About our Department
The Gillings School's Department of Health Behavior is the home for Master of Public Health concentrations in global health and health behavior, as well as a dual master's degree and a doctoral degree. Our students develop the skills they need to be community change agents for issues that undermine public health both locally and globally, including: violence, obesity, cancer, HIV, health policy and health disparities.

Our Mission The Department of Health Behavior’s mission is to provide leadership in research, teaching and practice to understand the social and behavioral determinants of health problems and develop effective interventions that are built on theory, scientific evidence, and respect for basic values of justice and human dignity in North Carolina, nationally, and internationally. Inclusive Excellence At the Gillings School, diversity and inclusion mean we welcome, value and learn from individual differences and perspectives. By cultivating inclusion within the School, we better prepare our students, faculty and staff for the diverse world that awaits them. A globally-interconnected world needs culturally competent people to serve as its leaders. Diversity and inclusion are assets that contribute to our excellence.

Health Behavior Leadership Team

Kurt M. Ribisl, PhD, Jo Anne Earp Distinguished Professor and Chair
Shelley Golden, PhD, Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
Patsy Polston, PhD, BSPH Program Director
Liz Chen, PhD, MPH, Health Behavior MPH Concentration Lead
Suzanne Maman PhD, Global Health MPH Co-Lead
Alex Lightfoot PhD, Equity MPH Co-Lead
Nora Rosenberg PhD, Director of Research
Marissa Hall PhD, Equity Task Force

Melissa Gilkey, PhD Doctoral Program Director


Julie Kafka, PhD, MPH

Kafka receives 2023 Dean's Distinguished Dissertation Award

Our Numbers
Ranked Public School of Public Health
Degree Programs
Years of empowering the next generation of global public health leaders, researchers, and change agents.
Alumni Network

Explore our Department

Health Behavior Concentration (MPH)

The Gillings School's Health Behavior concentration prepares students for leadership positions in public health practice.

Global Health Concentration (MPH)

The Global Health concentration will provide you with the knowledge and skills to advance the health and well-being of populations in diverse global settings.

Health Equity and Social Justice Concentration (MPH)

This concentration will prepare you for positions in diverse areas of public health through training in quantitative, qualitative and community-engaged approaches in research and practice.

Our Doctoral Degree

The doctoral program is for students with a master’s degree in public health (or equivalent field) who want to advance understanding of health-related behaviors and their determinants at all social levels.

Current Students

Departmental resources for current students are available here.

Our Research

Our faculty and students are active researchers in North Carolina, the U.S. and globally.

Gillings Health Behavior Newsfeed

Our news feed includes articles about students and faculty who are reducing health risks and promoting healthy lives.

Diversity and Inclusion

By cultivating inclusion within the School, we better prepare our students, faculty and staff for the diverse world that awaits them.

Hatch-Barnhill Scholarship

The Hatch-Barnhill Scholarship helps us recruit and train the best and brightest students to do critical work addressing health equity.

Promoting healthy behaviors, engaging communities, shaping policy.
Who is my Academic Coordinator?
Assistant to Chair: Wendi Seiler
Looking for someone else?

135 Dauer Drive
302 Rosenau Hall, CB #7440
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440
(919) 966-3761