Wizdom Powell, PhD

Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Health Behavior
334B Rosenau Hall
CB 7440
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440


Dr. Powell is a trained population health disparities research scientist and clinical psychologist and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior. She is recognized nationally for the impact of her work addressing social determinants of health inequities among boys and men of color. Resolving the widely acknowledged “gender paradox” that men, despite having more social power than women, are more likely to experience pre-mature death than women is central to this work. She is the winner of UNC’s Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty for 2015. Powell served on the faculty for a decade before becoming director of the Health Disparities Institute at the University of Connecticut.

As a researcher and author, Dr. Powell is shaping how the intersection of race, masculinity, health beliefs and behavior are understood and addressed by psychologists and health professionals. Dr. Powell was awarded the Distinguished Professional Service Award by the American Psychological Association, Division 51 in 2014.

In addition to her long list of peer-reviewed articles, presentations and invited talks, Dr. Powell She is the author of book chapters that are essential to the work and training of psychologists and public health professionals. Among these, Everyday racism as a threat to the masculine social self: Framing investigations of African American male health disparities, a chapter in the APA Handbook of Men and Masculinities, published in 2015.

She was selected by the UNC Institute of African-American Research (IAAR) as a 2015-2016 faculty fellow and served as a White House Fellow and Special Advisor on military mental health policies to Secretary Leon Panetta as an appointee of the Obama administration.

Dr. Powell is a mentor to doctoral and master's students.

Research Activities

Research interests
Cardiovascular disease
Global health
Health behavior
Health care delivery
Minority health
Sexually transmitted diseases

Research activities

Dr. Powell's research focuses primarily on investigating psychosocial determinants of African American men's mental and physical health across the life-course. More specifically, her research investigates the contribution of gender (e.g., social constructions of masculinity), intergenerational transmission, socioeconomic status, socioenvironmental processes (e.g., racial discrimination), health-related attitudes (e.g., medical mistrust) and behavior to African American men's mental and physical health status.

Key Publications

The Role of Racial Identity and Implicit Racial Bias in Self-Reported Racial Discrimination: Implications for Depression Among African American Men. Chae DH, Powell, W., Smith-Bynum M.A., Nuru-Jeter A.M., Seaton E.K., Forman T., Turpin R., Sellers R.  Journal of Black Psychology, in press.

Buried hatchets, marked locations: Forgiveness, everyday racial discrimination, and African-American men’s depressive symptomatology. Powell, W., Banks, K.H., Mattis, J.S.  American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, in press.

Masculinity and race-related factors as barriers to health help-seeking among African-American men. Powell, W., Adams, L.B., Cole-Lewis, Y., Agyemang, A., Upton, R. (2016). Behavioral Medicine, 42(3), 1-14.


  • PhD, Clinical Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 2005
  • MPH, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, School of Public Health, 2003