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Jessica M. Perkins

Assistant Professor, Department of Human and Organizational Development

Research: Professor Perkins’ broad areas of research expertise within community and global health include social epidemiology and social psychology. Her main line of research focuses on how social norms and social networks impact health-related behaviors and attitudes, by exploring why people who act in unhealthy ways do so despite social norms supporting healthy behaviors. Her work assesses behaviors such as bullying, food and beverage consumption, and tobacco use among middle school and high school students across the United States, and on HIV testing, intimate partner violence, and alcohol use among adults in rural Uganda in East Africa. Professor Perkins’ second line of research assesses the social contexts in which mental and physical health outcomes arise and health inequalities continue to exist. She has several foci including nutrition-related outcomes as well as older adult well-being. 

Professor Perkins has a strong background in quantitative research methodology, survey development, and fieldwork in low-resource settings. She has lived and worked on studies in Uganda, South Africa, Peru, India, Ecuador, Spain, and Morocco in addition to the United States and the United Kingdom.

Teaching: Professor Perkins teaches courses in the Health and Human Services track and Community Health track. 

Service: Ad hoc reviewer for more than 25 journals, including AIDS & Behavior, Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Prevention Science, and Social Science & Medicine

Community Engagement: Professor Perkins is part of a long-term, multifaceted study in rural Uganda that is actively working to improve health outcomes, increase healthy behaviors, and support economic development in local communities. The study collaborates with community organizations and community members to address issues related to HIV, mental health, violence, stigma, food and water insecurity, and access to health care. Professor Perkins' research in Uganda is supported by an early career investigator award from NIMH (1K01MH115811-01A1)

Representative Publications

Perkins, J. M., Perkins, H. W., Craig, D. W. (2017). Misperceiving a code of silence: peer support for telling authorities about weapons at school among middle school and high school students in the United States. Youth and Society, doi: 10.1177/0044118X17714808.

 Perkins, J. M., Perkins, H. W., & Craig, D. W. (2018). Misperceived norms and personal sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and fruit and vegetable intake among students in the United States. Appetite, 129, 82-93. doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.06.012

 Perkins, J. M., Perkins, H. W., & Craig, D. W. (2015). Misperception of peer weight norms and its association with overweight and underweight status among adolescents. Prevention Science, 16(1), 70-79. doi: 10.1007/s11121-014-0458-2. 

 Perkins, J. M., Nyakato, V. N., Kakuhikire, B., Mbabazi, P. K., Perkins, H. W., Tsai, A. C., Christakis, N.A., & Bangsberg, D. R. (2017). Actual versus perceived HIV testing norms, and personal HIV testing uptake: a cross-sectional, population-based study in rural Uganda. AIDS and Behavior, 1-13. doi: 10.1007/s10461-017-1691-z.

Perkins, J. M., Subramanian, S. V., & Christakis, N. A. (2015). Social networks and health: a systematic review of sociocentric network studies in low- and middle-income countries. Social Science & Medicine, 125, 60-78. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.08.019.

Perkins, J. M., Nyakato, V. N., Kakuhikire, B., Tsai, A. C., Subramanian, S. V., Bangsberg, D. R., & Christakis, N. A. (2017). Food insecurity, social networks and symptoms of depression among men and women in rural Uganda: a cross-sectional, population-based study. Public Health Nutrition, 1-11. doi: 10.1017/S1368980017002154.

Perkins, J. M., Lee, H.-Y., Lee, J.-K., Heo, J., Krishna, A., Choi, S., Nam, Y-S., Oh, J., & Subramanian, S. V. (2016). Widowhood and alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use among older adults in India. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, gbw134. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbw134.