The College of Public Health is pleased to announce the appointment of Heather Gardiner, associate professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, as director of the newly established Office of Community Engaged Research and Practice. Gardiner will lead growth of the college’s interdisciplinary, community-engaged research activity and work to identify new opportunities for collaboration between members of the college and Philadelphia’s communities.
As director, Gardiner will mentor faculty, graduate and post-graduate trainees, and grassroots organizations in public health and social welfare community-engaged research, connecting researchers with community-based organizations to conduct research that is relevant, actionable, and reflective of the needs of the college's community partners.
In addition to fostering relationships with new and existing partners, Gardiner will lead the college’s Center for Social Policy and Community Development (CSPCD). She will play an important role in expanding faculty engagement and the integration of research into the work of the CSPCD, which partners with practitioners in grassroots and human service organizations to address issues that impact the health and well-being of individuals and communities.
Gardiner’s appointment reflects the College of Public Health’s commitment to research with community impact. “The Office of Community Engaged Research and Practice is being established at an important time in the college’s growth, as we expand our portfolio of transdisciplinary research and build new partnerships with local communities,” said Laura A. Siminoff, dean of the college and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Public Health.
“We know that public health research and practice must respond to local needs and occur in partnership with the communities in which we are located,” said Siminoff. “At its best, public health research builds the resiliency of communities and the individuals who live in them. It is only by listening to and responding to the needs of our communities that we can reduce health disparities and train our students to be successful leaders in public health and healthcare. I know Dr. Gardiner will bring a wealth of experience to this enterprise.”
Gardiner is a dedicated and experienced community-engaged researcher, having served as principal or co-investigator on numerous projects about communication regarding transplantation and organ and tissue donation and its impact on the treatment of kidney disease within black and Hispanic communities. Gardiner earned her master of public health in social and behavioral health from Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees in communication from the State University of New York at Buffalo.