Population health word cloud
Published on: Jun 25, 2020

Training the next generation of population health researchers is the goal of a training grant that will support four predoctoral and one postdoc scholar at Penn State.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the graduate training program will provide a framework for training students in the dual degree program in demography and affiliated programs.

According to John Iceland, distinguished professor of sociology and demography and one of the grant training directors, along with Jenny Van Hook, Roy C. Buck Professor of Sociology and Demography, the training program has been funded by NIH since 1999 in five-year cycles. For the newly funded cycle, the program is shifting from family demography to social environments and population health.

“The shift reflects our growing strength in population health due to new faculty hires over the past several years and new connections with researchers across Penn State who are focusing on this area," said Iceland. "Additionally, we can more effectively draw graduate students from a broader array of programs who are also pursuing the dual degree in demography.”

The program is anchored in the dual degree graduate program in demography; the departments of sociology, human development and family studies, anthropology, rural sociology, and health policy and administration; and the Population Research Institute (PRI), part of the Social Science Research Institute.

“The combination of our highly ranked departments and dynamic institutes makes Penn State a center of excellence for multidisciplinary research and training in population health,” said Iceland.

The program has a history of documented success, as all but one of the previous trainees who received their doctorates in the last 10 years have been placed in research-intensive appointments.

“Our graduates who do not go into academia have research positions at high-impact organizations such as the U.S. Census Bureau or the National Center for Health Statistics,” Iceland said. “These graduates play a critical role in the production and dissemination of national data resources, as well as conducting research on the topics in which they gained expertise through their graduate training.”

The postdoctoral program is now accepting applications for the fall. For more information, go to the postdoctoral position in social environments and population health posting.

Iceland and Van Hook are co-principal investigators of the training program. Members of the training committee include Jennifer Glick, Arnold S. and Bette G. Hoffman Professor in Sociology and director of the Population Research Institute; Stephen Matthews, professor of sociology anthropology, geography, and demography; Susan McHale, distinguished professor of human development and family studies and director of the Social Science Research Institute; David Almeda, professor of human development and family studies; and Michelle Frisco, associate professor of sociology and demography and associate director of the Population Research Institute.