Congratulations and Best Wishes to Cohort 5 Scholars!

David Chae

My experience as a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar at the UCSF/UCB site has been invaluable. I entered the program with a background in social epidemiology and my research focused on examining associations between broader social inequalities and health. Specifically, I investigated how racism and discrimination, on a systemic level, contribute to racial disparities in health. While still conducting this line of research, as a Health and Society Scholar I have gained a richer understanding of the psychological and biological pathways that are involved in linking these broader social factors and patterns in population health. I developed a “socio-psychobiological” model of health, which posits that broad social forces influence the distribution of health and disease in a population directly through their effects on biological systems, as well as via more individual-level psychological mediators. My experience as a scholar has undoubtedly contributed to the trans-disciplinary nature and creativity of my work. The theoretical, substantive, and methodological knowledge that I have gained, through generous mentorship, access to experts, spirit of collegiality, and administrative support, has added tremendously to the development, quality, and direction of my research and the pursuit of my professional goals.


Kaja LeWinn

My experience in the RWJ program has been a transformative one. Through collaborations with the talented RWJ faculty and scholars and attendance at conferences from a variety of disciplines, I have expanded my professional network as well as my research goals and objectives. In collaboration with an interdisciplinary group of researchers at both UCSF and UCB, I have engaged in a program of research that spans multiple levels of analysis and extends far beyond my training as an epidemiologist. Through these collaborations I have initiated a pilot project that uses brain imaging to understand how early life experience is biologically embedded. I intend to continue this work through a mentored career development award from NIH. I am grateful to the national program office, the UCSF/UCB faculty, and my fellow RWJ scholars for providing such a stimulating and supportive environment during this critical time in my professional development.


Jenna Nobles

My time with in the Health & Society Scholar program has undoubtedly changed my approach to research. I entered the RWJ program with training in sociology and demography and have been privileged to spend the last two years collaborating with scholars in epidemiology, anthropology, psychology, and economics. Our research has attempted to measure the causal influence of contextual experiences on population health. The opportunity to consider the biological mechanisms that allow the social world to be embodied and transmitted between generations was particularly eye-opening for a social scientist. Debating the central issues in population health with these colleagues has provided a rich introduction to new fields, and in many ways, has served as a reintroduction to the underlying assumptions of my own. 

In a short term sense, my time in the program has broadened the literature I read, the questions I ask, and the methods I consider.  More broadly - and perhaps more importantly - it has changed how I think about the universe of information that is unfamiliar to me - that it is both accessible and non-ignorable.  I would be incredibly fortunate if my career were dotted with intellectual experiences as rich as those in this program.