SPH welcomes Dr. Erica Spears


Published: August 20, 2019

By Sally Crocker

Erica SpearsErica C. Spears, PhD, MA, joins the UNTHSC School of Public Health this fall as Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems.

Her educational background includes a postdoctoral fellowship, focused on social epidemiology, from the Center for Health Ecology and Equity Research at Auburn University, and a Doctorate in Health Education from the College of Education and Human Development, with Advanced Research Methods Certification for Social Sciences, from Texas A&M University.

Her Master’s degree is in Speech Communication, with emphasis in Health Communication, from the University of Houston.

As an undergraduate, Dr. Spears earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication, with an emphasis in Public Relations, from Louisiana State University.

Before returning to school to pursue a doctoral degree in 2013, she worked in public health practice. Her experiences as a practitioner range from adolescent health educator to maternal and child health program manager.

Dr. Spears currently teaches Injury and Violence Prevention, Health Communication and Public Health Practice Experience for the SPH. Her teaching focuses on the social determinants of health and health disparities.

She began her career as an educator by developing a course on eHealth and Telemedicine, and she has also taught Race, Ethnicity and Health and Social Determinants of Health.

As a practitioner, one of her primary responsibilities was to train practitioners on public health tenants and various evidence-based practices, and she brings these experiences to the classroom today, working to ensure students understand the implications of their work on the wellbeing of the communities they are called to serve, regardless of their area of expertise.

Dr. Spears’ research is focused on addressing health disparities observed in preventable chronic conditions within communities of color. The majority of her work focuses on health knowledge, health communication and social constructs that may serve as barriers to health promoting behaviors, and she also explores the roles of built environment, socioeconomic positioning and psychosocial stressors on negative health outcomes in marginalized communities.

She is a member of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM).

Recently, Dr. Spears was a selected scholar for Robert Wood Johnson’s final New Connections cohort, the Intersectional Qualitative Research Methods Institute (IQRMI), and the Collaborative Center for Health Equity’s Health Equity Leadership Institute (HELI).