Dawn M. Richardson, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.


Dawn Richardson is a Kellogg Health Scholar in the Community Track at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Prior to her current position, Dawn attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a Dr.P.H. in May 2010. She also holds an M.P.H. from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (2002), and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (1999).

Research Interests and Projects

Richardson’s research focuses on the intersection of place and health, specifically looking at how neighborhood characteristics (e.g., race-based segregation, opportunity structures) contribute to health disparities among urban youth. She is particularly interested in the use of spatial and visual methodologies to capture the social, economic, and environmental neighborhood factors that impact health with the aim of developing place-based interventions in response. One example of Richardson’s use of visual methods is her dissertation research, which utilized photo-ethnography with Mexican-American young women to investigate which characteristics of neighborhood context are important and may influence sexual risk behavior and early childbearing among this group. This study identified specific aspects of the neighborhood environment- including the experience of discrimination, the presence of gang activity, and limited opportunities for upward mobility- that are salient in the lives of participants and may contribute to risk for early child bearing among this population.

As a Kellogg Health Scholar, Richardson is advancing her research by further examining the impact of neighborhood characteristics on the health of youth utilizing a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach. She is a Co-Investigator of a research project examining how the sexual geographies of youth create and sustain sexual risk and vulnerabilities, and she is coordinating the Photovoice component of this study. Additionally, she is working closely with the Healthy Environments Partnership (HEP), a CBPR partnership based in Detroit, on a number of projects examining how neighborhood-level characteristics influence cardiovascular risk. Through this work, Richardson aims to learn how CBPR can be applied to the development of structural interventions and motivate policy change in order to reduce health inequities via fundamental change at the neighborhood level and beyond.

Dawn comes to research with a background in community-based public health interventions. She began her career in HIV prevention working predominantly with youth of color in Southeast Tennessee. Over the course of her graduate studies, Dawn continued her work in adolescent health and has been involved in several youth-focused research projects, including work on a qualitative study investigating the experiences young people have had with reproductive health services throughout California.

Contact Information: dmrichar@umich.edu


Richardson, D.M, Nuru-Jeter, A.M. (In Press). Neighborhood Contexts Experienced by Mexican-American Young Women: Enhancing Our Understanding of Risk for Early Childbearing. Journal of Urban Health.

Neuhauser, L., Richardson, D., Mackenzie, S., & Minkler, M. (2007). Advancing transdisciplinary and translational research practice: Issues and models of doctoral education in public health. Journal of Research Practice, 3(2), Article M19.

Richardson, D.M., Nuru-Jeter, A.M. Considering Acculturation in Context: A Systematic Literature Review and Theoretical Critique of Acculturation and Early Childbearing in Mexican-American Adolescents. Submitted to Social Sciences & Medicine.

Richardson, D.M., Nuru-Jeter, A.M. In Their Voices: Mexican American Young Women Explain Why Neighborhoods Matter for Early Childbearing. Manuscript in preparation.

Nuru-Jeter, A.M., Fuller-Thompson, E., Richardson, D.M., Minkler, M., & Guralick, J.M. The Hispanic Paradox and Older Adults’ Disabilities: What Role is Played by the Healthy Migrant Effect? Manuscript in preparation.