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Shannon Monnat named Lerner Chair for Public Health Promotion

September 12, 2017

Shannon Monnat

Shannon Monnat

David M. Van Slyke

David M. Van Slyke

Shannon Monnat, a rural demographer and sociologist whose work focuses on public health, joins the faculty of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs as the Lerner Chair for Public Health Promotion. Monnat studies health disparities, stratification and inequality, and spatial differences in drug, alcohol, and suicide mortality. Her research aims to better understand the current opioid epidemic and other diseases and deaths of despair.

The Lerner Chair is a component of the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, established in 2011 with a generous founding gift from Sid Lerner (a 1953 Syracuse University alumnus) and his wife Helaine. The center’s mission is to improve the health of the community through service, research, education, advocacy, and policy. It works together with citizens, students, and public health professionals to identify needs, develop programming, and deploy collaborative initiatives. Sid Lerner is a former advertising executive who developed a strong interest in how lifestyle habits contribute to chronic disease. 

Monnat says the Lerner Chair is an ideal platform to pursue her interests while impacting local community health issues. “Increasing problems such as disability, obesity, and poor mental health are all issues that affect our long term economic sustainability and well-being as a society,” she says. “The underlying causes of many of these issues are deeply connected. Social scientists are in a prime position to identify those underlying social, economic, and policy-related mechanisms and hopefully identify strategies to mitigate them.”

Monnat, a native of Lowville, N.Y., adds, “As an Upstate New Yorker, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to work with local communities on population health issues and drug use. The Lerner Center is really poised to do that kind of work in the community.”

Monnat is author or co-author of more than two-dozen publications, is frequently invited to present at academic conferences, and is regularly sought for commentary by the media. At Maxwell, she will hold an appointment in the Department of Sociology and serve as senior research associate in the Center for Policy Research.

“Shannon Monnat is committed to disciplinary and interdisciplinary scholarship that informs, benefits, and influences public policy and the public good,” says David M. Van Slyke, dean of the Maxwell School. “She brings timely and important research, a public orientation, and unbounded energy to the intellectual leadership of the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. As a sociologist with a national reputation, she will be an immediate asset to the Maxwell School and Syracuse University.”

Monnat joins the Maxwell School from Pennsylvania State University, where she was assistant professor of rural sociology and demography and research associate at the Population Research Institute. She previously served as assistant professor of sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her PhD in sociology is from the University at Albany (SUNY), where she received the Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Award.

“We know that to achieve good health we need to go beyond the traditional model of health care and public health and reach upstream to identify and address the community issues that play into people’s ability to lead a healthy and productive life,” says Thomas Dennison, faculty director of the Lerner Center. “Shannon’s work looking at the fundamentals of how community conditions influence health will contribute enormously to the Lerner Center’s mission.”


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