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Amanda Birnbaum

Professor, Public Health

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Dr. Amanda Birnbaum, Professor and Deputy Chair of the Department of Public Health at Montclair State University, received her PhD from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and her MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

Working from a social ecological perspective, Dr. Birnbaum combines quantitative and qualitative methods to understand and improve social environmental factors, such as neighborhood and school environments, as they relate to health behaviors. Of particular interest is how these questions can be tailored to serve communities that historically have been marginalized and have not received equitable benefits from applied research.

Dr. Birnbaum has collaborated on the development and evaluation of local and national initiatives to promote healthier eating and physical activity among families and communities, working with partners such as the Healthy Children Healthy Futures initiative, Partners for Health Foundation, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. More recently, she has been collaborating on research in the area of sexual violence on college campuses and in communities.

Dr. Birnbaum is a member of the editorial boards of the American Journal of Health Behavior, Health Behavior and Policy Review, and International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. She is an active mentor of public health professionals across the career span, and in 2015 received the National Academic Advising Association’s Outstanding Faculty Advising Award.


In all aspects of my work, I am driven by a passion for health equity and social justice.

My research interests relate to understanding and intervening on the social contexts within which health behaviors occur. I am fascinated by trying to understand how schools, communities, and other social environments interact with personal characteristics to affect behavior.

Examples of the types of research questions I have asked and published on include: assessing school functioning and examining its effect on students' self-reported violent behavior; measuring middle school girls' perceptions of school climate regarding physical activity; and understanding how food shopping environments and perceptions shape food purchases among low-wage workers. I am also interested in how living with elevated depressive symptoms figures into people's perceptions, experiences, and behaviors.

I am currently collaborating on research aimed at understanding and improving the climate related to sexual assault and harassment on college campuses. This social environmental factor has become a topic of great interest and importance for everyone who lives or works on a college campus, their families, and communities. We strive to be inclusive, comprehensive, and sensitive to the challenges involved in exploring this highly-charged topic.