New Faculty Spotlight: Kaleea Lewis

Kaleea Lewis portrait

Sept. 11, 2020

This is part of a New Faculty Spotlight series in which we introduce all new faculty members for the 2020-2021 academic year. See the full list of new faculty

What is your title with Health Professions?

Assistant Professor (joint appointment), Department of Public Health and Women’s and Gender Studies (College of Arts & Sciences)

If applicable, what classes are you teaching this semester?

I am teaching an Intro to Public Health and Health Promotion Course (P_HLTH 2200).

If applicable, what do you love about teaching?

 I enjoy teaching because it allows me to learn alongside my students. While every course has a set of predetermined objectives and benchmarks that have to be met, I really value the learning journey we take together as we explore different examples that help us master the concept. Teaching also allows me to introduce students to both the utility and versatility of public health. In addition to teaching them about the numerous ways public health intersects with our daily lives, I love being able to watch students have an aha moment as they realize public health has played a major part in shaping many of the things they take for granted.

Tell us a bit about yourself! What’s your background?

My background is quite interesting. I actually attended college to become a classically trained musician. I played the viola throughout elementary, middle, and high school so majoring in music performance was a natural next step. While in college I also picked up a BS in Biology, which introduced me to the field of public health. I received my MSPH and PhD in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like to think of myself as a budding horticulturist, so I spend most of free time taking care of my several houseplants or impulse buying more. When I’m not nurturing my plants you can find me roller skating at a local skate park.

What brought you to Mizzou?

I arrived at Mizzou as a post-doctoral scholar in 2018.

If applicable, tell us about your research interests/area of focus. What made you interested in this area within your field?

As a scholar trained in the social and health sciences, I draw extensively from critical race theory (CRT), sociological theories of race and racism, and a social determinants of health framework to help me explore how systems of power and oppression emerge in the lived experiences of Black emerging adults and impact their mental health and mental health help seeking behaviors. The overarching goal of my interdisciplinary and racial health equity focused research is to create interventions that reduce racial mental health disparities and increase mental health service utilization. Both personal and vicarious experiences during my time as a student in higher education made me want to learn more about the processes that facilitated such occurrences.

What are you most excited about in regards to the upcoming semester/working at Mizzou/your research?

I am excited about learning how to manage our new normal and being a source of support for students as they navigate college life during a pandemic.