Prestigious Fellowship Recognizes Miami Faculty as a Top Public Health Scholar

James M. Loy, Miami University

Paul Branscum, a Miami University associate professor of kinesiology and health (KNH), has been awarded Fellow status of the American Academy of Health Behavior (AAHB), which is a prestigious appointment reserved only for the most accomplished public health scholars.

“Criteria for Fellowship in the AAHB requires a high bar for scholarship and impact in the field,” says KNH Department Chair and Professor Helaine Alessio. “This type of scholarship -- in both quantity and quality -- is only achieved by the top scholars of the field. All of KNH is happy that Miami has Dr. Branscum as one of its faculty members.”

To be eligible for an AAHB Fellowship, researchers must publish at least 50 authored or co-authored articles in select national or international scholarly journals.

They must also have either presented at least 75 scientific papers at national or international professional conferences, or received at least $1.5 million in external grant funding to conduct research as a principal or co-principal investigator.

Throughout his career, Branscum has used theory-based approaches to monitor, predict, and change behaviors. His mission has been to help people everywhere live healthier lives, especially children, who have long been a central focus of his work.

“The main driver of my research is, and always has been, childhood obesity prevention,” he says. “I’ve done a number of studies with kids. That’s where I started. And that slowly evolved to working more with parents, and to understand those interactions.”

His publications have covered numerous topics including the adoption of healthy sleep behaviors, monitoring the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, the environmental and psychosocial links between physical activity and screen time, and much more.

Branscum is also the co-author of two books, Introduction to Community and Public Health and Foundations of Mental Health Promotion, both of which have now received 2nd editions.

More recently, Branscum served as a guest editor of Family and Community Health for a special Fall 2019 issue focused on Hispanic families and their children.

“My research has focused on implementing, and evaluating public health interventions by utilizing process and impact evaluations,” says Branscum. “I believe both of these issues are vital in understanding the efficacy and effectiveness of our public health programs, and will ultimately help us answer questions about interventions such as: What works? When does it work? And with whom does it work best?”