Professor, Department of Community and Population Health; Director, PhD
Office: HST 139
Dr. Tracy R. Nichols is a Professor in the College of Health. She is a behavioral scientist whose expertise includes sexual and reproductive health, substance use, adolescent health, and family health with a core focus on developing and evaluating interventions that reduce health inequities. Her current research agenda aims to improve care services for pregnant and parenting people who use drugs (PPPWUD) through two approaches: stigma reduction interventions and the promotion of integrated and/or wraparound services. She applies an intersectional and social justice lens to her work, conducting community-engaged, mixed methods research that employs both arts-based and traditional methodologies. She is a teacher-scholar who enjoys developing collaborative research teams comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and community members.
Dr. Nichols has applied her knowledge of the social and developmental factors of human behavior to public health issues throughout her career. Her early work focused on the prevention and etiology of adolescent substance use and violence. She was a member of the team that developed and evaluated the Life Skills Training (LST) program, one of the top research-based prevention programs in the US. She has also partnered with community-based organizations to develop, implement, and evaluate health promotion programs serving low-income women and adolescent mothers and has examined birthing experiences among Bhutanese refugees.
Her current research, which focuses on the provision of perinatal substance use services, has demonstrates how intersectional stigma serves as a barrier to care engagement for PPPWUD as well as how current stigma reduction practices fail to address the organizational and structural elements critical for supporting compassionate care. She is working with her community partners, NC Survivors Union, to adapt and evaluate their autobiographical story share process-- Narcofeminism Storyshare--into a stigma reduction training for healthcare and social service providers. Her stigma reduction work extends to other reproductive health issues, such as abortion access, and includes developing and evaluating narrative simulations through Text- Based Games.
Dr. Nichols received her bachelor’s degree from the New School for Research and her doctorate in developmental psychology from Columbia University, Teacher’s College. She previously worked at Weill Cornell Medical College and then the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where she taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students as well as mentored early- career faculty.