Dr. Yesenia Merino

Yesenia Merino, PhD, MPH

Director of Inclusive Excellence Education and Training
Gillings School of Global Public Health
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Public Health Leadership and Practice


Dr. Yesenia Merino is director of inclusive excellence education and training with 20 years of public health experience, who specializes in structural racism in health and professional development of health professionals. Merino focuses on using curriculum and academic health to improve health equity. Prior to transitioning to research and teaching, Merino worked in community engagement around sexual health and infectious diseases. A DC native, Merino has worked for health departments, multiple federal agencies, and both nonprofit and private public health agencies. She was inducted into the Frank Porter Graham Honor Society in 2019 for her work with first-generation graduate students and other underserved student populations at UNC.

Yesenia Merino in the Gillings News

Key Publications

“They were just waiting for me to mess up”: A critical discourse analysis of immigrant Latino teens’ perceptions of power dynamics. Merino, Y. Thomas, T., Thatcher, K., Simán, F., Lightfoot, A., Eng, E., Chapman, M.  (2019). Journal of Community Psychology.

What do schools of public health have to say about diversity and inclusion? Merino, Y (2018). Pedagogy in Health Promotion.
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Negotiating control of HIV: A qualitative analysis of HIV-positive Latino MSM in North Carolina. Merino, Y., Barrington, C., Villa-Torres, L., Carcano, J., Hightow-Wiedman, L. (2018). AIDS & Behavior.
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Implicit bias and mental health professionals: Priorities and directions for research. Merino, Y., Adams, L., Hall, W.J. (2018). Psychiatric Services, 69(6), 723-725.
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  • PhD, Health Behavior, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, 2019
  • MPH, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health Emory University, 2013
  • BS, Biology, George Mason University, 2002