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Research in Public Health and Wellness

Our faculty are active in a broad range of research that engages the community, faculty and students in areas of interest that relevant to our population's overall wellbeing. Below are some of our recent topics of focus. We provide hands-on experience for our students, who have the opportunity to actively participate in, benefit from, and provide meaningful insight to our research projects.

Recent Research Stories

"Health is wealth:" Dr. Nicole Vaughn, a public health researcher in the Rita & Larry Salva School of Nursing and Health Professions, talks about her work with urban farmers in Camden, N.J. Health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity can all be improved through lifestyle changes—but that’s much harder for some individuals to address than others. To figure out why chronic disease rates in disadvantaged communities are persistently higher than average, as well as to design better solutions, Vaughn enlists the help of people who live and work in underserved and marginalized communities.


Inclusive Community Gardens is funded by the Division of Disability Services, New Jersey Department of Human Service. Our team, under the guidance of Dr. Spencer, has partnered with seven area community gardens, reviewing each and making changes such as reducing sensory stimuli, adding Braille and images to signage and designing paths and beds that are more accessible.

Faculty Research

Joanne BullardDr. Bullard's research interests involve the mind-body balance of student-athletes and performance in both athletics and academics. More specifically, her main focus involves sport psychology practices and how they can enhance the overall well-being of collegiate student-athletes. This includes aspects directly related to performance, such as anxiety management, stress management, mindfulness, etc., and related to academic performance, including academic achievement motivation. Another area of focus is providing modalities to assist with transitioning out of collegiate athletics and preparing for future careers and professions through career preparedness, interviewing skills and networking. Her current areas of focus include the impact of gratitude and reflective journaling to enhance resiliency in first-year student-athletes, the impact COVID-19 has had on the well-being of Division III collegiate student-athletes, and the impact of a mindfulness-based intervention for injured athletes utilizing athletic training rehabilitation services.


Leslie SpencerDr. Spencer's  research focuses on two primary areas: 1) Motivational Interviewing and Behavior Change and 2) Fitness for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). She was a co-investigator on a grant-funded project to develop a Brief Motivational Interviewing-based Training Program for third-year medical residents to improve their ability to motivate patients toward positive behavior changes. She is currently the Principle Investigator on the development of an Academic Success Coach Training Program to prepare undergraduate and graduate students to serve as peer coaches to improve academic retention and performance in a college setting. Dr. Spencer is also the founder and director of Get FIT @ Rowan, a fitness program for individuals with IDD and their caregivers. Launched in 2008 in partnership with the Family Resource Network, Get FIT @ Rowan has served as the prototype for other Get FIT programs throughout the state of NJ. Dr. Spencer welcomes undergraduate research assistants to work with her on these projects!


Nicole VaughnDr. Vaughn's research interests include using community based participatory research methods to address food access and chronic disease prevention in urban and rural settings. Her research includes using evidence-based and evidence informed interventions with community partners to improve public health. Much of her research has involved implementing interventions to improve access to prediabetes and diabetes education in local and familiar settings such as churches, recreation centers and grocery stores. Additional funded research projects have focused on working in large community coalitions to increase fresh produce for individuals with diet-related needs and limited resources.




Robert WeaverDr. Weaver's research principally examines how social conditions affect human health and well-being, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches to explore how social, economic, and cultural capital shape the management of chronic conditions – e.g., diabetes, cancer, low-back pain. He currently works with colleagues at Rowan University to investigate the growing problem of food insecurity among university students – i.e., its prevalence, correlates, and consequences.