Dr. Mendenhall is an Associate Professor of Sociology, African American Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, Gender and Women’s Studies and Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also an affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology; Women and Gender in Global Perspectives; the Cline Center for Advance Social Research; Epstein Health Law and Policy Program; Family Law and Policy Program and the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Dr. Mendenhall is the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Democratization of Health Innovation at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Dr. Mendenhall’s research examines how living in racially segregated neighborhoods with high levels of violence affects Black mothers’ mental and physical health using surveys, interviews, crime statistics, police records, data from 911 calls and genomic analysis. She studies the medicalization of poverty and the need to prevent social conditions that create disease (e.g., poor quality housing, economic insecurity, etc.). She also examines the role of the Earned Income Tax Credits in social mobility and improved health outcomes. She employs big data to recover Black women’s lost history using topic modeling and data visualization to examine over 800,000 documents from 1740 to 2014.
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