Community Engagement

The Program in Public Health has, as one of its core values, to build relationships with communities to promote positive changes in the health of those communities. 

We invite you to explore some of the various ways our program faculty, staff, and/or students are connecting with communities on long-term initiatives.

Minority Training Program in Cancer Control Research (MTPCCR)

Based in Southern California, MTPCCR recruits underrepresented minorities in Master's programs and the Master's level public health workforce to pursue doctoral programs in cancer research and cancer disparities.  The program offers a Summer Institute, internships for Institute participants, and awards up to $2,000 to go towards preparation for doctoral admissions (contingent upon available funds).  You can learn more about the program here

Stony Brook Center for Public Health Education

The Center promotes medically accurate and culturally competent resources about HIV/AIDS through prevention education, harm reduction, and research.  The Center provides information and support to health professionals caring for underserved communities living with HIV/AIDS and works to influence public health policy on HIV/AIDS. Learn more about the Center for Public Health Education here.

Healthy Libraries Program (HeLP)

The Stony Brook Medicine Healthy Libraries Program (SBMHeLP) is a partnership between the Public Libraries of Suffolk County, a unique group of healthcare professionals and graduate student interns from the fields of social work, public health, nursing, nutrition and library science, working together to provide access to both in-person and virtual healthcare-related resources for public library patrons throughout Suffolk County. This partnership looks to enhance the health and well-being of Suffolk County residents through library programming, collection development and dissemination of information on current health topics impacting our communities. The program is supported in part by the American Heart Association of Long Island.  For more information on HeLP, click here.
PPH Faculty/Staff: Dr. Lisa Benz Scott (HeLP Director), Dr. Amy Hammock, Dr. Héctor Alcalá, Dr. Erica Diminich.
Dr. Benz Scott oversees the HeLP program. She can be reached at For more information, read her faculty bio. Dr. Hector Alcalá and Dr. Erica Diminich provide Spanish language translation. Dr. Hammock is co-leading the Health Libraries Lab. The Program Coordinator is Ms. Gabriella Pandolfelli (MPH ’21).

World Trade Center (WTC) Research Group

Researchers are investigating the links between World Trade Center survivors, environmental exposure to toxic dust, and long-term health issues such as cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's Disease, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Click here for a Stony Brook News article.
PPH Faculty: Dr. Sean Clouston (Lead Researcher, WTC Research Group)
Dr. Clouston gives informal “lunch and learns” to students and staff every 6-9 months.  Attendees can include MDs and nurses in the World Trade Center clinical, research staff, and PPH students actively working on WTC projects. Topics are usually selected based on current trends and interests in conjunction with the WTC community. The goal is to update staff about important research findings and to give the teams an outlet to discuss active problems that the nurses are seeing.  Dr. Clouston also provides educational outreach conferences to the WTC survivor and family population. For example, Dr. Clouston presented at a large conference where he discussed issues surrounding aging and PTSD called the Research2Care conference. The conference agenda is available here. The goal of this conference was to educate and engage various WTC stakeholders in future research planning. In total, 203 people were pre-registered to attend, and registrants included health professionals, first responders, survivors and their families. Contact Dr. Clouston at For more information, check out his faculty bio.

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)

Founded in 1984, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is a nonprofit organization that works to support efficient, safe, and ethical organ transplant and donation processes.  The Ethics Committee reconciles ethical principles with national policies and practices to support the UNOS mission.

PPH Faculty: Dr. Andrew Flescher

Dr. Flescher has served as a Living Donor Advocate at Stony Brook Hospital for the last eight years, and recently became the Vice Chair of the United Network for Organ Sharing's Ethics Committee (read more about his new role in this Stony Brook News article). In 2019, he began a supervised internship in the Program in Public Health which gives MPH students exposure to those giving the gift of life and trains students to become living donor advocates. The principal function of a living donor advocate is to certify that a prospective kidney donor is not coerced in any way in his or her decision to donate a life-saving bodily organ. This entails lengthy and substantive interviews with prospective donors in advance of their scheduled nephrectomies (kidney removal surgery) as well as checking up on them post-op in the hospital.  Dr. Flescher gives talks to the community on the role of a living donor advocate. 

The internship that Dr. Flescher created gives students personal exposure to living donors and an experience interviewing them in advance of their scheduled procedures that are to be performed at Stony Brook Hospital. During this encounter the crucial determination is made about donor consent. Selected graduate students are trusted with critical and substantive responsibilities, which include conducting the “first point of contact” assessments of prospective living donors, eliciting their narratives to assure that they have not been coerced into donating, and thoroughly reviewing with them safety protocol in advance of and after their nephrectomies. Dr. Flescher’s email is For more information, his faculty bio can be found here. To learn more about students involvement as independent living donor advocates (ILDA). Click here

Sleep Health Education and Children and Screens

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that utilizes sleep education and advocacy to disseminate research-based information on the science of sleep and sleep medicine.  The NSF produces a professional journal, Sleep Health, of which Dr. Hale was appointed the founding Editor-in-Chief in 2014.  Sleep Health is published by the world-renowned company Elsevier.

PPH Faculty: Dr. Lauren Hale 

Given the widespread need for sleep health education, Dr. Hale engages in local and national communication about her research to help educate the public and the public health workforce.  She discusses policy, practice, and evidence regarding school start times, screen time at various ages/stages of development and sleep, sleep disparities and sleep health, and sleep during the pandemic. For example, Dr. Hale has presented in person to committees and school boards.

