Meet new faculty: Spencer Moore, public health

Name: Spencer Moore

Current job: Associate professor, Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health

Degrees: Ph.D., University of Virginia, Anthropology, 2000; MPH, University of North Carolina, Health Behavior and Health Education, 2002; MA, Georgetown University, German and European Studies, 1995; BA, University of North Carolina, Anthropology and History, 1989

Hometown: Wesley Chapel, N.C. 

What’s your area of study or research?

I look at people’s social connections and social relationships and how those affect health, particularly risk factors surrounding cardiovascular disease, like smoking, obesity, inactivity, and how those network connections affect people’s health behaviors and choices. Based on this knowledge, we might aim to design interventions that facilitate different kinds of connections to reduce those risks or aim to improve the behavior of whole groups of people rather than just individuals.

Why did you choose Carolina?

Carolina has a tradition of excellence in public health research and the school has strong ties to S.C. community groups. 

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Getting to know, one, the research of my colleagues and, two, the global health and public health interests of USC students. 

What are you most looking forward to about being at USC? In Columbia? Or in South Carolina?

Up to now, much of my research has been based in dense, urban environments. I am looking forward to extending my research on social capital, networks and health to include rural areas in the South. 

How did you become interested in your work?

It all started in working on post-flood recovery in eastern North Carolina communities following Hurricane Floyd. I found a passion in trying to understand intra- and inter-community disparities in recovery, and the role that social networks and social capital played in increasing or reducing those disparities. 

What made you decide to go into academia?

I’m not sure that I ever made a conscious decision to go into academia. I have always enjoyed learning new things, and I found that the best way for me to keep learning was to be in academia. After a while, it seemed the natural place to be. 

What do you hope to accomplish over the next five years?

I want to build an internationally renowned and funded research group studying social capital and population health inequalities locally and globally.

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