources during this unprecedented time. This led me to realize that I would like to apply for the MHS honors program. I plan to conduct research on how the public health policies passed before and during the outbreak have interacted to affect immigrant populations across the country. When we look back on this crisis, we should of course remember the large-scale impacts of the virus, but we should also give special attention to how it affected the most vulnerable members of our society. My coursework in the MHS major has shown me how our country’s healthcare structures cause systematic disadvantages for certain communities. In a health crisis, it is important to understand how those existing structures and systems function, and it is especially important to observe what the government does to alleviate this burden upon disadvantaged communities.
  • Working with Tara on her R01 to submit a supplement to incorporate covid questions on the survey, and expand data collection to capture greater variation in response across the south.

Aimi Hamraie:

Dani Picard:

  • The students in my MHS 3120: Medicine, Technology, and Society have the option to do an alternative project (in lieu of their final paper) on infectious diseases like COVID-19, influenza, and HIV. The students can choose to write papers or produce a podcast or video where they assess how low tech and no tech solutions can help prevent disease transmission, and how education programs and advertisement campaigns work to encourage their usage. The goal of the project is to help students see the prevalence and necessity of low tech and no tech tools in an age when many people think first about new and high-tech solutions (which often are delayed due to the time needed to create new treatments or acquire FDA approval).
  • As a note, some students are deliberately choosing NOT to do a project on COVID because they find it upsetting. Multiple students in this class have tested positive for COVID and many are concerned about loved ones who are high risk.

Tara McKay:

  • Tara McKay and Gilbert Gonzales have been working with collaborators at The Henne Group in San Francisco, a private research organization working with LGBTQ populations, to launch a new study of how LGBTQ people are coping in the present, including measuring adaptations of sexual behavior and social isolation vulnerabilities. We expect to launch this week (04/06).
  • Tara McKay has also added covid-19 questions to the LGBT Aging project (, which is currently in the field, to ensure that we have timely information on vulnerabilities, responses, and concerns among older LGBT adults in the South.
  • Gilbert Gonzales, with Tara McKay, Chris Purcell (Office of LGBTQI Life), and two undergraduate students are developing a survey to study how LGBTQ college students are faring since being asked to vacate campus.
  • Jonathan Metzl and Tara McKay are examining the effects of existing gun policy on panic gun buys in the month of March.

JuLeigh Petty:

  • Jonathan Metzl and I devised an evaluation instrument called the Structural Foundations of Health Survey (2016) to assess and compare students’ recognition of ways structural and institutional factors shape health outcomes. We have added a new question about COVID-19 to assess how the MHS curriculum has shaped students' understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have given this survey to all MHS seniors and expect to have data by May 2020.
  • As part of the transition from in-person to online teaching in MHS 2320 (Medicine, Law, and Society), I added two online lectures and two student discussion boards activities regarding public health law and COVID-19.

Hector Myers:

  • I have agreed to join a collaborative group with faculty & graduate students in Psychology to develop and disseminate a survey to address the range of attacks that Asian students & adults are experiencing since the pandemic. We are just beginning the conversation and will have more details later this week or early next week.
  • I am also planning to address the issue of the disproportionate representation of Blacks among the deaths from the pandemic in my health disparities class in the fall.
  • I would also be interested in joining a working group that is focused on addressing the race & class disparities in the morbidity & mortality from Covid 19. This would be a new collaborative project.

Jamie Pope:

MHS 1600 Nutrition and Health for a Changing World

  • During first week of transition to online learning had conversations with students voicing concerns about their ability to effectively stay on track and learn outside campus environment.       Wrote and shared Five Tips for Students to Transition to Online Learning with my students and MHS faculty members:
  • Surveyed my 140+ students (>40 responses) about how their sleeping, eating and exercise patterns were impacted as well as requested helpful suggestions for their fellow students and how faculty could support them. Results of survey (without student names) shared with class and other MHS faculty:
  • After spending the first half of the semester addressing foundations of nutrition, during the second half of the semester I have typically invited health practitioners in the areas of cardiology, diabetes, sports nutrition, and pregnancy to guest lecture on the role of nutrition in their areas of expertise and to expose students to professionals actually working in these areas. Delighted that these individuals agreed to record VOPPTX (I provided core slides) that I converted in to MP4 to offer asynchronously. Also invited guest lecturers to join weekly Zoom office hours to address questions.
  • Invited the 100+ non-seniors in MHS 1600 to write short notes of congratulations to our 38 graduating seniors that I am compiling to share with the seniors at the end of the semester.
    Example of one of those notes: "Congratulations on this amazing milestone! This is an incredible time to celebrate not only your accomplishments, but also all the small lessons learned in interactions with friends, peers, and professors, the effort poured into countless papers, projects, and all-nighters, and lifelong memories and relationships. I so hope these joys and victories, both big and small, will take you forward in the next few months, and years, and give you confidence and a sense of community always.   Sarah, Class of 2022"

Media story for week of April 6, 2020 with VU Division of Communications: Nutrition professor shares four tips for healthy eating while sheltering at home

Dominique Behague:

  • I have been invited (with a colleague) to contribute a research paper for a proposed special series on Global Social Medicine for The Lancet. The title is “Micropolitics of a pandemia in Brazil: self-determination and structural transformation in face of COVID-19” and it’s based on some primary research, so it will take a bit of time, but we may look for an outlet to share some of the work before formal publication (whether eventually in The Lancet or elsewhere).
  • The independent study I’ve been doing this term with 9 of my students from my psych class last term is moving ahead via Zoom/facetime interviews – it’s on mental health and concepts/practices of “social well-being” on campus and it’s based on primary data collection. We’re using a Freirian participatory research method. The students have decided to shift some of the research questions to the pandemic (but quite intentionally, not all). We aim to have a small write-up to share by May/June.