Population Health

Alison Cullen

Alison Cullen
Professor, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance; Adjunct professor, School of Public Health and College of the Environment
Visit Dr. Cullen’s faculty page to learn more about her professional background.

What is the area of focus for your work/research?
My research is focused on applying new and evolving science to key human and environmental health challenges in order to improve population health through more informed public policy and decision-making. These challenges include sustainable forest management, human exposure to toxins and infectious disease, the impact of climate change on energy portfolio design and gaps in our understanding of human perception about risk.

How do you see your own work/research contributing to better population health outcomes?
My work – and the work of my colleagues at the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance – impacts population health outcomes by virtue of its use as a dependable source of evidence-based analysis used by legislators, leaders, and citizens to make decisions about the safety and impact of policies and products. Sound decision-making requires a data-driven understanding of tradeoffs, distributional variability and inequity, knowledge gaps, preferences and values. At the Evans School, our research on issues like the minimum wage, homelessness, exposure to toxins, disease, gender equity, food security, climate change and more informs those charged with decisions about the investment of public and private monies.

What do you hope can be accomplished through this initiative?
Uniting and focusing the considerable interdisciplinary expertise across the University of Washington presents boundless opportunity for efficient and effective improvements to the health of populations near and far. My work is richer and my perspective more inclusive because of my background in engineering, public health and public policy, and because I collaborate with colleagues across campus.

This initiative will provide the activation energy needed to facilitate real impact when it comes to tackling key challenges that currently compromise population health. Citizens, legislators, businesses, non-governmental organizations and others look to the UW for leadership and expertise when it comes to public discourse about everything from environmental sustainability to human health to the destabilizing inequities that tear at our social fabric. The Population Health initiative will provide a focus for linking scientific research to applied policy analysis and decision-making to address these challenges. It will strengthen our external relationships with partners in the region and around the world, as we will be valued and recognized for doing this right.