Dr. Melissa Lewis named first School of Public Health Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Advancement

By Sally CrockerDr. Melissa Lewis, HSC School of Public Health

Melissa A. Lewis, PhD, has been named as the first Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Advancement at the HSC School of Public Health (SPH). She began this new position January 1, 2022.

In this new role, she will provide strategic guidance in identifying and communicating opportunities for public health research funding; provide research coaching and mentorship for SPH tenure track faculty; establish internal pre-review mechanisms to ensure the strongest possible grant applications are submitted for review; collaborate with the HSC Division of Research and Innovation and other campus partners, as well as outside university colleagues; foster HSC community-based research; and develop/implement strategies to promote research dissemination beyond scientific literature publications. 

Dr. Lewis will also oversee the SPH Office of Research Services, led by ORS Executive Director Robyn Remotigue. ORS team operations will remain unchanged.

“With plans for my December 2023 retirement and recruitment now in place for a Dean Designee to start in September of  2022, it is ideal timing for the introduction of this  Associate Dean position at the start of this new year, to lead and support the stability of our faculty during the transition and beyond,” said Dr. Dennis Thombs, SPH Dean.

“Dr. Lewis has the expertise and experience to take on this new leadership role. She has had continuous NIH grant funding as a Principal Investigator since 2007. She has been a standing member of an NIH study section.  Her work focuses on developing and testing interventions designed to reduce high-risk behaviors including alcohol and other substance use, among adolescents, young adults and college-age students. In this research space, she is widely recognized as a national leader.”

She joined the HSC School of Public Health as Professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems, in 2018. As a core faculty member in the Public Health Sciences PhD program in Health Behavior Research, Dr. Lewis provides world-class mentorship to doctoral students and shares her expertise in grant writing.

Dr. Lewis co-founded the STARR Lab on the HSC campus, which studies the etiology and prevention of alcohol and related risks among adolescents and young adults, where she trains and mentors early-career faculty and graduate students.

Since 2004, she has published nearly 130 peer-reviewed journal articles and is one of the most heavily cited authors in her research area. She was the first SPH faculty member to serve as a Principal Investigator on two separate NIH R01’s  at the same time.  

In 2021, Dr. Lewis was presented with the HSC Faculty Achievement Award for her exemplary achievements in research, teaching and service. She has served on multiple HSC committees, including as Chair of the SPH Promotion and Tenure Committee and as President of the HSC Faculty Senate.

“Building and retaining strong faculty is a top goal of HSC and the School of Public Health,” she said. “In this new role, I hope to help our faculty build their research portfolios and advance their careers, especially the new, early-career faculty who have joined us over the last year.”

“Working together with our senior faculty as well, another important goal for 2022 and beyond is to take greater advantage of our established experts to build stronger connections and mentoring relationships across all SPH faculty regarding grantsmanship,” Dr. Lewis added.

“Collaborations with other HSC faculty across campus, as well as our wider network of colleagues nationally and internationally, can also help us engage in even deeper public health work that positively impacts lives and populations.”

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