I currently serve as Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Clemson University. My primary research interests related to NDPC focus on the interrelationships between risks for school dropout and other behavioral risk factors (substance use, sexual risk and teen pregnancy) among adolescents and pre-adolescents. I am specifically interested in interrelationships among community, school, family, peer, and intrapersonal risk and protective domains, and how multi-faceted prevention programs can address risk factors and enhance protective factors across behavioral domains. I believe that both the field of public health and the medical profession have generally been inadequately engaged in efforts to discourage adolescents from using alcohol, tobacco and other risky substances and prevent school dropout despite the lifelong negative health impacts of these choices.
I hope I can serve as a liaison between NDPC/N and the research community in public health and in medical settings that looks at issues like teen pregnancy, substance abuse, bullying, and even childhood obesity. These issues may be seen by those researchers as their dependent variable of interest, but nevertheless may shape the school experience in ways that increase risk of school dropout. Similarly, school failure may be seen by these researchers as an “independent variable” that predicts risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy or eating disorders. I hope that we can move more toward recognizing that this is an interactive system of ”linked epidemics” and that we can help to develop more holistic approaches that improve the lives of individuals from adolescence into adulthood.