At the national level, Dr. Hale works with several public health non-profit organizations.  She serves as on the Board of Directors of the National Sleep Foundation (currently in her 8th year, she is now the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors).  She is also on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Institute for Children and Screens and the Pajama Program, on coping with life during the pandemic. Through engagement with these non-profit organizations, Dr. Hale's research and influence extends beyond the academic realm and helps improve programming efforts and to better train the public health workforce and improve sleep health of the broader population. Read her faculty bio here for more information. Dr. Hale can also be reached at  

The Retreat, Inc.

Program Description: The Retreat, Inc., is a non-profit, community-based domestic violence agency in Suffolk County.  The Retreat and its team of professionals and trained volunteers have been providing safety, residential shelter, and support to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence since 1987.  Their services include a 24/7 domestic violence hotline, counseling, legal advocacy, and educational programs.  
PPH Faculty: Dr. Amy Hammock 

Dr. Hammock works with this community partner on the following two projects:

  1. Community of identity: low-income fathers in Suffolk County participating in a responsible fatherhood program
  2. Community of identity: Children who witness domestic violence and their non-abusing parents.

Sexual Violence Prevention with the Center for Prevention and Outreach

Stony Brook University's Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO) is committed to educating the community about a variety of public health topics, empowering community members to become active bystanders, and connecting students with resources on campus and off campus to support their development and well-being.  Their four departments include mental health, alcohol and other drugs, sexual assault, and physical health.

PPH Faculty: Dr. Amy Hammock

In partnership with SBU’s Student Affairs, Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO) and Title IX office, Dr. Hammock is integrally involved in sexual violence prevention on campus. From 2012-2015, she was Principal Investigator (PI) of an Office of Violence Against Women campus violence prevention grant, which provided SBU with funds to train staff and students in two evidence-based prevention programs: Bringing in the Bystander and Green Dot. Working closely with CPO, Dr. Hammock and her team developed research questions about the impact of these programs. For example: the research question for a July 2020 article in the American Journal of College Health, “Men’s experiences of sexual assault bystander intervention education,” grew out of a desire for CPO staff to learn more about the increased involvement and interest of men of color in the evidence-based programs. With Dr. Hammock’s leadership, the research questions, focus group data collection, analysis, and writing were conducted in collaboration with CPO staff, providing opportunities for interprofessional learning. Findings suggested that national statistics were not necessarily useful in helping men feel connected to the issue, and that these evidence-based prevention programs may not attend enough to the negative unintended consequences of bystander intervention for men of color, particularly when police are called to the scene. Given recent national conversations, this finding seems particularly relevant and timely; it is our hope that research findings like these will help improve sexual violence bystander trainings to be actively antiracist. For more information, read Dr. Hammock’s faculty bio here or contact her at

SEPA Mujer, Inc.: Helping Spanish-speaking Immigrants on Long Island

SEPA Mujer, Inc. is a Latinx community organization on Long Island that advocates for the needs of Spanish-speaking immigrants on a variety of issues (citizenship, lack of pay, and other social determinants of health).  Since 1993, this nonprofit organization has been mobilizing advocacy and support to increase accessibility to immigrant rights, civil rights, civic engagement, and domestic violence services.

PPH Faculty: Dr. Amy Hammock

In 2019, Dr. Hammock was approached by SEPA Mujer, Inc. to help them evaluate the effects of their new Spanish-speaking domestic violence hotline. This hotline has received many calls about violence in the era of COVID-19. Dr. Hammock is conducting a process evaluation of this work. Learn more by reading her faculty bio here or by contacting her at

NYS Center for Clean Water Technology

The NYS Center for Clean Water Technology recruits innovators in science and engineering from universities, research institutions, regulatory agencies, and private sector resources to develop effective solutions and technologies that protect the environment and water quality for communities around the world.  It is funded by New York State and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and seeks to position Long Island as a leader in water systems and protection.

PPH Faculty: Dr. Jaymie Meliker 

Dr. Meliker is working with the NYS Center for Clean Water Technology to understand the scope of nitrogen and pesticide pollution in Long Island public and private drinking water.  He has plans for an ecologic epidemiologic study of birth outcomes in collaboration with the Suffolk County Health Department. In addition, Dr. Meliker is working with the Center to interpret COVID RNA measurements from wastewater to shed insights on potential new clusters on Stony Brook campus and in regions of Suffolk County, NY served by wastewater treatment plants. This is also in collaboration with the Suffolk County Health Department. Dr. Meliker’s faculty bio can be found here. He can also be reached at

The Long Island Association (LIA)

Program description: The Long Island Association is the largest business organization on Long Island.  Its mission is to lead and unify the region in order to enhance, strengthen and protect Long Island as a premier place to live, work and play. The LIA advocates for policies, programs and projects that create jobs, spur private investment, reduce the federal, state and local tax burden, improve access to and from New York City and improve the overall business climate on Long Island.  The LIA supports economic development, workforce housing, greater state support for education, public safety, clean & reliable energy, workforce training and retention, environmental protection, technology and infrastructure investments, and our not-for-profit organizations as well as opportunities for growth, equality and diversity in the Long Island region. 

PPH Faculty: Dr. John Rizzo 

Dr. Rizzo serves as the Chief Economist for the LIA.  He monitors and analyzes economic conditions on Long Island to produce a monthly economic report, which for the past six months has focused on the economic effects of COVID-19 on Long Island.  He educates the community by providing expert interviews with New York Newsday on economic trends and conditions on Long Island. He also informs local business owners as a writer of a monthly column for Long Island Business News, commenting on various economic issues affecting Long Island. Dr. Rizzo can be contacted at You can also check out his faculy bio here.