Health Behavior

This health behavior Capstone team (Amanda Kong, Christina Villella, Aly Bancroft, Alex Coombs and Dirk Davis) collaborated with the Durham County Department of Public Health to identify smoke-free air policy best practices and to assess knowledge and compliance with the implementation of the 2012 Board of Health Smoking Rule, which prohibits smoking in some public areas in an effort to reduce secondhand smoke. Read more about Capstone.
Message from the Chair
The recently passed House Bill 2 is of grave concern to me. As an educator, researcher and administrator, it is critically important to me that all students, staff, faculty and the larger community are treated with respect, valued for their differences, and offered equal rights and privileges. I hope the good people of North Carolina are successful in getting this law repealed.
Leslie Lytle, PhD,
professor and chair
The Department of Health Behavior combines the social and behavioral sciences with health science to produce graduates who deliver practical research and interventions that improve the health of individuals and communities. Established in 1942, we were the first Department of Public Health Education created in the U.S.

The MPH in Health Behavior

This master’s degree offers students the core education and practical experience they need to be successful public health professionals.

MPH program  |  MPH practicum  |  MPH Capstone  | Apply

The PhD in Health Behavior

The doctoral program prepares students to lead and conduct research based on strong methodology courses, and many student research opportunities.

PhD Program | Faculty Research Interests | Recent Dissertations | Faculty Publications (2016)Apply

We encourage prospective students to  check out information about our programs here on our website, to check the news and informal notes we post on Facebook and to use the prospective student inquiry form if you cannot find answers to your questions.

Featured News from Students, Faculty and Alumni

Chen_May_2016May Chen, doctoral student at UNC Gillings, has been named Janssen Therapeutics Point Scholar and is one of 21 Point Scholars for 2016. The Point Scholars program provides multifaceted support, including a financial award, leadership development and paired mentoring. The Point Foundation is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students of merit.

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Chen’s work represents a lifelong commitment to serve and support marginalized communities touched by violence. She is a first-generation college student and completed a B.A. at Wellesley College. She earned a Master of Science in public health (MSPH) at Gillings where her thesis explored individual- and family-level factors impacting teen dating violence.

Dr. Alexandra Lightfoot, headshot

Dr. Alexandra Lightfoot

Alexandra Lightfoot, EdD, research assistant professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, is one of 10 faculty members at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill selected for the sixth class of Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars.

The scholars will develop projects in partnership with community organizations including Durham’s Historic Stagville, where they will study the skills and expertise of enslaved laborers, and Chatham County’s The Farm at Penny Lane, where they aim to improve housing and other community-based services for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness.

Dr. Wizdom Powell

Dr. Wizdom Powell

Wizdom Powell, PhD, associate professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been awarded a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, in Bellagio, Italy.

Powell will use the residency, scheduled from April 11 to May 9, 2017, to further her research, “Transforming Social and Health-care System Landscapes to Address Gendered Health Inequities among Vulnerable Males.”

Powell also has been invited to deliver a briefing on health disparities in boys and men to U.S. congressional representatives in Washington, D.C, on May 24. Read More.

Tamara Taggart

Dr. Tamara Taggart

Tamara Taggart, PhD, was the lead author of a paper about AMP!. Taggart, a 2016 graduate of the Department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, wanted to analyze the effectiveness of the intervention at increasing three key elements of HIV prevention: HIV knowledge, awareness and attitudes. “AMP! delivers sexual health messages in a fun, interactive and meaningful way that appeals to how adolescents learn and communicate,” Taggart shared. “Our findings underscore the need to design sexual health interventions that are developmentally and culturally appropriate for adolescents.”

HB_Chen_and_Leos_crop1Elizabeth Chen and Christine Leos were among the finalists for the 2016 “Innovation Next” project, an award that includes $80,000 in development funds and the opportunity to work with  IDEO, the renowned global design company, to refine and execute their proposal.

Created by a grant by the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health, Innovation Next is designed to find creative, interactive technology interventions for preventing teen pregnancy. Ten teams out of 127 entries were chosen as finalists in this year’s competition.

News and Events

Health Behavior News Feed Find all the health behavior stories from the Gillings School here.

We post photos, notes and news first on Facebook.


Da'Esha McPhaul, student services manager for health behavior, greets admitted students at Experience Gillings 2016.

For Current StudentsSee or download program handbooks and other essential resources here.

Gillings’ Application Process

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Gillings Program Search (GPS) for prospective students provides a search option for our School’s degree and non-degree programs, as well as the ability to drill down to an overview of each program’s quick facts and related information about how to apply.

Health Behavior Alumni

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Coming soon  Health Behavior Alumni Newsletter.