Health Behavior and Health Education

Children get exercise playing on a jungle gym.

Photo of Alexandra Loukas

Program Director
Keryn Pasch

The Health Behavior and Health Education graduate programs emphasize a multidisciplinary, bio-behavioral and developmental approach to health promotion. The program’s focus is on understanding the prevention of illness, and the promotion and maintenance of optimal health. Our research and study includes populations ranging from young children to senior adults.

Graduate students in our programs are exposed to research and coursework from faculty with diverse interests and expertise. Examples of health issues addressed in research and coursework include:

  • physical activity
  • nutrition education
  • stress management
  • smoking prevention and cessation
  • HIV risk reduction
  • alcohol and drug abuse prevention
  • successful aging

Health Behavior and Health Education graduate programs include options for the non-thesis M.Ed., the M.S. with thesis, and the Ph.D.


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John Bartholomew

Professor & Department Chair

Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Faculty Fellow

Researches the effect of exercise on mental health to improve mood and reduce stress.

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Darla Castelli


Studies the relationship between physical activity and cognitive performance in children and adolescents.

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J. Mark Eddy


Develops and rigorously tests prevention and intervention programs intended to benefit children and families, and particularly those who are living in stressful circumstances.

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Lara Latimer

Assistant Professor of Instruction

Studies mental health, stress reduction, and tobacco prevention among college students.

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Alexandra Loukas

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies

Barbie M. and Gary L. Coleman Professor in Education

Focuses on adolescent and young adult problem behavior development, and tobacco use and cessation.

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Charles Martinez, Jr.


Lee Hage Jamail Regents Chair in Education, Sid W. Richardson Regents Chair

Focuses on identifying factors that hinder or promote the success of children and families from vulnerable and underserved populations.

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Liesl Nydegger

Assistant Professor

Focuses research on reducing sexual health risk behaviors in women with multiple vulnerabilities, ethnic minorities, and illicit drug users.

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Keryn Pasch

Associate Professor

Examines the relation between media influence on adolescent risk behavior such as substance use, nutrition, sleep and energy drink consumption.

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Miguel Pinedo

Assistant Professor

Focuses on how migration-related factors contribute to health disparities related to substance abuse, HIV risk, and related harms among Latino populations in the United States and Mexico. 

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Seth Schwartz


Studies immigration, acculturation, and culturally related stress among Latin American immigrant families in the United States, and effects of these processes on family relationships, well-being, and risky behavior. 

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Mary Steinhardt


Focuses on how individuals successfully adapt to stress and build health resilience.

Labs and Research Areas

Adaptation to Stress and Health Resilience Lab

Focus areas include diabetes self-management interventions, the role of positive emotions in reducing depressive symptoms, and the relationship between chronic psychosocial stress and metabolic health.

Developmental Risk and Resilience Laboratory

Focuses on the prevention of problem behaviors and tobacco use among adolescents and young adults.

Gender Health Equity Lab

Examines the relationship between sexual risk behaviors, substance abuse, violence, and structural factors among those who experience health disparities.

Kinetic Kidz

Examines the correlation between metabolic risk factors and cognitive health in children and young adults to determine how those factors may affect future health.

Migration and Health Lab

Focuses on better understanding how migration-related factors influence vulnerability to substance abuse and related harms among Latino communities in the US and Mexico.

Prevention Research Lab

Examines how the marketing of unhealthy products impacts youth and young adults’ behaviors. Explores how risk behaviors may co-occur among adolescents and young adults.

Tobacco Research and Evaluation Team

Conducts research on youth and young adult tobacco use, and develops effective tobacco prevention programs and intervention tools that are easily accessible for various populations.